“Solving U.S. Citizenship Problems” – Online January 9, 2017 (Australia)

Information Session

Of particular interest is the issue of the Australian “Super.”
While all expatriates worldwide experience country-specific problems, this one is perhaps one of the worst. By law, Australians are required to contribute to their own retirement; this system is unique among government-sponsored retirement planning. Why on earth should the U.S. be able to tax these?

Online Renunciation Information Session with John Richardson – 9 Jan 2017

Presented by: John Richardson is a Toronto citizenship lawyer, the co-chairman of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty as well as the Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation. He is a member of the ACA Professional Taxation Advisory Council. He holds the degrees of B.A., LL.B., and J.D. He is a member of the Massachusetts, New York and Ontario bars. His law practice focuses on “Solving the Problems of U.S. Citizenship” including relinquishing and the “Exit Tax”. He gives programs for expats all across Canada and Europe. He writes extensively at citizenshipsolutions.ca

WHEN: Monday 9 January 2017
10:00 AM AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne);
9:00 AM AEST (Brisbane);
9:30 AM ACDT (Adelaide);
7:00 AM AWST (Perth);
UTC: Sunday 8 January 11pm. Convert to your time zone
Program will last for one hour


If you are interested, leave your email address here and in early January we will send you instructions on how to join the information session

What’s this about?

Since Australia agreed to the FATCA IGA in 2014, Australian financial institutions have been asking ALL new account holders and some existing account holders whether they are U.S. citizens. Many have no idea of the consequences of admitting to U.S. citizenship, a U.S. place of birth or being born to U.S. parents. In this one hour session, John Richardson will address the following topics:

Who is a U.S. citizen?

What about those born in Australia who
a) were registered with the consulate and have U.S. passports, but never lived in the U.S.;
b) were NOT registered with the consulate and do NOT have U.S. passports.

Look before you leap!!

  • The pitfalls of entering the U.S. tax system – a brief overview of what it really means to be “U.S. tax compliant” in Australia
  • Can the U.S. really tax my super?
  • The ATO says tax treaties “eliminate double taxation,” so why can the U.S. tax my Australian income?
  • How do I relinquish/renounce U.S. citizenship?
  • Is a CLN necessary? How can I document loss of citizenship without a CLN?
  • How is relinquishment different from renunciation?
  • Didn’t I lose U.S. citizenship when I became an Australian citizen?
  • There’s an EXIT TAX???

Other topics

  • How renouncing U.S. citizenship may put your superannuation (and other savings) at risk
  • How to renounce and exit the U.S. tax system cleanly and avoid being a “covered expatriate”
  • I have just learned about the FATCA problem! The difference between “responding” and “reacting” – things you should NOT do!
  • I thought I lived in Australia! Why do I have to follow U.S. law when I live in Australia?
  • What can the U.S. do if I’m non-compliant?
  • If my bank has identified me as a U.S. Person, can I satisfy the bank without entering the U.S. tax system?

IRS Claims Statutory Authority for FATCA Agreements Where no Such Authority Exists


A lot of discussion has taken place recently as to what (if anything) might happen with FATCA & the IGAs given the election of Donald Trump and the positions regarding RBT etc, in the platform of the Republican Party. The nagging question seems to be that if FATCA were rescinded, the IGAs would remain, with FFI’s still on the hook. A rather bizarre situation where countries agree to something not actually rooted in law? Simply absurd and presumably, Congress would take steps (or be reminded to do so) to put the whole business to rest.

Then there is general discussion that includes the reversal of President Obama’s executive agreements. With this we would still have FATCA but no implementing IGAs. Should FFI’s pass private banking information directly to the IRS sans the IGAs, they would be in violation of the privacy laws of many countries. With (more) lawsuits certain to follow.

All of this brings to mind another nagging question, and that is, just exactly what are the IGA’s? The Canadian government claimed ithe IGA was a Treaty, and accepted it as such. The U.S. did not have it ratified by 2/3 of the Senate which is normal procedure there. Professor Allison Christians has long indicated they are actually sole executive agreements with “dubious legal status.” Other interesting perspectives are offered here.

Of course, the original overall objection to the IGA’s is that they are hardly agreements; they are documents where the U.S. inflicts its will on all 192 countries of the world; incurs no cost for doing so and while mitigated, the 30% withholding remains.

It may be very useful to review all that is involved in Professor Christians’ viewpoint so that any future action ensures complete finality to these abominable and odious “agreements.”


This appeared at the Isaac Brock Society on July 4, 2014 and was cross-posted with permission from Prof. Christians’ blog

I saw the letter referenced below on Jack Townsend’s site and included Professor Christians in a tweet questioning the validity of the IRS’arguments regarding IGA’s. I am delighted to see she has taken this further and posted the following today on her blog.


Over at federal tax crimes blog Jack Townsend has posted a letter from the IRS to Congressman Bill Posey, in response to an inquiry the Congressman apparently made about the intergovernmental agreements (“IGAs”) to implement FATCA by other governments (instead of directly by foreign financial institutions, per the law Congress enacted in 2010). Treasury says:

“Your letter also asks about statutory authority to enter into and implement the IGAs. The United States relies, among other things, on the following authorities to enter into and implement the IGAs: 22 USC Section 2656; Internal Revenue Code Sections 1471, 1474(f), 6011, and 6103(k)(4) and Subtitle F, Chapter 61, Subchapter A, Part III, Subpart B (Information Concerning Transactions with Other Persons).”

None of these sources of law contain any authorization to enter into or implement the IGAs. It is patently clear that no such authorization has been made by Congress, and that the IGAs are sole executive agreements entered into by the executive branch on its own under its “plenary executive authority”. As such the agreements are constitutionally suspect because they do not accord with the delineated treaty power set forth in Article II. As Michael Ramsey wrote in a 1998 article, the danger is that if the president seeks to reach agreements outside of his plenary constitutional powers, the agreement lacks domestic legal effect.

Just to be clear, the fact that a document signed by an individual might or might not bind the United States as a matter of constitutional law does not mean that the United States will not honor whatever commitments the individual makes under such an agreement. The contrary is likely the case especially given the predicament Treasury found itself in, coupled with the pitiable small promises undertaken by the US in these “agreements.”

But we should be clear that the analytical terrain we should be traversing is whether the scope of the plenary executive authority can suffice to support as a matter of law the promises made in some 80 or so IGAs (many of which are currently agreements in principle only). We should not be wasting anyone’s time pretending that Congress has authorized Treasury or the Secretary of State to enter into the IGAs. It has not.

So let’s take a look at what these sources actually say.

22 USC 2656 is about the power of the secretary of state. It says:

The Secretary of State shall perform such duties as shall from time to time be enjoined on or intrusted to him by the President relative to correspondences, commissions, or instructions to or with public ministers or consuls from the United States, or to negotiations with public ministers from foreign states or princes, or to memorials or other applications from foreign public ministers or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs as the President of the United States shall assign to the Department, and he shall conduct the business of the Department in such manner as the President shall direct.
If that is an authorization for the IGAs, it is a vague one at best. Does an IGA constitute “correspondences, commissions, or instructions,” “negotiations”, “memorials or other applications,” or “such other matters respecting foreign affairs”? Under what interpretation of such relevant provisions? Also there is nothing here about the content or scope of the treaty power hereby implicitly authorized. Is IRS saying that with this power the Secretary of State can bind the nation at will on any matter, without the need for the President to seek advice and consent from the Senate prior to ratification? If so this is an extraordinary claim that does not scan with either historical practice or constitutional theory.

26 U.S. Code § 1471 is, of course, part of FATCA. It is entitled “Withholdable payments to foreign financial institutions”. It sets out the reporting obligations imposed on foreign financial institutions and states that the Secretary is authorized to treat a foreign financial institution as “meeting the requirements” of 1471 if the institutions complies with procedures or requirements set forth by the Secretary or is “a member of a class of institutions” identified by the Secretary.

There is explicit authorization in 1471 for the Secretary to engage in agreements with FFIs to implement FATCA. However where is the authorization in 1471 for the Secretary to engage in agreements with other countries to implement FATCA? It is not in the text, certainly.

Therefore to what specific provision of 1471 could IRS possibly refer when it suggests this statute authorizes individuals to sign agreements altering the reach of FATCA on behalf of the United States? There is clearly no explicit authority. Is it implied? If so, by what?

Moreover, many or most of the IGAs have been signed by officers of the Secretary of State, ambassadors, consulates general and others, and not by Treasury. Does s1471 also impliedly delegate its implied treaty power authority to those outside of Treasury who have signed on behalf of the United States? Certainly there is no explicit delegation here.

26 U.S. Code §1474(f), also part of FATCA, is the statutory authorization for the Secretary of the Treasury to
“prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of, and prevent the avoidance of, this chapter.”
There is no authority expressed in this provision for the Secretary to enter into agreements with other governments. Does IRS suggest that an IGA constitutes “regulations” or “other guidance”? Under what interpretation of that characterization does the Treasury interpret the promulgation of either regulations or other guidance as an authorization to negotiate an agreement with a foreign government?

26 U.S. Code § 6011 is entitled “General requirement of return, statement, or list,” and it states the parameters under which a person must make a return “[w]hen required by regulations prescribed by the Secretary.” There is authorization in 6011 for the Secretary to require taxpayers to fulfill various reporting requirements, including electronic reporting. There is no authorization in 6011 for the Secretary to engage in agreements with other countries to implement 6011.

What provision of 6011 is IRS suggesting confers the authority to negotiate agreements with other governments without Senate advice and consent? Does IRS mean to imply that each and every authorization that Congress gives Treasury for the prescription of regulations is an implicit authorization for Treasury (or its implied designees in other departments) to conclude agreements with other governments? If so, this is a surprising claim of executive power that is inconsistent with the treaty power described in Article II of the constitution. I would think Congress would like to know under what interpretation of Congressional direction to the Secretary to issue guidance, IRS or Treasury would conclude that it now holds the power to make treaties on behalf of the United States.

In other words, if IRS stands by this authorization it is suggesting that any tax code section that authorizes Treasury to regulate implicitly contains both a treaty making power as well as the power to delegate authority to departments other than that specifically charged with implementing the statute. That is not a plausible claim.

26 U.S. Code § 6103 is entitled “Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information” and it provides that “returns and return information shall be confidential,” with exceptions provided by statute. There is authorization in 6103 for the Secretary to engage in agreements with taxpayers to implement 6103 (for example in the case of advance pricing agreements). There is no authorization in 6103 for the Secretary to engage in agreements with other countries to implement 6103. Therefore, as with 1471 and 6011, to what specific provision of 6103 does IRS refer, and under what interpretation of the authority given by Congress in 6103 to enter into agreements with taxpayers does IRS find the authority for anyone to enter into agreements with other countries?

26 U.S. Code Part III, Subpart B is entitled “Information Concerning Transactions With Other Persons” and it contains 26 US Code §§ 6041 through 6050W—a very broad set of statutes involving information reporting, none of which explicitly grant anyone the power to bind the nation to anything. Certainly nowhere in the subpart appears any express authorization for Treasury to enter into agreements with other governments in respect of s1471 or otherwise. Therefore the same questions I have raised with respect to 1471, 1474, 6011, and 6103 would seem to arise here.

In short I see no express authorization anywhere in any of these authorities for the Treasury to enter into the intergovernmental agreements. Moreover there is no precedent for such agreements, and they are being signed by US officials who are not members of the Treasury. Does it not seem at least noteworthy that an enormous network of bilateral tax agreements has been established, a network that dwarfs the existing tax treaty network in size and scope, all without any explicit Congressional authorization, and without any regard to the Treaty power clearly laid out in Article II of the Constitution?

And why not cite the TIEA power?

I would add that is not at all clear why any list of authorizations for an individual to enter into agreements with other governments on behalf of the United States would not include 26 US Code § 274(h)(6)(C)(f), which has long been relied upon to by Treasury to find the authority to enter into tax information exchange agreements (“TIEAs”) that were not expressly authorized by the statute (because they are not listed in Section 274 as beneficiary Caribbean Basin countries). This statute has clearly been abused by Treasury in extending it way beyond what Congress intended. However, the fact that Congress has not complained suggests that it has acquiesced to the overreach.

That makes the TIEAs good precedent for those who want to defend the IGAs as a matter of law. In omitting this, the only plausible source of support for the authority to bind the nation without the advice and consent of Senate, does IRS suggest that Treasury now backs away from this authority? If so, why would they do that? The answer is of course that IRS believes that if necessary the TIEAs can also be considered sole executive agreements, and as such a TIEA “does not need Senate or other congressional approval.” This is an official claim that the IRS doesn’t think Treasury or anyone needs even s.274 as a cover: the executive can simply act alone to achieve its tax goals through international agreements.

At the end of the day, it is clear that Treasury saw a real and serious need to work with other governments to make FATCA work. There is no disputing that fact, and indeed it is a step toward multilateral cooperation which should be celebrated if only it weren’t so lopsided, and if only it weren’t being accomplished via the threat of economic sanctions for all the world’s tax havens except the United States itself. But no amount of need or want can sidestep the constitutional delegation of powers among the branches, and the treaty power is no exception: nor should it be. At least one Treasury official has already conceded that the explanation for the IGAs is that they are “executive agreements”, not Article II treaties.

IRS and Treasury should therefore just admit that the IGAs are simply “sole” executive agreements—not authorized by Congress but entered into by the executive branch under its sole discretion.

This is a tenuous position and it ought to fail constitutional scrutiny but for the fact that in the past, Congress has acquiesced to this exercise of power by the executive and it is likely to do so again, especially given how little has been undertaken by the United States in these IGAs. As Lee Sheppard pointed out in a Tax Notes article two years ago, “An executive agreement depends on the good will of the parties to enforce it.” And as Susie Morse also pointed out in Tax Notes last year, Treasury is very likely to try to enforce their part of the IGAs.

Since the US side of the IGAs is to deliver very modest undertakings that Treasury also believes can be done without congressional approval (namely, extending the longstanding s. 6049-based information exchange with Canada to other countries), this is probably true; all IGA promises to alter the law in the future should be seen as what they are, unenforceable promises that are beyond Treasury’s control and so won’t be delivered.

Therefore honesty is still the best policy for Treasury. Instead of citing non-existent statutory authority that is easily refuted by simple reading, Treasury should own what it is doing outright. These are sole executive agreements, they lack statutory approval, they undertake very little on the part of the United States, but they are an effective way of pretending to be cooperative so that other countries can save face as they submit to the threat of economic sanctions that is FATCA. There isn’t really any reason why Treasury shouldn’t acknowledge this reality, since it is, strictly speaking, of Congress’ own making.
Posted by Allison Christians at 8:34 PM

Now’s the Time – Here’s What They Promised – Let’s Hold Them to It




WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday chose Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories.

But as chief of staff, Mr. Priebus will be the one who has several hundred White House staff members reporting to him. He will be the primary gatekeeper for Mr. Trump and the person most responsible for steering the president’s agenda through Congress. That role will be especially critical for Mr. Trump, who has never served in government and has few connections to important political figures.

As Mr. Trump denounced the Republican primary process as rigged and, on occasion, threatened to quit the party and run on his own, Mr. Priebus remained neutral. And when Mr. Trump secured the nomination, Mr. Priebus stood by his side.

Mr. Priebus worked with Mr. Trump on the nuts and bolts of presidential politics, trying to smooth his rough edges and staying in close contact as a bare-bones campaign prepared to go up against the Clinton machine.




I found myself wondering just what it is expats will want to focus on now, that the Republicans have the Presidency, and control of the House and the Senate. As Stephen Kish pointed out, this could change in two years (well, really just a bit more than a year as once the campaiging for the interim elections in 2018 start, we will likely have lost our chance to get this done quickly. What we do in the next year is critical to dumping FATCA and CBT.

I started thinking about what they promised and have gone through the Platform. I am going to list the main things I found that relate to our issues; if anyone finds more, please post. I also have two documents that focus specifically on FATCA and RBT as well as the link to Republicans Overseas Resolutions posted long ago on their FB site. It would be helpful if others want to isolate points and phrases to focus on in communications to the Republicans.

People may. may not want to coordinate efforts but I assume there will be letters written, emails sent and so on. You may remember that Congressman Mark Meadows (R NC) introduced H.R. 5935 seeking to have an oversight hearing on FATCA repeal. Once we know the date of the hearings and who will sit on the committee, we would start there I presume. And then follow the movement of what occurs……Calls for witnesses were posted on the Isaac Brock Society indicating interested parties should contact Keith Redmond by email at FATCA_Testimonials@outlook.com


excerpts from sections related to our issues


Fair and Simple Taxes for Growth p 1

The current tax code is rightly the object of both anger and mockery. Its length is exceeded only by its complexity. We must start anew. That will be an enormous undertaking and, if it is to succeed, it must command the attention and approval of the American people………….. We will welcome all to this enterprise — to discuss, debate, challenge, and amend — so that together we can restore economic growth for the American people and, even more important, renew their faith in the future

NB:This is their promise to listen.
Our Tax Principles p 2
To ensure that past abuses will not be repeated, we assert these fundamental principles. We oppose retroactive taxation. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes. We oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare.

NB:This would deal with the bizarre idea that 877A is retroactive.
To guard against hypertaxation of the American people in any restructuring of the federal tax system, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.

NB:This would eliminate the whole need for filing in terms of taxes as value added or national sales tax will not affect Americans abroad in any significant way.
A Competitive America p 2
American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rates. That’s like putting lead shoes on your cross-country team. It reduces companies’ ability to compete overseas, encourages them to move abroad, lessens their investment, cripples job creation here at home, lowers American wages, and fosters the avoidance of tax liability — without actually increasing tax revenues. A more damaging policy is hard to imagine.

NB:Please see an excellent paper by Roger Conklin which outlines how CBT directly affects Trade.(via The Revenue Act of 1962 & The Tax Reform Act of 1976; the U.S. has never recorded a trade surplus since 1975).


We endorse the recommendation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as well as the current Administration’s Export Council, to switch to a territorial system of taxation so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home. We believe American companies should be headquartered in America. We should reduce barriers to accomplishing that goal. A Winning Trade Policy International trade is crucial for all sectors of America’s economy. Massive trade deficits are not. We envision a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets, what has been called a “Reagan Economic Zone,” in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.

NB:Trade is important to Trump. He needs to know how CBT affects it. If they offer territorial taxation to corporations,they can offer RBT to Americans abroad.

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy p 13

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Foreign Bank and Asset Reporting Requirements result in government’s warrantless seizure of personal financial information without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Americans overseas should enjoy the same rights as Americans residing in the United States, whose private financial information is not subject to disclosure to the government except as to interest earned. The requirement for all banks around the world to provide detailed information to the IRS about American account holders outside the United States has resulted in banks refusing service to them. Thus, FATCA not only allows “unreasonable search and seizures” but also threatens the ability of overseas Americans to lead normal lives. We call for its repeal and for a change to residency-based taxation for U.S. citizens overseas.

NB: This needs no comment. Other than it might be pointed out that many of the accounts reported on FBAR and 8938, are registered government plans. Some even include government grants which are taxed. The idea that these can be used for money laundering or terrorism is simply absurd.


Reforming the Treaty System p 26

We intend to restore the treaty system specified by the Constitution: The president negotiates agreements, submits them to the Senate, with ratification requiring two-thirds of the senators present and voting. This was good enough for George Washington but is too restrictive for the current chief executive, who presumes to bind this country to bilateral and multilateral agreements of his devising. His media admirers portray his personal commitments — whether on climate change, Iranian weapons, or other matters — as done deals. They are not, and a new Republican executive will work with the Congress to re-establish constitutional order in America’s foreign relations. All international executive agreements and political arrangements entered into by the current Administration must be deemed null and void as mere expressions of the current president’s preferences. Those which are in the national interest but would traditionally have been made by treaty must be abrogated, renegotiated as treaties, and transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent as required by the Constitution. The United States will withdraw from all agreements and arrangements failing those standards.

NB: Bye bye IGAs

Please see Professor Allison Christians excellent paper The Dubious Legal Pedigree of IGAs (and Why it Matters)

Internal Revenue Service p 27

We also support making the federal tax code so simple and easy to understand that the IRS becomes obsolete and can be abolished.

NB: Bye bye OVDP, Streamlined, threats of penalties etc

Here are three more direct sources of the Republican positions. I will probably do the same with these as above. But the more the merrier!

Resolution Supporting Residence Based Taxation

Resolution toRepeal the Foreign AccountTaxCompliance Act

A proposed RNC Resolution titled — Resolution to Repeal the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compiled by Republicans Overseas.


US Intention to Pursue Enforcement in Spite of Foreign Law

cross posted from the Isaac Brock Society

Philadelphia Tax Conference Wednesday, November 2, 2016:

“We will pursue enforcement of a Bank of Nova Scotia summons when a domestic entity has dominion or control over records located outside the United States, even where the domestic entity asserts that production may be a violation of foreign law, if our interest in combatting tax evasion substantially outweighs the interest in foreign jurisdictions in allowing banks to preserve the privacy of their customers.

Bank of Nova Scotia summons


Absent direction from the Legislative and Executive branches of our federal government, we are not willing to emasculate the grand jury process whenever a foreign nation attempts to block our criminal justice process. It is unfortunate the Bank of Nova Scotia suffers from differing legal commands of separate sovereigns, but as we stated in Field:
In a world where commercial transactions are international in scope, conflicts are inevitable. Courts and legislatures should take every reasonable precaution to avoid placing individuals in the situation [the Bank] finds [it]self. Yet, this court simply cannot acquiesce in the proposition that United States criminal investigations must be thwarted whenever there is conflict with the interest of other states.
In re Grand Jury Proceedings. United States v. Field, 535 F.2d at 410.

For the reasons stated above, the judgment entered by the district court is



I am not at all suggesting that minnows would have any need to be overly fearful. Given our government’s recent “throwing us under the bus”, I have little faith they will do anything to fight this if it becomes larger in scope.

If a bank acted outside of the tidy IGA arrangement and was involved in the exchange of private taxpayer information to the IRS (a PIPEDA violation-even if against US Persons), wouldn’t the bank open itself up to being sued?

I think it is totally possible Harden, Van deMark etc, may not be of much help given the overall shift regarding extraterritorial tax…..


Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo Delivers Keynote Address at the American Bar Association’s 27th Annual Philadelphia Tax Conference
Philadelphia, PA United States ~ Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Excerpts concerning “offshore” efforts:

In addition, since 2008, the department, working with our colleagues in IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), charged more than 160 U.S. accountholders with tax evasion and willful failure to report foreign accounts and more than 50 individuals who assisted in this criminal conduct. We also reached resolutions with nine foreign financial institutions outside of the Swiss Bank Program and continue to pursue investigations of entities located within and outside Switzerland.

Our criminal offshore enforcement efforts have encouraged participation in the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure programs, through which more than 55,000 taxpayers have come into compliance and paid nearly $10 billion in tax, interest and penalties since 2009. In addition, filing of Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs) has increased from 332,000 reports for calendar year 2007, to over a million reports for 2015.

Our civil trial attorneys also furthered our offshore tax enforcement efforts, seeking the issuance of John Doe summonses to identify U.S. taxpayers whose identities are unknown and who are engaged in violations of the internal revenue laws and initiating summons enforcement proceedings to assist the IRS in conducting its examinations and determining the accurate tax due. The information we seek is often located in the United States; however, as we recently demonstrated in a district court in Miami, we will pursue enforcement of a Bank of Nova Scotia summons when a domestic entity has dominion or control over records located outside the United States, even where the domestic entity asserts that production may be a violation of foreign law, if our interest in combatting tax evasion substantially outweighs the interest in foreign jurisdictions in allowing banks to preserve the privacy of their customers.

Our civil trial attorneys also are actively engaged in suits involving penalties assessed for failing to file FBARs. These suits include affirmative litigation to collect unpaid penalties, and defensive litigation raising a variety of issues. We have approximately three dozen cases involving FBAR issues pending, the vast majority of which include a willfulness penalty for at least one of the years at issue. These suits have raised issues related to the computation of the penalty, burden of proof, service of process abroad, definition of a foreign account, corresponding assessments on spouses, venue, jurisdiction, and challenges under the Administrative Procedures Act.


I was curious what Ms. Ciraolo was referring to “recently in Miami” was about; not sure this is it but it is related.

Switzerland Defeated, the U.S. Turns Against Accounts in Other Countries

NB-note use of the word “defeated” – the country of Switzerland is “defeated” – Really….the mindset is unreal……
Two weeks prior to the Cayman guilty pleas in New York (March 9, 2016), in a different offshore banking prosecution in Miami, DOJ requested that a federal court issue a “Bank of Nova Scotia” summons to UBS in Miami. The summons demanded the records of a UBS account in Singapore belonging to a U.S. taxpayer in China. In the past, DOJ has repeatedly used “John Doe” summonses against foreign banks (including in Switzerland, Belize, India and the Caribbean) to obtain information about a broad class of U.S. taxpayers unknown by specific name. “Bank of Nova Scotia” summonses have not been used as frequently until now. They derive from a court case where a U.S. court compelled a branch of Scotiabank in Miami to disclose information to DOJ regarding a Scotia branch in the Cayman Islands, notwithstanding Cayman’s secrecy laws.

In the present case, UBS will argue that Singapore’s bank secrecy laws prevent UBS from providing the account records to DOJ. The parallel argument applied, of course, to accounts at UBS in Switzerland when DOJ prosecuted UBS in 2008. And yet, Swiss bank secrecy failed for UBS (and its U.S. clients) in 2009. Because of UBS’ substantial presence in the U.S., it was forced to settle with DOJ or else face penalties against UBS’ banking licenses and assets within the United States. For the same reason, we can expect that, just like the Swiss account records, the UBS Singapore account records will ultimately be handed over to DOJ.

Notwithstanding UBS’ vulnerability with respect to its U.S. assets, it is unlikely that the state of Singapore would risk its financial reputation to protect non-compliant accounts. Singapore makes a significant amount of money from legitimate international banking and finance and would not jeopardize this by being “blacklisted” as an uncooperative tax haven, as it was a decade ago. To this end, in 2014 Singapore signed FATCA, whereby Singapore financial institutions report information about U.S. account owners to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, which in turns furnishes the data to the IRS. In addition, a new Singapore regulation requires banks to identify all accounts that may harbor the proceeds of tax evasion, and close them. Failure to abide by this new law will result in criminal charges for the Singaporean bankers.

It is of course no surprise that DOJ and the IRS are pursuing undisclosed accounts in Cayman and Singapore. The U.S. has not limited its enforcement activity to non-compliant accounts in Switzerland alone. Within the last couple of years, DOJ has moved against banks and financial institutions in the Caribbean (CIBC First Caribbean, Stanford Bank and Butterfield Bank in the Bahamas, Barbados and elsewhere), Belize (Belize Bank International Limited and Belize Bank Limited), Panama (Sovereign Management) and India (HSBC India). We expect that other financial institutions, in other jurisdictions, are being investigated as well.

The settlement by some one hundred Swiss banks with DOJ, whereby in exchange for paying fines and naming U.S. account holders the banks avoid prosecution, has now freed up manifold resources at DOJ and IRS to examine and prosecute other financial institutions beyond Switzerland. Moreover, the account information handed over by the Swiss banks when settling with DOJ provided DOJ with a road map of funds leaving Switzerland and where these funds went, the so-called “leaver accounts”. DOJ and IRS are especially driven to investigate and prosecute these account holders, as they show an added level of intent to deceive the IRS. Many of the leaver accounts went to jurisdictions like Dubai, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong and Panama. These jurisdictions are now targets of DOJ investigation.


Solving U.S. Citizenship Problems-with special guest Andrew Grossman Montreal Monday December 5, 2016

A very special meeting for “U.S. Born People” or those who are otherwise “U.S. Persons” !(Naturalized U.S. citizens or Green Card holders)

Joining John Richardson will be Andrew Grossman

Discussing the “hot topic” of U.S. citizenship (including its liabilities in a FATCA and FBAR world)

In addition to focusing on the problems faced by those who agree they are U.S. citizens (to be a citizen or not to be a citizen …), this seminar will include consideration of …


  • Why the US cannot automatically restore your citizenship without your consent

  • The advantages of not making use of benefits of U.S. citizenship

  • Why the U.S. cannot force those born abroad to accept U.S. citizenship

  • Dominant Nationality & FATCA

  • About the revenue rule: How is it affected by the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty? Is the Revenue Rule on the way out?

  • Can the IRS place a lien on my assets even though I live in Canada?

The idea for this meeting grew out of Andy’s participation on a post at the Isaac Brock Society (Andy05).

“If anyone wants to follow up on issues I have raised, I will be in Montréal Dec. 1-3 & 5-6 and in Stanstead QC Dec. 3-5 and would be glad to meet for coffee and exchange views. I do not seek and scarcely ever accept clients but like to exchange views as an academic lawyer with a view to nationality law, cross-border tax and conflict of laws. French or English ok.”
Continue reading Solving U.S. Citizenship Problems-with special guest Andrew Grossman Montreal Monday December 5, 2016

Dual Citizens of Sweden, France, Netherlands, Denmark & Canada take note! Your Country WILL NOT Collect for the U.S.

Last week in my email was a link to an article by Michael J DeBlis (unable to determine whether it was the father or the son). It runs in my memory that prior to the launch of the Tax Connections website, the younger Michael had started a blog that was specifically about expatriate issues and many of us joined and took part. He seemed particularly sympathetic and supportive of our plight and one who I would never have labelled a “condor.” And this post is in no way meant to be demeaning.

Imagine my surprise to read this:

Consider the following example. Pierre is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada who presently resides in Montreal. He has fastidiously filed U.S. and Canadian tax returns for the last ten years. Following an audit of his 2012 U.S. tax return, the IRS determined that there was a $ 20,000 deficiency and mailed him a notice of deficiency. Pierre timely filed a protest but Appeals found in favor of the IRS. Having failed to file a petition with the tax court, that deficiency soon became a $ 20,000 assessment.

The IRS now seeks to collect on its claim by imposing a tax lien on real estate owned by Pierre in Canada. Essentially, what the U.S. government is attempting to do is cajole collection officials from the Canadian Revenue Agency (Agence du revenue du Canada) to do its dirty work for it: namely, to collect Pierre’s unpaid U.S. taxes by enforcing an IRS tax lien on property located within Canada.

As incredible as this might sound, reliance upon a foreign taxing authority for assistance in collecting a tax judgment against a citizen of the requesting country is entirely permissible under the terms of the U.S.-Canadian Treaty. Of course, such a request must be accompanied by documents firmly establishing that the taxes have been finally determined.[ix]

Therefore, the Canadian Revenue Agency would have no choice but to enforce the lien and to collect the unpaid taxes. But what if Pierre filed a motion in a Canadian court to have the tax lien imposed by the Canadian Revenue Agency, at the behest of the IRS, set aside? Not surprisingly, the court would refuse Pierre’s request on the grounds that the imposition of the tax lien was proper under the terms of the treaty.

The reason for my surprise was that it is a well-known fact not only in Canada, but among expats in general, that Canadians are lucky because Canada will not collect tax for the U.S. on people who were Canadian citizens at the time the tax was incurred. Nor will the CRA collect FBAR penalties as they are not a tax, falling under Title 31 of the U.S.C. Most of us had become aware of that when our-then Finance Minister, the late Jim Flaherty had stated unequivocably that Canada would not collect for the U.S. under these two circumstances. So I decided to post a comment.

Patricia Moon
2016-10-26 18:51:10
Thanks for this article, particularly for outlining the limits of what can/cannot be done with regard to the border. While the officers can be bullies, along with knowing very clearly, the limits of the Reed Amendment, this is good information to have. Canada and Denmark both have provisions that state they will not collect for that US citizens/persons that are also, their own citizens. In the case of the US-CDN Treaty: Article XXVIA 8) No assistance shall be provided under this Article for a revenue claim in respect of a taxpayer to the extent that the taxpayer can demonstrate that: a) Where the taxpayer is an individual, the revenue claim relates either to a taxable period in which the taxpayer was a citizen of the requested state …………. So the CRA would not collect for the US in Pierre’s case, since he is dual and a citizen of Canada. While the boundaries for the revenue rule may be fading, it is still alive and one which the late Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, reiterated many times while voicing his shock that the US would expect FATCA to be implemented in Canada. It is very clear that FBAR penalties, which are not part of Title 26 and therefore not covered under the Treaty, also would not be collected by the Canada Revenue Agency. The Canadian courts have refused to enforce claims of the US against Canadian citizens. I presume the Canadian government would honor XXVIA for US citizens/persons who are permanent residents of Canada who are not Canadian citizens. What I am afraid we will see, in spite of past rulings, is that the IRS will attempt to collect from Canadian bank branches in the US with corresponding branches in Canada. I have been told that this does happen by compliance people in spite of court rulings etc. However, it seems to me a bank would be liable to be sued, since presumably, PIPEDA (privacy laws) would in this case, apply to the US citizen/person even though it is overridden by the IGA when the bank sends info to the CRA. We have all seen how the compliance industry tends to enforce the “law” even when the IRS etc, has not provided guidance (which also, is not necessarily, the “law”). An example of this is putting someone who relinquished US citizenship decades ago, into the system according to 877A. Tax lawyers have tended to dismiss past citizenship laws that as far as can be seen, are not automatically changed retroactively. This is completely unacceptable. It is largely useless to Canada to have the right to collect on Canadian citizens resident in the United States due to the fact that once a Canadian is a permanent resident of another country, they are no longer liable for tax in Canada. This is also the reason that FATCA is of very little value to Canada.


Patricia Moon
2016-10-26 23:10:13
You may be interested in a few of the court cases mentioned (indirectly) above: United States of America v. Harden (1963), 41 D.L.R. (2d) 721 Supreme Court of Canada https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/7322/index.do 68 O.R. (2d) 379; 1989 Ont. Rep. LEXIS 206 RE VAN DEMARK ET AL. AND TORONTO-DOM http://uniset.ca/other/cs6/68OR2d379.html Chua v. Minister of National Revenue, 2000 DTC 6527 (FCTD http://ca.vlex.com/vid/chua-v-minister-of-national-revenue-38618242

I received a message asking if I could confirm the information concerning Canadians at this post on the CitizenshipTaxation FB group.I became involved in the conversation and remembered that I had recently learned that Denmark also had such a clause protecting its citizens in the US-Denmark Treaty. So I wondered if it could be the same for the other three countries that have a Mutual Assistance in Collection clause in their treaties with the U.S. namely, Sweden, France and the Netherlands. It didn’t take too long to find that they do indeed have the same type of clause. I was dumbfounded. Why had we never heard this before? I was careful to look at the Protocols because some of the Treaty dates are over 20 years old; there was nothing to suggest the conclusion was incorrect. I also had a couple of professionals take a look and they agreed.

So this is A VERY BIG DEAL. If you are a dual citizen of DENMARK SWEDEN FRANCE the NETHERLANDS or CANADA and were a citizen at a time when the U.S. claims you owe U.S. tax, your country WILL NOT ASSIST THE U.S. in collecting U.S. tax. !!!!!!!!

Then I wondered about FBAR and where that might be confirmed since it is not specifically stated in the Treaty. I googled and found a link to a comment of mine that I have no memory of posting:

25 July 2012 T.I. 2011-0427221E5 – FBAR penalties

Principal Issues: Whether US FBAR penalties are included in “revenue claims” defined in Art.XXVI-A(1) of the Canada-US Treaty.

Position: No.

Reasons: FBAR penalties are not civil penalties in respect of taxes covered under Art.II of the Treaty.

25 July 2012 T.I. 2011-0427221E5 – FBAR penalties

P. T.
(613) xxx-xxxx
July 25, 2012


Re: Civil Penalties and Article XXVI-A

We are writing in response to your letter of November 7, 2011, in which you asked for our comments in respect of the application of Article XXVI-A of the Canada-United States Tax Convention (1980) (“Treaty”).

You have described a hypothetical situation involving an individual who is a citizen of the United States (“U.S.”) by right of birth, and a Canadian citizen by way of naturalization prior to 1995. The individual is a resident of Canada for purposes of the Income Tax Act (“Act”) and the Treaty. We are to assume that the individual has failed to file Form TD F90-22.1 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with the U.S. Department of the Treasury as required under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act. As such, the individual has been assessed a civil penalty (“FBAR Penalty”) in the U.S. for the failure to file Form F90-22.1.

In this regard, you have asked whether the FBAR Penalty could be considered a civil penalty that is included in a “revenue claim” as defined at paragraph 1 of Article XXVI-A of the Treaty, and if so, whether paragraph 8 of Article XXVI-A would preclude the collection of the FBAR Penalty by the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) on behalf of the U.S. Government.

Our Comments

The CRA has previously indicated that Canada would assist the U.S. Government in the collection of interest and penalty in respect of U.S. taxes owing pursuant to Article XXVI-A of the Treaty. However, paragraph 8 of Article XXVI-A provides that Canada will not assist in the collection of a revenue claim from the U.S. Government in respect of an individual who is a Canadian citizen, such as the individual described in your hypothetical situation.

In addition, we are of the view that a civil penalty, such as the FBAR Penalty, which is imposed under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, is not a penalty in respect of U.S. taxes owing. Therefore, it is our view that an FBAR Penalty is not an amount that would be considered a “revenue claim” pursuant to the definition at paragraph 1 of Article XXVI-A.

We trust that our comments will be of assistance.

Yours truly,

Robert Demeter
Section Manager
for Director
International Division
Income Tax Rulings Directorate
Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch

Then I started wondering about FATCA. The “reassurance” we receive constantly from the Canadian government is that FATCA does not result in any new tax etc, that it is just an information exchange. Which begs the question, why is the information being collected if there won’t be any “new” taxes? In this regard:

Andrew Bonham, “FATCA and FBAR Reporting by Individuals: Enforcement Considerations
from a Canadian Perspective” (2012) 60:2 Canadian Tax Journal 305-54, at 345.

Still, as noted above, the minister has the discretion to refuse assistance in collection. Certainly from a public policy standpoint, it must be relevant that the Crown, in providing collection assistance on a FATCA revenue claim, would in many cases be acting against its own taxpayers in the enforcement of a claim founded upon information obtained in a manner that may not be constitutional under the laws of Canada. The Crown is not obliged to do anything contrary to the public policy of Canada in collecting a revenue claim under the treaty. This last point is analogous to the common-law public policy defence discussed above.

However, it is also quite possible, and perhaps probable, that FATCA is in equal part both an information-gathering tool and a revenue-generating tool. It is for this reason that FBAR will never go away. With information garnered from FATCA FFI reports, penalties can be levied under both FATCA and FBAR if an individual fails to file. However, as we have noted, the long arm of the IRS cannot reach Canada with respect to FBAR, and as further posited, it is likely that FATCA penalties would also be unenforceable in Canada. From the US perspective, the best-case scenario would see all financial institutions around the globe complying with the strictures of the disclosure requirement. Armed with the massive list that would be generated from such compliance, the IRS would merely have to check names against received disclosures and levy fines against those individuals who had not complied. Carrying this scenario further, the IRS could then, after the exhaustion of all administrative appeal periods and recourse, approach the minister of national revenue with a list of individuals owing FATCA penalties and ask that those penalties be enforced by the CRA under the terms of the Canada-US tax treaty. It is assumed that in a large number of cases, a notice from the IRS to an individual noting lack of FATCA compliance would not be responded to, and in those cases, a penalty of $50,000 would be levied, thereby raising a very significant amount of revenue.

Finally, although the revenue rule and the penal/public-law rule would currently preclude Canadian courts from assisting in collection, the ever-expanding role of judicial comity may one day see a repeal of these rules, or at least a relaxation of their strictures. Should that occur, the United States would be in a position to resort to principles of public international law as a basis for enforcement, even against dual citizens. In such a case, it may well be open to defendants to argue that the mere fact of their US citizenship should not, in and of itself, be enough to satisfy the real and substantial connection test—especially in cases where the defendant has had little or nothing to do with the United States and has certainly derived no benefit from his or her US citizenship.

A lot of interesting possibilities are discussed in the article above and it is definitely worth reading. While there are no guarantees that these Treaties will not change in the future, the advantage of this information now is:

  • if you are in an unsure situation at the moment, this is something that is as much a part of your situation as your “U.S. Person-ness” and can be a great help in deciding what your risk level is
  • if you are not compliant & not yet a citizen of the 2nd country, you might consider applying for citizenship now
  • you can help get this information out to other members of your expat community

Lastly, here are the actual wordings in the treaties involved; I am only including the Article/paragraphs that pertain to this idea.

• Income Tax Treaty – 1994
• Protocol – 2005


Administrative Assistance

1. The Contracting States undertake to lend assistance and support to each other in the collection of the taxes to which this Convention applies, together with interest, costs, and additions to such taxes.

4. The assistance provided for in this Article shall not be accorded with respect to the citizens, companies, or other entities of the State to which the application is made, except as is necessary to insure that the exemption or reduced rate of tax granted under this Convention to such citizens, companies, or other entities shall not be enjoyed by persons not entitled to such benefits.


• Income Tax Treaty – 1994
• Protocol – 2004, 2009

Paragraph 5 of Article 28 (Assistance in Collection)
of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:

“The assistance provided for in this Article shall not be accorded with respect to citizens, companies, or other entities of the Contracting State to which application is made.”

Assistance in Collection

1. The Contracting States undertake to lend assistance and support to each other in the collection of the taxes to which this Convention applies (together with interest, costs, and additions to the taxes and fines not being of a penal character) in cases where the taxes are definitively due according to the laws of the State making the application.

5. The assistance provided for in this Article shall not be accorded with respect to citizens, companies, or other entities of the Contracting State to which application is made except in cases where the exemption from or reduction of tax or the payment of tax credits provided for in
paragraph 4 of Article 10 (Dividends) granted under the Convention to such citizens, companies, or other entities has, according to mutual agreement between the competent authorities of the Contracting States, been enjoyed by persons not entitled to such benefits.

Article XII of the Protocol replaces paragraph 5 of Article 28 (Assistance in Collection) of the Convention. The change revises paragraph 5 so as to remove the now obsolete reference to the provision of paragraph 4 of Article 10 (Dividends) of the existing Convention prior to amendment by the Protocol related to the “avoir fiscal.”


Assistance And Support in Collection

1. The States undertake to lend assistance and support to each other in the collection of the taxes which are the subject of the present Convention, together with interest, costs, and additions to the taxes and fines not being of a penal character.

4. The assistance provided for in this Article shall not be accorded with respect to the citizen, corporations, or other entities of the State to which application is made, except in cases where the exemption or reduced rate of tax granted under the Convention to such citizens, corporations or other entities has, according to mutual agreement between the competent authorities of the States, been enjoyed by persons not entitled to such benefits.



Administrative Assistance

1. The Contracting States undertake to lend assistance to each other in the collection of taxes referred to in Article 2 (Taxes Covered), together with interest, costs, additions to such taxes, and civil penalties, referred to in this Article as a “revenue claim.”

8. No assistance shall be provided under this Article for a revenue claim in respect of a taxpayer to the extent that the taxpayer can demonstrate that a) where the taxpayer is an individual, the revenue claim relates to a taxable period in which the taxpayer was a citizen of the requested State, and b) where the taxpayer is an entity that is a company, estate or trust, the revenue claim relates to a taxable period in which the taxpayer derived its status as such an entity from the laws in force in the requested State.


Article XXVI A
Assistance in Collection

1. The Contracting States undertake to lend assistance to each other in the collection of taxes referred to in paragraph 9, together with interest, costs, additions to such taxes and civil penalties, referred to in this Article as a “revenue claim”.
8. No assistance shall be provided under this Article for a revenue claim in respect of a taxpayer to the extent that the taxpayer can demonstrate that
(a) where the taxpayer is an individual, the revenue claim relates to a taxable period in which the taxpayer was a citizen of the requested State, and………

Article 22
1. Subparagraph 8(a) of Article XXVI A (Assistance in Collection) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:

(a) Where the taxpayer is an individual, the revenue claim relates either to a taxable period in which the taxpayer was a citizen of the requested State or, if the taxpayer became a citizen of the requested State at any time before November 9, 1995 and is such a citizen at the time the applicant State applies for collection of the claim, to a taxable period that ended before November 9, 1995; and

2. Paragraph 9 of Article XXVI A (Assistance in Collection) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:

9. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article II (Taxes Covered), the provisions of this Article shall apply to all categories of taxes collected, and to contributions to social security and employment insurance premiums levied, by or on behalf of the Government of a Contracting State.

Did the U.S. sign an IGA with UK back in 1812?

cross-posted from Isaac Brock SocietyLetter to Ambassador LeVine

Richard M Stevens says
October 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm
Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine
U.S. Embassy Bern Sulgeneckstrasse 19
CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland

Ambassador LeVine:

I have recently seen a scanned copy of a letter from you, dated September 28, 2016, addressed to an unknown party (the scanned copy has more parts blacked out than a document obtained under FOIA), about the inability of “U.S. Persons” to obtain banking services in Switzerland. The letter begins,

One of my foremost priorities is to respond to the concerns of U.S. persons residing here in Switzerland.\

I find this a bit difficult to believe. I would have thought that an American ambassador had some obligation to support US policy, which is to attack U.S. persons abroad, not respond to their concerns.

If you really want to respond to the concerns of that most unfortunate creature known as the U.S. person abroad, there are a few things you can do. First, instead of complaining to Swiss Banks, the victims of American bullying, you can complain to the hypernationalistic blowhards in Washington who are doing the bullying, intimidating banks around the world into dropping American clients.

Second, perhaps you recall how your country reacted in 1812 when the United Kingdom imposed its law extraterritorially, impressing American citizens who used to be British into their navy. The US did not sign an inter-governmental agreement promising to help the UK remove their former citizens from American ships; it declared war on the UK. You could write to the Swiss government, urging them to respond to extraterritorial aggression by your country the same way—by declaring war on the US, something Switzerland and every other country in the world has thus far been too craven and cowardly to do.

As for those most unfortunate US persons, the only advice I can give them is to do whatever it takes to stop being U.S. persons. Get rid of their US passports or green cards, quick time. For the citizens, this involves a long, difficult, and expensive process the US would surely condemn as a serious human rights violation had it belonged to any other country. However, once completed, these former citizens of “the land of the free” can experience the same modern banking services that any Chinese, Cuban, Iranian, or North Korean citizens living in Switzerland already take for granted. They will enjoy not only the conveniences of 21st century life, such as holding banking or investment accounts, but also the pleasant sensation of wiping their arses with the US flag every time they open one.

As for you, perhaps you would like to consider resigning from your ambassadorship, and finding some capacity where you can work for freedom instead of against it. Freedom and human rights are under threat around the world as they have not been for a long time, and you’re on the wrong side of that battle. Time to change.