In a recent blog entitled, “FATCA GIIN January 2015 FFI Registration Analysis … by the numbers,” Professor William Byrnes provides a brilliant commentary on the IRS’s publication of its first FATCA GIIN list of the new year (published on New Years Day!). The FATCA GIIN list is a list of “approved FFIs (Foreign Financial Institutions)” that have registered on the IRS FATCA portal by December 23, 2014.
For those who have never heard of a “GIIN” and who may have initially confused it with a certain type of drink that mixes exceptionally well with tonic, GIIN stands for “Global Intermediary Identification Number.” A Foreign Financial Institution (FFI) that registers on the “FATCA Registration Website,” upon approval, receives a Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) from the IRS (unless the FFI is treated as a Limited FFI). The GIIN is a 19-character identification string that is a composite of different identifiers, including the FATCA ID, Financial Institution type, category code, and country identifier.
Every month, the IRS publishes a list of registered and approved FFIs and their GIINs. An FFI uses its GIIN to let the world know (or perhaps just the IRS and withholding agents) that it is registered and approved. Withholding agents rely on the IRS published list to verify an FFI’s GIIN and to refrain from withholding on payments made to the FFI.
According to Professor Byrnes:
“[January’s] list is particularly important because those FFIs in IGA Model 1 Countries that are not on this list are now very much on the back-foot.
I say this because as of January 1, 2015, a Model 1 FFI that has no GIIN can no longer be treated as a Participating FFI (of any description). This is the case regardless of the fact that the FFI is located in a IGA jurisdiction. (Model 1 FFIs do not sign a FFI Agreement.)
Those Model 1 FFIs who registered for a GIIN by December 31, 2014, but have not yet been provided with a GIIN, can declare that they have ‘applied for’ a GIIN and hence be afforded a further 90 days grace – provided that the GIIN appears on the IRS list of approved FFIs that will be published on the first day of April 2015. After that the sword of Damocles falls.”
For more straight talk on FATCA in a way that only Professor Byrnes can tell it, click here to read the rest of his blog.
Original Post By: Michael DeBlis