Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!

 

cross posted from Association of Américains Accidentels

Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!

The “Association of Américains Accidentels” (Accidental Americans Association) is a legally formed entity under the French law of 1901.

Its aim is to defend and protect Franco-American binationals against the nefarious effects of FATCA. The consequences of this Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) between France and the United States have been manyfold and tragic for binational citizens: French banks have refused to open accounts or have closed them, payments of inheritances have been suspended, insurance policies and mortgages have been cancelled among other bureaucratic hassles binationals have had to endure. This has resulted in feelings of great anxiety, anger as well as the feeling that French Authorities has abandoned them to their fate.

The Association has two goals: First, to seek legal opinions in French, European and International law to defeat FATCA in France or better yet in the European Union altogether and secondly to undertake the necessary judicial actions to exclude binationals from the FATCA IGA’s once and for all. Preliminary conversations with highly qualified lawyers have been promising and we think that there may be solid legal grounds to achieve this goal whether at the French or European Union level or both. But legal opinions by good lawyers are not free.

To this end we have started a fund raising drive and we need you.

In advance, many thanks for your help and Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!


 

Fabien Lehagre
Président de l’Association des Américains Accidentels (AAA)

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Published on Jun 6, 2017
1ère réunion de l’Association des Américains Accidentels le 29 avril 2017 à Gourin (56).
Les Américains « accidentels » ont répondu à l’appel de Fabien Lehagre qui a lancé son collectif qui regroupe ces Franco-Américains, nés sur le sol français d’au moins un parent américain ou nés sur le sol américain d’au moins un parent français. Les États-Unis, ils n’y ont passé que quelques semaines ou quelques années d’enfance…
Et pourtant, depuis 2014, le fisc américain leur court après. Depuis que la France a signé avec les États-Unis l’accord Fatca, qui oblige les banques françaises à transmettre les informations bancaires de leur client présentant un « indice d’américanité » à l’IRS, le fisc américain.
Depuis, ces Américains Accidentels subissent une effroyable injustice…

Burning Down Barns is not Wrong Because it is illegal; it is illegal Because it is Wrong

 

Burning Down Barns is not Wrong Because it is illegal; it is illegal Because it is Wrong

 


 

Every #Americanabroad (along with his/her “alien” family) understands all too well the reality of the betrayal perpetrated by the U.S. government in the fight against “tax evasion.” To have it then furthered by the country of residence changing the law in order to allow it is a further betrayal. One does not feel betrayal unless one has been wronged.
 
The government would have one think that it is walking the moral high road, taking upon itself the noble fight of searching out those who rob everyone else because they are not “paying their fair share.” Isn’t it just and right to do so? On the surface it would apppear it is but the problem becomes twofold. First, it has to be devised well-enough to actually produce the results it seeks to achieve and second, while doing so, certain rules of fairness about how the attempt is applied are required. Every kid on a playground learns this and readily understands when the rules are broken.
 

It is easy enough to see that the FATCA hunt has huge “design problems.” First off, the U.S. indicia are all items that suggest one lives in the Homeland. There is nothing to “weed out” those who aren’t American but don’t have CLN’s (and that doesn’t mean you are an American). Banks turning in people below the thresholds is truly wasteful as those people are so unlikely to owe tax. The crowning glory however, is that there is no simple way for the IRS to get money from people outside the country unless they willingly send it. I cannot think of any aspect of FATCA that would suggest it is well devised.
 
kids fightingTwo groups of kids are on the playground. The more agressive kids’ part of the playground is on their side of a line dividing the space. The other kids have their space on the other side of the line. One of the bullies comes up to the edge and says somebody on the other side really is one of them and tries to forcefully pull them over. There is no reason other than the bully wants something that isn’t his. What would happen? The other side would probably try to prevent the exchange, even if they are smaller and unlikely to win the fight. But everybody knows who started it and which side of the line the kid really belongs on. Then an adult shows up and all kinds of nonsense starts being spewed to try and muddle the issue because admitting wrong is not going to happen.
 
There is no way that an Accidental American belongs on the “American” side of the line no matter how much the U.S. whines and bellows it is so.
There is no way that anyone who chose to leave for education, marriage or employment and is living in another country in tune with the laws there, can be seen to “belong” to the U.S.
 
What are they going to do? A sort of reverse of what may happen soon in the U.S.? Where they kick out “illegal” adults and purposely separate them from their (American) children? Have everybody shipped back? They probably ARE mean enough but the fact is, that costs money. Lots of it.
 
The 14th Amendment, the 16th Amendment, Cook v Tait and all of it, belongs to those people who are on the U.S. side of the line. All the “laws” and arguments about polity and old case law just muddles the real issue. The fact of life is:
 
Everybody else has a right to be on their side of the line.
 
So everytime a condor hits you with that “It’s U.S. law” or “Until it’s changed it has to be obeyed” don’t allow them to drag you into arguing. It’s just plain dumb and so are they for thinking they can fool (or shame) you with such stupid arguments.
 
*****

Brock founder Peter Dunn/Petros says it quite eloquently. Re-blogged from the Isaac Brock Society March 31, 2015

We are living a crisis of morality in which leaders have difficulty distinguishing between what is right and wrong. Today, political leaders facing a legal obstacle to their agenda believe that all they have to do is change the law. So if the government stealing from people is illegal, all that one needs to do is change the law and call it “civil forfeiture“, and suddenly it becomes morally acceptable.

I recall reading a few years back a National Post article that brought up the question of lawmaking and morality came up.  Fortunately, Mark Steyn, cites the money quote from George Jonas:

Back in the Trudeaupian golden age, you may recall, the great man’s barnstorming transformation of Canada was momentarily halted by a storm about barns. It emerged that some overzealous officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had burned down barns belonging to Quebec separatists. The press was briefly exercised over this, but M. Trudeau gave one of his famous shrugs and airily remarked that, if people were so upset by the Mounties burning down barns illegally, perhaps he’d make the burning of barns by the Mounties legal. As the great George Jonas commented:

“It seemed not to occur to him that it isn’t wrong to burn down barns because it’s illegal, but it’s illegal to burn down barns because it’s wrong. Like other statist politicians, Mr. Trudeau seemed to think his ability to set out for his country what is legal and illegal also entitled him to set out for his citizens what is right and wrong. He either didn’t see, or resented, that right and wrong are only reflected by the laws, not determined by them.

The Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, is a moral embarrassment. Before he forced the FATCA IGA into law, it was illegal for the government of Canada, based on national origin discrimination, to give the financial information of Canadian citizens to a foreign government. But it is still wrong to do so, and it doesn’t matter how many laws Harper forces through Parliament, it will remain wrong.

Accidental American “I Live Hell. I Had to Give up my dual Nationality. (i.e., Renounce my U.S Citizenship)”

original article in French HERE

reposted from Anmerican Expatriates Facebook Group

ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN’: I LIVE HELL. I HAD TO GIVE UP MY DUAL NATIONALITY (I.E. RENOUNCE MY US CITIZENSHIP)

Keith Redmond says:

Thank you Fabien Lehagre or making sure this injustice stays in the press! The homeland US press refused to report on it. I know Caroline and her story is one of millions where the US government is ruining the lives of people outside the US.

English translation below.

carolinec Caroline, 37, was born in the U.S. of French parents and lived there for two years. Franco-American, her dual nationality was unfavorable to her when she discovered that she had to pay taxes there. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world to base the taxpayer’s status on nationality and not on place of residence. Stuck in a legal imbroglio, it tries desperately to regularize its situation.

Caroline says:

I was born in 1979 in Los Angeles. My parents were French, but they were expatriates in the United States for professional reasons.

All my life, I had dual French-American nationality. Even though I only lived for the first two years of my life on the other side of the Atlantic, I always found it amusing to have this double status. I was the only one of my siblings to have this peculiarity.

I remember returning to the United States when I was seven, then in 2008 with my husband. Always with my French passport since I never redone my American identity papers.

A legacy blocked because of “my clue of americanity”

Since July 2014, France and Switzerland have undertaken to disclose the tax data of their US residents. For the moment, this device is not reciprocal. As a lawyer, I had heard about the Fatca (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), a law to combat tax evasion, but I never thought I would be directly involved.

I have always paid my taxes in France, and since I have never really lived on American soil, why should I have had to pay taxes in the United States? I was wrong. In reality, the United States is one of the only countries in the world to base the taxpayer’s status on nationality and not on place of residence.

I understood it in September 2014, a few months after the death of my father. The succession had to be settled. I thought there would be no worry, but I received a letter from my father’s bank, BNP-Paribas, to point out that I had a “clue of americanity” because of my place Of birth. So I was concerned about the famous Fatca law.

To unlock the legacy, I had to prove that I was in good standing with the US Treasury (the IRS). In the meantime, the succession would be blocked.

It was the cold shower. After cashing in, I thought I wanted to be in order. If I were to pay, no worry, I would do it to live in peace.

I needed my US tax number. I have never had

I contacted the American Embassy to inquire. I was asked what was my tax number (Individual taxpayer identification number)? I did not have any. What to do ? I had to provide them with a US Social Security number. Same, I never had one. My father never used it because he was an expatriate.

By searching the internet, I learned that to obtain my social security number, it was necessary to have an extract of birth certificate. Immediately, I thought to myself. It’s good, the situation will soon be resolved. In France, it is obtained in a few clicks, but in the United States, it is another pair of sleeves.

To obtain such a certificate, I had to go there because the American embassy in Paris did not issue the required notarized document. No power of attorney was possible. And even if I did, I had no guarantee since I no longer had any American identity papers.

At the foot of the wall, I had to give up my dual nationality

This administrative imbroglio impacted not only me but all the members of my family. It was impossible to mourn the loved one whom we had lost. The situation was totally blocked.

I was also pressed for time: my husband and I had to move to Switzerland in January 2015.

After finding out, I realized that I could never open a bank account in Switzerland – a sine qua non for working in the country – without proving that I was in good standing with the US IRS. It was the snake biting its tail.

I checked with tax lawyers. I was asked 5,000 dollars to take my case. Can not imagine. During all this time, I harassed the US embassy which was unable to give me a solution. One day I came across a woman who said to me:

“If you do not want to do anything about your American nationality, the easiest way would be to give it up.”

At the foot of the wall, that’s what I did. Out of spite, I renounced a right because I saw no other way out.

It cost me the modest sum of 2,350 dollars

The American Embassy sent me a 25-page file to complete, written entirely in English in an indecipherable technical vocabulary for a non-bilingual person. I was asked to tell my story, to explain the reasons why I had to give up my nationality before stating a list of incredible consequences.

Once the form was completed, I got an appointment at the embassy. When I arrived, I was installed in a room with protective glass. I was not allowed to drink, to eat and my laptop was confiscated.

An official entered the three-square-meter room. She spoke with a hallucinatory flow. I did not understand anything. I asked to be assisted, that was refused me. Clearly, she did not care what I could live.

She asked me a few questions. I asked her if my tax situation would be in order after this waiver. She replied that it was not her problem before I exposed all the consequences of my act: it would be much more difficult for my children to study in the United States and not sure that I could ever get A visa if I were to settle there.

She’s gone for an hour so I can think about it. When she came back, I explained to her that my decision was made. I was then asked to go to the cash to pay the processing fees: it cost me the modest sum of 2,350 dollars!

I still have this sword of Damocles above my head

I waited almost three months to get my act of renunciation. The first barrier was crossed, it was necessary from now on that I am working on my regularization with the American tax authorities.

To the extent that I was going to receive an inheritance over 50,000 euros, I risked being taxed by the IRS. No worry to pay, I just wanted to no longer live with this sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

I have contacted them many times, but as I do not have a tax number or a social security number, I have not been able to find a way out of this impasse. No one was able to tell me whether I was going to pay a fee or not. I was even advised to continue “going about my business”, waiting for a providential outcome.

Regarding my father’s inheritance, the situation did not unlock overnight. The bank asked me to complete form W8-BEN, but again, I had to provide a US tax number. My act of renunciation was not enough.

Tired, furious, and accompanied in my steps by the collective “Americans accidental”, I decided to send emails to the governor of the bank of France, various government advisers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc. I do not know what happened, but one day the BNP called to tell me that the situation was going to be unblocked.

It took two years to glimpse the end of this story. But I’m still not reassured. I know that at any time, the IRS can fall back on me and ask me to pay taxes with retroactive penalties. The sword of Damocles is still there.

The feeling of being rejected on all sides

What is rather comical is that it is not the first time that I have to fight to prove my nationality. In 2008, I had a hard time renewing my French passport. Two years earlier, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, had passed a law requiring foreign-born persons of parents born abroad to provide proof that they were French.

My father was born in Morocco, my mother in the Congo, at the time of the colonies, both of them French, but that was not enough. It was necessary, although in possession of a national identity card and a French passport, that I recover the birth certificates of my family over three generations to prove that I was of French nationality!

With this new misadventure, I feel rejected. For two years I have lived a veritable calvary, and my family, too. My mother even told me that if she had known, she would have returned to France to give birth.

I am not the only one in this situation. The “accidental Americans” would be close to 50,000 people. Some have disbursed several thousand euros without getting out of business. Maybe it’s time to create a cell to regularize our situation? For, at present, no solution exists.

caroline

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”

The ownership and use of the “U.S. Person” (which includes a “citizen”) as an instrument of foreign policy

reposted from the citizenshipsolutions blog

Welcome and a bit of an introduction

This post turned out to be longer and cover more topics than I originally intended. The problem with discussing the problems experienced by Americans abroad is that there are many “moving parts”. I have broken SOME of the “moving parts” into, well six parts and a “prologue”.

In addition, as the title suggests, the original intention of the post was to discuss how the U.S. Government uses its citizens as “instruments of foreign policy”. The obvious question is: how can they possibly do this? Doesn’t U.S. law end at U.S. borders? How can the United States impose law on the rest of the world. The answer to that question raises other issues (which are discussed in the other parts of this post).

I guess I need a new title for the post.

I would also like to say that I am hopeful that there will be change. That said, change is possible ONLY (regardless of intention) if all of the issues are understood individually and how they interact.

Prologue – U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part I – The U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part III – I’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IV – The use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part V – Why Americans abroad are renouncing U.S. citizenship

Part VI – The injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

***********

Part I

Part I – The U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals …

The U.S. Taketh: Draft Resistors in Canada in the 60s and 70s – The use of stripping people of “citizenship” as a mechanism to control the people

I my recent post: “Muhammad Ali, draft resistors, loss of US citizenship, the “Rumble In The Jungle” and a trip down memory lane“, I wrote:

During the last few years I have met many former Americans who came to Canada to escape service in the Viet Nam war. Their circumstances vary greatly. This was clearly a tumultuous time and difficult time. Many of them have commented that it has similarities to the circumstances of today. In both the 70s and present day, certain Americans abroad and former Americans abroad, feel uneasy and unsure about their U.S. citizenship. It’s also interesting how in both cases the United States is using “citizenship” as a mechanism to exercise control over individuals who do not live in the United States. In the 70s the United States was punishing people by stripping them of their citizenship. In 2016 the United States is punishing people by imposing citizenship on them. Either way, it’s clear that “citizenship” (and a U.S. place of birth) is a powerful weapon to be used against people to achieve governmental objectives.

The U.S. Giveth: “Accidental Americans” in Canada and throughout the world – The imposition of “U.S. citizenship” as a way to raise tax revenue

There is no one definition of “accidental American”. The group includes primarily those who were born in the United States (often with no memory of having lived there) and have spent all their lives in other nations. I have previously written about the horrible situation of “accidental Americans” in Stanstead, Quebec. Many Stanstead residents were born in Vermont because it was the closer hospital.

The problems of “accidental Americans” worldwide, are well described (on an ongoing basis) by Jude Ryan in his Facebook “Hunger Strike to President Obama”.

The problems experienced by “Accidental Americans” are that at the present time:

  • – they (in many cases) did not even know they were considered to be U.S. citizens
  • – if they did know they were U.S. citizens they did not know about the uniquely American practice of “taxation-based citizenship
  • – they are deemed to be U.S. citizens and are therefore subject to U.S. regulations
  • – they don’t reside in the United States AND are citizens of other nations
  • – they are being identified by FATCA and in some cases are having banking problems
  • – they can’t afford the financial costs of the tax compliance to formally renounce U.S. citizenship
  • – they can’t afford the $2350 fee to renounce U.S. citizenship
  • – they live in a state of terror and uncertainty (many don’t believe this or laugh it off)

In short, the forced imposition of U.S. citizenship (or at least the CURRENT unavailability of an easy out) is destroying their lives.

I highly recommend the following presentation by McGill Law Professor Allison Christians in which she puts the problems of “accidental Americans” in perspective.

to be continued

John Richardson