What if Meghan Markle’s child is born a U.S. citizen? Would the child have any immediate tax and information reporting requirements to the IRS?

-posted from Quora

J-bnnJohn Richardson
Toronto lawyer: FATCA U.S. tax + renunciation of citizenship
CitizenshipSolutions

John Richardson, Lawyer (1982-present)
Answered Mon
 

 
What if Meghan Markle’s child is born a U.S. citizen? Would the child have any immediate tax and information reporting requirements to the IRS?

I note that the question (1) assumes that Ms. Markle’s child is a U.S. citizen and (2) the question focuses on BOTH tax and reporting requirements.

Would Meghan Markle’s children be U.S. citizens?

The majority view is “YES” her children would automatically be U.S. citizens. My minority view is “NO” – they would have the right to be U.S. citizens but not the obligation to be U.S. citizens. I have previously explained my reasoning on Quora here:

John Richardson’s answer to Could Meghan Markle’s children apply for US citizenship?

But, assuming that her child will be born a U.S. citizen, then …

To be perfectly clear:

With the exception of gifts/bequests received from a “covered expatriate” the recipient of a gift is NOT required to pay tax on the value of the gift.

The recipient of a gift or bequest may be subject to penalty laden reporting requirements. These reporting requirements apply even though the value of the gift is NOT subject to tax.

Furthermore, this answer is really a “thought experiment” which explores the absurdity of certain aspects of the Internal Revenue Code apply to the lives of Americans abroad.

Here we go …

Tax Requirements …

The obligation to file a tax return would depend on the amount of taxable income the child received and whether that income met the thresholds for filing. It is unlikely (but not impossible) that the child could meet the income thresholds. For information on thresholds (which also depend on filing category) see:

Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

Reporting Requirements (which may exist independently of the obligation to file a tax return)…

The reporting requirements can exist independently of whether a tax return is required to be filed. It depends on whether there are sufficient facts to trigger the basic reporting requirements.

The child is a recipient of support from Harry

The child is probably going to live life as a normal baby and will be both supported and cared for by his/her parents. It is reasonable to assume that the child will receive financial support from the Harry (the father) who is (from a U.S. perspective) an “alien” or at least a foreign person.

Should the food, housing, medical care, toys, etc. received from Harry be considered to be a “gift” from a “foreign person”? If the answer is YES and the value of the support exceeds $100,000.00 USD then the child has a reporting obligation to the IRS (whether the child files a tax return or not). This is made very clear by Section 6039F of the Bible Of American Life – The Internal Revenue Code. It reads:

26 U.S. Code § 6039F – Notice of large gifts received from foreign persons
Continue reading What if Meghan Markle’s child is born a U.S. citizen? Would the child have any immediate tax and information reporting requirements to the IRS?

John Richardson and Karen Alpert Session in Brisbane Australia Oct 25, 2018

Brisbane
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Retain or Renounce US Citizenship with John Richardson and Karen Alpert
 
VIDEO
 
PDF
 

John will also be doing information sessions in Sydney (Nov 1) and Auckland (Oct 31). See details and email the address given to register.

Considering renouncing US citizenship? @Expatriationlaw information sessions Fall 2018

A series of information sessions (some formal presentations and some informal discussions); for information concerning the content of the programs please see here.

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 Taxation Advisory Panel. 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 (and Green Card holders) all across Canada and Europe. He writes extensively at citizenshipsolutions.ca.

Bangalore, India – October 22

Brisbane, Australia – October 25
with Karen Alpert
THU, OCT 25 AT 7 PM UTC+10
Information session – Brisbane
12 Payne St, Auchenflower QLD 4066, Australia
MAP

Karen Alpert founded the website Let’s Fix the Australia/US Tax Treaty and its associated Facebook group. The purpose of the group is to lobby and educate the Australian government regarding the impact of extraterritorial US laws on Australian citizens and residents and the cost to Australia of surrendering its sovereignty in these matters. Karen has a Ph.D. (UQ, Finance) and lectures in Finance at the University of Queensland.

Auckland, New Zealand – October 31

Sydney, Australia – November 1

Thursday, November 1
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The Rex Centre – Baroda Room
58A Macleay Street
Entrance near Baroda Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
MAP
Cost: Free, but preregistration is required for all sessions except the October 25 session in Brisbane (where you can just appear)
Registration: please send an email to: citizenshipsessions at citizenshipsolutions.ca or nobledreamer16 at gmail.com

  • Kings Cross train station is within walking distance.
  • Bus route 311 stops on Macleay Street, near Orwell Street.
  • Bus routes 323, 324, 325, 326 and 327 stop on Bayswater Road, near Darlinghurst Road.
  • Limited on-street parking.
  • Kings Cross parking station is nearby.

Dubai, UAE – November 4

Limassol, Cyprus – November 7
 

 
Information presented is NOT intended or offered as legal or accounting advice specific to your situation.
 
 

Why Is Bank of America Asking Clients About Their Citizenship?

info citizenship

from The Nation

Interesting that FATCA, which predates CRS is not mentioned here.If the U.S. were interested in reciprocity, wouldn’t this be the focus? In fact, this is not FATCA or CRS. It is plain and simple discrimination. If the U.S. continues making the U.S.an unwelcome place for immigrants, we may no longer have to listen to the nonsense that our leaving is irrelevant due to the much larger numbers of people clamoring to get into the United States of America.

Excerpts:

Bank of America sent a customer a notice demanding details about their citizenship—and if they refused to answer, their accounts were promptly frozen.

Outside the United States, this is a normal practice. Dozens of countries have agreed to the Common Reporting Standard aimed at combating tax evasion, and began collecting citizenship information as part of that effort in 2017.

In the UK the banking industry has already been charged with collecting information on foreigners as part of a bigger plan to create a “hostile environment” for undocumented immigrants. Immigrants and advocates worry the United States could be next.

Under a separate law, foreign banks must collect citizenship information from Americans, ostensibly in order to track down potential tax-dodgers.

But domestically, they are not required to collect customer citizenship information.

Writing in The Hill, Gonzalez speculates that “some banks are more than willing to carry out Trump’s agenda of creating a system where immigrants have fewer economic rights than others.”

The American Bankers Association declined to comment on specific institutions’ policies, but said that “strict regulatory requirements” aimed at deterring illicit activities justify requests for personal information. “Banks of all sizes are required to collect a range of information about their customers to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and ‘Know Your Customer’ standards,” says spokesperson Blair Bernstein. “Since 9/11, these strict regulatory requirements have steadily expanded.”

A pending class-action lawsuit filed with the US District Court of Northern California against Wells Fargo claims that the bank refused to accept applications for student loans and credit cards from DACA recipients, which plaintiffs claim is a form of illegal discrimination under California consumer-protection law, as well as a federal civil-rights law originally drafted to protect emancipated slave “aliens.”

This policy is far more subtle than a stark red line on a map, but could result in the same outcome, with a segment of Americans’ being systemically relegated to an underclass. Whether intentionally or not, citizenship questions may well push more immigrants further into the margins.
 

Former Hamilton school superintendent pleads guilty to forging documents to get his children US citizenship

https://twitter.com/TriciaMoon21/status/1030567543013027840

 
Just a little something likely to amuse many expats
Really, it boggles the mind……..would appear nothing further reached the Consulate.
Those kids don’t know how lucky they are!

 

Excerpts:

Patrick Rocco’s case, which the judge called “puzzling,” leaves loose ends that Thursday’s court proceeding failed to answer.

Topping the list is why Rocco, who had a good career, no criminal record and a history of community service, broke the law to qualify his kids for dual citizenship.

While looking into the expenses, Figeuiredo inadvertently discovered emails between Rocco and Patrick Elliott, a vice-principal with the board, that hatched a plan to alter documents for the citizenship applications.

Rocco’s children are now aged 22, 21 and 19. He has been married 24 years.

On Jan. 5, 2015, Rocco, who was born in the United States, received correspondence from the U.S. Consulate in response to his inquiry about obtaining US citizenship for his children.

The consulate outlined the criteria, which included that one parent needed to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and living in the U.S. for periods totalling five years prior to the child’s birth, at least two of which were after the parent’s 14th birthday.

Rocco, who lived in Canada continuously since 1970 and has dual citizenship, did not meet the criteria.

On July 14, 2015 Rocco sent an email to Elliott that said: “I will call you, but need to change address on a PDF — I have the original as well that I scanned — any thoughts? Need to put in my US address and will explain.”

A series of email exchanges over the next month has Rocco sending two Niagara University documents to Elliott asking him to change the address he lived at while he was a student there from one in Niagara Falls, Ont. (where he actually lived from April 1977 to December 1986) to one in Lewiston, N.Y., where he fraudulently said he lived from 1984 to 1987.

On Aug. 4, 2017, Rocco was arrested by Hamilton police…..charged with two counts of making forged documents and two counts of using forged documents.

Court heard there was no evidence of plans to use the citizenships for financial gain or to jeopardize U.S. security.

“This was the misguided result of an effort to give broader options to his children,” Rocco’s lawyer told the court, without elaborating.
 

Solving U.S. Citizenship Problems – London U.K. – March 7, 2018

 

WEDNESDAY MARCH 7, 2018 LONDON UK
7:00 – 9:00 pm

Are you a US citizen living abroad?

Should the U.S. be able to tax the residents and citizens of other countries?

What factors are involved; how do I make a reasonable decision about what to do?

  • How will recent Tax Reform affect my situation?
  • What do I do if I have never filed an FBAR?
  • I am an “Accidental American” – do I really have to comply with all these requirements?
  • Should I register my children with the State Department?
  • I am self-employed; do I have to worry about this Transition Tax?

Please register in advance/obtain details by email: nobledreamer16 at gmail dot com
 
JVENUE near Russell Square Station
ADMISSION: £10
WHO: John Richardson, B.A., LL.B., J.D., is a dual Canadian-American residing in Toronto. He is a lawyer focusing on the unique problems of non-resident US citizens. He is a member of the bars of New York, Massachusetts and Ontario. He is the co-chair for the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty as well as the Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation.
He has been at the forefront of the expatriate movement since 2011 and has engaged extensively in a worldwide educational outreach directed toward “US Persons” via seminars, interviews, and blogs.

Information presented is NOT intended or offered as legal or accounting advice specific to your situation.

 

The Current System of Global Taxation and Compliance is Immoral

 

cross-posted from Tax Connections

UPDATE February 2,2018
For more on how an expat can have higher U.S. taxes than a comparably situated Homeland American, please see here.
 
After the latest IRS Medic podcast, Tax Connections published a post by Anthony Parent.

Perhaps the most unifying statement of the post is:

A part of our interview that really stands out to me is when Attorney Richardson referred to the current system of global taxation and compliance as immoral.

John Richardson answers:

 
With the respect to the following excerpt as evidence of the “immorality”:

“Taxes due are usually nothing because of the foreign income exclusion and foreign tax credits or incredibly high because of that the type of income is one that was disfavored by Congress.”

Two general thoughts:

1. It is true that many Americans abroad do not have to send a check to the IRS to pay U.S. taxes. This does NOT necessarily mean that U.S. tax is not owing. Remember that FTCs are a mechanism to pay taxes that ARE ACTUALLY OWED. One pays a tax that would otherwise be owed by using the FTC. What is astonishing about the situation of Americans abroad is that:

Absent the tax mitigation provisions afforded by the FTC rules and the FEIE (“Foreign Earned Income Exclusion”), their U.S. tax bill might be higher than the tax bill of a comparably situated Homeland American!! In other words, the rules of the Internal Revenue Code operate so that Americans abroad (because they have a non-U.S. financial footprint) will have higher U.S. taxes than a comparably situated Homeland American.

A good example of this would be the sale of a principal residence. The fact that their mortgage is in foreign currency frequently means that Americans abroad would pay a tax on the sale of the principal residence even if there is no capital gain on the property.

2. Americans abroad are subject to all kinds of things that I would call fake income. Again this is due to the fact that they live outside the United States. I define “fake income” as income that is specifically created where there really isn’t any. Examples would include:

– phantom gains on foreign currency transactions (see the example of the discharge of the mortgage above)

– Subpart F income because they carry on business through small business corporations that are in their country of residence (but foreign to the USA)

– PFIC “taxation” (interpreted to apply to non-U.S. mutual funds)

– the consequences of using the “married filing separately” category (because they are frequently married to non-U.S. citizens)

– more expensive divorce (because of the rules governing marriage to a non-U.S. citizen)

– and probably more

The bottom line is this:

U.S. citizens who attempt to live outside the USA will be punished for it by the Internal Revenue Code.

Taxation of #AmericansAbroad in the 21st Century: “Country of birth” Taxation vs. “Country of Residence” Taxation- Part IV

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions

by John Richardson

Update January 2018: This post has been updated with some new links and discussion

Part I is here.

Part II is here.

Part III is here.

*****

PART IV

U.S. Citizenship law of the present – Breaking The U.S. Connection – Relinquishment

Relinquishing acts – How to lose U.S. citizenship – S. 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act

Once upon a time, the U.S. would “strip citizens” of their U.S. citizenship for voluntarily becoming naturalized citizens of another country. Like many aspects of U.S. nationality law, this was considered to be a “punitive measure”.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Afroyim and Terrazas, S. 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, mandated an automatic loss of U.S. citizenship for those who became citizens of another country. S. 349 now clarifies that, U.S. citizens who become citizens of another country, will lose their U.S. citizenship only if they intended to relinquish their U.S. citizenship by becoming naturalized citizens of the second country. In other words, U.S. citizens have the right to NOT (absent their consent) be stripped of their U.S. citizenship even if they maintain neither ties nor “connection” to the U.S.

U.S. citizenship law of the past – The requirement of a voluntary connection

Conditions Subsequent – Automatic Loss of Citizenship For Those Born In The U.S.

 

Conditions subsequent to the retention of citizenship – Retention requirements for those born in the U.S.

In the past, U.S. nationality law has included provisions which resulted in the automatic loss of U.S. citizenship for those born in the U.S., and find themselves in the circumstances described in Categories A and B above (born in the U.S.). This was reflected in the old S. 350 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (which has been repealed) and pre-1986 S. 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The general principle was that children who:

– acquired U.S. citizenship as children; and – subsequently left the U.S., and – did nothing to assert a VOLUNTARY connection to the U.S.,

would lose their U.S. citizenship. This was a clear recognition that “citizenship” was more than a “legal status” and required a “voluntary affirmation of citizenship” and/or “connection” to the community.

Automatic Loss of Citizenship For Those Naturalized in the U.S

Interestingly the old S. 352 of the Immigration and Nationality Act mandated the loss of U.S. citizenship (in some circumstances) for naturalized U.S. citizens who left the U.S. after becoming U.S. citizens.

To use an analogy to contract law, there were “conditions subsequent” for certain 14th Amendment citizens to retain their U.S. citizenship.

Conditions Precedent to Citizenship – Inability To Gain Citizenship For Those Born Outside The U.S.

American Citizens Abroad was a pioneer in fighting for the rights of “American Citizens Abroad”. Much of their early work was aimed at ensuring that children born outside the United States to Americans abroad would become U.S. citizens. At one time the U.S. had laws which required those born abroad to U.S. parents to establish residence in the U.S. or lose their U.S. citizenship. As Phyillis Michaus author of The Unknown Ambassadors notes:

“It all started back in 1961, when Phyllis Michaux, an American woman married to a Frenchman and living in France since 1946, found a friend in a similar situation. They began talking about the future of their children, their American and French citizenship and wondered whether there were other women “out there” in a similar position.

They had a question and an idea. The question was, “How many people are affected by the citizenship law 301(b)?” At the time under section 301(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1960, children born overseas of one American parent would lose their American citizenship unless they lived five consecutive years in the United States between the ages of fourteen and twenty-eight. Essentially, the children would have to move to the United States sometime before their twenty-third birthday to retain their American citizenship. The idea was to find out how many families were affected. This they did. And they did a lot more along the way.”

For this reason, I submit that the problems of Americans abroad, may be more rooted more in the laws of citizenship than in the law of tax.

U.S. citizenship law no longer based on the assumption that “citizenship” requires a voluntary connection to the community. Combining “citizenship” with “taxation” means that the U.S. claims the right to tax large numbers of people with no connection to the U.S.

Significance of U.S. citizenship law of the past …

There was a time when a voluntary affirmation and connection to the U.S. was required to retain U.S. citizenship. One would lose U.S. citizenship without the voluntary affirmation – an “citizenship opt in”. This ensured that those without a connection to the U.S., would NOT be subjected to U.S. taxation.
The repeal of Sections 350, 352, 301(b) (of the 1960 law) and the 1986 amendment of S. 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, mean that, it is NO longer a requirement that the children described in Categories A, B and C, affirm a connection to the U.S. in order to retain U.S. citizenship. Absent an “relinquishing act”, the circumstances of birth will be sufficient to establish (under U.S. law) citizenship and a lifetime of tax obligations.

U.S. citizenship law of the present. A relinquishing act is now required to terminate U.S. citizenship – an “citizenship opt out” (with all the horror of the possible S. 877A United States expatriation taxes)

“For those who had no choice of where or to whom they were born, surely there should be an “opt-into” US citizenship – rather than an “opt-out” of US (or any other country’s) citizenship. Anything else is ENTRAPMENT. I find that very punitive.”

For those with the “legal status” of U.S. citizens abroad, the evolution from the “opt in model” to the “opt out model” reflects a principle that citizenship is defined more in terms of a “legal status” (conferred by birth) than a “voluntary acceptance” of citizenship. This is neither desirable nor consistent with a world of increased mobility and multiple citizenships.

The problems of U.S. citizenship have been exacerbated by the twin principles that:

1. U.S. citizenship has become less and less dependent on the existence of a “voluntary” connection to the U.S.; and 2. U.S. citizenship is now a status imposed on the individual, rather than a status chosen by the individual. (Although the 14th Amendment may have been motivated by a desire to “end slavery” it is now being used as a mechanism to “create tax slavery”.)

To put it another way: U.S. citizenship has become less “something that one chooses to voluntarily connect to” and more something “one is through an accident of birth, chosen for”. This is of huge significance because the U.S. (under the guise of citizenship-based taxation) attempts to control the lives of its citizens living abroad.

What is the justification for “place of birth” taxation? The closest rationale that can be discerned is the idea that:

1. All U.S. citizens must pay taxes to the U.S.
2. U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live are still U.S. citizens.
Therefore, U.S. citizens regardless of where they live have to pay taxes to the U.S.

Interestingly, U.S. Taxation Abroad includes, but is not limited to U.S. citizens

A recent post on the Isaac Brock Society included:

“According to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution anyone born in the United States is a de facto US citizen regardless of whatever other citizenship they may hold in the course of their lifetime. Therefore, with the existence of CBT anyone with a United States birth certificate is forever taxable by the US even if they have never lived there as an adult or earned any money there.”

Are those “born in the U.S.” really doomed to a lifetime of U.S. tax servitude?

Taxation of #AmericansAbroad in the 21st Century: “Country of birth” Taxation vs. “Country of Residence” Taxation- Part III

 

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions

by John Richardson

Update January 2018: This post has been updated with some new links and discussion

Part I is here.

Part II is here.

*****

PART III

Legal Status of Citizen vs. The Engagement Required By Citizenship

Is the “legal status” of being a citizen sufficient? Is there a difference between the “legal status” of being a citizen and the “voluntary engagement” that is required by “true citizenship”? The “legal status” of being a citizen may NOT be voluntary. But, the voluntary engagement required by “citizenship” is voluntary.

The legal status of “citizen” vs. the voluntary engagement of “citizenship”

There is a difference between the “legal status” of being a citizen and the voluntary engagement with the community that is required for meaningful “citizenship”. To put it another way: Citizenship involves more than the “legal status” of being a citizen. As President Obama said in his 2013 State Of The Union Address:
 

“We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story”

It is clearly true that many people born in the U.S. and NOT living in the U.S., have the “legal status” of being a citizen, but have not accepted the voluntary engagement that is required for meaningful “citizenship”. The story of London Mayor Boris Johnson (who was born in the U.S.) is a case in point.

Does the “legal status” of being a citizen justify imposing taxes on a person who does NOT live in the country?

The U.S. currently takes the position that the “legal status” of being a citizen is sufficient to impose taxes on a person who does not live in the U.S. Some of those with the legal status of U.S. citizen were born in the U.S. (making them 14th amendment citizens) and some were born outside the U.S. (making them citizens by an Act of Congress). There are many categories of people born in the U.S.

Five Possible Categories of Those Deemed to be U.S. Citizens Abroad and Their U.S. Connection

Those Born In The U.S. – 14th Amendment Citizenship – Who at a young age are taken by their parents to live outside the United States

The vast majority of U.S. citizens acquired U.S. citizenship because they were born in the U.S. The U.S. is aggressively taking the position that the following types of people, born in the U.S., but residents in other countries, with no economic connection to the U.S. are required to pay taxes to the U.S.:

A. Border babies: Those who were born in the U.S. and returned to Canada within months. (If their parents were Canadian citizens those border babies (who were dual citizens from birth) can renounce their U.S. citizenship without paying an Exit Tax. If their parents were U.S. citizens (meaning the children were not a dual citizens from birth) they are NOT permitted to relinquish U.S. citizenship without being subject to the Exit Tax.)

B. Children born in the U.S. who permanently left the U.S. with their parents as children (before reaching the age of majority) and who never returned to the U.S. They have never worked in the U.S. and have no connection to the U.S.

Members of Group A or Group B do not have and have never had a “voluntary connection” to the U.S. that could convert their “legal status” of citizens to the “voluntary acceptance” of the obligations of “citizenship”. Their birth in the U.S. and their moving from the U.S. were the results of decisions made by their parents. It’s hard to see how the “legal status” of being a U.S. citizen, is sufficient to require the payment of taxes to the U.S. Surely a demonstration of a “voluntary connection” to the U.S. should be required before an obligation to pay taxes is triggered.

Those born outside the U.S. – They choose neither their parents nor where they are born

C. In certain cases, the children of U.S. citizens who are born outside the U.S. are considered to be U.S. citizens. Examples include (but are not limited to), those born in Switzerland to U.S. parents. U.S. laws for the transmission of citizenship from U.S. citizen parents to children born abroad, have a long and complicated history. In fact – “American Citizens Abroad” – was founded to facilitate the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents.

It is clear that that those born outside the U.S. have no connection whatsoever to the U.S. At most they have a connection to a U.S. citizen (that may or may not have a connection to the U.S.)

Those who choose to leave the United States as Young Adults Adults

D. U.S. citizens who were “Born In The USA” but who moved to other nations as young adults (not forced to move with their families), have developed their careers outside the U.S., married, had children and raised their families outside the U.S., done their financial and retirement planning outside the U.S., never had an economic connection to the U.S., and whose lives are have become citizens of their countries of residence.

Many in this group may have left the U.S. under unclear circumstances. Some may have left the U.S. with the intention of returning, some with no thoughts on whether they would return, and some with the clear intention of never returning. Regardless of their intention when leaving the U.S., many gradually become citizens (in a legal and voluntary sense) of their new countries and gradually lost any connection to the U.S. that they may have had.

Members of this group (especially in Canada and Western Europe) fully consider themselves to be primarily citizens of their new countries and no longer U.S. citizens. Example: “You know you are Canadian when you start rooting for Canada over the U.S. in hockey.”

Adults who moved from the USA with the intention of returning to the United States

E. U.S. citizens who move outside the U.S. for short periods of time with the full expectation and understanding that they are returning to the U.S. They live outside the U.S. as Americans and typically neither become citizens of their country of residence, nor disconnect from the U.S. In other words, they are truly “U.S. citizens abroad”. Their situation is very different from those described in Categories A, B, C and D. They have more than the “legal status” of being U.S. citizens. They have a voluntary connection to the U.S.

Citizenship-based taxation and a voluntary connection to the U.S.

It is clear that many of those with the “legal status” of U.S. citizen (Categories A, B, C, and D) do NOT have the “voluntary” (or any other) connection to the U.S. that could reasonably justify U.S. taxation.

The fact that those in Category (E) have a voluntary connection to the U.S. does NOT mean that good tax policy would subject them to U.S. taxation. It does mean that (if citizenship requires a connection to the United States that this is the group which might be subject to “citizenship-based taxation”).

Therefore a “Voluntary connection” to the U.S. is a necessary but NOT a sufficient condition for the taxation of Americans abroad

Is “citizenship-based taxation” justified even with respect to Americans abroad who DO have a voluntary connection (Category E) to the U.S.? It’s hard to understand the justification. No other country imposes taxes on its citizens abroad. Americans abroad already pay taxes in their country of residence. No scholar has ever explained exactly what it is about a “voluntary” connection to the U.S. that justifies taxation. Life is full of “voluntary connections” that do NOT require the payment of taxes. What is it about a “voluntary connection” (by way of citizenship) to the U.S. that means Americans abroad should be taxed at all, or (worse yet) taxed according to the same rules as U.S. residents?

Taxation of #AmericansAbroad in the 21st Century: “Country of birth” Taxation vs. “Country of Residence” Taxation- Part I

 

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions by John Richardson

Update January 2018: This post has been updated with some new links and discussion.

Prologue – The “Story Of The Century

Since July 1, 2014, the United States via threats threats of the FATCA Sanction, has begun a “world wide hunt” for people born in the United States
(or are otherwise deemed to be “U.S. tax subjects”). A compilation of my posts describing the mechanics, effects and costs of FATCA and the FATCA IGAs is available in “The Little Red FATCA Book“. FATCA has spawned litigation against both the U.S. and Canadian Governments. A discussion of the “Alliance For The Defense Of Canadian Sovereignty” FATCA lawsuit against the Government of Canada is available here. Some thoughts on the “U.S. FATCA Legal Action” lawsuit against the U.S. Government are here. Both lawsuits have been vigorously defended by the respective Governments. The U.S. lawsuit may have reached the end of its viability (lack of standing and various procedural issues). The Canadian lawsuit continues.

With respect to those “Born In The USA”, the U.S. legal “claim of tax jurisdiction” is two-fold:

1. Those born in the United States (unless they have relinquished U.S. citizenship” for both tax and nationality purposes) are U.S. citizens.

2. Citizens of the United States are subject to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code regardless of where they live in the world. The Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) includes but is not limited to the obligation to pay taxes according to U.S. tax rules. The “IRC” also includes a wide range of “penalty laden reporting requirements“. The “IRC” also strongly discourages (through penalties and sanctions) participation in non-U.S. pension plans, non-U.S. investments (including non-U.S. mutual funds), the use of “non-U.S. business corporations” and (incredibly) non-U.S. spouses. (Even the divorce of a U.S. citizen and non-citizen is likely to be significantly more expensive.) As a result, the “extra-territorial application of the “IRC”) has the effect of exercising U.S. “control” over the lives of it’s citizens who do NOT live in the United States. Therefore, it is clear that the “extra-territorial” application of the “IRC” both (1) imposes the full force of the “IRC” on the resident/citizens of other countries and (2) has the effect of imposing the U.S. cultural values mandated in the “IRC” on those other countries. One can identify a list of the “10 Commandments” which are imposed on Americans abroad in an FBAR and FATCA world.

(Note that with the exception of U.S. citizens and “permanent residents”, as per Internal Revenue Code Sec. 7701(b), an actual physical connection to the United States is required to establish U.S. tax residency.)

As the article referenced in the above tweet makes clear, many people “claimed” by the United States as “tax residents”have never had any connection to the United States except that they were born there. The article includes:

Awad Al-Zahrani, whose son has US citizenship, said he would give it up.

“My son got the passport since he was born there while I was studying in the country back in 2000. At the time, the Saudi embassy had told me that it would not be a problem for him to hold two passports. Now that we have to pay taxes, though, we’ll be giving the US passport up.”

Abdulrahman Al-Habib, head of journalism studies at KAU, argues that Saudis who were born in the US should be exempt from paying taxes.

“We should establish a unified center to help Saudis clear their former tax registers,” he said.

US Consul-General Todd Holmstorm,however, confirmed that US citizens should pay income tax and called on their international counterparts to help them eliminate tax evasion.

“The tax law is designed to combat evasion through increasing transparency in the financials of US taxpayers,” he said.

Mr. Holmstorm’s bio indicates that his career has had a Canadian connection in Ottawa, Canada. His comments in the above article imply that he believes that those (1) born in the U.S. who (2) do not live in the U.S. and (3) do not pay taxes to the U.S. are guilty of “tax evasion”. Strong language indeed. Yet, these are his words which clearly reflect the attitude and policy of the U.S. Government.