After Five Decades of Abuse, Enough is Enough!

 
cross-posted from Brock
Posted on February 12, 2012 by Just Me
 
Forget about the notion that CBT has been with us since the Civil War. Forget about the absurd conclusion of Cook v Tait. The real beginning of our story started 55 years ago on October 16, 1962. This was the beginning of the U.S. government’s campaign of punishment for Americans who dare to live abroad.

Many people have often said that the only way to get the U.S. to understand our situation is to focus not on harms, or fairness, or Constitutionality. Doing that just fuels the clichés and “alternative facts” about all the fatcats abroad, cheating on taxes. Instead, as Roger Conklin tried to do, the Congress, new Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and POTUS should realize that these policies have resulted in a trade deficit for 55 years.

Finally, it merits at least some mention that fifty years ago, before these extra fiscal and financial reporting burdens were put on the shoulders of overseas Americans, and while they were still fully able to compete with the citizens of other countries in the same foreign markets, the United States had enjoyed more than sixty-seven years of unbroken trade surpluses with the rest of the world. During the subsequent decade, after this new toxic tax burden was imposed on those living and working abroad, the U.S. foreign trade position began to weaken, as many had predicted, and a trade deficit appeared for the first time in the 20th Century in 1971. As the tax burden on overseas Americans became increasingly heavy and increasingly incomprehensible, these deficits soon became a permanent fixture of U.S. trade performance, and we are now in our 36th straight deficit year with the cumulative amount of these trade deficits now exceeding $8 trillion.

It is not very obvious so far that the current Administration in Washington , despite the enthralling campaign promises that were made in 2008, has any serious interest in leveling the worldwide playing field for trade. The results for the first eleven months of 2011 already show an impressive deficit for this most recent year of more than $500 billion, which is the worst trade performance of the last three years, and this deficit still grows each and every day at a rate in excess of $1.5 billion. The aggregate trade performance for the first three years of the current administration is now a negative $1.4 trillion! (Update: Year over year, the trade gap for 2011 was up 11.6% to $558 billion.)

This history of the sad and incomprehensibly self-destructive behavior of the United States during the past 50 years, which is unique among all of the major trading nations of the world today, is well worth reading and contemplating.

As has been stated many times before, major world powers don’t always decline due to destruction coming from outside. They sometimes infect themselves with terminal obsessions from within that, alas, seem to then become incurable. This doesn’t have to happen this time to Uncle Sam, but to avoid it something rather urgent needs to be done before it becomes too late.

This is something our oft-criticized fellow expats at ACA understood and have fought for decades. Andy Sundberg is the author of the report which comprises the main portion of this post. Read the entire report and decide if all coming to this situation in the last five years understand the history of this problem better or are entitled to criticize other actions in hindsight. In a recent private email group discussion, a story that came out might offer a useful perspective:

A teacher once told me he was curious why geese always flew in a “V.” So he looked it up and found that the one in the front led until he no longer could and he moved to the back being replaced by the next and so on. In that way they reached their destination.

So no matter whether you come from ACA 50 years ago, or DA, or RO, or AARO, FAWCO, Brock 5 years ago or American Expatriates 3 years ago, we are all trying to get tax reform in order to right this situation once and for all. Each has a part to play in this unfortunate situation. This is much more in keeping with this post’s resolution:
 
So Let Us Now All Rise Up, Join Together to Throw off These Shackles, and Take Appropriate Action to Prepare for a Much More Positive Future for All of Us, our Heirs and for Our Country.
 
 

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”

AFTER FIVE DECADES OF ABUSE

IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE

  

THIS COMING OCTOBER WE WILL MOURN

THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE DEATH OF

A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

FOR OVERSEAS AMERICANS

AND NOW IT’S TIME TO GET IT BACK

 

Reproduced by permission of Andy Sundberg, Fellow and Secretary, the Overseas American Academy , Geneva , Switzerland , 16 January 2012. Continue reading “After Five Decades of Abuse, Enough is Enough!”

The Biggest Threat to America Does NOT Lie Outside its Borders

 

 

The biggest threat to America does NOT lie outside its borders. The biggest threat to America is the Internal Revenue Code and its absurd rules governing international taxation (the taxation of U.S. citizens and U.S. corporations on revenue generated outside the United States). The bottom line is that the Internal Revenue Code has (not is) destroyed the ability of U.S. citizens and corporations to compete outside the United States.
by John Richardson
 
This is because of the peculiarly U.S. practice of:

1. Who the USA taxes: Taxing all U.S. citizens who live in other countries and pay taxes to those other countries (every heard of double taxation?) Why is the USA attempting to impose taxes on the residents of other nations?

2. What income are they taxed on: Using a system of “worldwide taxation” (meaning that the USA imposes taxation on income earned in other nations).

Time out for a second –
(1) this means that the USA taxes U.S. citizens who DO NOT even live in the USA on income NOT ASSOCIATED with the USA!
(2) U.S. corporations who have the gall to attempt to do business outside the USA are subject to taxation on those profits
(when corporations based in other countries are not – Hello!!! Talk about giving a competitive advantage to non-U.S. companies)

3. How (what are the U.S. tax rules that apply to U.S. citizens abroad?) are citizens a taxed on this “foreign income”. Answer according to U.S. tax rules that as though the income was earned in America. Because, Americans abroad live their lives outside the USA (committing “personal finance abroad”) they are subject to the punitive U.S. tax rules that apply to anything “foreign” (including the penalty laden reporting requirements. This results in U.S. citizens abroad being technically being subject to higher U.S. taxation than Homeland Americans! (Things like the foreign tax credits are designed to mitigate the actual U.S. tax owed.)

Bottom line: The Internal Revenue Code has (not is) completely destroyed the ability of U.S. citizens and corporations to exist and profit outside the United States. Perhaps some people think that this is okay. But, most will realize in a global world that this is a bad bad bad thing.

Therefore (coming back to tax reform) the USA needs to do the following:

1. Stop attempting to impose taxation on the residents of other nations (that just happen to be U.S. citizens). Stop the U.S. practice of “citizenship-based taxation” and move to a system of “residence/territorial based taxation”.

2. Stop discriminating against its own corporations by imposing taxation on their economic activity outside the United States. America: STOP punishing your own corporations! They are run by Americans. Their shareholders are Americans. Why does the Internal Revenue Code hate them so much?

The discussion of the “border adjustment tax” in this article is a bit of a red herring. It is irrelevant to the fundamental tax reform that is actually needed.

But, for the record (if it matters):

The border adjustment tax is just a way to punish imports to the USA. It will simply make imports more expensive to every day people. There has been an ongoing debate about this idea for months.

What we KNOW about a border adjustment tax: It will raise the cost of imports to the USA

What we DON’T KNOW about the Border Adjustment Tax: Whether somehow the decrease in demand for imports (because they are now more expensive) will somehow result in adjustments to exchange rates that will somehow result in price adjustments.

Furthermore, the border adjustment tax would (likely ) violate international trade agreements.

Yes, it’s time to get with the “tax reform program”. It’s time for the USA to

(1) STOP attempting to tax economic activity that is unrelated to the USA (move to territorial taxation) and
(2) stop attempting to impose taxation on the residents of other nations (stop citizenship based taxation).

There are reasons why individuals are renouncing U.S. citizenship and U.S. corporations are inverting.

Will these changes to the system of “international taxation” happen? Maybe and maybe not. Was it Winston Churchill who said:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

Anti #FATCA BRIC nations building political clout and alliance

 

We all spend tons of time wondering what individual effort might bring down FATCA. Will the Congress come to its senses and pass the Meadows/Rand bills to repeal FATCA? Will Nigel Green & Jim Jatras achieve a lobbying miracle? Could it be possible that the Appellate Court will come up with a different finding than Judge Rose in the “Bopp” case? Or will the Canadians be successful in striking down their IGA with other countries deciding they will do the same? Will the Treasury Secretary indicate that #AmericansAbroad are exempt from FATCA? Or somehow Treasury changes its mind and allows for Same Country Exception?

To the best of my recollection, when the post below was published NONE of the actions mentioned above had started. If somebody had predicted any of them (never mind all of them), I expect we would have thought they were nuts. It has seemed so overwhelming and so hopeless from the start. Yet we fought back from the very beginning, starting simply at first; researching information and making decisions on our own terms, being unwilling to just follow blindly what we were told by the IRS, the compliance community and so on. Little by little groups began planning how to approach their ideas of taking the battle to the next level. Everyone should be proud that so much has been done under such dire circumstances, the expat grassroots movement is alive & well!

Of course, there are always other currents flowing alongside all that is happening and usually the best results are the ones that are not planned per sé but come about as the interplay of all the factors as they work themselves out. Clearly, one of the most powerful would be the demise of the U.S. as the world’s biggest bully, police officer and holder of the most powerful reserve currency. Of course many Western business/financial leaders dismiss this idea as pure folly. Impossible they say. However, look at the bank collapses of 2008. Would financial officers not have reacted the same, “Impossible” ?

Did we not react the same when we first started out? Impossible ?

There is reason to believe the BRICS nations might well succeed at creating a system that can bypass what the U.S. currently “owns”; the USD as the world standard reserve currency.

This will be the first of a few posts regarding BRICS. We truly may be witnessing the fall of the American Empire and the rise of a new ruling entity.

*******

Originally posted on the RenounceUSCitizenship blog March 24, 2013

 

Earlier this year I wrote that “Peaceful resistance to FATCA will result in a new financial order“. An article by Geoffrey York of the Globe and Mail suggests this may be starting to happen.

The article is well worth reading.  Note the following commentary and excerpts:

Continue reading “Anti #FATCA BRIC nations building political clout and alliance”

Principles of Treasury’s (reserve currency) War used by private plaintiffs – U.S. law determines who non-U.S. banks can do business with

 
I was reading an article this evening which reminded me I had never taken the time to really learn what was involved after World War II and the Bretton Woods. I need to trace back to a point before the IMF and the OECD were involved in developing globalization policy, especially when countries sign onto these rather than being the originators of the policies. At any rate, talk about procrastination, the post I had intended to read was put up 2 years ago! However, the more one delves into all the accompanying issues of complying with US tax and reporting requirements, etc, the more one comes into awareness of why the US (thinks) has the power to do what it does.

reposted from the renounceuscitizenship blog
 
Prologue a comment to a blog post from 2014 …
 

Mr Jatras:

Thanks for a great article. You have used FATCA as a particularly egregious example of the propensity of the President to either ignore law or make law himself. The Obama presidency is one characterized by a rogue President who does what he wants, when he wants and to whom he wants.

One interesting example is the recent 10 billion dollar fine which he personally levied against the French Bank BNP. This is described in “The Economist” as follows:

“WHAT is the appropriate penalty for a firm that abets genocide? Roughly a year’s profit and the sacking of a dozen employees, the American authorities concluded this week. At any rate, that is the punishment meted out to BNP Paribas, a French bank that pleaded guilty to helping the Sudanese government sell oil, clearing proceeds through New York in violation of American sanctions. At the time government-backed militias in the region of Darfur were massacring civilians by the tens of thousands.”

What’s interesting that the bank was fined NOT as a result of a direct act of Congress, but as a fine levied as Executive Order 13622, by President Obama himself, found here:

Interestingly, the U.S. is claiming jurisdiction over the French Bank on the basis that the bank was using U.S. dollars.

To put it simply we have a situation where:

1. President Obama decides to impose a 10 billion fine on a French Bank; and

2. He claims jurisdiction over the bank on the basis that the bank was using U.S. dollars.

Leaving aside the troubling issue of Obama acting as though he is a “law unto himself”, it is obvious that the U.S. can no longer be trusted enough for the USD to be the main reserve currency. The erosion of the status of the USD is well under way.

The threat of FATCA sanctions levied at non-U.S. banks will exacerbate that trend.

Thanks again for a great article!
 
How the U.S. uses the dollar as to regulate foreign banks by “its very nature benefit U.S. citizens

The above tweet references an article that is of interest because it demonstrates the extension of Treasury’s War to a private plaintiff. It demonstrates how (as per Cook v. Tait) the U.S. government “by its very nature benefits its citizens“.

In other words if:

1. U.S. law prohibits a non-U.S. bank from performing certain acts or dealing with certain people.

2. That bank performs an act that U.S. law prohibits

Then,

That bank is liable to a private “U.S. citizen” plaintiff for damages.

The article includes the following:

In a unanimous verdict late Monday, a federal jury agreed that Jordan-based Arab Bank violated U.S. anti-terrorism laws in conducting business with Hamas-linked “charities.”
 
Some Israelis refer to Arab Bank as the “Grand Central Station of terrorist financing.”

It is the first case that successfully employed the strategy of going after terrorists by suing a major bank that allegedly did business with them. More than 300 U.S. nationals were part of the landmark terrorism trial that began last month in New York.

Some Israelis refer to Arab Bank as the “Grand Central Station of terrorist financing.” The plaintiffs or their family members were injured or killed in terrorist attacks while visiting Israel between 2000 and 2005 during the second intifada or Palestinian uprising.

Arab Bank Accused of Helping Reward Hamas Suicide Bombers in Terrorism Case

 
In finding the bank guilty of violating anti-terrorism laws by providing material support to Hamas, jurors rejected Arab Bank’s key defense that it had no way to know some of its clients were using its accounts to provide payoffs for terrorist acts.
 
Nobody likes violence, but …

I suggest that there is a broader principle at play here. Can the U.S. government be permitted to regulate the conduct of foreign banks? In his book, “Treasury’s War“, Juan Zarate details how the U.S. government, rather than going after the “bad guys”, goes after those who do business with the “bad guys”.

The jurisdictional basis for the U.S. Government asserting jurisdiction over non-U.S. banks
 
Now, any “right thinking” person would wonder:

How can the U.S. government regulate foreign banks?

How can the U.S. government imagine that it can impose FATCA on the world and use FATCA Sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy?
 
The answer is … It’s about the “reserve currency stupid!”
 


 
Once upon a time, Circa 1944, when the U.S. government had a reasonable “moral status, before law had become a substitute for morality, the Bretton Woods Conference made the U.S. dollar the world’s primary reserve currency.
 
A bit of history – once upon a time in “reserve currency land …
 
On of the 70th anniversary of the July 1, 1944 Bretton Woods conference – the landmark gathering that created the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and later the World Trade Organization (WTO) – it’s hard to know whether it’s the best or worst of times for multilateralism.

Bottom line – On July 1, 1944 the U.S. dollar became the world’s primary reserve currency. Until it is replaced (which is coming) the U.S. dollar is and will be the oxygen of the financial system.

Countries need access to the U.S. dollar which allows the U.S. government to abuse that need. If you want to use our dollar, then you must do what we want! If you use our dollar and violate our laws, we will punish you.


 
@MiaChupacabra @USCitizenAbroad Here is a little exec order for the new President of France http://t.co/t9bp9q7zow
 
BancdelAsteroideB612 (@BancB612) July 1, 2014
One of the most egregious examples of the U.S. abusing the status of the dollar as the primary reserve currency is the case of the French Bank PNB Paribas. This bank was subjected to a 9.9 billion dollar fine, by a U.S. law that allowed President Obama to be a “law unto himself”. In others words, the fine was effectively levied by Obama.
 

If you have this far in the post, you really need to read the “Economist article” which is referenced in the above tweet.

Of note is the following comment to the article:

America is playing a very dangerous game indeed.It currently has the “exorbitant privilege” of having the worlds reserve currency. The economic dominance that made this so is already declining. By running this sort of extortion racket it is making is more and more likely that the world will move to a different reserve currency – very likely an internationally agreed artificial currency. Then the USA will find that international trading carefully avoids any contamination with the USA. New big international banks will rise which deliberately decide not to have a US banking license.

America will rue the way it threw away its advantage.

A law made by Congress is bad enough, but an order made by President is unjustifiable. It’s not about the law, it’s about Executive Order 13622

On July 31, 2012, President Obama issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13622, “Authorizing Additional Sanctions with Respect to Iran.” The E.O. authorizes Treasury to impose new financial sanctions on foreign financial institutions found to have knowingly conducted or facilitated certain significant financial transactions with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) or Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), or any entities owned, controlled by, or acting on behalf of NIOC or NICO, for the purchase or acquisition of petroleum, petroleum products, or petrochemical products from Iran. These entities would be prohibited from opening or maintaining correspondent or payable-through accounts in the U.S. In addition, the E.O. authorizes Treasury to block the property and interests in property of any person determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, NIOC, NICO, or the Central Bank of Iran, or the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the Government of Iran.

Because OFAC has not issued corresponding regulations including general licenses, a number of typically generally licensed activities if conducted with NIOC, NICO and the Central Bank of Iran can now result in sanctionable activity. For example, specific authorization is now needed from OFAC before any person provides mail or telecommunications services to NIOC, NICO, or the Central Bank of Iran. Additionally, any intellectual property claims involving these entities also must be specifically licensed by OFAC – as must the provision of legal services. While these changes again reshape the sanctions landscape with respect to Iran, companies cannot expect a lengthy compliance grace period. Companies must therefore act quickly to assess their current operations, including those of their foreign subsidiaries and affiliates, and develop immediate plans to bring themselves into compliance. Given the lack of corresponding regulations, when in doubt, it may be appropriate to file requests for guidance and specific authorizations.

Are You at Risk Under Dramatic Expansion of US Sanctions Against Iran and Syria?”

For the complete text of Executive Order 13622:

Executive Order 13622

And finally …

We now have proof that the “U.S. government by its very nature benefits its citizens.

Why?

Because if a foreign bank, does something the U.S. government doesn’t like, and a U.S. citizen believes he has been damaged by that act:

The U.S. citizen can sue the foreign bank!