Hands Down this is the Worst Academic Piece About FATCA ever Written

 

 

Profesor Paul Caron, on his TaxProfBlog posted the following article:
CONSIDERING “CITIZENSHIP TAXATION”:
IN DEFENSE OF FATCA
20 Fla. Tax Rev. 335 (2017):
by Young Ran (Christine) Kim

 

If any description could possibly be demonstrated over & over in this piece it would be the term “offensive.”  I confess to a hard-edged bias against academia, likely for the same reasons as most people; i.e., the rather noticeable and consistent lack of everyday common sense. Even in my own field (piano performance, where a doctorate is called a DMA not a Phd) there is a prevalence of people who may be perfectly schooled in the accuracy of Baroque ornaments, precise methods of articulation in Classic-period pieces or any number of other tedious accomplishments yet their actual playing (which is the whole point of a performance degree vs an academic one) is so devoid of vitality and inspiration it is enough to make one weep. I don’t know if the same exists in all disciplines but one thing that does apply here is a complete (and I mean complete) lack of awareness on the part of the author, of the harshness of how these theories play out on the lives of REAL people. What would make much more sense would be to address these problems head-on rather than justify “concepts” through a lot of theoretical jargon.

 

The following comment says it well:

 

The people affected by “citizenship-based taxation” are U.S. citizens and Green Card holders who live outside the USA and are “tax residents” (and often citizens) of other nations. The paper discusses (sort of) “citizenship-based taxation” as an abstract concept without considering the brutal effects that it has on the people subjected to it. The acknowledgement of the difficulties with pensions, retirement planning, foreign spouses, mutual funds, CFC rules, etc. (the reality of citizenship taxation) is most notable in its absence. And no, FBAR and Form 8938 (as obnoxious as they may be) are reporting requirements and not the specific tax rules (PFIC, etc.) that affect Americans abroad. I suspect that this paper will be subjected to the criticism that it so richly deserves.

Posted by: John Richardson | May 26, 2017 1:14:02 PM

While this criticism can be equally leveled at the members of Congress who passed FATCA, the Treasury Department personnel who wrote the regulations and last but not least, the heartlessness of many tax compliance practitioners, there is something especially repugnant about those pontificating from their ivory towers, proclaiming that FATCA, citizenship-based taxation, global transparency and all the rest of it, are worth the grief being caused.

Ms Kim indicates her paper finds its origins in Ruth Mason’s recent article, Citizenship Taxation, [89 S. Cal. L. Rev. 169 (2016),

A major difference between the two is that Ms Mason basically sees citizenship taxation in a negative light while Ms. Kim attempts to find it as a natural basis to support FATCA.

She addresses three main arguments; the fairness argument, the efficiency argument and the administrative argument.
 

I.) THE FAIRNESS ARGUMENT

 

Individual taxpayers’ obligations to file Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR) or report under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) are not seriously onerous. The fact that citizenship taxation along with FBAR and FATCA enhances global transparency further supports the case for citizenship taxation……..because the rules have been improved through various exceptions and substantially high reporting threshold amounts.

Ms. Kim asserts that the obligation to file FBARS is not “seriously onerous.” The very real threat of a non-willful penalty of $10,000 per account per year (or worse for “willful) is certainly enough to strike the fear of God in even the most reticent individual. The idea that this reality is not considered when evaluating FBAR is beyond reasonable. Articles about FATCA often cover only the reporting done by the FFI’s. However, the other component is the requirement to file 8938’s which duplicate information from the FBAR and can incur serious penalties. The average person is not able to complete an 8938 and will have to pay to have a professional do it. Nowhere in this article does the author address the issue of compliance costs for individuals which can easily be $2500 a year for someone owing no tax and involve 50 or more pages of returns. Not onerous? Furthermore, there are simply NO FIGURES yet, to make any claim that FATCA “enhances global transparency.” Professor William Byrnes describes
the oft-quoted figure of $10 billion. This amount has absolutely NOTHING to do with FATCA; it is largely comprised of penalties and interest collected through the OVDI programs (and does not even represent actual tax recovered). While the FATCA thresholds are higher, please, the threshold for FBAR remains at $10,000, the same figure when the Act was created in 1970 – 47 YEARS AGO!
 

FOCUSING ON THE ABILITY TO PAY PRINCIPLE

First, consent theory argues that taxing nonresident citizens is justified because retaining citizenship represents consent to such taxation.

 
One cannot consent to something one doesn’t even know about. Is the author completely unaware of the history underlying the persecution of expats once Treasury/Justice went after the Swiss banks in 2008? There are still likely more Americans abroad who remain unaware of the obligation to file taxes and worse yet, the oppressive information returns with penalties simply for not filing a piece of paper (i.e. no tax due). For those who do know and who retain citizenship, keeping it is much a matter of confusion and fear and could hardly be described as “consenting to taxation.”

 

Second, benefit theory attempts to justify citizenship taxation as an obligation of nonresident citizens in return for the benefits they receive from the government.

This argument is so ridiculous at this point it is hard to believe it remains part of the discussion. Cook v Tait is nearly 100 years old and does not address the large changes globalization has produced. There is the endless  nonsense of hearing how “The Marines will come to rescue you,” after which you receive a full bill. How many living in first-world countries have any need for “rescue?” And last but not least we “owe” the U.S. for consular services (for which we pay, dearly in the case of renouncing – $2350 or $50 USD to notarize a single page). All tiresome and nowhere near justifiable for being taxed “the same” as Homelanders.

 

Third, social obligation theory

the underlying assumption of this theory is that people have an obligation to pay taxes to support the members of the society to which they belong in accordance with their ability to pay taxes, which should be measured by their worldwide income.

I remember my reaction to Prof Michael Kirsch’s comments (at the ACA Program in Toronto, May 2014, “CBT vs RBT”)regarding polity and such. It seemed ridiculous to me to consider those of us living outside the United States as being a member of that society in any meaningful way. In my own life, now 35 years outside the U.S.(over half my life), the only times I identified as a “member ” of U.S. society was when defending against strong anti-American sentiment (the first few years away) and national tragedies such as 911. I cannot see any way that those infrequent occurrences defined me as being an American more than being a Canadian.  I would say a more meaningful and valid way to apply the social obligation theory is whether or not I support policies that promote the social welfare of those around me, whether or not I give the homeless guy I see everytime I go to the bank, a bit of money so he can buy some lunch. IOW, except in an idealistic or nostalgic way, one can really only measure his/her “social obligation” based upon what they come face-to-face with, i.e., where they live.

 

Due to the different factors affecting the ability to pay, such as difference in the standard of living or amenities between places, “it would be fairer to calculate a person’s ability to pay by reference to the place where she lives rather than to the place where she holds her citizenship.”

“actually tax them alike,” which would require the repeal of the foreign-earned income exclusion and the allowance of unlimited foreign tax credits, including foreign consumption taxes, as well as the implicit taxes and subsidies to compensate the differences.

 

While all expats readily understand the reality that they are NOT “taxed the same” as Homelanders, the idea of being able to adjust all these factors to the number of foreign countries with all the differences in structure etc., absolutely discourages any realistic notion that this could ever be accomplished. Current retirement-oriented plans such as the Australian Super; the lack of recognition of tax-deferred vehicles registered by governments being treated the same as their US equivalents; requiring capital gains tax on the sale of principle residences which are tax-free in the countries where they are located ; and above all else, the obscene “savings clause,” all speak to the built-in bias the US has for anything “foreign” and its pronounced tendency to punish people for making use of non-US instruments. Add the effect of the Patriot Act, which makes it impossible to even open a US account with a foreign address and a non-resident American understandably lacks the will to try and weave one’s way through all these complicated, impossible-to-delineate requirements and procedures. The fact that the IRS does not clarify ambivalent sections such as §877A as well as the fact that no two compliance professionals can be counted on to give the same opinion is proof positive that disparate tax systems simply cannot be adjusted “fairly.”
 

when its critics condemned the new obligations to file FBARs and FATCA as an excessive compliance burden for nonresident citizens created by the Bank Secrecy Act.

There are no “new” obligations to file FBARs; they have been required (and unenforced) since 1970 and are part of Title 31. FATCA was NOT created by the Bank Secrecy Act. It comprises part of the H.I.R.E. Act (2010) and is part of 26 U.S.C. § 1471–1474, § 6038D.

II.) THE EFFICIENCY ARGUMENT

citizenship taxation may distort both Americans’ and non-Americans’ citizenship decisions, is not convincing

American citizenship renunciation rate is not particularly serious compared to other countries

residence-based taxation confronts an additional hurdle on top of enforcement difficulties: determining the residence of the individuals. Determining residence by considering all facts and circumstances creates problems beyond enforcement difficulties. The facts-and-circumstances test itself contains inherent problems when compared to a bright-line test

….and to what extent renunciation is treated as immoral and/or illegal, and so on.

The idea that citizenship taxation does not affect the decisions of Americans abroad concerning their citizenship is patently absurd. Without question, citizenship taxation IS THE MAIN REASON anyone renounces. Not because of tax per sé (don’t even think of trying to scare with the Reed Amendment) but rather, due to all the complications of trying to match two different tax systems. Add the non-financial issues such as the stress on marriages (to “aliens”), passing U.S. citizenship on one’s children, etc. etc. It has become a nightmare not worth living and something to escape if one can.

Ms. Kim devotes a long section to establishing the idea that the renunciation rate of U.S. citizens is “not particularly serious.” Again, we have someone indicating that unless the numbers are large, whether compared to that of other countries, the proportion of renunciations to the numbers of those abroad or to the number of entering immigrants, there is nothing being lost here. If that is the case, then the U.S. has virtually nothing to lose by simply letting these people go without all the forms, swearing under penalty of perjury and so on. One might occasionally consider that Americans abroad were once the best ambassadors the country could have. Now those tables are turned and some are more anti-American than any “alien” could ever be. Nothing like betrayal to warm the heart.

Regarding determination of residency, it is interesting that all 191 other countries of the world are able to surmount this difficult obstacle, which will be even more pronounced once CRS is operative. The “bright line test” which I presume means using citizenship rather than residency to base reporting on, is not truly useful given the fact that only the U.S. (Eritrea does not count) does this. When a U.S. citizen is living abroad with dual citizenship, with no determinant indicia, ask any bank how easy it is to establish whether or not one is a U.S. citizen. If it were clear, one would not see so many institutions refusing to serve Americans.

The Expatriation Act of 1868 gives all Americans the right to give up their citizenship if they so desire. It is not an issue of illegality. When a country treats its own citizens in the manner we have experienced from 2009 onwards (particularly the Accidental Americans who are not American in any normal understanding of the term), who is there to even suggest renunciation is immoral?

III.) THE ADMINISTRATIVE ARGUMENT

ENFORCEMENT DIFFICULTIES

Citizenship taxation has been criticized as difficult to enforce on nonresident citizens abroad….Determining residence by considering all facts and circumstances creates problems beyond enforcement difficulties

Next to failing to point out the outrageous 30% withholding “sanction” inflicted on every other country of the world, this has to be the weakest argument in this paper. The fact that the U.S. cannot effectively collect anything outside of the country is the number one reason people feel safe in remaining “under the radar.” After the initial scare of 2009/2011 seeing that the people hurt the worst were those who tried to do the right thing, people started considering the reality that being identified (“caught”) may amount to virtually nothing for a number of reasons. First of all, the majority of expats who are not compliant are NOT wealthy tax cheats with foreign accounts in order to deprive the U.S. of tax revenue. They are first of all, compliant where they live, which speaks volumes. Secondly, they have these “foreign” accounts in order to live their lives. This is in no way comparable to Homelanders who are guilty of tax evasion when they stash money in tax havens (and let’s not forget Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming, shall we?). The Revenue Rule still stands; even the 5 countries with Mutual Collection Agreements (Canada, Denmark, Sweden, France and the Netherlands)WILL NOT collect on those who were citizens of their countries at the time the tax was incurred. Canada WILL NOT collect FBAR penalties. With regard to fear about crossing the border, if one is not in the U.S. system, there is nothing for the IRS to report to DHS or CBP etc. All these things may change over time but as it stands now, the most IRS can do to most people, is send them a letter asking them to pay. EXACTLY WHAT IS THE POINT OF HOLDING ON TO CBT IF THERE IS NO WAY TO COLLECT?

Is the Compliance Burden Actually Onerous?

the IRS has provided the OVDI that a U.S. taxpayer can utilize to avoid criminal sanctions for the failure to report the existence of, and income earned on, a foreign account on tax returns as well as for the non-filing of the FBAR. In exchange for avoiding criminal sanctions, taxpayers will generally be subject to a 27.5% penalty on the highest aggregate value of their undisclosed offshore assets.86 In addition, for non-willful violators, IRS provides Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP), a program that was expanded in 2014 to cover a broader spectrum of U.S. taxpayers residing abroad and to provide penalty relief. Therefore, nonresident citizens who no longer have a strong economic and social connection with the United States or happenstance Americans are no longer likely to be subject to the severe FBAR penalties.

To suggest that OVDI and Streamlined “make everything alright” is to avoid the real issue altogether which is that citizenship taxation is simply wrong. No other country on earth “claims” its citizens for life. (Eritrea does not count). No other country on earth taxes its citizens after they abandon residence. No other country on earth applies an Exit Tax on assets that were acquired prior to obtaining residence in that country. There are reasons why no other countries do any of the things associated with citizenship taxation. It’s high time the United States stop this appalling abuse of human rights.

THIS ARTICLE FURTHER AIMS TO DEFEND the administrability of citizenship taxation in conjunction with the Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBARs) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

FBAR-absolutely not the way it is being conceived of now. FBAR, created in 1970 was aimed at uncovering money being laundered in smuggling, the drug trade and terrorism. It also was not originally conceived of being applied to those outside the U.S. Once the DOJ/Treasury departments went after the Swiss banks, they realized they could stretch the intent of FBAR to apply to non-resident Americans and the penalty regime thickened.

The criticism… has continued even after the U.S. government committed to enter into Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) in an attempt to address those concerns

A huge oversight on the part of the author. FATCA was without question an extraterritorial imposition on other countries. Only the United States would be as uncivil as to suggest imposing a 30% withholding charge on their allies and trading partners. The U.S. appeared not to understand that other countries could not comply even if they wanted to as privacy laws prevented the level of reporting required by FATCA. Banks would be sued were they to comply. To suggest that the US committing to the IGAs was a gracious act is revolting. Under the guise of being rooted in tax treaties, the IGAs simply bypassed what should have been required; that Congress ratify such agreements and implement legislation to do so. There is nothing in FATCA that warrants the creation of the IGAs. The U.S. downloaded ALL of the costs of compliance to the other countries. There is no mention of any penalties for the U.S. failing to comply. The U.S. made only the vaguest promises of reciprocity. It is simply unbelievable that the immorality of taking capital out of other nations is considered acceptable by the United States.

IV>) FATCA:MERITS AND CONCERNS

The OECD’s AEOI and the U.S. FATCA are two important developments, but FATCA plays a more important role.
First, FATCA provided critical momentum
Second, FATCA facilitates multilateral implementation of AEOI by creating an extensive network with more than 100 countries in the world, at the center of which is the United States.

This is unsubstantiated nonsense. First of all, it is bizarre to say FATCA “plays a more important role” Who gains from FATCA other than the United States? So far, nobody. The United States is at the Center of AEOI/CRS? The US has not even signed on to CRS. There are huge differences that matter greatly. The OECD AEOI/CRS agreements are determined by the countries involved; the terms of residency are established by those exchanging the information. FATCA is vastly different in that the United States alone determines who is/is not a “US Person” “US Citizen” irrespective of the status of such a person to the other country. And so far, the U.S. is not “paying its fair share” by requiring its banks to implement the same systems and legislation required (imposed) by FATCA. The IGAs do not constitute “acceptance” by other countries. To think otherwise is ridiculous. One could not possibly view such stipulations as reasonable.

criticism that…. FATCA exposes taxpayers’ private information to potential abusive use by foreign tax authorities.

This is a matter of real concern to Americans abroad living in some of the more troubled areas of the world-or those living Colombia in South America and particularly in some of the Middle East countries. Ironically enough, the U.S. has had some of the worst breaches of security and leakage of private information; certainly this is disturbing and worrisome.

Ms. Kim’s discussion of the Bopp FATCA lawsuit I will leave to someone else.

Second, opponents of FATCA and EOI argue that an EOI system removes a country’s unilateral control over its own tax policy, resulting in the forfeiture of sovereign autonomy. Although such argument has withered since the U.S. government entered into IGAs with other countries, it was strongly asserted by Canadian opponents of FATCA when the IGA Implementation Act included in Bill-31 was debated in Canadian Parliament.

How outrageous to suggest a foreign country does not have the right to have unilateral control over its own tax policy. The proof is in the pudding. The U.S. would never allow the equivalent. The IGA’s are the proof.
I have watched the video of the Canadian FINA hearings on FATCA many, many times. It is not possible to convey the absolute disgust we have for the majority Conservative government which minimized completely, the capitulation that occurred with the implementation of the IGA. It was nothing more than protecting the banks, without any regard to the effect it would have on Canadian citizens resident in Canada.

However, a government’s control over its tax policy is more severely harmed when a country segregates itself from the global community and loses the ability to enforce effectively its own tax laws against its taxpayers with interests in foreign jurisdictions

More unsubstantiated nonsense. This is an opinion completely unsupported up by any facts.

A Case for American Exceptionalism

conclusion, if FATCA makes the world better off by enhancing global transparency on tax information, then this may serve as another support for citizenship taxation, as well as an example of constructive exceptionalism.

While all of us raised in America understand unconsciously what exceptionalism is, it truly takes living outside the country to appreciate how incredibly arrogant and offensive it is. It is questionable whether FATCA “makes the world better off….” that a questionable tenet should “serve as a support for the imposition of citizenship taxation.” It is nothing short of reprehensible that the author should suggest what the U.S. has done is “constructive” or in any way justifies the gross aberration of power demonstrated by the creation of FATCA.

All the Side Effects of being a “covered expatriate” Green Card Holder

 

reposted from CitizenshipTaxation FB Group
 

Gary Clueit:

As a long-term GC holder with no way to escape “covered expatriate” status, the article doesn’t really cover all the insidious side-effects. For example, determining the $2M net worth threshold does not cover any assets you might have had before moving to the US, or assets due to bequests from relatives that have never set foot in the US. Even after paying the exit tax on the “deemed sale” of everything you own worldwide, you will have to pay actual capital gains when you do actually sell. And every penny of any bequest or gift you make to someone resident in the US (i.e. a child or grandchild, even if they are not US citizens) is then further taxed at 40% (that they have to pay) with no limit. So, for example, if your net worth is $2.5M on the date of expatriation (i.e. covered expat), you pay the exit tax. Say your wealth increases to $250M AFTER you leave the US – if your heirs live in the US (again, whether citizens or not) and you leave that wealth to them, the entire $250M estate will be taxable to them at 40% regardless of the fact that 99% of your wealth at the time of death was created outside the US.
Even if GC holders decide to stay in the US, they are perpetually screwed. Besides never being allowed to vote (not really an issue since one never desired to be a citizen), though they are still expected to pay taxes on worldwide income. The worst comes at death:
US citizen spouses can transfer or gift an unlimited amount between each other. If you are the spouse of a GC holder the maximum transfer is $149,000 annually.
Upon death, a citizen can leave an unlimited amount to their spouse. If your spouse is a GC holder, the max is just over $5M. If you spouse is a nonresident alien, the maximum is $60,000. Amounts above that are subject to 40% estate tax.
There is also the possibility of being caught up in double estate tax issues when you die.
This is the ultimate in taxation without representation – one of the founding principles behind the creation of the US. Tea parties were held!

The U.S. Saving Clause Facilitates the Expatriation Tax in 877A

 
What is evident is that our governments do not understand the effects of citizenship-based taxation. They did not believe us when we told them it was not just an issue of possibly not owing annual income tax. They did not believe us when we told them our tax-deferred accounts would be taxed. They did not listen when we told them sale of our (Canadian & others) principal residences would produce capital gains which would be taxed.

Will they listen when we tell them that “just renounce” (as if it were simple) will cause some to pay an Exit Tax that will cause a non-US pension valued as if it were paid out and taxed as regular income, in addition to capital gains on the rest of the assets? On those who have not just left the U.S. but left long ago, gaining all this as residents of the countries they live in?

This money belongs to the coutries where it was earned.

It DOES NOT belong to the United States.

We must repeat this over and over and over again until they get it:

It is abundantly clear that the United States is using it’s tax jurisdiction over U.S. citizens (a definition it can change at will) to attack the economies and sovereignty of other nations. In the event that this problem is NOT addressed, countries will no longer be able to afford the “fiscal risk” of accepting U.S. citizens as immigrants.

*******

This was a comment made by John Richardson made at FixTheTaxTreaty.org

It strikes me that the existence of the “savings clause” also facilitates the United States “Expatriation Tax” (AKA “Exit Tax”) which is found in Internal Revenue Code S. 877A.

The S. 877A Exit Tax includes (but is not limited to) the imposition of taxation on:

1. The “pretend capital gain” on assets that are located in Australia (for example “real property” located in Australia); and

2. Australian pensions that are located in Australia (is the Superannuation a pension?).

See the series of posts here:

Renouncing US citizenship? How the S. 877A “Exit Tax” may apply to your Canadian assets – 25 Parts

To put it simply through the S. 877A Exit Tax the United States is claiming the right to confiscate assets that are sourced in Australia and that were most likely acquired while the owner resided in Australia. Under normal rules of International taxation (as you describe in the first post of your trilogy http://fixthetaxtreaty.org/2017/01/12/explaining-the-saving-clause-i/) Australia would have the first (and presumptive) right of taxation on both of these assets. But what happens via the S. 877A Exit is that:

On the day before renouncing U.S. citizenship (while the person is still a U.S. citizen) the United States “swoops in” (steal it while we can) and claims the right to impose a preemptive tax on assets on which Australia clearly has the first right of taxation. In other words, the United States swoops in to impose taxation before Australia imposes taxation on the asset.

To put it simply:

This effect of the S. 877A Exit Tax is one of the most egregious examples of the United States “using it’s citizens” as “Trojan Horse Soldiers” to steal from the economies of other nations!

As described by one commentator:

“Although international tax law does not prohibit countries from imposing exit taxes
on their residents, there could be situations in which the levy of a tax on capital gains by a legislative fiction in one country infringes on a bilateral tax treaty.

In this respect, the Netherlands Supreme Court has ruled that the tax on a fictitious
alienation in specific circumstances can be incompatible with treaty law. If a taxable event was allocated for tax purposes to one state, the other state cannot by a later legal fiction attribute taxing rights to itself regarding a purchase or alienation that did not actually occur.”

Your post has proposed three possible solutions to the problem of the “Savings Clause”. How might each of these proposals defend Australia from the S. 877A Exit Tax? Interestingly the proposals operate differently.

1. Removal of the savings clause – (Australia does NOT agree that the USA can impose taxation on any person who it deems to be a U.S. citizen):

Th “Removal of the Savings Clause” does NOT mean the U.S. agrees that the U.S. WILL NOT unilaterally impose taxation on Australian assets. The United States might impose the taxation anyway. The precise effect of the removal of the “savings clause” would need to be considered on an “article by article” analysis of the treaty. If the savings clause were removed the individual treaty provisions would have to be strengthened to give Australia the exclusive right to impose taxation on Australian assets.

2. Citizenship tie breaker – (if included in the treaty this would mean that the U.S. would agree to NOT impose taxation on any Australian citizen resident in Australia):

This would ensure that the S. 877A Exit Tax could NOT be applied to dual U.S. Australian citizens living in Australia. It would protect the individual who is a “dual citizen”. It would NOT protect the U.S. citizen resident of Australia who was NOT an Australian citizen.

3. Tax Base Preservation Clause – (if included this would mean that the U.S. would agree to not impose taxation on any Australian asset)

This would protect both the individual (whether dual citizen or not) AND would protect the government and economy of Australia.

It is abundantly clear that the United States is using it’s tax jurisdiction over U.S. citizens (a definition it can change at will) to attack the economies and sovereignty of other nations. In the event that this problem is NOT addressed, countries will no longer be able to afford the “fiscal risk” of accepting U.S. citizens as immigrants.
Reply

The Devil is in the Details When it Comes to the U.S. Exit Tax

reposted from isaac brock society
 

A very   interesting discussionabout the Exit Tax has been taking place at Brock this week. In particular, the comment below from USCitizenAbroad highlights some of the major differences between the U.S. Exit Tax and the more benign Departure Tax that occurs in Canada and Australia. It cannot be overstated how punitive and destructive the U.S. Exit Tax is and anyone contemplating renouncing, should be certain to be familiar with all aspects of it; do a preliminary set of returns and an accurate accounting of all assets including pensions. While anyone can renounce at a Consulate before filing tax and information returns, anyone who is close to being “covered” should get counselling before taking such a step.

******

USCitizenAbroad says says:

@Watcher makes the point that:

As you see, then, the devil is very much in the detail. These latter two things have no analog in the Canadian exit tax. So… the US is not the only country to have an exit tax, but the exit tax it does have is one of the worst. And very likely the actual worst.

@Karen notes that:

On the Exit Tax – Australia also has an exit tax similar to Canada’s. When you cease to be a tax-resident of Australia you have a choice – pay capital gains tax on your current unrealised gains OR defer the tax until you sell the asset, at which time you pay tax to Australia on your entire realised gain, even the gain that accrued after you left Australia (Australian real property may be treated differently as most treaties would allow Australia to tax non-residents on real property gains where the property is located in Australia).

With respect the comments that compare the U.S. “Exit Tax” with “Departure Taxes” levied by other countries confuse the issue.

The “departure tax” imposed by Canada is a tax imposed based on a change in “residence”. The U.S. S. 877A Exit Tax is a tax imposed based on a change in “citizenship” in the case of “citizens” and a change in “immigration status” when applied to Green Card holders.

In the case of “Green Card Holders” the U.S “Exit Tax” (provided that it is applied when the Green Card Holder BOTH moves from the USA and surrenders the Green Card at the same time) is somewhat like the Canadian departure tax. It does however apply to more items and it applies to items that have no connection to the United States.

In the case of U.S. citizens, the U.S. Exit Tax is in NO way connected to residence in the United States. It does NOT apply at the time the a U.S. citizen moves from the United States. It applies at the time that they decide that they do NOT want to be a U.S. citizen and renounce U.S. citizenship. This means that it mainly applies to assets (both capital assets and pensions) that have no connection whatsoever to the United States. To put it simply the way the U.S. Exit Tax rules operate is that the United States uses it as a a mechanism to (in effect) confiscate the non-U.S. assets.

In addition, as @Neill, @Heidi and others have noted the confiscation is RETROACTIVE confiscation. In other words, the law appeared in 2008 (so NO Neill did NOT agree to this by moving to the USA) trapping assets that existed at that time. As @Heidi puts it:

NO ONE coming to the US could possibly expect to become a prisoner of the ‘freest country in the world’

Wrong, the simple fact is that there are many Green Card Holders who are now “in prison in America”.

Furthermore, as some comments have noted the application of the S. 877A rules has the practical effect of subjecting those assets to double taxation. And as @Watcher notes, there is NO realization event to pay the Exit Tax.

@Watcher concludes with:

the US is not the only country to have an exit tax, but the exit tax it does have is one of the worst. And very likely the actual worst.

The U.S. is NOT the only country that imposes taxation when one breaks “tax jurisdiction” with a country. But, because all other countries use “residence based taxation”, the U.S. IS the only country that has an Exit Tax based on a change in personal characteristic “citizenship or immigration status”. The pure evil of the Exit Tax flows from the pure evil of a system of citizenship-based taxation. Because there is NO other country that uses citizenship-based taxation, there is no other country that can have an “Exit Tax” that is based on a change in citizenship.

Therefore:

On the one hand to compare the Canadian Departure Tax to the U.S. Exit Tax is an incorrect comparison; and

On the other hand, (since many commenters seem to be making the comparison), some thoughts on the suggestion the U.S. Exit Tax is the worst.

When the U.S. S. 877A Exit Tax is compared to Exit Taxes imposed by current and past regimes, it is clear that the U.S. Exit is by far the worst by today’s standards.

But, the U.S. Exit Tax is also by far the worst by historical standards. The Exit Taxes imposed by the nastiest regimes in history (say during the World War II era) made NO attempt to confiscate assets acquired after the person left the country. As @Karen put its:

The US exit tax is, as others have said, much worse. At least with the Canadian and Australian versions, assets purchased after leaving the country are not included.

So, yes there is NO doubt that the U.S. 877A Exit Tax is the nastiest in history.

@Nononymous the S. 877A Exit Tax is unjust whether one complies or not, whether it is paid or not and whether one “feels the injustice” or not. The fact that an accidental American ignores the issue, is completely irrelevant to the injustice of the tax.

The Internal Revenue Code vs. IRS Form 8854: the “noncovered expatriate” and the Form 8854 Balance Sheet

 
 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

Introduction: For whom the “Form” tolls …

I would not want the job that the IRS has. There are many “information reporting requirements” in the Internal Revenue Code. The IRS has the job (sometimes mandatory “shall” and sometimes permissive “may”) of having to create forms that reflect the intent of the Internal Revenue Code. The forms will necessarily reflect how the IRS interprets the text and intent of the Code. Once created, the “forms” become a practical substitute for the Code. If you look through your tax return you will find “form” after “form” after “form”. The forms reflect how the various provisions of the Internal Revenue Code are “given meaning” (if the meaning can be determined).

The Form (in theory) follows the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code …

Every “form” is the result of one or more sections of the Internal Revenue Code. For example, Form 8833 is described as:

Form 8833, Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b)

Taxpayers use this form to make the treaty-based return position disclosure required by Internal Revenue Code section 6114. Dual-resident taxpayers use this form to make the treaty-based return position disclosure required by Regulations section 301.7701(b)-7.

Form 8833 reflects how the IRS understands Internal Revenue Code sections 6114 and 7701(b) and how it attempts to give effect to those sections. Imagine having the job the job of creating forms for the Internal Revenue Code. In most cases the IRS has done an admirable job.
In some cases, the IRS form may not accurately reflect the language and intent of the statute.

But, back to the Internal Revenue Code and the Form 8854 Balance Sheet …

This post is about some (but not all) aspects of IRS Form 8854. Form
8854 is familiar to most who relinquish U.S. citizenship or abandon their green card. In July 2014, the “American College of Trust and Estate Counsel” wrote the IRS an extensive submission describing many discrepancies between Internal Revenue Code S. 877A and IRS Form 8854. The focus of this post is less ambitious. It is restricted to a discussion of the relationship between Internal Revenue Code S. 6039G and the “balance sheet” found in Part V of IRS Form 8854.

Do the asset disclosures required in Part V of Form 8854, to the extent that they apply to “noncovered expatriates”, follow the requirements of Internal Revenue Code 6039G?

Back to the future: The evolution of “asset disclosures” and Form 8854 …

The evolution of Form 8854 may be seen here. A perusal of Form 8854 over the years reveals
that:

Since 2009, every release of Form 8854 has required full asset disclosures for any person expatriating after June 16, 2008. This means that asset disclosure has been required by Form 8854 for both “covered expatriates” and for “noncovered expatriates”.

Prior to 2009, no release of Form 8854 required full asset disclosure for “noncovered” expatriates. This is significant because this means that those with assets of less than two million USD were NOT required to disclose their assets.

This is probably explained by the fact that prior to June 16, 2008, the value of assets was relevant ONLY to determine whether someone was a “covered expatriate”. After June 16, 2008 the value of “assets” was relevant to determine the actual expatriation tax.

Internal Revenue Code Sections: 6039G, 877A, 877(a)(2) and Form
8854 …

Form 8854 has been designed to do the work of the above three sections of the Internal Revenue Code. Let’s see how.

Form 8854 and Internal Revenue Code S. 6039G

26 U.S. Code § 6039G – Information on individuals losing United States citizenship

Includes in part:

(a) In general Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any individual to whom section 877(b) or 877A applies for any taxable year shall provide a statement for such taxable year which includes the information described in subsection (b).
(b) Information to be provided Information required under subsection (a) shall include—
(1)the taxpayer’s TIN,
(2) the mailing address of such individual’s principal foreign residence,
(3) the foreign country in which such individual is residing,
(4 )the foreign country of which such individual is a citizen,
(5) information detailing the income, assets, and liabilities of such individual,
(6) the number of days during any portion of which that the individual was physically present in the United States during the taxable year, and
(7) such other information as the Secretary may prescribe.

The 6039G requirement applies to those who are “covered expatriates” under the rules of Internal Revenue Code 877A (and under 877(b)). (Those expatriating after June 16,
2008 are subject to the requirements of 877A.) This means that the requirement to report “(5) information detailing the income, assets, and liabilities of such individual,” applies ONLY to those who are “covered expatriates”. Therefore, the part of Form 8854 which requires “(5) information detailing the income, assets, and liabilities of such individual,” should apply ONLY to those who are “covered expatriates”.

The Form 8854 balance sheet is found in Part V of the current version of Form 8854.

form8854partvschedulea

form8854partvschedulea2

 

Notice that the instructions at the top of Part V specifically say:

Form 8854 (2015)
Page 5
Part V
Balance Sheet and Income Statement

Schedule A
Balance Sheet

List in U.S. dollars the fair market value (column (a)) and the U.S.
adjusted basis (column (b)) of your assets and liabilities as of the following date:
• Part II filers – the end of the tax year for which you are filing the form
• Part IV filers – your expatriation date.
Note:
Part IV filers do not complete column (d).

The above directive is described as applying to ALL people expatriating in the current year. The directive is NOT restricted to “covered expatriates”! Yet the asset disclosure requirements in 6039G apply ONLY to “covered expatriates”.

The Part V balance sheet requires the disclosure of very significant information about the complete scope of an “expatriate’s assets”. The balance sheet requires:

  • the identification of all assets
  • in the case of property, sufficient information to determine
    any deemed capital gains
  • in the case of “Foreign Pensions” the present value on the
    date of expatriation
  • significant information about “specified tax deferred
    accounts”
  • significant information about “grantor trusts”
  • valuation of controlled foreign corporations
  • more …

It is the most intrusive “asset inquisition” known to man.

Form 8854 appears to require this asset disclosure:

  • whether the “expatriate” is a “covered expatriate” (and is
    therefore subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax) or whether the person
    is NOT a “covered expatriate” (and is therefore NOT subject to
    the S. 877A Exit Tax); and
  • whether income and assets is even relevant to a
    determination of whether someone is a “covered expatriate”.

How Form 8854 elicits information about the assets of “noncovered expatriates” …

Form 8854 has been designed to elicit information about the assets of ALL “noncovered expatriates”. There are two categories of “noncovered expatriates”.

Category 1 – The value of their assets IS relevant, but that value is below two million USD.

Category 2 – The value of their assets is NOT relevant because they benefit from either the “dual citizen exemption” or the “renounce before the age of 18-1/2 exemption”.

For example, for “expatriates” who meet the “dual citizen” exemption to the Exit Tax, asset disclosures are NOT relevant. It is ONLY the “compliance requirement in Internal Revenue Code 877(a)(2)(C) that must be met. Yet, as noted by the “American College of Trust and Estate Counsel“, Form 8854 requires full asset disclosure.

 

Required Financial Disclosure – Form 8854, Part IV, Section A [Expatriation Information], Lines 1 & 2.

Section 877A(g)(1)(B)(i) provides that certain dual-citizens will not be treated as meeting the requirements of subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 877(a)(2) if the individual:

(1) became at birth a citizen of the United States and a citizen of another country and, as of the expatriation date, continues to be a citizen of, and is taxed as a resident of, such other country, and

(2) has been a resident of the United States for not more than 10 taxable years during the 15-taxable year period ending with the taxable year during which the expatriation date occurs.

Similarly, section 877A(g)(1)(B) provides that an individual who relinquishes his or her U.S. citizenship before attaining age 18½ if he or she has been a U.S. resident will not be treated as meeting the requirements of subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 877(a)(2) for less than 10 taxable years. Such an individual will not be subject to the expatriation tax even if his or her (i) average five-year net income tax liability exceeds the threshold amount or (ii) net worth was $2,000,000 or more on the date of expatriation. The individual, however, is still treated as a covered expatriate unless he or she certifies that he or she has complied with all federal tax obligations for the five tax years preceding the date of expatriation as required pursuant to subparagraph
(C) of section 877(a)(2). Form 8854, which is used to make this certification, should not require disclosure of net worth or five-year average income tax liability because neither is relevant to his or her eligibility for the exception.

So, what does all of this mean?

Internal Revenue Code 6039G applies only to “covered expatriates”.
Therefore the extensive and intrusive asset disclosures in the Part V “Balance Sheet” should NOT apply to those who are NOT “covered expatriates”.

Yet, Part V of Form 8854 appears right after Part IV of Form 8854. Part IV is where one makes the “certification of tax compliance” which is a necessary condition to avoid “covered expatriate” status.

My advice – just suck it up and complete the Part V balance sheet …

Complete the balance sheet and “exit” the U.S. tax system cleanly, finally and irrevocably. There are times when the “Form” does not follow the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. Think of it as an example of a breach of the unstated principle of:

Form Fairness!

John Richardson