Frequently Asked Questions

Note: The information below is provided only as an overview for information purposes; it is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice. If you require such advice, you should consult a professional advisor.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was signed into U.S. law in March 2010. FATCA and, in some countries, related local regulations will require financial institutions to report annually on “reportable accounts.” This reporting will be made available to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, either directly or through local regulatory agencies.

Reportable accounts” are personal and non-personal accounts held by:

  • one or more U.S. persons; or
  • certain entities in which one or more U.S. persons hold a substantial ownership or controlling interest.

Many additional limitations apply, further reducing the number of accounts that will qualify as “reportable.” In the end, we expect FATCA to have no impact on the vast majority of our clients.

Note: If you want help in determining if you are a U.S. person or how FATCA will affect your accounts, we suggest that you speak with a professional tax advisor.

That will depend on whether or not your accounts are determined to be “reportable.” We expect FATCA to have no impact on the vast majority of our clients.

Personal Accounts

For most personal banking clients, information we have on file will allow us to determine that no reporting is required.

If the information you have provided indicates that reporting may be required for your accounts, we will ask you to provide additional information — possibly in the form of new documentation regarding your U.S. tax status. We will then review the information you provide against the applicable requirements to determine whether or not your accounts are reportable.

Non-personal Accounts

For most businesses, the documentation we have on file will allow us to determine that no reporting is required.

If your business is of a type for which we are required to obtain additional documentation, we will ask you to provide that documentation. We will then review the new documentation against the applicable regulations to determine if your accounts are reportable.

Tax law is a highly specialized field. While we can provide general information on FATCA and related local regulations, we are strictly prohibited from providing tax advice. If you want advice on how to respond to questions and requests related to FATCA, we suggest that you speak with a professional tax advisor

If you want help in determining if you are a U.S. person for the purposes of FATCA, we suggest that you speak with a professional tax advisor.

Attributes that generally cause an individual or business to be classified as a U.S. person include:

  • U.S. citizenship;
  • being a lawful resident of the U.S.; and/or
  • qualifying as a U.S. corporation, estate, or trust.

The IRS provides information on the rules applicable to non-U.S. citizens here:

If you are a U.S. person, we may be required to ask you to complete an IRS W 9 form (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) for our records.

In addition, we may be required to provide annual reports on your account to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, either directly or through local regulatory agencies, according to local law. This should have no impact if you are already meeting your existing U.S. tax filing obligations, but we encourage you to review this with a professional tax advisor.

FATCA and, in some countries, related local regulations will come into effect in stages, beginning on July 1, 2014. On that day, financial institutions must begin to:

  • Use new account opening procedures that ensure the account holder’s U.S. tax status is determined when the account is opened.
  • Review existing accounts to identify those that are subject to reporting.

In countries that sign an agreement with the U.S. regarding FATCA, financial institutions will be required to comply with new local regulations related to FATCA.

As well, any financial institution that fails to comply with FATCA would face a 30% withholding tax on a wide range of U.S. sourced payments to its clients.

Globally, most large financial institutions intend to comply. In some countries, financial institutions will not be allowed to comply. As well, in countries where compliance is not legally required, some financial institutions may decide not to comply.

No, this is not altogether new. In some countries, reporting of account activities to local tax authorities has long been legally required at some level. As well, reporting across borders regarding certain financial transactions has been required and sanctioned for years. FATCA simply builds on these existing financial reporting structures by adding new types of data to the list of what must be reported.

Scotiabank has a policy of strict adherence to privacy legislation and protection of client data. In countries that sign an agreement with the U.S. regarding FATCA, reporting will be required by law. In countries where reporting is not legally required, we will report client information only with the formal consent of the client.

If you choose not to meet requests for assistance in determining your U.S. tax status, the next steps would depend on local banking and tax regulations.

  • In countries that sign an agreement with the U.S. regarding FATCA, we will be legally required to treat your accounts as “reportable accounts.”
  • In other countries, we will be required to withhold a U.S. tax of 30% on withholdable payments made to your accounts and send those funds to the IRS, along with reporting on your accounts.
  • In some locations, we may not be allowed to offer you certain products or services.

No, FATCA applies to many other types of financial accounts, including certain business accounts, insurance contracts, and investment or brokerage accounts.

No, in and of itself, the currency of an account has no impact on whether or not it is treated as a “reportable account.”

If at least one of the joint owners qualifies as a U.S. person, any required reporting would treat the U.S. person as the owner of the entire account.

If more than one of the joint owners are U.S. persons, any required reporting would treat each U.S. person as the owner of the entire account.

Each of Scotiabank’s business lines will need to obtain FATCA-related client documentation. Despite our best efforts to streamline this process, you may be contacted by more than one business line regarding this documentation. We apologize for any resulting inconvenience, and we greatly appreciate your patience.

Detailed information on FATCA can be found at www.irs.gov/FATCA.

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