NB: STAY TUNED – a 7-part video on the Transition Tax, with
John Richardson & Karen Alpert will be posted in the next couple of days.

 
 
NB: For anyone with time to spare/the interest/needing specifics to make the point regarding the “intention” of the law, here are some of the relevant House/Senate hearings and/or documents:

Oct 3, 2017 Full Committee Hearing -Senate Finance

Nov 6 – 9, 2017 H W & M Markup
Nov 13, 2017 Open Executive Session to Consider an Original Bill Entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Sessions also continued Nov 14, 15, 16 with videos at the page)
Supporting Document Markup – Senate Finance Committee

*******

Another day, another set of articles and comments where the #TransitionTax & #GILTI are being stuffed down the throats of expatriates who have their own small corporations. The proliferation of articles on this issue, all proclaiming the U.S. can now inflict a deeper cut into the retirement savings of non-residents, is infuriating. The first two articles at least expressed the idea that these provisions might affect non-resident U.S. taxpayers.

Max Reed , posted on November 3, 2017:

As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986.

Kevyn Nightengale, posted on November 10, 2017 (I have not included the updated comments because this is what we saw at that time):

This provision was not designed to catch individuals (I think), and certainly not Americans abroad – they are collateral damage. it’s incredibly unfair.

When I saw the House version, I expected that individuals would be exempted after a sober second (or third) thought. Or at least individuals living abroad would be exempted. But seeing a parallel provision in the Senate version makes me expect the worst.

Seems fairly obvious that the biggest clue that the #TransitionTax IS NOT meant to apply to small CFC’s is that they are not “transitioned” from a worldwide system to a territorial one. This is so basic it is hard to believe nobody just calls these people out on this. How many tax professionals watched all of the House/Senate hearings? Many of us did, all hoping to hear that the move to territorial would include individuals; or at least some mention of us. There simply was nothing to suggest that this tax applied to anyone except large multi-national corporations.This provides the context in which the law was conceived. It should be considered just as thoroughly as the plain reading that professionals claim catches expats in the net. Just exactly who is really making the law here?

Now, on to the two prominent articles of the week. The Financial Post has U.S. tax reform to bring double taxation to some Canadians by Julius Melnitzer. Mr. Melnitzer is well-known for making huge distortions of reality. Canadians are familiar with the fact that he perpetuated “the biggest personal loan fraud in Canadian banking history.”

The biggest personal loan fraud in Canadian banking history was the work of a wealthy, respectable London, Ontario lawyer, Julius Melnitzer. When he left the board of Vanguard Trust, a small firm with which his law firm had been dealing, he just happened to take a copy of the corporate seal that Vanguard had used, among other purposes, to attest to the validity of certain forms which it issued in lieu of custom-designed share certificates. Melnitzer’s first trick was to create fake shares by simply typing in the share amounts and stamping the certificates with the company seal. He created five certificates representing a total of almost 900,000 shares. Then he used these “shares” as collateral for personal lines of credit. He also forged financial statements of a company that his father had founded, in which Melnitzer owned 20% of the shares, along with a pledge from the company that it would guarantee Melnitzer’s debts. Using the Vanguard shares and the phoney loan guarantees Melnitzer received a total of $5.6 million in lines of credit from five major Canadian banks. The scam went on for years. Each time a bank would start to press him for repayment, he would threaten to take his business elsewhere. He would also request a letter of recommendation from one bank, then use it to obtain funds from its competitors. A few years later, the banks pressed him to either pay up or come up with better collateral. Emboldened by the fact that no one had questioned the veracity of the forged documents, he decided to do the second.

Melnitzer went to a small local printing company that his law firm had done business with for years. He told them he was representing a client charged with using forged stock certificates to get loans at banks. He wanted to prove in court that printing technology had improved so much, even a small shop like theirs could do a credible job. When the company agreed, he ordered single shares of five blue-chip companies in the name of his daughter to avoid suspicion. He then altered them to put in his own name and bumped up the amounts until they had a face value of about $30 million. Not only did the great majority of the financial institutions he dealt with accept these in the place of the initial collateral, but some even significantly increased his line of credit. Alas, when an officer at National became suspicious about how Melnitzer’s personal wealth had risen so quickly, the officer asked bank experts to inspect the stock certificates. Melnitzer was arrested three days later.

Further:

Julius Melnitzer, a London, Ont., lawyer, was brilliant in the courtroom and had a stable of powerful clients, including some of the province’s biggest landlords. Thanks to a tip from an observant middle manager at a bank, the police discovered Melnitzer had printed up more than $100 million worth of stock certificates bearing blue-chip names like Exxon Corp. and used them to secure around $67 million in loans from several banks. He also bilked several friends out of more than $14 million by getting them to invest in a bogus property deal in Singapore. In 1992, Melnitzer pleaded guilty to 43 counts of fraud. He was sentenced to nine years in jail but was out on day parole after a couple of years and full parole in 1995. Melnitzer is now a well-known and respected Canadian legal affairs writer.

For Mr. Melnitzer’s point of view see here.

So why am I making such a big deal out of Mr. Melnitzer’s background? Irony. Hypocrisy. Disgraceful. Despicable. Along with government and the tax compliance community, the media is guilty of presenting only one side of the picture, consistently. We are labelled as “tax cheats” “scofflaws” and so on for not filing pieces of paper we knew nothing about. This man, who cheated banks out of $67 million, his friends out of $14 million, is promoting a questionable point of view that seriously affects the lives of millions of expats. Sorry, I cannot consider him a “well-known and respected Canadian legal affairs writer.”

The article quotes Roy Berg on the Transition Tax issues and Paul Seraganian on estate tax issues. An example of the Transition Tax issue:
 
A doctor who is a dual citizen practising in Canada,
with $2M of accumulated earnings in a private Canadian corporation,
would have a one-time U.S. tax liability of $300,000 this year

Roy Berg, director, U.S. tax law, Moodys Gartner
 

“A one-time tax liability of $300,000.” Incredible. Just a “fact.” Doesn’t matter at all how immoral this tax is in the first place. Doesn’t matter that this likely represents the doctor’s retirement savings. He/she likely worked very hard to earn that.This is a real-life person, not a hugely wealthy individual such as a corporate CEO who makes far more than $2 million a year in bonuses alone. It’s not small potatoes to confiscate that from a non-resident “U.S.” person. A Canadian citizen and resident. It is unbelievable that anyone, in any country would simply accept that U.S law applies outside it’s borders. It seems to me that “tax professionals” need to think carefully about what they are doing, who they are hurting and their role in what is truly an amoral regime at best and an immoral regime at worst. And people affected by this should think long and hard about parting with such amounts. I sincerely hope renunciations will be off the charts next year. One can at least be certain that “unofficial” renunciations, people “just walking with their feet” (as in non-compliance) will continue. There is a limit to the value of anything and U.S. citizenship is quickly becoming something non-residents simply cannot afford to keep.

An excellent comment by Karen Alpert on this article:

It is patently clear that Congress was not thinking about the impact of tax reform on non-resident US citizens. None of the discussion in the lead-up to tax reform, or in the committee hearings, indicated that Congress intended to punish the citizens and residents of other countries who happen to be claimed by the US as citizens. Nothing written by the IRS so far has indicated that they believe this applies to non-resident individuals – every example in the IRS notices has specifically looked at corporate shareholders. The only indication that this might apply to non-resident individual shareholders is from the tax compliance industry that stands to earn a large amount of fees on attempts to comply with this extra-territorial over-reach by the US.

If applied to non-resident individuals, the “transition” tax would be a pre-emptive grab at the tax base of Canada and every other country where US emigrants and Accidental Americans are living. The “deferred foreign income” that would be confiscated is money that was never subject to US tax, and is only claimed by the US because of a fictional “deemed repatriation”. Think about what that really means – the US is pretending that US emigrants are “repatriating” funds back to a country where they don’t live, and that they may no longer really identify with. The only good that could possibly come from this is the long overdue realisation that US taxation of the citizens and residents of other countries is contrary to the national interests of those countries and contrary to normal international practice.

The comments section is still open; please go over and make your views known.

**********

The other major article this week is at the Financial Times.

You can see the article on the

citizenshiptaxation facebook group

 
Financial Times
Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules
by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York – FEBRUARY 4, 2018

John Richardson comments:

(A previous comment of John’s is here . )

@Mitchell @WBY @Brian Lillis @Monte

@Mitchell gives us an excellent description of the reality of this situation.

We are dealing with a situation where the “tax compliance community” says: “Resistance is futile” and the reality is “compliance is impossible”.

What will be people do? Those who have long term relationships with “tax compliance people” are probably in the worst situation. They will be under enormous pressure to transfer their pensions (in reality this is how these corps are often used) to the IRS. These people will be confused, frightened and “easy prey”for the amoral individuals who populate the industry. I saw one explanation of the “transition tax” from a highly regarded tax firm that noted that they must search their client base for “victims”.

Notably, this is also taking place against a backdrop where VERY FEW “tax professionals” even understand how this (so called) tax works and how to work with it (or against it).

It is laughable that the only way any individual could even know that this exists is because of the combined efforts of the media and the “tax compliance industry” (frankly the last group of people I would trust).

I would also like to stress that members of the tax compliance community do NOT know more about this than the individuals impacted. Sure, they may be able to calculate the tax better (assuming that it applies to Americans abroad at all.) But their insight into this is limited by the thought (if you want to call it a thought):

The law is the law – the intent of the law was irrelevant – the unintended consequences are irrelevant.

The unfortunate truth is this:

People are going to have to choose between following the advice from their tax professional that “the law is the law” and retaining their life savings.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

 
 

 
 

 
This post is an actual comment by John Richardson that appeared here (PAYWALLED)

You can see the article on the
citizenshiptaxation facebook group

 
Financial Times
Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules
by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York – FEBRUARY 4, 2018

 
 

Interesting article that demonstrates the impact of the U.S. tax policy of (1) exporting the Internal Revenue Code to other countries and (2) using the Internal Revenue Code to impose direct taxation on the “tax residents” of those other countries.

Some thoughts on this:

1. Different countries have different “cultures” of financial planning and carrying on businesses. The U.S. tax culture is such that an individual carrying on a business through a corporation is considered to be a “presumptive tax cheat”. This is NOT so in other countries. For example, in Canada (and other countries), it is normal for people to use small business corporations to both carry on business and create private pension plans. So, the first point that must be understood is that (if this tax applies) it is in effect a “tax” (actually it’s confiscation) of private pension plans!!! That’s what it actually is. The suggestion in one of the comments that these corporations were created to somehow avoid “self-employment” tax (although possibly true in countries that don’t have totalization agreements) is generally incorrect. I suspect that the largest number of people affected by this are in Canada and the U.K. which are countries which do have “totalization agreements”.

2. None of the people interviewed, made the point (or at least it was not reported) that this “tax” as applied to individuals is actually higher than the “tax” as applied to corporations. In the case of individuals the tax would be about 17.5% and not the 15.5% for corporations. (And individuals do not get the benefit of a transition to “territorial taxation”.)

3. As Mr. Bruce notes people will not easily be able to pay this. There is no realization event whatsoever. It’s just: (“Hey, we see there is some money there, let’s take it). Because there is no realization event, this should be viewed as an “asset confiscation” and not as a “tax”.

4. Understand that this is a pool of capital that was NEVER subject to U.S. taxation on the past. Therefore, if this is a tax at all, it should be viewed as a “retroactive tax”.

5. Under general principles of law, common sense and morality (does any of this matter?) the retained earnings of non-U.S. corporations are first subject to taxation by the country of incorporation. The U.S. “transition tax” is the creation of a “fictitious taxable event” which results in a preemptive “tax strike” against the tax base of other countries. If this is allowed under tax treaties, it’s only because when the treaties were signed, nobody could have imagined anything this outrageous.

6. It is obvious that this was NEVER INTENDED TO APPLY TO Americans abroad. Furthermore, no individual would even imagine that this could apply to them without “Education provided by the tax compliance industry”. Those in the industry should figure out how to argue that this was never intended to apply to Americans abroad, that there is no suggestion from the IRS that this applies to Americans abroad, that there is no legislative history suggesting that this applies to Americans abroad, and that this should not be applied to Americans abroad.

7. Finally, the title of this article refers to “Americans abroad”. This is a gross misstatement of the reality. The problem is that these (so called) “Americans abroad” are primarily the citizens and “tax residents” of other countries – that just happen to have been born in the United States. They have no connection to the USA. Are these citizen/residents of other countries (many who don’t even identify as Americans) expected to simply “turn over” their retirement plans to the IRS???? Come on!

 

cross-posted from Tax Connections

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 :

As a person who lives “offshore”, and attempts to assist individuals who are “tax residents” of other countries (Canada and others), I am a keen observer of the damage (perhaps “carnage”) that the Internal Revenue Code inflicts on people who do not live in the United States.

As a law student I had little interest in the philosophy of law. As a person who sees how the extra-territorial application of laws impacts the lives of ordinary people, I recently had the following memory.

Many years ago I was introduced to Professor Lon Fuller’s (of Harvard law school fame) book titled “The Morality of Law”. In Chapter 2 he describes “The Morality That Makes Law Possible”. It is a fascinating and relevant read. He identifies the following (among others) as characteristics of immoral laws:

– retroactive laws
– laws that lack clarity
– contradictory laws
– laws requiring the impossible
– laws that are not constant through time – laws where the law is applied in a manner that is inconsistent with it’s intent (FBAR anyone?)

Professor Fuller was writing in the early 1970s. Looks to me as though the application of the Internal Revenue Code to “tax residents” of other countries, was specifically designed to include all of these immoral attributes.

Funny how rereading Professor Fuller’s book many years (at least one generation) later reminded me of the great American writer Mark Twain:

“When I was 14 my father was so ignorant I couldn’t stand to with him. By the time I turned 21, I was amazed at how much my father had learned in 7 years.”
 

Latest Podcast Guest: Tax Attorney John Richardson

 

cross-posted from Tax Connections

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”:

“Imposes compliance obligations on tax residents of other countries.”

Notice that that says “compliance” obligations. This includes but is certainly not limited to “tax obligations”.

The Internal Revenue Code is written so that EVERY INDIVIDUAL in the world EXCEPT “NONRESIDENT ALIENS” is required to comply with the Internal Revenue Code in its entirety. This requirement is without regard to where you live in the world. So, in determining how the Internal Revenue Code applies to an individual, one would simply ask whether the person is a “nonresident alien”. If not, the the Internal Revenue Code applies in its full force. This means that the full force of the Internal Revenue Code applies to individuals who are citizens and residents of other countries who just happen to have been born in the United States. (U.S. citizenship is automatically conferred on those who were “Born In The USA”).

Think of it. The U.S. has actually exported the Internal Revenue Code around the world. The Internal Revenue Code is used to impose direct taxation on people who are BOTH citizens and “tax residents” of other countries! Note that is the Internal Revenue Code (in its full force) that applies.

Whether you are a seasoned tax professional or doing your first tax return, you know full well that that compliance with the Internal revenue code requires much more than the payment of U.S. tax. It requires compliance with a range of penalty laden and intrusive reporting obligations. It also punishes those who “commit personal finance abroad” and/or attempt financial and retirement planning outside the United States.

As mentioned in the video, all tax systems are expressions of the cultural values of the country. So, the application of the Internal Revenue Code to other countries, means that the U.S. (via its tax system) is actually exporting and attempting to impose U.S. cultural values (or lack thereof) on the citizens and residents of other countries. The video used the example of imposing the Internal Revenue Code on residents of Muslim countries. This is a big problem that can lead only to trouble. (See for example a recent article written by Virginia La Torre Jeker that suggests conflicts between the Internal Revenue Code and Sharia law.)

The United States and Eritrea are the only two countries in the world that attempt to impose “worldwide taxation” on the residents of other countries. Interestingly, Eritrea imposes only an excise tax. It does not export its reporting requirements and create “fake income”. It is a far more gentle system than that imposed by the United States.

Frankly, to compare the Eritrea to the United States (in this regard), is an insult to Eritrea.

 

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.

Many of you may remember this outstanding post (below) from the early days……when the incessant torment was massive fear of “#FBAR penalties.” Compounded by #OVDP, (or #OVDI in 2011); FAQ35, minnows, whales, LCU’s, FATCA, DATCA, GATCA, FATCAnatics, JustMe, Opting out, in lieu of FBAR penalty etc ad nauseum. People who were minnows, tax compliant but did not know about FBAR being fined $75,000; Just Me engaging the Taxpayer Advocate to get his ridiculous fine of $172k lowered to “only” $25k. Those were days of real terror. Now time has passed, those who want to be compliant can do Streamlined, many have seen they can remain under the radar. The strong possibility of Tax Reform had everyone feeling “safe” again (relatively speaking). About the last thing expected, was that things would get worse. Well guess what, they did.

Anyone who owns a small corporation is being told a one time transition tax is part of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Now this is a very curious thing as not one word was said about the expat situation during the House or Senate sessions; all of the talk focused on changing the status of large non-resident corporations to a territorial model. I actually watched a very good portion and listened carefully for any mention of us and for any information about this tax. It was clearly concerned only with these large corporations. How many compliance people watched? Can the intent of the law be determined only from a strict reading without any regard for context? The transition tax was a way of the US extracting something from large multinational corporations’ earnings that would never be repatriated. This is the context, the situation the law was meant to address. Shortly after the first version of the bill was passed by the House, the first Canadian tax lawyer wrote that this same tax would apply to smaller corporations, single-shareholder owners in spite of the fact that they will not be able to transition to a territorial system after this “tax” is paid. An excellent discussion took place at Brock between USCitizenAbroad & Karen.

This is like a repeat of a very bad movie, one which we all should take a close look at.

Like the OVDP, expats are at risk of confiscation of a considerable portion of wealth based on a non-event.

And like the OVDP, the enforcers will not be the IRS but the cross-border tax compliance community.

Remember how strongly OVDP was pushed, due to the fact there would be no criminal charges? It was revoltingly referred to as an “amnesty program.” It was a program for criminals, and was not intended for people who had in no way, consciously chosen to omit filing an FBAR. Virtually no one had ever heard of it and it had never been unforced prior to the Swiss bank debacle.

How about all the hoopla about “quiet disclosures” which were misunderstood (misrepresented?) as amounting to a first disclosure filed without going through the program/without anything to flag it as new (i.e., likely delinquent for FBAR). As I recall, a real “quiet” disclosure was amending a previous return without calling the IRS’ attention to it.

As has been said, the law says “you have to file” it does not say you have to go through the OVDP/OVDI. Fear of being labelled a “quiet disclosure” stopped people from following the actual law, of just entering the system. There was no way many of us would have entered OVDP, even without the FactSheet 2011-13 (which did not say that one had to enter OVDP).

Yet the tax compliance community pushed OVDP and many people who did not belong there went through 2+ years of pure hell plus penalties. And later, so many lamented the fact that it was clear OVDP was not for minnows………….However, the fact remains that the actions of the compliance community at the very least, established themselves as “IRS agents-at-large.” Many feel the influence of the tax compliance community amounts to actually making the law, rather than deferring to what Congress passed (case in point – the “retroactivity” of 877A).

If it were not for the tax community, nobody would have noticed anything in the bill to suggest this idea that small foreign corporations (who do NOT have shareholders resident in the U.S.)would be required to pay the Transition Tax. No one would ever have imagined nor come to the conclusion that this portion of the law would apply to them. While we wait for some kind of indication from Congress as to their intention, the compliance community continues to engage in an education campaign; more and more articles are appearing. Some make reference to the fact it is not entirely clear whether it applies or not yet all are claiming it does. In other words, this is absolutely a creation of the compliance community.

Are we about to see a repeat of the tax compliance community insisting the transition tax applies which will cost people many thousands of dollars just to compute the actual retained earnings figure and an obscene amount of tax that will transition expats nowhere? Let’s not forget that for the 5 countries with Mutual Collection Agreements (Canada, Denmark, France, Sweden & the Netherlands), people who were citizens at the time the tax was incurred do not at this time, have any reason to fear.

As far as we know, RO was unable to get clarification from the Congress before the bill was passed. Guidance from the IRS only gives examples for large corporations. Guidance also here

And while we assume penalties for non-compliance will be threatened, has anyone actually seen, read or heard of anything specific?

Will this be the “straw that broke the camel’s back?” How many will refuse to turn over their pensions to the IRS? Where will this end?

It is still clear that the best protection is renouncing U.S.citizenship.

More Information

********************
The Conscience of a Lawyer and “The FBAR Fundraiser”

Cross posted from RenounceUScitizenship.

Having a license to practise law (bar admission) does not a lawyer make.

Admission to the Bar, gives an individual the legal right to conduct oneself as  a lawyer. A lawyer operates within a specific construct of ethics and morality. The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct make it clear that

A lawyer has an obligation to the client that is more important than loyalty to any other person or entity. This principle is made clear in Rule 1.7 of  The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  Rule 1.7 clarifies that a lawyer should not act for a client if there exists any conflict of interest. It reads as follows: Continue reading “The Conscience of a Lawyer and “The FBAR Fundraiser” Revisited”

 
This post appeared at reddit. It is interesting that while the Consulate in Montreal asked “why we did not want to apply for citizenship of our son” several years later, there had been no efforts to impose or force it. This gentleman explains it as pressure however, the lack of any follow-through by the Consulate suggests strongly that the U.S. simply cannot or will not impose citizenship on persons born outside the U.S., simply because they are eligible for it.

It should also be considered that while it is commonly understood that the INA establishes certain situations that define when one can be a citizen, it does not say that one must. The underlying assumption is that one would automatically want to be a U.S. citizen but this does not constitute a “law.” There is no reason to assume U.S. law has power over individuals who are citizens and residents of other countries.

 

Pressure to have kids become US citizens by consulate in Montreal (self.expats)

submitted 14 hours ago * by UncutExpat American living in Montreal
 

I’m a US expat living in Montreal for many years. My wife is Canadian and we have two kids born here (who have Canadian passports). My wife’s also an accountant who does tax returns (Canadian and US). She told me that if our kids are also US citizens, then our paperwork for US tax returns is more complex.

We have education funds for both kids, so we need to legally declare that revenue to the US. They need at least a tax ID number, so we want to fill IRS W-7. That form requires certified copies to the of the supporting documents, and the information shown on the form is as follows:

You may be able to request a certified copy of documents at an embassy or consulate. However, services may vary between countries, so it is recommended that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy for specific information.

For our first son, several years ago, we were able to get the certified copies in Montreal (for $50), but it was not easy. We had to speak with three different people at the consulate who asked us why we did not want to apply for citizenship of our son. At first I thought it was really none of their business, but by the end of the last meeting, I politely said I would do the US citizenship application if someone paid for my wife’s time with the additional paperwork that would be required for the next 18 years at least! The whole deal took more than 3 hours.

This time, for our second son, we only had to see two people (who asked us the same pressuring questions as before). The second person finally told us (after speaking to a colleague when we explained it was for accounting reasons that we did not want to apply for citizenship now) that since the form was 4 pages, it would cost $200.00 for the certified copies ($50 per page). We asked why it was so much, and they told us the policy had changed since the last time. We politely declined and left, realizing the whole episode was a waste of time. We often visit Boston or other cities, and it can be done there in an IRS office.

Just wondering if anyone else had such annoyances, and how they solved the problem. Needless to say, I’m not happy with this policy of the consulate (and actually wonder what is the benefit to the US, given that immigration is a big issue these days).

EDIT: the Tax ID is needed mostly for me to claim them as dependents (it’s not much of a deduction, as we don’t pay much income tax to the US now — however, it could be worth it in the future and my accountant says it’s a red-flag to suddenly claim children as dependents when they weren’t on last year’s return). Also, if my kids grow up in Canada and never want to move to the USA, they’ll be stuck with an obligation to declare their income every year as long as they have a US passport (huge paperwork burden with no real benefit).

 

 

 
The following was written by John Richardson and is a section of a larger piece yet to be published. I will provide the link at the time it is available and of course, have permission to publish this.

When I first read this, two things occurred to me. The OVDP/OVDI process represented a penalty for a failure to report. A failure to report is not a transaction to be recorded or that can be measured in relation to tax that is owed. The “in lieu of FBAR” penalty. The percentage was a figure set by the Treasury Dept with no clear connection to anything other than the value of an asset. So one agreed to allow a certain level of confiscation not based upon any amount of tax owed. The other issue with OVDP/OVDI was that it was an incredible deal for “whales”-that percentage represented far less than what they would have paid all-told. The transition tax is a gift for multi-nationals; moving to a territorial system, they will not pay what they would have been required to pay were they to repatriate the income that they will now, never be required to do.

Notably the Transition Tax is part of reforms to international taxation. The centerpiece of the reforms is that for US corporate shareholders of foreign companies there will no longer be US taxation of foreign earnings. (In other words, the US has forced corporations to move in the direction of territorial taxation). The transition tax is imposed as a mechanism to fund territorial taxation. Corporate shareholders are subject to the Transition tax and receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Individual shareholders (including possibly Americans Abroad) are subject to the Transition tax but do not receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Americans Abroad, who carry on business through non US corporations may be required to fund the move to territorial taxation (unlike corporate shareholders) and will continue to be taxed and taxed in an even more punitive way.

Of course, referring to OVDP/OVDI &/or the Transition Tax as a “gift refers only to multi-national corporations or people of wealth. For “minnows” OVDP/OVDI was an absolute abomination. The Transition Tax, should it apply to small CFC’s ( read “individuals”), will provoke the largest number of renunciations whether official or via “feet”.

This is an absolute breaking point in our process. Now that the rate on liquid assets is highter (15%), once the calculations are done, the effective rate applied to individuals will be over 18%. It will not be a matter of refusal as much as the simple inability to pay it. No one can continue to contribute to financial suicide, law or not.

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Why the proposed transition tax, if applied to individual U.S. shareholders living abroad, is analogous to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)”


by John Richardson

Significantly, the “transition tax” is NOT based on any income realization event. It is based only on the fact of legally earned retained earnings, which are subject to taxation in the country where they were earned.

The transition tax is a calculation based on an “account balance” – specifically the “retained earnings” account balance on the greater of two dates.

It is a mandatory payment which is based on the value of a “foreign asset”.

Therefore, the “transition tax” as applied to Americans abroad has characteristics that are more like “OVDP” than an income tax (which would be based on a realization event).

In any case, the “transition tax” is nothing more than an asset confiscation with nothing in return.

The application of the “transition tax” to Americans abroad would raise U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” to a new and UNPRECEDENTED level of unfairness and obscenity

 


 
This comment from the Isaac Brock Society makes basic points to be made with regard to the proposed “Transition Tax” in both the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills.
 
Every expat who knows there are private individuals who are incorporated in their country should be contacting relevant government representatives giving them the information that U.S. Tax Reform may impose a “transition tax.” As it is widely surmised that this is an unintended consequence, now is the time to bring it to the forefront and create awareness/resistance to this. We have appealed to the U.S. government to change the relevant sections (or give some clarification); if this does not occur, we cannot allow the compliance community to decide what the law is. In the past this HAS occurred with regard to the treatment of PFICs, applying the Exit Tax retroactively to people who renounced prior to 2008 and putting “minnows” into OVDP/OVDI. Time to stand up and say “NO!”
 
The following points would work for any country; just change the numbers in point 1 and “Canadian” to your country (generally) and the ministers’ names to yours.
 
1. There are approximately one million Canadian citizens who are resident in Canada and are also U.S. citizens (mostly Canada/U.S. dual citizens – with the U.S. citizenship conferred on them because of a U.S.
birthplace).

2. It’s safe to say that a significant number of these “dual citizens” are “small business owners”, who carry on business through Canadian Controlled Private Corporations.

3. It is possible and likely that many of these “small business” owners have (since 1986 or the date of incorporation) accumulated earnings.
These accumulated earnings operate as their “retirement pensions” ( a fact that has been widely discussed with Finance Minister Morneau and Prime Minister Trudeau as part of their discussions on Canadian tax reform).

4. The United States imposes taxation on individuals based ONLY on U.S.citizenship (even if the person lives in Canada). The United States is the only advanced country in the world to impose “citizenship-based taxation”. The United States is the ONLY country in the world that BOTH:
1. Confers citizenship based on birth in the country AND 2. imposes “worldwide taxation” based on citizenship.

5. Many of the Canadian Controlled Private Corporations owned by Canadians with dual citizenship are deemed under the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, to be “U.S. shareholders”, of what are called “controlled foreign corporations”. To repeat, from a U.S. perspective the Canadian shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations, may be considered to be the “U.S. shareholders” of “Controlled Foreign Corporations”.

6. The United States is in the middle of a process of amending the Internal Revenue Code. It appears that both the House and Senate versions of the bill, include a provision that would require the “U.S. shareholder” of a “controlled foreign corporation” to include directly in his/her personal income, a percentage of the total amount of the “retained earnings” of the “controlled foreign corporation” (which could well be a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation”). This percentage would be based on the amount of the retained earnings which have accumulated since 1986. See for example Sec. 14103 of
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

(See the section starting on page 375 with Sec. 14103 beginning on page391.)

7. Although it is not completely clear that this provision would apply to the Canadian shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations, the “literal reading of Sec. 14103 suggests that it may.

Certainly there have been (and this is where the danger lies) some tax professionals who are adamant that this would apply.

Conclusion:

It is extremely important that this danger be understood by all “stake holders” in Canada. This would include Finance Minister Morneau and members of the small business community in general.

Some discussion of this problem may be found here.

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— In this press release we ask United States Congress to fix a problem in the present House/Senate tax bills that targets certain Canadian citizen/residents who own an incorporated business — and more broadly — to “stop imposing worldwide taxation on any Canadian resident”.

The press release is being sent in part to members of U.S. Congress and also to Canadian politicians who should be in the business of defending Canadian citizens from harm caused by a foreign state.

The focus of the press release is intentionally on “Canadians”. The word “American” is not mentioned. Our use in the text of the now-offensive term “U.S. person” (defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service) does not imply that U.S. person law applies to any Canadian resident or that any of these so-designated (by the U.S.) Canadians have ever consented to be U.S. persons.

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November 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

U.S. CONGRESS: DO NOT CONFISCATE OUR SMALL CANADIAN BUSINESSES AS PART OF YOUR TAX REFORM

Dear Congressperson,

On November 16, 2017 Rep George Holding, of the House Ways and Means Committee, in an exchange with Chairman Brady, urged that as part of tax reform that: The United States join the rest of the world by adopting “residence-based taxation”. This would END the U.S. current practice of imposing worldwide taxation on certain residents of other countries.
 
As U.S. law currently stands, many Canadian citizen/residents (who are deemed by the U.S. to be “U.S. Persons”) find themselves subject to U.S. taxation (ON THEIR CANADIAN INCOMES and CANADIAN ASSETS), even though they live in Canada and pay taxes to Canada.
The application of U.S. tax law into Canada – a principle enforced by FATCA – has profoundly negative consequences, some of which are intended and some of which are unintended.
 
This is a request that the wording of the United States “Tax Cuts and Job” bill be revised so as not to harm, even more, small Canadian businesses possibly included, we believe inadvertently, by your proposed tax reform legislation.
 
As your tax Senate and House tax reform bills are presently worded, Sec. 14103, for example in the Senate bill, might be interpreted to confiscate a significant percentage of the retained earnings of certain small “Canadian Controlled Private Corporations”. This is evidently part of broader legislation to implement “territorial taxation”, in order to enhance the competitiveness of publicly traded U.S. multinational corporations.
 
We believe that this section is intended to apply ONLY to the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. domestic corporations. However, a strict reading of the language of the bill suggests that this “transition tax” MIGHT also be paid by those who are deemed by your country to be “U.S. persons” living overseas who happen (as is common in Canada) to own an incorporated small business. The “minnows” swept up by your bill will then include small businesses such as a one-person incorporated medical doctor’s clinic, should the owner be designated by U.S. law to be a “U.S. person”.
 
We do not believe that this was your intention and ask that you fix the language of the bills accordingly. Surely you would agree that “territorial taxation” for U.S. multinational corporations does NOT mean that the United States should extend its taxable “territory” to Canadians who happen to own small Canadian Controlled Private Corporations!
 
As part of U.S. tax reform, we conclude by asking that the United States stop imposing worldwide taxation on any Canadian resident AND clarify that the “Tax Cuts and Jobs” Bill does NOT apply to Canadian residents who are shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations.
 
John Richardson
Carol Tapanila
Patricia Moon
Stephen Kish

 
On behalf of the
Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty (www.adcs-adsc.ca ) Information@adcs-adsc.ca;
and
Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation (www.citizenshiptaxation.ca)
 
Contact Mr. John Richardson at johnrichardson@citizenshipsolutions.ca