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Economy

When The IRS Tracks Down 'Accidental Americans' In France

French authorities agreed to help the U.S. crack down on tax evaders. But in doing so, people who just happened to be born on American soil face massive penalties and reams of red tape.

There are several thousand people like Renaud, who are French but also 'accidental Americans.'
There are several thousand people like Renaud, who are French but also "accidental Americans."
Marie Visot

PARIS — In 1964, a happy young French couple moved to the United States. The husband had just taken a new job at IBM and his wife was expecting their first child. They spent two hectic years in this country they didn't know, together with their little Renaud, who came into the world just a few months after they'd settled — in Poughkeepsie, New York. Then, following a transfer, the family returned to France, moving into a home near Paris.

Renaud knew that being born on the other side of the Atlantic, he had dual-citizenship. "When I was a teenager I used to show off a little to my friends, even if I didn't know the country," he says. But coming of age, he assumed he'd lost his American citizenship. Then, one day in 2013, his bank, HSBC, told him they'd found a "trace of Americanization" in his file.

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Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"

"So?"

"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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