US Citizens


#1

I think this is why their terms of service ban US citizens from joining. Which is, of course, probably illegal itself (discrimination on the basis of national origin isn’t usually looked upon too well).

I’m also not sure simply discriminating against ‘US persons’ (as the US calls them) is enough to comply with the law anyway…


FATCA/CRS reporting
#2

I’m not sure limiting sign up to certain users is classed as discrimination, plenty of competitions are open to citizens of the country of the competition only. Just look at the majority of internet giveaways on sites such as neowin and you will see that they are only open to citizens of the US.

Also preventing signs ups from certain nationalities because the system doesn’t support their tax jurisdiction and reporting i would have thought is totally acceptable as it prevents the company in question for acting illegally through immaculate financial reporting.


#3

That’s a completely different situation. And itself rare. Restriction of contests based on legal residence is common, rarely citizenship. Legal residence is also the standard for a normal bank account. Even so, let’s say Starling said you must be a British Citizen. That’s not what they’re doing. They ban US citizens regardless of other nationalities they hold.

I am a British Citizen in Britain. Any other country that considers me a citizen, that is their problem. To ban sign ups from people based on national origin and ancestry is wrong.


#4

Totally fair point on the competition front.

However regarding the US citizen thing, the IRS has very strict rules on financial reporting of US citizens tax affairs (and indeed the tax affairs of non US citizens who do business with US companies) and if Starling are unable to accommodate the IRS rules regarding reporting of finances of US citizens in its current form then I would have thought it is legally sound to restrict access to those people.

I am sure the ToS of Starling have been written by a very expensive legal team and will have been looked at and passed as ok by the UK FCA so is legally sound.


#5

They’re preventing sign-ups from people with US-citizenship due to the tax situation, not because of their national origin and ancestry.

Furthermore, Starling is not the only business to do this. It’s the same with many other financial products that are on the market.

Furthermore, the US “discriminates” against me and won’t give me a passport based on my national origin and ancestry. (Joke)

Just because a business chooses not to transact with US-nationals, it does not follow that the business is somehow racist.


#6

Expensive legal teams write terms that later don’t hold up all the time. Let me re-frame this. Imagine if I opened a new bank and said ‘if you have a parent who is from Eritrea you can’t have an account’.

People would be up in arms. It is literally the exact same thing, discrimination on the basis of family origin. Eritrea I use specifically because it is one of two countries in the world that taxes citizens who have no connection to the country, no business in the country, etc. The United States is the other.

But Starling would never do that, they’d never write terms banning people with Eritrean parents from having accounts. So why is it ok to ban people with American parents? This is Britain, and the laws of Britain apply to British Citizens - not the United States or any other country.


#7

You probably need to take up your argument with the IRS in the US.


#8

In some countries, yes. Swiss banks are famous for not dealing with US citizens. But this isn’t Switzerland. It’s England, and as far as I am aware, Starling (and I haven’t looked closely) is the only British bank that won’t accept American citizens. Many banks require disclosure, so they can report.

The United States isn’t a race, so of course it isn’t racist. I didn’t say it was. I said it was discrimination on the basis of national origin and ancestry, which it is. If someone has a parent from the United States (national orgin/ancestry) they are considered a US Citizen, and Starling bans all US Citizens. I’m not talking people who actively care about the US, expats, anything like that. I’m talking people who purely are ‘Citizens’ of the US by nature of their ancestry.


#9

This is England, not the US. US law doesn’t apply here.


#10

I have already pointed out that Starling is not unique in this.

Your posts do appear to imply this.

the protected characteristic of Race refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins. — Human Rights Protected Characteristic


#11

By legal definitions, sure. But the term racist implies something much more sinister than what’s going on here, it refers to deep-seated discrimination based on centuries of power imbalance, which this isn’t.

As far as I know, you haven’t named another British bank that does this. Lots of Swiss banks do. Britain actually has an agreement with the US that makes the reporting incredibly easy for the bank (the British government wants it too…) and thus, there’s no real incentive for banks here to discriminate.


#12

In regards to the financial conduct of it’s citizens, no matter where the bank account is based, the US and IRS rules imply that they beleive they do have jurisdiction is other countries.

US citizens have to declare their income and stored monies wherever they are in the world, no matter what the jurisdiction of the bank account holding the funds, and any bank in the world holding funds of US citizens is legally required (in the US’s eyes) to report correctly the state of financial affairs of their account holders that have US citizenship.

I believe this is why one of the main reason Swiss bank accounts do not accept US citizens, because their non reporting policies would be in violation of US law.

So in short, at least in the beleive of the great country of the USofA, yes US law does apply in the UK in this case.

Starling are also not the only financial instution in the UK to apply rules preventing US citizens from opening accounts, a lot of investment brokers do not accept it for the same reason, even the Post Office doesn’t (or at one point didnt)

This article explains how widespread worldwide the issue is: https://the-international-investor.com/investment-faq/us-residents-open-foreign-bank-brokerage-accounts

Now when Starling is able to be fully compliant with FACTA, I am sure they will revisit their decision as to whether to accept US citizens, but until then, they are probably making the right call.


#13

You’ve been talking about law. US law, UK law and why Starling is wrong. But you don’t like a definition of a protected characteristic that describes exactly what you’re referring to.

By your own admission, you’ve not looked into this. I didn’t realise I had to justify what is fact just because you can’t be bothered to research it. Fortunately, @bmacrow had already done this for us both.

From your posts I am picking up the fact that you’re unhappy with Starling because they won’t accept people with US Citizenship. I presuming that includes you.

It’s been pointed out that Starling is not unique in this and other contributors have explained that this is due to the tax situation as regards the US.

Despite the reasonable answer being given, you’re trying to take this down a rabbit hole of nationality, citizenship or ancestral (ethnic) origin. The things that define the term race. That’s an unnecessary diversion.

Your dissatisfaction, unfortunantely, can not be resolved here. It’s just the way that Starling and other financial organisations have chosen to do business.


#14

Those articles are quite old and pre-date the US/UK agreement on data sharing. If you’ll note, the first one immediately notes the Post Office (which I cannot comprehend why one would buy financial products from a company that struggles to sell a stamp… but that’s another story) reversed their decision almost immediately. When FATCA passed, there was an initial overreaction.

Also, you’ll note those are ISAs. The US arguably DOES have some jurisdiction as they probably hold investments in the US. A current account like Starling? Where would the US have jurisdiction? The money never touches the US (unlike an ISA).


#15

I think this is being blown out of proportion a bit and has the potential (well really already has) to deviate from the OP, so from what I know, understand and/or think, at the moment, given that Sarah said it’s being developed, it likely Starling don’t have systems in place to effectively report, and therefore comply with FACTA, when they do, they will be able to revisit whether to accept persons who hold US citizenship. Until then if they cannot effectively report to the IRS, then they cannot manage the money of persons with US citizenship. That is my understanding.

I may be wrong, you may have more knowledge (and have a different current understanding) than me, that’s cool. Neither of us are lawyers, neither of us fully understand this, so maybe it’s time to leave it to lawyers and starling and put it to bed.

If starling are being illegal in their treatment of persons with US citizenship, then I am sure a US person who is affected will complain and the issue will be looked at and if they are acting unlawfully, they will be forced to correct and/or punished.

But I think for now, on this forum, it’s probably time to agree to disagree yes?


#16

But why? That’s the thing, with other (arguably better) Fintech options coming out all the time, Starling isn’t really offering anything special - much less worth the hassle of pursuing it.

But yes, our understanding is different, so we’ll leave it at that. My understanding is that while the US would like data on any US citizen, they don’t have any legal basis for getting it unless the bank has investments in the US (we don’t live in a world where any random country can just come in and dictate things outside their territory, but an investment in the US puts things into US territory).

We’ll see what happens…


#17

Whatever the conclusion, a great debate sir!


#18

Enjoyed reading this :+1:


#19

You can’t win this debate even if you tried :rofl:

When someone has an opinion it’s hard to sway them with facts.


#20

We have bold ambitions to make our current account available to everyone, and in the future we will be able to accept customers who have tax responsibilities in the US. As someone correctly stated above, we are currently limited due to our capability to report US citizens under FATCA which we have an obligation to do so. We do intend to make our account available for UK residents who have tax responsibilities in the US and we will update you as that becomes available.


Accounts for US citizens resident in UK