The “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”: How the USA is imposing a separate, punitive tax regime on “nonresidents”

cross-posted from storify

The “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”: How the USA is imposing a separate, punitive tax regime on “nonresidents”

Tax Colonization by exporting the Internal Revenue Code to other countries

by John Richardson

If you Decide to Comply, DON’T choose a Homelander Tax Compliance Professional

I was very surprised to receive the following email on Friday evening. I cannot recall ever getting anything like this before. I will not identify the author because it is not proper to publicly share an email without the permission of the sender. It is not anyone I have ever heard of before and I doubt any of you have either. It took me a while to decide if I would answer or not. I tried to put my reaction aside after all, why be surprised that a tax compliance professional would demonstrate so little awareness outside of his/her experience. In the end, I simply could not ignore how I felt. I replied and have decided to publish the email without naming its author and my response.

I wish I had pointed out to this person that technically, due to the Canadian IGA (or likely any Model I agreement), that there are no harsh penalties that have been implemented. A professional who is truly conversant with this situation should have stated this better. Does such a statement show a conscious attempt to confuse the expat, assuming penalties from FBAR, OVDP etc will come to mind? Could it be a reference to the idea that Form 8938 is a harsh penalty all on it’s own? (As a matter of torture, most definitely….) Or is the practitioner just sloppy? (Maybe we could get this person to rule on all the “plain language” misapplications we hear of….retroactive 877A, anyone?).

I also wish I had challenged the statement that “the program is working.” There is nothing to suggest that the majority of non-resident (or resident, for that matter) Americans have become compliant. The numbers quoted in the statistics for the OVDP are nowhere near 9 million and we know some of those who came forward are Homelanders. For some interesting figures regarding compliance please see Professor William Byrnes’ “Is FATCA Much Ado About Nothing“? . Prof. Byrnes states “The IRS War on the FBAR is simply not working.” (“The IRS received 807,040 FUBARS FBARs in 2012; compliance with FBAR filing appears to be declining.”) Every tax compliance professional should be required to read this report. It would go a long way in curtailing the inflammatory language we experience, intended to confuse & frighten and assumes we are all idiots.

I also should have challenged the nonsense about ICE not allowing visas of former citizens being allowed to enter the U.S. This amounts to the usual threat of the Reed Amendment. Does ICE have the power to override the State Department?

I am simply astonished at the arrogance of this person. What to say of the obvious limited exposure of such an “expert.” (I have never heard anyone suggest that there are bank problems in Canada). Mentioning OVDP and not Streamlined. Who on earth does this person think he/she is?

My USC/resident-CPA sister strongly suggests I complain to the appropriate accountancy board.

And the unmitigated gall of implying I should send clients………good gawd………

*******

(emphases are mine)

If this is the Patricia Moon who has given up her US citizenship because of FATCA, then this is for you. I have seen your “protests” regarding FATCA and filing US tax returns. You stated that you were delinquent in your filings, and that you caught yourself up and then renounced your citizenship.

You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented. I have been practicing in the international tax area, specializing in US expatriates, for over 31 years. I am the chairman of a state CPA Society’s International Tax Committee, and have an international reputation in this area. Over my 31 years’ time I have prepared and/or reviewed several thousand tax return. I have seen dozens of people such as yourself , people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen, while failing to fulfill the obligations that come with citizenship – namely filing a US tax return and paying any tax due. One cannot enjoy the benefits of American citizenship without complying with the responsibilities.

Since FATCA has been implemented, there have been citizens such as yourself who have renounced their citizenship. I understand from a couple of US Customs & Immigration attorneys that I work with that ICE often won’t allow visas to come back to the US, sometimes even for vacations, to former US citizens. However, a much larger number of persons have come forward and are now filing tax returns and complying with the responsibilities of being a US citizen.

So the law has worked. It is accomplishing its intended goals. I personally have worked with several formerly noncompliant individuals to “get them legal” through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Staying legal is not a difficult process. It requires filing a US tax return every year. Often there is no tax due from it, as the foreign tax credits and the foreign earned income exclusion will reduce or eliminate the tax on all but US-sourced income.

Giving up citizenship is a drastic step when compliance is so easy. It is like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail.

And, from my experience, most larger banks WILL continue to work with Americans abroad. Very few are closing American accounts. In Canada, for example, I know that BMO Harris actually promotes accounts for Americans. I have several clients in Canada who bank with them. RBS Bank, Banque Scotia, TD Mortgage Corporation, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and many others.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to give my name to any individual who wants to become legal, but does not want to go to the extreme that you did.

Thank you.

*******

My response:

Your email is extremely offensive and demonstrates that you understand this situation from one point of view and one only.

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that the large majority of expats living outside the US for decades were simply unaware of any requirement to file taxes and information returns. The U.S. made no attempts to educate or notify people of these requirements. Surely you have known people who were “non-willful.” I certainly hope you did not put any persons such as these in the OVDP/OVDI.

Your comment “You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented” is curious, given I did not owe any tax. I was a stay-at-home mother with an annual income that never exceeded $11,000 CAD from doing the books for my husband’s company. An annuity inherited from my parents was transferred at a later time and I most certainly paid the tax that was due.

As to “I have seen dozens of people such as yourself, people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen….”

  • I had not lived in the United States for thirty years and was/am a law-abiding, tax compliant citizen/resident of Canada
  • I was not “enjoying the benefits of being an American citizen”
  • If you are referring to having the right of return, there is nothing particularly unique there; the majority of countries on earth allow their citizens to return
  • And I certainly am in no need of the Marines coming to save me in Canada (a “benefit” that one would have to pay for, were it even relevant to those living in first-world countries).

If by “benefit” you mean having access to “the greatest country on earth” I will tell you that a component of renouncing involved my observations about Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, the assassination of American citizens by drone without due process and other actions that frankly made me ashamed to have ever been an American citizen. In other words, your assertion that my renunciation was “like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail” simply does not cover all that was involved. Not the least of which, was my Canadian family and how they felt about the effect of U.S. policy on their lives. My husband resented any account information being turned over to FINCEN (given the fact it was his money)and it was a huge issue in the marriage.

I have remained active in this movement having renounced over 6 years ago. I don’t gain anything personally by volunteering a huge portion of my life to this. I am fully conversant with what is required regarding compliance. It is not always simple and it is very expensive. You fail to mention facts such as:

  • the U.S. would expect capital gains tax on the sale of our personal residence for a gain greater than $250k
  • the U.S. treatment of Canadian mutual funds as PFICs is particularly punitive and would require 8621 every year
  • the U.S. insistence that my country’s tax-deferred vehicles designed to help save for education, disability and non-RRSP uses are foreign trusts requiring 3520 and 3520A every year; all of these plans mirror similar programs in the US (529s, ABLE and Roth IRAs)
  • had I been signed on my husband’s company (I wasn’t) we could have found ourselves subject to an annual 5471 and the particularly abusive Transition Tax

I personally have no desire whatsoever to go to the United States. I don’t care what CBP and ICE do. It doesn’t frighten me at all. A Canadian does not need a visa to visit the U.S. anyway.

None of us have ever claimed that obtaining bank accounts or mortgages is difficult in Canada. This is a situation that primarily affects Europeans and it is very, very real. I know many people who have been severely impacted by it. It was perversely disingenuous for Judge Rose claim in the Bopp FATCA ruling, that this was not due to FATCA but to independent action of the banks.

Over the years I have encountered many people such as yourself, who seem to think they are entitled to inflict their opinions and judgments about character based upon presumptions made about U.S. expectations. I wonder if it could ever occur to you that there are other places and people in the world who do not base the value of their existence upon opinions such as you have expressed. I find it difficult to believe you would end asking me to send you clients. I trust this will be the end of any communication.

Regards,

Patricia Moon
Secretary-Treasurer
xxx-xxx-xxxx
Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty &
Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation

Part 9-2: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana” (cont)

 

This is a continuation of the post “Part 9: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions by John Richardson

The first portion of the post was published here.
Links to the first eight posts in my “transition tax” series are listed at the bottom of this post.

Part D: Citizenship and the expansion of Empire – Ancient Rome

As described by Andrew Henderson of Nomad Capitalist, in 212 AD the Roman Emperor Caracella expanded Roman citizenship by bestowing Roman citizenship on all free men. A listing in Wikipedia suggests that:

The Roman jurist Ulpian‘s Digest stated, “All persons throughout the Roman world were made Roman citizens by an edict of the Emperor Antoninus Caracas” (D. 1.5.17).

The context of the decree is still subject to discussion. According to Cassius Dio, the main reason Caracalla passed the law was to increase the number of people available to tax. In the words of Cassius Dio: “This was the reason why he made all the people in his empire Roman citizens; nominally he was honoring them, but his real purpose was to increase his revenues by this means, inasmuch as aliens did not have to pay most of these taxes.”[2] It should, however, be noted that Cassius Dio generally saw Caracalla as a bad, contemptible emperor.

Another goal may have been to increase the number of men able to serve in the legions, as only full citizens could serve as legionaries in the Roman Army. In scholarly interpretations that followed a model of moral degeneration as the reason for the fall of the Roman Empire, notably the model followed by Edward Gibbon, the edict came at the cost to the auxiliaries, which primarily consisted of non-citizen men, and led to barbarization of the Roman military

Clearly Rome was not the last empire to associate “citizenship” with “taxation”.

Part E: Empire and taxation: As goes taxation, so goes civilizations

As the late Charles W. Adams wrote in his classic book – “For Good and Evil: The Impact Of Taxes On The Course Of Civilization” – the evolution of civilizations is a function of the tax policies of the civilization. Presumably as “civilizations expand into empires”, the tax policies of an empire are more likely to expand beyond the borders of the nation and into other nations. What the United States calls “citizenship-based taxation” (making it seem patriotic) is really the policy of imposing “worldwide taxation” on the “tax residents” of other countries. It is explainable as a part of the creation and expansion of empire. FATCA is the way that the American Empire has forced other nations to (1) impose U.S. taxation on the residents of those countries and (2) force those other countries to bear the cost of so doing.

Canada is probably the number one victim of U.S. “extra-territorial taxation”.

Part F: Public Perception of Empire

Former Canadian Liberal Leader Michael’s Ignatieff writing on American Empire – 2003

Former Canadian Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was a Harvard Professor when he was recruited by the Federal Liberals to return to Canada and lead the Liberals from the “waste land” to the “promised land”. Mr. Ignatieff was kind of a “public intellectual” who quickly learned that the “hard knocks” of political life were harder than the comforts of his academic appointments. In any case, Mr. Ignatieff recognized American Empire and wrote a fascinating article about it (which appeared in the New York Times in 2003 just prior to the Bush invasion of Iraq.) It’s a fascinating article. Well worth the read. It includes:

America’s empire is not like empires of times past, built on colonies, conquest and the white man’s burden. We are no longer in the era of the United Fruit Company, when American corporations needed the Marines to secure their investments overseas. The 21st century imperium is a new invention in the annals of political science, an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known. It is the imperialism of a people who remember that their country secured its independence by revolt against an empire, and who like to think of themselves as the friend of freedom everywhere. It is an empire without consciousness of itself as such, constantly shocked that its good intentions arouse resentment abroad. But that does not make it any less of an empire, with a conviction that it alone, in Herman Melville’s words, bears ”the ark of the liberties of the world.’

In other words, the United States is a country that believes that all of its policies, actions and ambitions are cloaked in righteousness simply because it is the United States.

Part G: Empire and taxation: If you were to ask your friends the following question:

Q. Do you think that the United States would impose more punitive taxation and compliance requirements on: (1) U.S. citizens living in the United States or (2) certain Canadian citizens living in Canada?

A. The probable answer would be: Don’t be absurd. Of course the United States imposes more punitive taxation on U.S. citizens living in the United States than on Canadian citizens living in Canada.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

To put it simply: The Internal Revenue Code of the United States imposes taxes, sanctions and penalties on certain Canadian residents that are not imposed on Homeland Americans at all. The point its is that “non-residents” are subjected to a harsher set of U.S. tax rules than are U.S. residents.

One answer to the question includes

I know the answer to this question. I filed one year using TurboTax (and a host of paper filings since TurboTax falls way short of being sophisticated enough for a foreign return) and it had a helpful function at the end where you could compare your US tax liability against others in a similar income band. My US tax liability was 2.5x the average bill in the same income band. That’s not 2.5% but 2.5x. My “fair share” was more than twice as much for the same level of income as the homelander “fair share”.

Thankfully, the out of pocket cost was limited by the taxes I had already paid in the UK. But, it shows the cost of not living a life optimised for the rules of the US tax system can be enormous. If you live in the US, there are tax no brainers. If you live in the UK, there are tax no brainers. But if you’re subject to both systems at the same time, you can’t benefit from the tax no brainers since, by and large, the other country takes what the other giveth.

As I’ve said before, the US tax system includes on the basis of citizenship but excludes on the basis of physical location since participation in the tax no brainers is limited by things like US source earned income which you can, generally, only get when you live in the US.

 

U.S. taxation of residents of other Canada and other countries: It’s really “territorial taxation” in reverse

As Charles Bruce (ACA Legal Counsel) describes it:

Ironically, this is a prime example of “upside down” territoriality. Under a territorial approach, such as, residency-based taxation, the taxpayer is expressly not taxed on foreign income. Here, the taxpayer – say, an American abroad – for sure will be fully taxed on foreign income, whereas his or her cousin in the States who earns domestic business income will enjoy the 20% deduction.

Part H: 12 examples (in addition to the “transition tax”) which U.S. residents can “laugh about” and Canadian citizens can/should “rage about”:

1. Templeton Mutual Fund bought in the U.S. by a U.S. resident is NOT subject to PFIC confiscation. The same mutual fund (with exactly the same securities) bought in Canada by a Canadian resident is subject to PFIC confiscation. Furthermore, the Canadian resident is required to report his ownership in his Canadian mutual fund on Form 8621 – check it out here.

2. A U.S. resident who invests in a ROTH IRA has automatic “tax deferral” and is not subject to U.S. taxation. A Canadian resident who invests in an equivalent TFSA does not have “tax deferral” and is subject to U.S taxation on the income on TFSA even though he is not subject to taxation on the income in Canada.

3. A U.S. resident who invests in an ABLE plan (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act) has automatic tax deferral. A Canadian resident who invests in an RDSP (equivalent “special needs plan”) is subject to U.S. taxation on that income. Furthermore, the Canadian resident is required to report his ownership of his RDSP on Form 3520 – check it out here.

4. A U.S. resident who invests in a S. 529 “education plan” has automatic tax deferral. A Canadian resident who invests in an RESP (equivalent “education plan”) does not have “tax deferral” and is subject to U.S. taxation on that income. Furthermore, the Canadian resident is required to report his ownership in his RESP on Form 3520 – check it out here.

5. A U.S. resident who receives distributions from a 401K plan is not subject to the 3.8% Obamacare surtax. A Canadian resident who takes a distribution from an (equivalent) Canadian RRSP is subject to the 3.8% Obamacare surtax. Furthermore, the Canadian resident is required to report his Obamacare surtax on Form 8960 – check it out here.

6. A U.S. resident is not required to report his local U.S. bank accounts to U.S. Financial Crimes. A Canadian resident is required to report his Canadian bank accounts to U.S. Financial Crimes. This is a very special category of “form crime” -see information about Mr. FBAR.

7. A U.S. resident is not required to report his U.S. financial assets annually to the IRS on Form 8938. A Canadian resident may be required to report his Canadian financial assets annually to the IRS on Form 8938. Form 8938 is an extremely intrusive, time consuming form. Check it out here.

8. A U.S. resident is NOT required to treat his activities in the USA as foreign and subject to penalties and reporting. Certain Canadian residents are required to treat their business activities in Canada as foreign and subject to penalties and reporting. Check out Form 5471 and From Form 8865.

9. A U.S. resident married to a U.S. citizen spouse is allowed to make unlimited gifts to his spouse. A Canadian resident married to a Canadian citizen spouse is NOT allowed to make unlimited gifts to his spouse. Furthermore, the Canadian resident is required to report certain gifts to his spouse on Form 709 – check it out here.

10. A U.S. resident who renounces U.S. citizenship will not have his U.S. pension plan subject to confiscation because of the Section 877A Exit Tax. A Canadian resident who renounces U.S. citizenship would have his Canadian pension plan subject to confiscation because of the S. 877A Exit Tax. It’s because it the pension is NOT a “U.S. pension”, but is a “Canadian pension”.

11. The TCJA includes a provision that allows U.S. residents to deduct property taxes on their U.S. principal residences, but specifically does NOT allow a Canadian living in Canadian to deduct property taxes on his Canadian principal residence.

12. The TCJA provided allows a deduction of up to 20% of passthrough income for specified service business owners with income under $157,500 (twice that for married filing jointly) for certain income effectively connected with the conduct of the trade or business within the US. A U.S. resident operating a U.S. business is entitled to the deduction. A Canadian resident carrying on a small unincorporated business in Canada is NOT entitled to the 20% reduction.

An “unintended consequence” or “willful”?

The vast majority of U.S. residents and Congressmen neither understand this nor know that this is taking place. That said, some members of the Treasury clearly do understand that:

Part I: It’s the “Tax Americana” – a “form” (pun intended) of “tax colonization”

In any case – the “Tax Americana” must first be understood and then end:

The time has come for the United States to stop imposing “worldwide taxation” of people who are “tax residents” of other countries and do NOT live in the United States”.

The time has come for other countries to recognize the “Tax Americana” and realize how the “Tax Americana” is eroding the sovereignty of other nations!

The next post in this series will explore the question of:

What could the Canadian Government do (without U.S. agreement) to stop the U.S. from taxing Canadian residents (who are also U.S. citizens)?

John Richardson

The first eight posts in my “transition tax” series were:

Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: “Resistance is futile” but “Compliance is impossible”

Part 2: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: Is “resistance futile”? The possible use of the Canada U.S. tax treaty to defeat the “transition tax”

Part 3: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: They hate you for (and want) your pensions!

Part 4: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Comparing the treatment of “Homeland Americans” to the treatment of “nonresidents”

Part 5: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Shades of #OVDP! April 15/18 is your last, best chance to comply!

Part 6: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: A “reprieve” until June 15, 2018

Part 7: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Why the transition tax creates a fictional tax event that allows the U.S. to collect tax where it never could have before

Part 8: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: This small business thought it was saving to invest in business expansion – Wrong, they were saving to be robbed by America!

Part 9-1: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions by John Richardson

Part 9: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”

This is the ninth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by taxpaying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.

(Links to the first eight posts in this series can be found at the end of this post)

Introduction – The purpose of this post is …

to demonstrate that the “transition tax” is an example (particularly egregious) of the principle that (1) not only does the United States impose “worldwide taxation” on the “tax residents” of other countries, but (2) it imposes a separate tax regime on certain “tax residents” of other countries that is different and far more punitive than the regime imposed on Homeland Americans. Yes, you read correctly! Continue reading Part 9-1: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”

Part 7: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Why the transition tax creates a fictional tax event that allows the U.S. to collect tax where it never could have before

 

cross posted from citizenshipsolutions

    by John Richardson
 

Introduction

This is the seventh in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by taxpaying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.

Continue reading Part 7: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Why the transition tax creates a fictional tax event that allows the U.S. to collect tax where it never could have before

Part 5: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Shades of #OVDP! April 15/18 is your last, best chance to comply!

cross posted from citizenship solutions
    by John Richardson

I suggested to John that some might not understand why a similarity between OVDP and the Transition Tax was being made. He asked me to introduce the post to make sure it was clear that the U.S. government has demonstrated that confiscation is the name of the game (NOT tax).

Some of you may wonder why a connection is being made between the OVDP program and the Transition “Tax.” The reason is very simple. We need to change the language. We need to call it what it really is. In the beginning, people were too frightened to understand what the OVDP really was. It took years before it was clear it was nothing less than confiscation. Fortunately, we knew prior to the passage of the Tax Jobs Cut Act that the Transition “Tax” was a blatant confiscatory provision.

The “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.” An “amnesty” program. Nine years and many destroyed lives have exposed it for what it really was. No one could really have considered it “voluntary.” The IRS and the tax compliance community certainly presented as one’s only option. In 2011, we did not have the advantage of what we know now; the limitations of being discovered, the extremely difficult/unlikely ability of the IRS to collect. People who had no tax liability among other atrocities, were fined from 20 – 27.5% of their assets. There was no taxable event. This revolved around not filing a piece of paper. FBAR. An appropriate term used was “The FBAR Fundraiser.” Another word would be confiscation. IOW, OVDP was NOT about TAX.

Some words have powerful associations. Sometimes those associations grow into clichés. We are all familiar with the association that anyone who has left America is rich has done so to avoid tax. We have been working at this since late 2011. Seven years. No amount of trying to educate via comments on online articles etc. has put a dent in this erroneous and damaging perception. Recently, some of us have started replacing “citizenship taxation” with “non-resident taxation.” Non-resident taxation describes what it really is and dissociates from the idea that a patriotic citizen (American) should pay it. It appeals to the notion that reasonable people accept i.e., that one pays taxes (only) where one lives. It may take time but the value of changing the language in this situation, is obvious.

To refer to this new requirement as a “tax” is to immediately justify it as being reasonable. Take the Canadian government for example. It’s position is that the U.S. has the right to tax it’s own citizens and that Canada has no business interfering with that. Thus the IGA. Nevermind that the majority of the people affected are Canadian citizens and residents FIRST.

So what’s wrong with the term “Transition Tax?” As we all know, any expat with a “foreign” corporation will be unable to transition to a territorial system as will major multinationals . So to call it a “transition” is completely erroneous. As for “tax”, a general notion is that a tax is connected with delivery of services or benefits i.e., there is some relationship between the exchange of income for services. It is nothing short of bizarre to levy a 30-year retroactive tax on a group of people who were not residents, nor receiving anything in exchange for surrendering a considerable portion of what is primarily, their retirement pensions.

A phrase John has used repeatedly to describe the Transition “Tax” is “the confiscation of the retirement pensions of the citizens and residents of other countries.” That’s what it really is. Like the OVDP, it is a punitive tool that destroys the lives of long-term expats. We need to get that message across.

****

    by John Richardson

Introduction

This is the fifth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by tax paying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.

The purpose of this post is to argue that (as applied to those who do not live in the United States) the transition tax is very similar to the OVDP (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs” which are discussed here. Some of initial thoughts were captured in the post referenced in the following tweet:

The first four posts about the “transition tax” were:

Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: “Resistance is futile” but “Compliance is impossible”

Part 2: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: Is “resistance futile”? The possible use of the Canada U.S. tax treaty to defeat the “transition tax”

Part 3: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: They hate you for (and want) your pensions!

Part 4: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Comparing the treatment of “Homeland Americans” to the treatment of “nonresidents”

*A review of what what the “transition tax” actually is may be found at the bottom of this post.

This post is for the purpose of the arguing that, as applied to those who live outside the United States, payment of the “transition tax” in 2018, is the financial equivalent to participation in 2011 OVDI (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program”.

 

Seven Reasons Why The U.S. Transition Tax as applied to “nonresidents” is similar to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program As Applied To “Nonresidents” Continue reading Part 5: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Shades of #OVDP! April 15/18 is your last, best chance to comply!

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

 

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

Are you a US citizen living abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Comment #2 on “Think You Can Leave the U.S. – Think Again

 

 


 

“There is something fundamentally wrong with a country where compliance with its laws
forces you to (eventually) renounce your citizenship.”

 
This post is based on a comment by John Richardson. The comment is a response to
a post by laurainparis on the Thom Hartmann blogsite.

Laura, you conclude your last comment with:

“In asking his question Thom demonstrates the importance of how the United States treates it citizens when they leave the country. He demonstrates that this is an important question not just for Americans who live outside the US, but for ALL Americans, regardless of where they live. Because anyone who thinks they can leave the country, anyone who comforts themselves with this idea – anyone who asks the question “why don’t more Americans leave?” – they are deluding themselves. There is no freedom for Americans. Americans are not free to live normal lives outside the US, unless they are financially and emotionally prepared to STOP BEING AMERICANS (that is, renounce their citizenship). The word “ironic” doesn’t begin to describe the situation. The words “impossible” and “tragic” do.”

A tragic situation indeed.

What’s most interesting and tragic is that:

The ones who try the hardest to comply with the U.S. rules are the ones who ultimately are forced to renounce. I have assisted a very large number of people in renouncing their U.S. citizenship (and thereby ending U.S. jursidction over them). A high percentage of people I have assisted are people who:

1. Have tried for years to comply with the “alphabet soup” series of laws and reguations that govern the lives of Americans abroad; and

2. Realize that compliance is no longer possible.

The only remaining Americans abroad will be “noncompliant” Americans abroad

In the long run, the only Americans abroad who will be able to retain their U.S. citizenship are those who do NOT attempt compliance with these laws. There is something fundamentally wrong with a country where compliance with its laws forces you to (eventually) renounce your citizenship. This is a problem that has escalated over time.

U.S. citizens abroad are living under siege.

A wonderful expression of the evolution of the problem comes from Jackie Bugnion in
her submission
to the House Ways and Means Committee on Tax Reform. Writing in 2013 she said:

“In 1776, the United States declared independence because the mother country on the other side of the ocean was imposing taxes on the colonies for the benefit of England. Resentment started when Britain tried to enforce the Navigation Act after 1763. Resentment increased with the Stamp Act in 1765, a way for Britain to tax the colonies. The British Tea Act of 1773 led to the Tea Party and we all know the outcome – the American Revolution and independence crying out “no taxation without representation”.

Today, the estimated 7 million Americans resident abroad, of whom the majority are long-term overseas residents in high tax OECD countries, face a comparable situation. Their representation in Congress is non-existent in reality. Americans abroad amount to only 1 to 2% of the votes in any particular state; Congressmen and Senators have ignored their tax issues. The unjustified myth that Americans abroad are wealthy and disloyal restricts a rational approach to the problems because of political image issues.

Citizenship-based taxation (CBT) has existed ever since the federal income tax was adopted. Despite CBT being an anomaly involving double taxation, taxation of phantom gains and explicit tax code discrimination, it was grudgingly tolerated by Americans abroad because it was essentially voluntary, most often involved little tax or no U.S. tax liability and basically was not enforced. In particular, the FBAR filing requirement was so obscure that even the big four accounting firms were not aware of the filing obligation dating from 1970 and failed to inform Americans abroad of the need to file the FBAR.

Since 2001, a series of legislative events have radically changed the situation:

  • In 2001, the Patriot Act made anything foreign suspect, including Americans residing overseas.
  • In 2004, Congress, under the Jobs Act, drastically increased the FBAR civil and criminal penalties to confiscatory levels, creating a disguised form of taxation on assets held overseas.
  • In 2006 administration of the FBAR reports was transferred to the IRS for enforcement.
  • In 2006 the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA) extended the Bush tax cuts and included a compensatory revenue raising provision that reduced the benefit of the foreign earned income exclusion, limited the foreign housing allowance and pushed Americans overseas into higher tax brackets, thereby increasing U.S. tax liabilities for many Americans abroad.
  • In 2008 the law relating to renunciation of U.S. citizenship was revised under Section 877A and introduced an Exit Tax on wealthy individuals (defined as “covered”). The law also provided that Americans who inherit from estates of former “covered” U.S. citizens are subject to U.S.
    inheritance tax with no exclusion. This outrageous discriminatory provision aims to discourage renunciation of citizenship, but in fact penalizes children of former U.S. citizens for an act they did not commit. In practice, it encourages the children to also renounce their U.S. citizenship.
  • In 2009 the IRS launched its initiative against tax evasion linked to foreign assets through the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Programs and a threatening public relations campaign. While it justifiably targeted U.S. resident tax evaders, it simultaneously trapped Americans abroad who necessarily have foreign assets. The IRS’s one size fits all policy and bait and switch tactics led to abuses of Americans abroad which inspired sharp criticism from the National Taxpayer Advocate.
  • In 2010 FATCA was slipped into the HIRE bill with no debate in Congress and no cost/benefit
    analysis. FATCA aims to provide the door that closes the fiscal trap by requiring foreign financial institutions to report to the IRS on assets held overseas by U.S. persons. It effectively cuts off many Americans from foreign financial institutions which find it too onerous to maintain American clients. FATCA creates a barrier to free movement of capital and people.
  • In 2012 S.3457 proposed to grant the IRS the authority to have a U.S. passport cancelled or not issued if the IRS determined that the individual owed $50,000 or more U.S. tax.
  • In 2012 the Ex-patriot Act, S.3205, proposed to deny any “covered” expatriate re-entry into the United States, with retroactive effect for ten years prior to enactment of the law. The Reed
    Amendment of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act already
    allows the United States to deny entry of former citizens into the United States.
  • In 2013, S.268 was introduced; it compounds difficulties created by FATCA.
  • In 2013 the Senate Finance Committee included in its tax reform recommendations a provision which would grant the IRS authority to cancel a U.S. passport for tax collection purposes.

This stream of legislation and proposals categorizes Americans abroad as suspected criminals seeking to escape U.S. taxes. Congress has outdone George III and has turned the United States into a fiscal prison, including legislation which is deemed anti-constitutional under the Fifth Amendment1 and is contrary to Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.2
The foundation of the U.S. fiscal prison is citizenship-based taxation. Americans working and living abroad carry a ball and chain of dual taxation throughout their entire lives up to and including death.

Americans abroad already pay taxes in the country where they reside and receive governmental services.

The additional U.S. tax obligation creates inevitable incompatibilities and discrimination and even requires Americans abroad to break foreign exchange control laws to pay U.S. taxes.

A revolution among long-term overseas residents is now underway. Five years ago, Americans abroad never talked about renunciation of citizenship. Today, it is a common topic in the press and among the community abroad. For more and more individuals, renunciation is the only solution to an intolerable situation created by the U.S. imposing its laws beyond its borders. The United States is literally destroying the community of Americans abroad, which plays an essential role in representing U.S. interests and goodwill overseas. The United States is shooting itself in the foot.

While the absolute number of renunciations, currently around 2,000 a year, is insignificant compared to the average annual U.S. citizenship naturalizations of 680,000, renunciations have multiplied seven times over the last four years. So far we have seen only the tip of the iceberg if CBT remains in force.

Today’s situation leads to serious hidden prejudice for the United States. U.S. exports are far below where they should to be because citizenship-based discourages U.S. companies from deploying U.S. citizens overseas to sell U.S. products; the law makes them too expensive. U.S. tax law and FATCA create insurmountable barriers for small and medium-sized companies to establish beachheads abroad to develop exports. The loss represents millions of U.S. jobs, hundreds of billions of dollars of exports, billions of dollars of U.S. tax revenue, and an unsustainable trade and budget deficit. Americans married to a foreign spouse, who represent about a third of the Americans resident abroad, now hesitate to register their children born abroad with the U.S. Embassy. The hot thing among young adults in their twenties is to renounce U.S. citizenship; they are aware of the impossible web of U.S. regulations that restrict job opportunities and personal freedom. Pushing away the young generation of Americans abroad is an immense loss to the United States. In prior generations, many highly educated multi-lingual American children returned to the United States, founded companies and created jobs in the U.S.

Adopting RBT will stop this revolution immediately. RBT law needs to be drafted in the spirit to allow free movement of individuals to leave and return to the United States, to reinforce the competitiveness of Americans and the United States overseas, to provide a simple, non-penalizing transition to RBT for the community of Americans already overseas, to ensure that Americans abroad are not subject to FATCA and FBAR, to adapt existing bilateral tax treaties and enter into new tax treaties so that withholding tax rates on U.S. source income are reasonable and to ensure that Americans abroad who have the majority of their assets in the United States (retirement funds, pension funds, real estate) are not disadvantaged under RBT with regard to either income or estate taxes.

I thank you for the opportunity to comment and hold high hopes that your bi-partisan efforts will lead to the constructive tax reform so necessary for Americans residing abroad.

Sincerely yours,
Jacqueline Bugnion”