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  • Elizabeth A. McMorrow


We have come to expect that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send the FATCA Responsible Officer (RO) an email to alert the RO a message has been posted on the IRS FATCA portal message board. However, in some circumstances, the IRS will only send a message to a Point of Contact (POC) not the RO.

What Is a “Responsible Officer”?

An RO is the individual in charge of overseeing a Participating Foreign Financial Institution’s (PFFI’s) compliance with the terms of the IRS FFI Agreement. The FFI Agreement outlines the tasks a PFFI must undertake and the RO certifies that she will ensure that the PFFI completes these tasks. In general the tasks are:

  • Identification and documentation of account holders

  • Withholding

  • Reporting

  • Compliance verification

During the GIIN registration process for Model 1 FFIs, it is necessary to label someone as the RO even though this person does not take on all of the compliance responsibilities of a PFFI RO.

What Is a “Point of Contact”?

A Point of Contact (POC) is defined by the IRS as an “individual authorized by the FI or direct reporting NFFE to receive FATCA-related information regarding the FI or direct reporting NFFE, and to take other FATCA-related actions on behalf of the FI or direct reporting NFFE.” The RO may designate up to five POCs to help complete all aspects of the registration process and receive on-going communications from the IRS related to the registered entity.

IRS Emails / GIIN Search

The typical IRS email alerting the RO to a message for an FFI registered in the IRS FATCA portal states:

You have a new message on your Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) message board. You must log into your FATCA account ending in XYZ to read the message.

It is then necessary to check your internal FFI database to determine which of your entities has a GIIN ending in XYZ.

If you are unable to find the relevant GIIN in your files, the next step is to download the FATCA FFI List Search and Download Tool. Once you download the entire FFI list, you can do a search for the three letters/numbers provided by the IRS to identify your FATCA account. It is important to realize that multiple GIINs can end in the same three letter/number combination.

POC Instead of RO

I recently received messages from the IRS for client FFIs. I am the POC not the RO on these FFIs. The RO did not receive any messages from the IRS. I spoke to the IRS and was told that where an RO uses a generic FATCA inbox (e.g.,, the IRS will send the message to a POC with a specific email rather than the RO. My client uses a generic FATCA inbox for the RO email and the client’s two employees who are POCs. It is a useful method of ensuring someone sees the IRS email on a timely basis.

I recommend ROs alert any POCs on their IRS FATCA portal registrations to not assume the RO or another POC also received the message. Open and timely communication among the FATCA team is important to ensure FATCA compliance.

For assistance, please contact me via my contact page or at

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