This is a new update with some timelines from the Canadian Federal Court showing what has to be done before we know the Charter-Constitutional trial date (taking place next year). In part, there will be motions and responses related to differences of opinions as to what documents and information have to be provided prior to trial:
“Order dated 22-DEC-2016 rendered by Roger Lafrenière, Esq., Prothonotary Matter considered with personal appearance
The Court’s decision is with regard to Case Management Conference [recently held by the parties to move the litigation forward]
1. D [The Defendants — Attorney General and Revenue Minister] are granted leave to s/f [serve/file] their motion in writing for production of documents and particulars.
2. P [The Plaintiffs — Kazia, Ginny, and Gwen] shall s/f their responding motion record within 28 days from the date of service of the D motion referred to in paragraph 1 above
3. P are granted leave to bring their motion for summary trial [the Charter-Constitutional trial]. P are dispensed from s/f a motion record at this stage and shall instead s/f a notice of motion and contemporaneously serve their affidavit evidence [e.g. testimonies from our Witnesses and Expert Witnesses].
4. The timeline for the D to file a response to the P motion for summary trial is suspended until further order
5. Any further affs, docs, or particulars, and anything else req’d by any order resulting from the D’s motion referred to in para 1 above shall be produced by the Ps to the Ds within 30 days of such order
6. The parties shall make best efforts to schedule the Ds examinations for discovery of the Ps within 45 days of satisfaction of the requirements, if any, described in para 5 above
7. The parties shall requisition a CMC [Case Management Conference] as soon as possible following completion of the steps set out in para 5 and 6 above in order to, among other things: A) fix a timetable for completion of the steps leading to the hearing of the P motion for summary trial; and B) schedule the hearing of the P motion for summary trial.
Filed on 22-DEC-2016 copies sent to parties”
Sorry again for the slow pace.
— I noticed on Brock a recent comment that “Brock is populated with anonymouses who toe the curb.” but confirm that our Witnesses (as well as our Plaintiffs) have all been willing to “out themselves” publicly — and that their names will be disclosed in the affidavits.
The Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation will retain James J. Butera in the lawsuit against the United States regarding citizenship-based taxation.
In a related matter, on September 8, 2014, our sister organization, the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereigntyhired Washington-based attorney James Butera of Jones Alkers LLP to advocate specifically for “Accidental Americans” – “those who are not U.S. citizens in any normal sense of the word” but who meet the technical, administrative definition of “U.S. person” but who have lived all their lives in Canada and feel no real connection to the United States.
“Growing numbers of Canadians dispute the right of the United States to impose U.S. citizenship on them without their express consent,” Mr. Butera says.
from The Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty website:
WASHINGTON D.C. ATTORNEY Mr. Jim Butera of Jones Walker LLP files a submission on behalf of the Alliance to the United States Department of State pointing out that the renunciation fee increase from US$450 to US$2,350 violates the Expatriate Act of 1868 and the U.S. Administrative Procedure Act and must be immediately suspended. Read Mr. Butera’s able submission and our press release in English and in French.
Mr. Butera has a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Centre and was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1973. His areas of specialty are Banking & Financial Services and Government Relations & Legislative Advocacy. He has argued cases in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims,U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Butera entered law school at Georgetown University Law Center after serving as Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He served two combat tours in Vietnam as a Lieutenant. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, a Navy Commendation and two Presidential Unit Citations. He has published law review articles on a variety of topics, and was a contributing author to Jaws of Victory, an analysis of presidential politics published by Little, Brown & Co.
After graduating with his juris doctor degree, he began his law and government relations career on the staff of the American Bankers Association. From 1974 to 1989, he handled federal government matters for the National Council of Savings Institutions, a major Washington-based national trade association. During his tenure at that association, Mr. Butera directed its government affairs program and served as the organization’s Executive Vice President. Mr. Butera served on a federally-appointed financial institutions Advisory Council in 1987 and 1988. In 1988, he was among the industry experts selected to prepare The American Agenda, under the direction of former Presidents Carter and Ford, to identify the major banking issues facing the incoming Administration.
Mr. Butera has been at the forefront of another FATCA-related case since 2013; the Florida and Texas Bankers Associations filed suit in order to prevent releasing private banking information of their clients. Please see:
The Cato Institute has some interesting observations about the case; along with the National Federation of Independent Business has filed an amicus brief in support of Supreme Court review.
The Florida and Texas Bankers Associations are trying to challenge this regulation, but are being frustrated by interpretative jiggery-pokery that prevents their serious legal arguments from even being heard. While the federal district court allowed this lawsuit to proceed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed course and held that the associations couldn’t challenge the regulation because, under the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), one can’t challenge a tax until the government has attempted to enforce the allegedly improper law and collect the attendant tax.
cross-posted from Brock Posted on February 12, 2012 by Just Me
Forget about the notion that CBT has been with us since the Civil War. Forget about the absurd conclusion of Cook v Tait. The real beginning of our story started 55 years ago on October 16, 1962. This was the beginning of the U.S. government’s campaign of punishment for Americans who dare to live abroad.
Many people have often said that the only way to get the U.S. to understand our situation is to focus not on harms, or fairness, or Constitutionality. Doing that just fuels the clichés and “alternative facts” about all the fatcats abroad, cheating on taxes. Instead, as Roger Conklin tried to do, the Congress, new Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and POTUS should realize that these policies have resulted in a trade deficit for 55 years.
Finally, it merits at least some mention that fifty years ago, before these extra fiscal and financial reporting burdens were put on the shoulders of overseas Americans, and while they were still fully able to compete with the citizens of other countries in the same foreign markets, the United States had enjoyed more than sixty-seven years of unbroken trade surpluses with the rest of the world. During the subsequent decade, after this new toxic tax burden was imposed on those living and working abroad, the U.S. foreign trade position began to weaken, as many had predicted, and a trade deficit appeared for the first time in the 20th Century in 1971. As the tax burden on overseas Americans became increasingly heavy and increasingly incomprehensible, these deficits soon became a permanent fixture of U.S. trade performance, and we are now in our 36th straight deficit year with the cumulative amount of these trade deficits now exceeding $8 trillion.
It is not very obvious so far that the current Administration in Washington , despite the enthralling campaign promises that were made in 2008, has any serious interest in leveling the worldwide playing field for trade. The results for the first eleven months of 2011 already show an impressive deficit for this most recent year of more than $500 billion, which is the worst trade performance of the last three years, and this deficit still grows each and every day at a rate in excess of $1.5 billion. The aggregate trade performance for the first three years of the current administration is now a negative $1.4 trillion! (Update: Year over year, the trade gap for 2011 was up 11.6% to $558 billion.)
This history of the sad and incomprehensibly self-destructive behavior of the United States during the past 50 years, which is unique among all of the major trading nations of the world today, is well worth reading and contemplating.
As has been stated many times before, major world powers don’t always decline due to destruction coming from outside. They sometimes infect themselves with terminal obsessions from within that, alas, seem to then become incurable. This doesn’t have to happen this time to Uncle Sam, but to avoid it something rather urgent needs to be done before it becomes too late.
This is something our oft-criticized fellow expats at ACA understood and have fought for decades. Andy Sundberg is the author of the report which comprises the main portion of this post. Read the entire report and decide if all coming to this situation in the last five years understand the history of this problem better or are entitled to criticize other actions in hindsight. In a recent private email group discussion, a story that came out might offer a useful perspective:
A teacher once told me he was curious why geese always flew in a “V.” So he looked it up and found that the one in the front led until he no longer could and he moved to the back being replaced by the next and so on. In that way they reached their destination.
So no matter whether you come from ACA 50 years ago, or DA, or RO, or AARO, FAWCO, Brock 5 years ago or American Expatriates 3 years ago, we are all trying to get tax reform in order to right this situation once and for all. Each has a part to play in this unfortunate situation. This is much more in keeping with this post’s resolution:
So Let Us Now All Rise Up, Join Together to Throw off These Shackles, and Take Appropriate Action to Prepare for a Much More Positive Future for All of Us, our Heirs and for Our Country.
I wrote this introduction for a program to be presented to tax professionals outside of North America back in March 2017. It was only meant as a general guide for those who might have been completely unaware of our grassroots movement as well as several attempts made by Congress to study our situation. It was not meant to be a complete discussion of the entire history of all our efforts but simply to inform them that we exist. To stimulate them to be more than paper-pushers and blind parrots for the IRS.
I still have a hard time believing effective tax reform for our dilemma will happen. Partially because awareness is not “new.” Since Dave Camp and the W&M call for submissions 4 years ago, there have been no less than 9 different studies, drafts etc and up to now, no real progress, no change. In addition, the general dysfunction of Congress (they can’t get health reform right) and the Trump Administration continues. It is now nearly September. There will be a huge effort needed to deal with Hurricane Harvey.
Will we or won’t we see tax reform?
Can this situation be tolerated as is for years to come?
What do YOU think?
The recent history of tax reform in the United States, as pertaining to American citizens abroad is quite a back-and-forth sort of acknowledgement of the issues with recommendations followed by a complete lack of concrete action to address the problems. A short introduction of the intervening factors is truly necessary in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any tax reform for this unique population of “Americans.”
Once the Swiss bank debacle resulted in successful litigation by the Department of Justice, Americans abroad were swept up in the attempts to gain access to all offshore accounts. The IRS created and tried to steer everyone into the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Programs/Initiative. (The current 2014 OVDP is derived from the 2012 program). The tax compliance community and the media pushed this avenue of action in spite of the fact that the program was designed for criminals, has no legal basis, and should never have included those who had foreign accounts in order to function where they live. It is despicable that many who had lost U.S. citizenship decades ago and those who were “Accidental Americans,” were told they must enter this “amnesty” program.
Due to serious issues with OVDP, expats became very vocal about their concerns of exhorbitant penalties. Then-US Ambassador to Canada Jacobson had promised relief. Instead, the IRS issued Fact Statement of 2011-13. It outlined how non-compliant expats could file and claim “reasonable cause” for not filing FBARs. (I filed this way with no issues). Some in the compliance community and some expats were disappointed as there was “nothing new” about FS 2011-13. It was simply the way things had always been done. Then Streamlined Program, which appeared on September 1, 2012 was fraught with difficulties. The newer version of Streamlined Streamlined allows filing with strong expectation of no penalties.Based upon direct statements by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and and then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline Ciraolo, there are some concerns that as more become aware of the requirement to file, the Streamlined Program will be discontinued. This may or may not be a scare tactic, after all, what is required by law is simply to file and reasonable cause (which is what Streamlined uses to mitigate penalties) has always been available to abate penalties. It will likely be impossible to undo the level of fear created by the IRS, the tax compliance community and the media should it become necessary for people to file outside of Streamlined.
The signing of the FATCA IGAs followed by implementing legislation passed in a majority of the world’s countries exacerbated the situation for expatriates. The U.S. government including the IRS and CI departments of Treasury Department, the State Department, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are well aware of these problems. There is now a great deal of pressure on the current Congress to include some relief for Americans living outside the United States. It must take into account an incredibly complicated interplay of U.S. citizenship and taxation law to try and mold into meaningful reform. In addition, non-resident Americans experience different tax laws overall, due to their residence in other countries. Regardless of the U.S. government’s assertion that the tax code “treats all Americans the same” in reality, this cannot be true and is not true.
RESPONSES/DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE EXPATRIATE COMMUNITY
Historically, American Citizens Abroad is credited as the primary group lobbying for these non-resident citizens. Of special note are the late Roger Conklin & his testimony before Ways and Means and Jacqueline Bunion and her many excellent submissions & videos.Democrats Abroad , FAWCO and AARO are sister groups located in Europe; all support FATCA as well as a move to Residence-Based-Taxation. A main emphasis has been on the “Same Country Exception”,which would allow tax-compliant Americans abroad to be exempt from FATCA reporting for accounts located in the country they reside in. The Treasury Department recently denied SCE. These measures would have protected approximately 1 million tax-compliant expats from FATCA but would not address the more complicated problems of the other approximately 7 million living abroad.
Republicans Overseas created a set of Resolutions which they intended to be included in the Party Platform. They are the primary backers of the FATCA Legal Action group, funding the “Bopp Lawsuit” which is currently preparing for an appeal (and has since been denied).
After the Isaac Brock Society insistence upon independent research concerning compliance and renunciation, the renunciation numbers began to rise as more and more expatriates realized the true financial risk of remaining American without a matching effort of the U.S. (who cannot seem to find a way to apply procedures that enable discovery of, identification and collection from Homelanders with foreign accounts for the purpose of evading tax versus Americans outside the United States who have legitimate foreign accounts for the purpose of living). The huge amount of non-compliance of this second group, coming to light in 2009 with a much larger wave in 2011, simply speaks to the lack of due diligence on the part of the American government, to educate this population as to their tax obligations and more importantly, their reporting obligations. It is no small thing that FBAR was unenforced for 40 years. Perhaps longer for “regular” filing. There is no excuse for the threatening and punitive campaign pursued by the IRS for this second group.
In addition to the efforts of expatriates, there has been consistent strong support from the Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson. She has repeatedly brought attention to the problems in the Annual Reports to Congress .
On May 9, 2013 a paper Senate Finance Committee Staff Tax Reform Options for Discussion was released. This report suggested non-resident Americans could be taxed the same as non-resident aliens; that an exit tax could be implemented and advocated repeal of the FEIE.
Coming quite late in the tenure of the 113th Congress, was The Tax Reform Act of 2014. Regrettably, none of the issues of expats were addressed in this legislation (which failed to pass). For an interesting discussion of the approaches considered that do not necessarily address expat issues see: here & here .
In December 2014, a very favorable report was released by the Republican Staff Committee on Finance United States Senate. A primary consideration was to tax non-resident citizens only on U.S. sources.
On February 2, 2015 the Obama Administration tried to address some of the problems involved for “Accidental Americans. In the “General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 Revenue Proposals”also called the “Green Book,” it was proposed that certain dual citizens could renounce their US citizenship without the fear of penalization, particularly with regard to being“covered” and liable for the Exit Tax. While not tax reform per sé, it represents awareness on the part of the government. It also, for better or worse, raised the hopes of expats everywhere that something was going to be done. The same proposal was put forward a year later, adjusted for changed dates.
On March 11, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee established five working groups to address reform one of which was the International Group chaired by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) & Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Expatriate submissions are < href=http://fatca.eu.pn/ ). The committee report was released in July 2015. It contained a
mere two paragraphs with no specific recommendations.
In June 2016, Republican members of the Ways & Means Committee created a working paper “The Better Way.” It is expected that this will lay the foundation for new legislation. One aspect of this paper is the intent of the GOP to repeal the estate tax and the GST but does not address the gift tax. A concern is that an individual could gift an asset to someone in a lower bracket before a taxable event and have it returned once the income been taxed. It also does not say that a capital gains tax should apply at death (due to no estate tax). The blueprint fails to mention eliminating the step-up basis to FMV that is now available at death nor is there a carry-over provision that would make tax due once an heir sells the property. Whether this is what the Committee intends is not clear.
Unfortunately for expats, this paper has only one sentence pertaining to expats which does not tend to suggest that many of the much-discussed possibilities are likely to find way into actual tax reform legislation
SOME DESCRIPTIONS FROM TAX REFORM PROPOSALS OUTLINING MAJOR NEEDS OF AMERICANS ABROAD
3. U.S. citizens residing abroad – Numerous comments were received that relate to the taxation of U.S. citizens living abroad. These comments include the following recommendations:
Repeal or revise the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”);
Provide an unlimited foreign-earned income exclusion for permanent residents of a foreign country;
Expand the foreign-earned income exclusion to include passive as well as earned income;
Repeal the special rules on passive foreign investment companies;
Repeal the provisions imposing tax responsibilities on those who expatriate by relinquishing U.S. citizenship or residency, including the ban on issuance of visas to expatriates who avoid payment of taxes;
Adoption of residence-based taxation (see below);
Residence-based taxation should not include a provision for imposing 30 percent withholding tax on U.S.-source pensions;
Any move to residence-based taxation implies the need to eliminate the savings clause from new and existing tax treaties;
Creation of a bipartisan commission responsible for studying the impact of Federal laws and policies on U.S. citizens living abroad, especially those provisions and administrative programs that require disclosure of financial information. The Commission would report to Congress with recommendations and submit a follow-up report on any remedial administrative response to the report.
The Working Group also received technical comments related to the computation of income tax when a portion of income is excluded under the foreign-earned income exclusion. Adoption of residence-based taxation. Many comments proposed adopting a residence-based tax system to treat certain U.S. citizens domiciled abroad in the same manner as foreign persons, applying withholding taxes to U.S.-source income earned by such U.S. citizens and taxing effectively connected income as under the present law rules. The proponents of a residence-based tax system suggest the following elements:
U.S. citizens that meet certain requirements could continue to be taxed under the rules of present law or could elect into residence-based taxation.
1. Provide an election to citizens who are long-term nonresident citizens to be taxed as nonresident aliens if they meet certain conditions (Schneider, “The End of Taxation Without End: A New Tax Regime for U.S. Expatriates,” 2013; similar to the law in Canada)
a. Require a minimum period of residence abroad
b. Impose an exit tax on electing taxpayers where deemed to sell all assets at the time of election
2. Repeal the foreign-earned income exclusion (H.R.2 (108th Congress), Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003, sponsored by Rep. Thomas)
Whereas, In 2010 Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in an effort to catch tax evaders; but this Act has inadvertently ensnared every United States Citizen living overseas due to its overzealous invasion of privacy and punitive taxation and enforcement; Whereas, The United States is one of the only two countries in the world that taxes foreign income of its citizens living abroad who already pay taxes where they reside; Whereas, FATCA creates enormous reporting burdens for American taxpayers living overseas and puts them a great risk for even the slightest innocent mistake; Whereas, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions, to enter into an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify their U.S. account holders and to disclose the account holders’ names, taxpayer IDs, addresses, and the accounts’ balances, receipts, and withdrawals (sometimes in violation of foreign privacy laws); Whereas, FATCA has resulted in Americans living and working overseas finding themselves, and their companies, shut out from access to banks, insurance loans and investment opportunities, as many foreign financial services providers have concluded that doing business with Americans is simply too much trouble thus decreasing America’s competitiveness overseas; Whereas, FATCA’s primary mechanism for enforcing compliance of foreign financial institutions is a punitive withholding levy on U.S. assets, creating a strong incentive for foreign financial institutions to divest (or not invest) in U.S. assets, resulting in capital flight, hurting the U.S. economy; Whereas, Time magazine reported a sevenfold increase in Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship between 2008 and 2011 and has attributed this at least in part to FATCA and another surge in renunciations in 2013 to record levels has been reported in the news media, with FATCA cited as a factor in the decision of many of the renunciants; and Whereas, FATCA forces Americans living abroad to make a horribly unfair choice between renouncing their citizenship and abandoning their businesses abroad because foreign financial institutions won’t handle their transactions or accounts; therefore be it RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee hereby presents this Resolution to each Member of Congress and urges the U.S. Congress to repeal FATCA and to allow those U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship under FATCA to regain their citizenship; RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee urges the IRS to cease inflicting damage on the United States and on the global financial system in an attempt to vindicate FATCA’s misguided approach to tax enforcement; RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee by presenting this Resolution to each Member of Congress urges them to increase the competitiveness of Americans overseas and remove inappropriate invasions of American citizens’ privacy; and RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee hereby presents this Resolution to each Ambassador and Representative from every foreign nation and warns them that the privacy rights of their own citizens are at risk due to reciprocal agreements.
Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond
By Republican Staff Committee on Finance United States Senate
The United States needs to rethink its taxing rules for nonresident U.S. citizens.
If a U.S. citizen is living and working abroad with some permanence, and the primary nexus the individual has to the United States is citizenship, we think it makes sense to tax the individual, as a general rule, only on income from U.S. sources.
A test would need to be developed to determine at what point a U.S. citizen is considered a nonresident of the United States and then at what point the U.S. citizen is considered to be a resident again.
Some factors that may be considered include:
*the permanence and purpose of the stay abroad,
*residential ties to the United States,
*residential ties to the foreign country, and
*regularity and length of visits to the United States.
The test could be adopted, in some part, from the existing rules that are used to determine residency of alien individuals, i.e., those individuals who are not U.S citizens.
In addition, an exit tax could be applied when the U.S. citizen is considered a nonresident and no longer subject to U.S. worldwide taxing jurisdiction
Proposal Under the proposal, an individual will not be subject to tax as a U.S. citizen and will not be a covered expatriate subject to the mark-to-market exit tax under section 877A if the individual:
1. became at birth a citizen of the United States and a citizen of another country,
2. at all times, up to and including the individual’s expatriation date, has been a citizen of a country other than the United States,
3. has not been a resident of the United States (as defined in section 7701(b)) since attaining age 18½,
4. has never held a U.S. passport or has held a U.S. passport for the sole purpose of departing from the United States in compliance with 22 CFR §53.1,
5. relinquishes his or her U.S. citizenship within two years after the later of January 1, 2016, or the date on which the individual learns that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and
6. certifies under penalty of perjury his or her compliance with all U.S. Federal tax obligations that would have applied during the five years preceding the year of expatriation if the individual had been a nonresident alien during that period.
F. Overseas Americans
According to working group submissions, there are currently 7.6 million American citizens living outside of the United States. Of the 347 submissions made to the international working
group, nearly three-quarters dealt with the international taxation of individuals, mainly focusing on citizenship-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). While the co-chairs were not able to produce a comprehensive plan to overhaul the taxation of individual Americans living overseas within the time-constraints placed on the working group, the co-chairs urge the Chairman and Ranking Member to carefully consider the concerns articulated in the submissions moving forward.
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.
In addition to these important reforms that will create a modern international tax system for businesses, the Committee on Ways and Means will consider the appropriate treatment of individuals living and working abroad in today’s globally integrated economy
As I write this post, my mind goes back to one of my very first posts about U.S. compliance issues. This post was called “What you should consider before contacting a lawyer“. Since that time I have written hundreds of post describing the problems faced by Americans abroad.
More recently …
In Dewees 1, I explained the importance of the Canada U.S. tax treaty and how it provides “some protection” to Canadian citizens from U.S. tax debts.
In Dewees 2, I explained some of the characteristics of the OVDP program and how Mr. Dewees got caught in it.
In Dewees 3 (this post), I am suggesting some possible lessons that can be learned from the story of Donald Dewees.
Ten thoughts on U.S. taxation, non-compliance, Americans Abroad and the U.S. taxation of Americans abroad
This is an excellent post. It clarifies how one can determine what the IRS really can (and can’t) do and in particular, points out how the OVDP program is NOT rooted in law. This is important for those who do not/never did belong in OVDP in the first place. OVDP is for criminals. Simply failing to file with no tax due when one is unaware of the requirements does not equate to being a criminal. And don’t forget, once OVDP is entered, there is no “reasonable cause” option available. Instead, one commits to a penalty, pretending to be guilty when likely one is not.
What’s a taxpayer to do? As if the US tax rules are not confusing enough, it’s a sad situation when taxpayers cannot rely on information supplied by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the most commonly accessed and user-friendly formats – such as IRS Publications, “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs), news releases, videos and the like. On May 18, 2017 IRS issued a memorandum to all of its examiners reminding them that FAQs and other items posted on the IRS website www.IRS.gov that have not been published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) are not legal authority.
The five types of guidance published in the IRB are:
A good example of how serious the problem of “unofficial” IRS guidance can be is evidenced by the IRS “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” (OVDP), which was accused of IRS “bait and switch” tactics. Taxpayers with offshore assets and those living abroad are likely very familiar with the OVDP. Even with the critical importance of the OVDP and its monumental impact on thousands of taxpayers, the OVDP is governed only by a long series of FAQs (and much agency secrecy). Taxpayers must be reminded these FAQs are not binding authority, even though the FAQs themselves do not indicate any warning to taxpayers or their advisors of this fact.
This time it’s the – Deputy Prime Minister
– and the first member of the lower house to be tainted by dual citizenship. This is significant. With the Senate they usually go to the next person on that party’s ticket from the last Senate election. With the House of Reps they have to have a by-election – and Turnbull’s government is hanging on by a single vote. So, if the High Court rules that Barnaby Joyce must vacate his seat, it could topple the government!
And I thought that Politics in Canada was dirty. And we all revel in the daily stench of the toxic partisanship in the USA. But, hey at least these two countries do NOT have constitutional provisions that (as they have been interpreted) allow other countries to interfere in who the elected representatives are! (We let them interfere in covert ways – think “From Russia With Love” ….)
But Australia. This really is unique. Think of it. Once a person is accused of being a dual citizen – AS DEFINED BY THE LAWS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY – then the person is disqualified from serving in the Senate or the Lower House. I had always thought of Australia as a sovereign country. Can it really be true that Australia allows eligibility for service in the Senate or the lower house to be determined by another country’s citizenship laws? Does it matter whether these “foreign laws” confer citizenship by force rather than citizenship by consent?
Think of the possibilities here. There have always been suggestions that “The USA via the CIA” had been (wonderful melody) instrumental in the dismissal of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Why go to so much trouble? The way Australia is interpreting its own constitution, all a future U.S. Government would have to do is confer U.S. citizenship on the Prime Minister of Australia and he would be forced to resign. But this would be the intentional “weaponization of citizenship”. (But, the FATCA is that: the USA would NEVER use citizenship as a weapon now, would it?) Australia has already surrendered much of its sovereignty to the United States through a combination of the FATCA IGA and the “savings clause” in the Australia U.S. Tax Treaty.
It’s worse than you think. The problem extends to the ongoing changes in the citizenship laws of other nations
What about the change in one country’s citizenship laws conferring citizenship on an Australian citizen without his/her knowing about it?
For example, Canada has made significant amendments to its citizenship laws in 2009 and 2016. In both cases Canadian citizenship was conferred on people who did NOT have Canadian citizenship. One example is that prior to 1977, a person born abroad to a married couple where the father was NOT Canadian (say Australian) and the mother was Canadian would NOT have become Canadian by descent. In 2009 people in these circumstances were given Canadian citizenship. What if a person affected by this was in the Australian Senate in 2009 when the Canadian law was changed.
Would that person be forced to resign?
Can the citizenship of country A be forcibly imposed on a resident of country B who has NEITHER ACCEPTED NOR ACKNOWLEDGED THAT CITIZENSHIP?
In an earlier post I explained why the Canada Revenue Agency assisted the IRS in collecting a $133,000 U.S. dollar penalty on a Canadian resident. The bottom line was that he was presumably NOT a Canadian citizen and therefore did NOT have the benefits of the tax treaty. This post is to explain where the penalty came from in the first place.
Will you walk into my parlour?’ – #Americansabroad and IRS “amnesty” offers in the 2009 #OVDP
It has been widely reported that a U.S. citizen residing in Toronto, Canada since 1971, paid a $133,000 U.S. dollar penalty for failing to file IRS forms disclosing that he was running a business through a Canadian corporation. How did this fly get caught in the spider’s web?
The Spider and the Fly is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799–1888), published in 1829. The first line of the poem is “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” The story tells of a cunning Spider who ensnares a naïve Fly through the use of seduction and flattery. The poem is a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions.
Can the common law “revenue rule” be used to stop the enforcement of U.S. “citizenship taxation” on non-U.S. residents?
What the United States calls “citizenship taxation” is actually U.S. taxation of certain citizens and residents of other countries. The U.S. claims the right to impose full U.S. taxation on the “world income” of certain people who do NOT even live in the United States.
Prologue: In August of 2017 it was widely reported that the Canada Revenue Agency had assisted the IRS in enforcing a massive penalty ON A CANADIAN RESIDENT levied under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The penalty was imposed on that Canadian resident was for failing to report to the IRS, that he had been carrying on a Canadian business, through a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation. At the time of collection, the penalty was for approximately $133,000 U.S. dollars!
Q. How did this happen? A. He entered the 2009 IRS OVDP (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program”). Those who entered #OVDP were basically “signing up” to pay penalties to the IRS. Those interested in reading about the horrific treatment of another Canadian resident, who tried to “do the right thing” by entering OVDP should read this.
Federal Tax Crimes: Court Sustains $10,000 Per Year § 6038(b) Penalty https://t.co/cx26P98rDV – imposed on U.S. citizen residing in Canada
There’s no question with renunciation (Immigration and Nationalities Act, s. 349(a)(5)). You are relinquishing your citizenship and notifying the US government of it at the same time, and that’s the date your US citizenship ends.
But what if you relinquished your citizenship by a different method of INS, s. 349(a), such as taking citizenship in another country with the intent to relinquish your US citizenship (349(a)(1))?
The State Department is clear. No matter when you notify the US govt of your relinquishment, once your CLN application is approved, your US citizenship ended on the date you actually relinquished it (that is the date your performed the relinquishing act, eg. naturalised as a citizen of another country — this date is indicated as your expatriation date on the the CLN.)
The IRS, however, according to s. 877A(g)(4) of the US Tax Code, considers the date of your relinquishment for IRS purposes is not the date of your actual relinquishment but the date you notified the US government of it (your consulate meeting). This was not the case prior to 2004, however [the relevant section was 7701(n) in 2004 and it was replaced by 877A in 2008].
So, what if you relinquished your US citizenship long ago, but only recently learned of US law and policy changes which make it important to be able to prove you are not a US citizen, and wish to obtain Certificate of Loss of Nationality (a document you probably never even heard of before)? What if the current law regarding IRS and citizenship termination did not exist at the time you relinquished? Logic leads one to the conclusion that laws passed after a person ceases to be a citizen are irrelevant. The IRS has never made a definitive statement on this issue, however their instructions for the 8854 (expatriation tax form) are only directed at people with expatriation dates “after June 3, 2004.”
Tax lawyers Michael J. Miller and Ellen Brody have just published an excellent article on this matter, Expats Live in Fear of the Malevolant Time Machine, in which they point out the legal, as well as common sense, absurdity of a retroactive application position. It’s very clear reading with useful references to legislation and case law as well.
We moved to Canada from the United States in 1968 and received what was then called Landed Immigrant Status. My wife was with me and I was a draft dodger.
It became obvious to us after only a couple of years that we wanted to stay in Canada so we looked into getting Canadian citizenship. At that time there was a mandatory five year waiting period before you could apply so we just continued to gather information. We were told that becoming a Canadian citizen would, by US law, mean we lost out US citizenship and we were told that at the citizenship ceremony we would be required to sign a renunciation of our US citizenship. Continue reading “One Couple’s Experience”→
The Court ordered (May 31, 2017) that Plaintiffs provide:
This is an update on our FATCA IGA legislation lawsuit in Canada Federal Court.
— Additional personal, detailed documents related to their financial affairs. [Our litigators felt that this request was not relevant to the lawsuit or of tenuous relevance to the issues raised in the action, but Court disagreed.] Plaintiffs have now provided to the Defendants the financial documents and the Court has ruled that these documents will be kept confidential.; and
— A list of harms that the Plaintiffs know and allege have already occurred or certainly will occur. [Description of harms that might occur will be provided in a later submission.}
The harms listed in the submission are generally those detailed by the Witnesses. I am not going to provide the names of the Witnesses associated with their particular situations, but show below a brief summary of some of their harms without names disclosed.
— Harm associated with sharing of account information with United States. Plaintiffs allege that financial accounts of Canadians have been shared with United States and that this constitutes a harm. However, with one exception (name of person who received confirmation of turnover from Revenue Minister listed in document) Plaintiffs have no direct knowledge whether their own account information has been turned over nor do they know names of those who have had their accounts turned over — that information is in Canada’s possession.
To the extent that these financial documents have been turned over, Plaintiffs allege that this violates their right to the security of person shrined in section 7 of Charter and the protection of Canadian sovereignty, and is a violation of section 15 of Charter.
Other Witness and Plaintiff harms (not all Witnesses or harms are listed below):
— Business Person who is Canadian and U.S. citizen. Would-be Canadian partners are unwilling to have potential financial and shareholder information disclosed to U.S.
— Canadian and U.S. citizen harmed by U.S. IRS PFIC costs taxing away gains. To eliminate harm she had to spend monies to renounce U.S. tax citizenship. Suffered psychological harm when filing forms with FINCEN, knowing possibility of large fines if there were ever to be an erroneous mistake. She feels as if she is guilty of a crime she has not committed until proven innocent.
— Canadian and U.S. citizen on disability harmed by U.S. person-hood. On disability benefits, can’t afford to become IRS compliant or renounce U.S. tax citizenship. Not being compliant with IRS exacerbated psychological harm associated with precarious financial situation. This has created conflict within family as he is unable to speak to family member about situation without family member becoming upset.
— Canadian citizen mother trying to protect incapacitated son deemed only by the U.S. to be U.S. tax citizen. She has suffered psychological harm insofar as she has had her peace of mind taken away and has difficulty carrying on with normal life because she is unsure of her son’s well-being in future after she passes away. Has resulted in breakdown of relations within family.
— Pure Canadian spouse of Canadian citizen who is deemed to be a U.S. person only by the U.S. Spouse received bank letter asking citizenship question on account with U.S.-tainted wife. This places spouse at disadvantage compared to those not married to persons deemed to be U.S. citizens.
— Canadian citizen and formerly person deemed to be a U.S. citizen. Business partners expressed feelings that she compromised their business by sharing financial information with U.S. To escape harm she paid the costs to renounce U.S. citizenship. Feels that Canada has treated her as second class citizen.
— Canadian citizen deemed ONLY by U.S. to be U.S. citizen having entity account. As part of the roundup in Canada of all Canadian citizen “entity” account holders who have U.S. taint, she received letter from bank asking for information on citizenship…
— No CLN, we freeze your account Canadian citizen – deemed by U.S. to be U.S. citizen. It is sometimes claimed that Canadian financial institutions do not freeze accounts if there is a FATCA problem. Not true. This unfortunate Canadian citizen had her account frozen because her proof of no U.S. taint was not good enough: She lacked a CLN (Certificate of Loss of Nationality) that her bank required.
— Infant receives request from bank to provide information on birth place and U.S. citizenship in order to continue holding account. [Self-explanatory.]
Other: Psychological harms are mentioned including feeling betrayed by the Canadian government, stress and frustration associated with the financial harm, and harm by simply not knowing whether or when their financial account information will be shared with the United States.
—– The brave Plaintiffs and Witnesses are my heroes for standing up for Canada and its sovereignty. I thank the other Canadians who also bravely volunteered, but were not selected.
—– NEXT STEP: In oral testimony Plaintiffs will be examined by Government attorneys, beginning with Gwen at the end of this month…