German Foreign Minister Calls for an Independent EU “SWIFT” System

Update 27 August 2018

For anyone interested in more details about this development please see: here
and here
Hat tip to Tim Smyth

interesting: One of the factors irritating to the EU is the “repatriations of billions of dollars in profit from Europe by U.S. based tech giants” (Bloomberg) an outcome of course, from recent U.S. tax reform (TTFC)

*******

I have become fascinated by an ongoing development in Europe stemming from Trump’s actions against Iran. First, there is the United States pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
JCPOA, (aka the Iran nuclear deal in which Iran promised to stop development of its nuclear program in return for a lessening of sanctions and increased trade relations). After the withdrawal, Trump issued harsh sanctions against Iran.

Over the last couple days, a number of expats have tweeted/posted a
condensed version
of this story. I was curious know more about it.

On August 21, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote an editorial for the German paper, the Handsblatt. He called for a “balanced partnership” as counterweight to the US actions regarding Iran.

At first, this might seem completely unrelated to our situation however, one aspect of this “Balanced Partnership” may include an option for trading outside of the U.S. SWIFT system.

Maas said Europe needs a to set up EU payment systems independent of the United States if it wants to save the nuclear deal.
 

“That’s why it is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system,” Maas wrote. “Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East.”

One might wonder if anyone in the U.S. has bothered to realize what the effects of pulling out of the Iran deal are. For those who are not fortunate enough to have the Atlantic Ocean as a shield, the ramifications of uncontrolled Iranian development of a nuclear arsenal are dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Perhaps those who remember WWII or those engaged in recent Middle East conflicts can appreciate this. Doubtful for those in America, given the impenetrable shell of mind-numbing exceptionalism.
.

Further, the EU Foreign Affairs Minister, Federica Mogherini, has taken the bold step of encouraging companies to disregard Trump’s threats should they continue to do business with Iran. She said:

“it’s up to Europeans to decide who they trade with.”

How refreshing! The development of a spine against what is nothing less than another massive example of U.S. economic imperialism.

The EU has created a new law to protect European companies from the punitive measures the U.S. will take against those who dare to defy its will.

With the new rules European companies are granted the right to challenge US sanctions in European courts and seek
compensation from the U.S. government or American companies. In practice, this path promises to be cumbersome and
costly and even the Commission acknowledged that there is no precedent in such cases.

The blocking statute has never been implemented, although one was issued for the first time in 1996 in connection to economic
sanctions against Cuba and Iran. Back then, the threat was enough to persuade the US to suspend secondary sanctions.

“The threat was enough to persuade….” reminds one of how the world responded to #FATCA, no?

This development could be incredibly helpful to us in at least two ways. First, the oft-discussed demise of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency would clearly aid governments in divesting themselves from #FATCA. While not a direct hit at #CBT, such a move would take the “sting” out of what has come about since the H.I.R.E. Act ( 2011 for most of us). At the very least, it might stop the ongoing damage Europeans with “U.S. taint” are experiencing with the closure of bank accounts, mortgages etc. While Canadians are not currently experiencing this, a blow to #FATCA would enable them to:

  • decide to remain under the radar far more comfortably
  • put a huge dent into the screaming scare-tactic commentary of the tax compliance
    community and hopefully, their outrageous fees as well

Secondly, such a move might empower these governments, to support the requests of their own #Americansabroad citizens whether they be accidentals, dual citizens of other countries with residence in those countries as well as those who have yet to file I-407 for their greencards.

This would also encourage more effort from earlier efforts in various countries as well as the newer ones.

Here is a comparision for BRICs-US. Can you imagine the combined effect of the BRICs & the EU’s financial independence from the U.S.? Don’t you wish these countries could have thought of this BEFORE the U.S. stuffed #FATCA down the world’s throat?

I’ve been reading a book called “What We Say Goes – Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World,” by Noam Chomsky (2007). Chapter 6 – Invasions and Evasions – took place in Cambridge Massachusetts on February 2, 2007. In spite of the fact this Q & A predates FATCA and uses health reform and media reform as examples, I was struck by how well section this applies to what is happening to us now. So many are dissatisfied with R.O.’s TTFI proposal. People seem to expect a one-size-fits-all solution. At the beginning of our involvement with this, the phrase “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” was a sort of mantra. Part of that marathon is accepting that it will likely take a combination of a number of different solutions before it’s over.

Q. “I want to ask you about tinkerers versus overhaulers, reforms- cosmetic improvements and adjustments to the system – versus substantive structural change.”

A. “…..Tinkering, to borrow your word, is a preliminary to large-scale change. There can’t be large-scale structural change unless a very substantial part of the population is deeply committed to it. It’s going to have to come from the organized efforts of a dedicated population. That won’t happen and shouldn’t happen, unless people perceive that the reform efforts, the tinkering, are running into barriers that cannot be overcome without institutional change. Then you get pressure for institutional change. But short of that realization, there is no reason why people should take the risks, make the effort, or face the uncertainty and and the punishment that’s involved in serious change. That’s why every serious revolutionary is a reformist. If you’re a serious revolutionary, you don’t want a coup. You want changes to come from below, from the organized population.

What is needed is support from our entire population for each and every effort that will contribute to the end of this miserable situation. I cannot imagine any of us saying to the Accidentals – “I’m sorry, but since your proposal won’t solve my specific problem, I will not help.” Or an accidental being indifferent to specifics involving duals. There may need to be more lawsuits and stronger movements within individual countries. We all have to be on board as a solid, unified group adjusting and adapting as the process moves on.

The U.S.government is already a huge, disorganized, dysfunctional mess.

We cannot afford to be the same. We have to be better than that.

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

Which country’s citizens enjoy more freedoms than American citizens?

From Quora

John Richardson, Lawyer (1982-present)
Answered Dec 5, 2017

Which country’s citizens enjoy more freedoms than Americans?

The short answer is: The citizens of many countries enjoy more freedoms than Americans.

The answer to this difficult and interesting question should be considered from at least 3 perspectives:

Perspective 1: Do American citizens have the right to leave the United States and to make a new life outside the United States?
 
Perspective 2: How do the freedoms of American citizens living in the United States compare to the freedoms of (for example) a Russian citizen living in Russia?
 
Perspective 3: How do the freedoms of American citizens compare to the freedom of the citizens of other countries from the perspective of international human rights instruments?
 


 
Perspective 1: Do American citizens have the right to leave the United States and to make a new life outside the United States?

There are presumably some countries that make it impossible to physically leave the country. Certainly the United States does not (except that U.S. law requires U.S. citizens to have a U.S. passport to leave the United States) prevent its citizens from leaving the United States. What the United States does do, is make it difficult for U.S. citizens to survive outside the United States.

As long as they remain U.S. citizens, Americans do NOT really have the freedom to leave the United States, settle in other countries and fully participate as residents of other countries.

The primary reason is because U.S. citizens who leave the United States are still (as long as they remain U.S. citizens) subject to U.S. tax and reporting requirements. These requirements are so onerous (FATCA, FBAR, PFIC, CBT, etc.) that more and more U.S. citizens are renouncing U.S. citizenship so that they have the freedom to live outside the United States. There is no other country in the world that attempts to impose domestic laws on its citizens after they leave the country.

For a particularly graphic description of how America treats its citizens who attempt to live abroad, read about the Nightmare of Mexican residents who have U.S. citizenship”.

Conclusion: From perspective 1, Americans are the LEAST free people in the world.
 
Perspective 2: How do the freedoms of American citizens living in the United States compare to the freedoms of (for example) a Russian citizen living in Russia?

I suspect that Americans living in the United States have more freedom than citizens of some countries and less freedom than the citizens of other countries. But again, it depends how freedom is defined. Is freedom objective or is it subjective? What are the areas of human activity that are relevant?

The United States has a Federal Government and 50 states AND is a “mature country”. The country necessarily has a large number of laws and regulations (many of which cannot be easily understood).

Americans in the United States are clearly much more free than North Koreans living in North Korea. But, for the reasons given in the answer by Sindhu Mahadevan (below), I suspect that Americans living in the United States are not more free (and possibly less free) than the citizens of other first world democracies.

Americans live in a constant state of fear. Fear of illness, fear of violence, fear of terrorism, etc., fear of not being able to pay for post-secondary education … This is a big problem.

Two possible additional considerations:

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
The United States does have a “death penalty”
 
Can a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world really be considered to be a country with maximum freedoms?
 
Perspective 3: How do the freedoms of American citizens compare to the freedom of the citizens of other countries from the perspective of international human rights instruments?

Interestingly Americans have CONSTITUTIONAL rights that are enshrined in the U.S. constitution. They do NOT have many “human rights” as guaranteed by international human rights documents. In many cases, the rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution do NOT provide the protections afforded by international human rights documents. This may be surprising to Americans reading this. But, you might find the following to be of interest:

Human Rights and the United States

On the other hand, American systems do have access to a legal system and courts that can be used to enforce the CONSTITUTIONAL rights that they do have.
 

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy – Parts V & VI

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
 

originally published July 7, 2016
 
The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person Which Includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy
 

by John Richardson

Part V – Why Americans abroad are renouncing U.S. citizenship …

Put it this way:

Ireland recently opened a museum honoring the achievements of Ireland’s diaspora.

The United States continues to control the lives of U.S. citizens living outside the United States. “When in Rome, Live As A Homelander“.

The United States continues to cause other nations to discriminate against U.S. citizens who leave the United States.

The United States continues to use U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy.

The United States continues to threaten it’s diaspora (citizens abroad) with penalties and sanctions

It’s no surprise that renunciations of U.S. citizenship are growing! They will continue!
 
Part VI – The injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

For many Americans abroad to renounce U.S. citizenship they will be required to pay an Exit Tax. Those who are “covered expatriates” will be required to pay an “Exit Tax” that is based on the value of their non-U.S. assets, their non-U.S. pensions and possibly more. A detailed explanation is NOT the purpose of this post. For information on the S. 877A Exit Tax, I refer you to:

In closing …

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around us in awareness

John Richardson
 
Posts in this Series:

Part I The U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy – Part IV

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions

originally published July 7, 2016
 
The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person Which Includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

Part IV – The use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

by John Richardson
 

To leave the USA one needs a passport and when it comes to having a U.S. passport …


 

No passport shall be granted or issued to or verified for any other persons than those owing allegiance, whether citizens or not, to the United States.

“U.S. citizen” vs. “U.S. Person” – What is the difference?

All U.S. citizens are U.S. persons, but not all U.S. persons are U.S. citizens

My impression is that:

– the term “U.S. citizen” is a term that is used to describe one as a person who has rights or membership, benefits and some responsibilities to the United States

– the term “U.S. Person” is a a broader term that “U.S. citizen”. It is defined differently in different pieces of legislation. The class of “U.S. Persons” is broader than the class of “U.S. citizens”. The class of “U.S. Persons” often includes “Green Card holders”, perhaps “U.S.
Nationals”, etc. For example, S. 7701(a)(30) of the Internal Revenue Code defines “U.S. Persons” as “citizens or residents”.

The term “U.S. Person” appears to be used in a context that imposes prohibitions and sanctions directly on the “U.S. Person” and/or is used to imply “U.S. ownership and control” over the person. Often this “ownership or control” is exercised in the context of U.S.
interaction with “foreign nations”. When used in the context of interaction with “foreign nations”, the “U.S. Person” is often used as an instrument of foreign policy.

 


 
There is no one definition of “U.S Person” …

Restrictions on U.S. currency going to Cuba …

When it comes to “Corrupt Foreign Practices”, “U.S. citizens”
are “domestic concerns” …

It has become clear that United States enforces its extra-territorial law by pressuring other governments, organizations and entities (under threats of sanction) to do “U.S. dirty work for the U.S.”.

Some examples include:

– the use of the OECD to enforce the U.S. Corrupt Foreign Practices Act

– the FATCA IGAs to impose U.S. taxation on the citizens and residents of other nations

– as per Juan Zarate in “Treasury’s War” the “blacklisting of foreign banks”

The OECD employs “full-time lawyers” whose mission is to enforce the U.S. Corrupt Foreign Practices Act worldwide!

Bobby, you may be a national hero, but don’t even consider playing chess in Serbia …

Restrictions on “U.S. Persons” under FATCA and the FATCA IGAs …

When it comes to FATCA, the definition of “U.S. Person” is broad …


 

Posts in this Series

Prologue U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part IThe U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy – Part III

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
originally published July 7, 2016
 

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

 
Part III – I’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations …
 

by John Richardson
 
U.S. citizenship-taxation, enforced by FATCA, does have an impact on the economies of other nations.
There is evidence that this will negatively affect the job and career prospects of Americans abroad. “Citizenship-taxation” is increasingly affecting the way that nations and the citizens of other nations interact with “U.S. citizens”. Because of the “immutable characteristic” of a “U.S place of birth”, many U.S. citizens living outside the United States (assuming they are allowed to have a bank account in a FATCA world) have become undesirable as business partners.

See the following two accounts of discrimination against U.S.
citizens abroad

 


 

Good points that highlight, yet again, the absurdity and detachment of the U.S. political system from 9 million of their citizens now living in an ever globalized and ever more competitive world. The U.S. political class and presidential candidates disinterest in this ever-growing and important group of citizens only speaks to the total stupidity, general ignorance, global unawareness, profound provincialism and confirms a totally dysfunctional and archaic system that is today the United States. A country that attacks and harms its diaspora and through its laws has succeeded in turning its own citizens into international pariahs with international banks, in international business partnerships, in marriage and in the general perception outside of the U.S.

I recently met with three start-ups at a fair in Germany, two from the UK and one from Sweden. In my work as a headhunter they were hiring me to find them some talented people for their growing and successful startups. In all three cases, and each in separate meetings with me, the startups told me that they did not want any Americans or Europeans with U.S. Green cards or passports. They were all wisely warned by their banks and financial advisors not to bring any U.S. Persons into their business. Two of them knew the reasons and the risk that any American presence would bring to the business. The other one learned the hard way. They had an American investor who got them into his FATCA mess, reporting his holdings and his American tax consultant demanding the business’s bank details and the personal details of the owners. They returned his investment, threw him out and agreed never again to get involved with any U.S. persons in their business. This is now widely known and even if FATCA and all of the other reporting requirements for Americans would be eliminated, the damage is already done. The perception out there is to avoid hiring any Americans and also avoiding their investments. They are too much trouble and their government is an intrusive bully that thinks it can control the entire world. That spirit is so foreign to the young brilliant startup minds out there today. The U.S. has become a has-been and definitely not seen as a cool place anymore.

The world has moved on and the U.S. politicians and presidential candidates still haven’t realized that the world has changed since their anachronistic citizenship based tax system dating from the Civil War.
Truly, a nation of idiots.

 


 

As a former U.S. citizen, who renounced just in order to survive, as my four non-U.S. business partners gave me an ultimatum, either get rid of your U.S. citizenship, which was contaminating our totally German business and subjecting our company’s accounts to U.S.
Treasury and IRS scrutiny, or you must sell your shares and leave. This all started upon the advice of our German bank, who said that they wouldn’t deal with our accounts if there was any American/’U.S. Person’
involvement? Not to mention the personal impact on my mortgage, on my bank closing all of my investment accounts and everything else that every reader here knows all too well.

What amazes me most, and also amazes all of my personal and professional friends, all of them non U.S. persons, is how obedient and conforming the organizations supposedly representing the interests of U.S. citizens abroad are. With all that has happened, and especially now, subsequent to the Senate Finance Committee’s “report” on tax reform, paying nothing but contemptuous lip service to the plight of US citizens abroad, it should be more than obvious that U.S. Citizens abroad are of absolutely no relevance for lawmakers and legislators in Washington. Yet, the attitude of all of the organizations supposedly looking out for and fighting for the rights of US citizens abroad has been to follow a very respectful path of presenting the case for change, as if they were dealing with a fair democratic system, that respects equal representation and justice. They look ridiculous, all of them! When I read that Democrats Abroad have been trying to push the “bandage” fix of ‘Same Country Exception’ for more than four years, with no result, I say that this is absolutely pathetic. When I see American Citizens Abroad sending endless delegations to Washington, year after year, and even opening an office there, only to see the interests of overseas Americans relegated to a footnote, with no action proposed n the recent Senate Financial Committee report, I would think that they should be embarrassed and ashamed, as they should be. It has taken the group Republicans Overseas over one year to formulate an intended lawsuit, which has been postponed endless times, with a “promise” to file it next week, I say that they too have not approached this in the right way. Too much damage has been done in the interim.

What astonishes all of my “foreign” friends is how passive, obedient and fearful U.S. people are of their government, especially when confronted with such outright injustice, literal extortion and destruction of their financial wellbeing and that of their families and business partners.
Even the ever law abiding Germans wouldn’t put up with any of this and they would probably, en masse, as one lawyer friend told me, simply refuse to cooperate with any of this Byzantine filing of forms and endless intrusions into their privacy and that of their families and business partners. They would collectively refuse and file class action suits against the authorities behind these injustices worthy of a fascist totalitarian regime. Perhaps the Germans understand better than the Americans what this sort of thing leads to, when a society becomes so beaten down, so subservient, so fearful of authority that it complies with the most horrific and undemocratic “laws” and is unable to unite and simply say NO, collectively. Until Americans fight to recover some form of democracy and fairness, the ravages of FATCA will be but one in a coming litany of similar such abuses. To continue believing that they are dealing with democratic institutions and that reason and fairness will prevail is nothing but a naive attitude that will lead them nowhere, as we can now see with the recent Senate Finance Committee report.

 

Posts in this Series

Prologue U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part IThe U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

The Ownership and use of the US Person Which Includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy – Part II

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
originally published July 7, 2016
 

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

 
Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

by John Richardson

I do NOT want to devote a major part of this post to this issue. The bottom line is this:

U.S. citizens living abroad are subject to ALL provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (and other U.S. laws – see below). The effect of this is to:

– subject them to double taxation on their incomes (the tax preparers and accountants who claim this is NOT true are dead wrong)

– deem all of their non-U.S. assets as “foreign” triggering numerous penalty provisions

– make it very difficult (in some cases impossible) for them to engage in normal financial planning – this is a “Buy American” provision

– make divorce (if they are married to a non-U.S. citizen potentially much more costly) – this a “Marry American” provision

– report the details of virtually all of their “non-U.S. activities” and investments to the IRS under threats of draconian penalties (this is what makes interaction with Americans “toxic” – see below)

In short, Americans abroad are NOT permitted to fully integrate into the societies where they live (and are often citizens). For more details on this see:

The above tweet references a post describing the difficulties. It includes the 10 Commandments imposed on U.S. citizens who attempt to live and outside the United States AND “commit personal finance abroad”.

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/09/14/how-to-live-outside-the-united-states-in-an-fbar-and-fatca-world/

Here are the ten commandments of “Living Clean” that apply to U.S.
citizens abroad. They are designed to ensure that:

if a U.S. citizen lives outside the United States that he lives according to the principle that:

“When in Rome, live as a Homelander” does, when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere.

Ten Commandments:

1. Thou shalt NOT have a bank or brokerage account outside the United States. If you do so, it must be reported to U.S. Financial Crimes on an annual basis. Failure to disclose is “Form Crime”. You may be fined an amount that is more than 300% of the value of the account.

2. Thou shalt NOT marry an “alien”. If you do so, you will have difficulty leaving your estate to him or her. Better to return to the Homeland to search for a suitable spouse.

3. Thou shalt ensure that your “alien” spouse agrees to be a U.S.
taxpayer. Failure to do so, will result in your having the punitive filing status of “married filing separately”. This will guarantee greater exposure to the Alternative Minimum Tax, the new 3.8% Obamacare surtax, higher tax brackets and lower thresholds for reporting (including FATCA Form 8938) requirements.

4. Thou shalt NOT believe that the sale of your principal residence is a “tax free capital gain”. In fact, the sale of your principal residence will trigger a 23.8% capital gain which means that your house cannot be used as a retirement investment.

5. Thou shalt NOT buy non-U.S. mutual funds. If you do, you will have your gains confiscated in the form of an “Excess Distribution” Tax. Buy American. Buy U.S. mutual funds.

6. Thou shalt buy ONLY “term insurance”. Any other form of “insurance that has cash value” will be treated as a sacred instrument of tax evasion. Furthermore, if you purchase a “foreign insurance policy” thou shalt pay a special excise tax.

7. Thou shalt NOT buy or participate in an RESP, RDSP, employer pension plan, or any other kind of retirement planning vehicle which will be considered to be a TAXABLE “Foreign Trust” (with all the attendant penalty laden reporting requirements).

8. Thou shalt neither be self-employed NOR carry on business through a non-U.S. (AKA “Foreign”) corporation. If you do, punitive taxes, deemed income, and expensive reporting requirements will descend on you.

9. Thou shalt NOT relinquish U.S. citizenship. In the event that you do, you may be subjected to an “Exit Tax” which applies to your “non-U.S.”
pension, “non-U.S.” assets, and assets that accumulated after you ceased to live in the United States. In addition, there are certain “Form People” who claim that you may be banished from the Homeland forever.

10. Thou shalt file, every year, file the following forms with the IRS:
1040 and all required schedules, FBAR, FATCA, 8938, 8965, 3520, 3520A,
709 (up to a maximum of up to about 45 forms). Understand that this will cost you thousands of dollars.

And this ladies and gentlemen, is why your problem is NOT “coming into U.S. tax compliance”. Your problem is “living as a tax compliant U.S.
citizen abroad”. It really can’t be done (if you want any kind of life).

 
Posts in this Series

Prologue U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part IThe U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

The Ownership and use of the US Person Which Includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy – Part I

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
originally published July 7, 2016
 

The Ownership and use of the U.S. Person which includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

 
Part I – The U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S.
uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals …


by John Richardson

 
The U.S. Taketh: Draft Resistors in Canada in the 60s and 70s – The use of stripping people of “citizenship” as a mechanism to control the people
 
In my recent post: “Muhammad Ali, draft resistors, loss of US citizenship, the “Rumble In The Jungle” and a trip down memory lane“, I wrote:

During the last few years I have met many former Americans who came to Canada to escape service in the Viet Nam war. Their circumstances vary greatly. This was clearly a tumultuous time and difficult time. Many of them have commented that it has similarities to the circumstances of today. In both the 70s and present day, certain Americans abroad and former Americans abroad, feel uneasy and unsure about their U.S. citizenship. It’s also interesting how in both cases the United States is using “citizenship” as a mechanism to exercise control over individuals who do not live in the United States. In the 70s the United States was punishing people by stripping them of their citizenship. In 2016 the United States is punishing people by imposing citizenship on them. Either way, it’s clear that “citizenship”
(and a U.S. place of birth) is a powerful weapon to be used against people to achieve governmental objectives.

The U.S. Giveth: “Accidental Americans” in Canada and throughout the world – The imposition of “U.S. citizenship” as a way to raise tax revenue
 
There is no one definition of “accidental American”. The group includes primarily those who were born in the United States (often with no memory of having lived there) and have spent all their lives in other nations.
I have previously written about the horrible situation of “accidental Americans” in Stanstead, Quebec. Many Stanstead residents were born in Vermont because it was the closer hospital.
 
The problems of “accidental Americans” worldwide, are well described (on an ongoing basis) by Jude Ryan in his Facebook “Hunger Strike to President Obama”.
 


 
The problems experienced by “Accidental Americans” are that at the present time:

– they (in many cases) did not even know they were considered to be U.S.
citizens

– if they did know they were U.S. citizens they did not know about the uniquely American practice of “taxation-based citizenship

– they are deemed to be U.S. citizens and are therefore subject to U.S.
regulations

– they don’t reside in the United States AND are citizens of other nations

– they are being identified by FATCA and in some cases are having banking problems

– they can’t afford the financial costs of the tax compliance to formally renounce U.S. citizenship

– they can’t afford the $2350 fee to renounce U.S. citizenship

– they live in a state of terror and uncertainty (many don’t believe this or laugh it off)
 
In short, the forced imposition of U.S. citizenship (or at least the CURRENT unavailability of an easy out) is destroying their lives.
 
I highly recommend the following presentation by McGill Law Professor Allison Christians in which she puts the problems of “accidental Americans” in perspective.
 

 

Posts in this Series

Prologue U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part IThe U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

The Ownership and use of the US Person Which Includes a Citizen as an Instrument of Foreign Policy

 
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
originally published July 7, 2016
 
Prologue – U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law
wherever they may be in the world

 

by John Richardson
 
Welcome and a bit of an introduction

This post turned out to be longer and cover more topics than I originally intended. The problem with discussing the problems experienced by Americans abroad is that there are many “moving parts”. I have broken SOME of the “moving parts” into, well six parts and a “prologue”.

In addition, as the title suggests, the original intention of the post was to discuss how the U.S. Government uses its citizens as “instruments of foreign policy”. The obvious question is: how can they possibly do this? Doesn’t U.S. law end at U.S. borders? How can the United States impose law on the rest of the world. The answer to that question raises other issues (which are discussed in the other parts of this post).

I guess I need a new title for the post.

I would also like to say that I am hopeful that there will be change.
That said, change is possible ONLY (regardless of intention) if all of the issues are understood individually and how they interact.
 
Posts in this Series

Prologue U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world

Part IThe U.S. “Giveth” and the U.S. “Taketh” – How the U.S. uses “citizenship” as a weapon against individuals

Part II – U.S. Citizens living abroad – “Life in the penalty box”

Part IIII’m a “Toxic American”, but it’s not my fault – How U.S. regulation makes “U.S. citizens undesirables in other nations

Part IVThe use of U.S. citizens as instruments of foreign policy

Part VWhy Americans abroad are renouncing U.S.
citizenship

Part VIThe injustice of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” as applied to Americans abroad

___________________________________________________________________________________

Prologue – U.S. citizens are “subjects” to U.S. law wherever they may be in the world …

Yes, it’s true. In 1932 (eight years after the Supreme Court decision in Cook v. Tait), Justice Hughes of the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Blackmer v. United States ruled that:

While it appears that the petitioner removed his residence to France in the year 1924, it is undisputed that he was, and continued to be, a citizen of the United States. He continued to owe allegiance to the United States. By virtue of the obligations of citizenship, the United States retained its authority over him, and he was bound by its laws made applicable to him in a foreign country. Thus, although resident abroad, the petitioner remained subject to the taxing power of the United States. Cook v. Tait, 265 U.S. 47, 54 , 56 S., 44 S. Ct. 444.
For disobedience to its laws through conduct abroad, he was subject to punishment in the courts of the United States. United States v. Bow-
[284 U.S. 421, 437] man, 260 U.S. 94, 102 , 43 S. Ct. 39. With respect to such an exercise of authority, there is no question of international
law,2 but solely of the purport of the municipal law which establishes the duties of the citizen in relation to his own government. 3 While the legislation of the Congress, unless the contrary intent appears, is construed to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, the question of its application, so far as citizens of the United States in foreign countries are concerned, is one of construction, not of legislative power. American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347, 357 , 29 S. Ct. 511, 16 Ann. Cas. 1047; United States v. Bowman, supra; Robertson v. Labor Board, 268 U.S. 619, 622 ,
45 S. Ct. 621. Nor can it be doubted that the United States possesses the power inherent in sovereignty to require the return to this country of a citizen, resident elsewhere, whenever the public interest requires it, and to penalize him in case of refusal. Compare Bartue and the Duchess of Suffolk’s Case, 2 Dyer’s Rep. 176b, 73 Eng. Rep. 388; Knowles v. Luce, Moore 109, 72 Eng. Rep. 473.4 What in England was the prerogative of the sov- [284 U.S. 421, 438] ereign in this respect pertains under our constitutional system to the national authority which may be exercised by the Congress by virtue of the legislative power to prescribe the duties of the citizens of the United States. It is also beyond controversy that one of the duties which the citizen owes to his government is to support the administration of justice by attending its courts and giving his testimony whenever he is properly summoned. Blair v. United States, 250 U.S. 273, 281 , 39 S. St. Ct. 468. And the Congress may provide for the performance of this duty and prescribe penalties for disobedience.

It’s that simple. If you are a U.S. citizen, some would argue that you are the property of the U.S.government.

On the other hand (and this will be the subject of another post), the Supreme Court decisions in Cook v. Tait and Blackmer v. The United States were decided in an era where there was no U.S. recognition of dual citizenship. It is reasonable to argue that these decisions have no applicability in the modern world.

There will be those who will say: Come on! Get real! The United States would never rely on these old court decisions. Well, they still do cite Cook v. Tait. Mr. FBAR lay dormant until it was resurrected by the Obama administration as the “FBAR Fundraiser“.

Why is the United States imposing an “Exit Tax” on the Canadian pensions of Canadian citizens living in Canada?

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions


by John Richardson

This post is based on (but is NOT identical to) a July 17, 2017 submission in response to Senator Hatch’s request for Feedback on Tax Reform

“Re the impact of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” on those “Americans living abroad” who relinquish U.S. citizenship:

Why is the United States imposing an “Exit Tax” on their “non-U.S. pensions” and “non-U.S. assets”? After all, these were earned or accumulated AFTER the person moved from the United States?”

Part A – Why certain aspects of the Exit Tax should be repealed

In a global world it is common for people to establish residence outside the United States. Many who establish residence abroad either are or become citizens of other nations. Some who become citizens of other nations do NOT wish to be “dual citizens”. As a result, they “expatriate” – meaning they relinquish their U.S. citizenship. By relinquishing their U.S. citizenship they are cutting political ties to the United States. They are signalling that they do NOT wish the opportunities, benefits and protection from/of the United States.

Yet Internal Revenue Code S. 877A imposes a separate tax on “expatriation”. The “expatriation tax” is discussed in a series of posts found here.

Specific examples of HOW the “Exit Tax Rules” effectively confiscate pensions earned outside the United States are here.

Assuming, “covered expatriate status” and NO “dual-citizen exemption to the Exit Tax“, the S. 877A “Exit Tax” rules operate to:

  1. Virtually “confiscate” non-U.S. pensions that were earned
    when the individual was NOT a United States resident; and
  2. Allow for the retention of “U.S. pensions” which were earned
    while the individual WAS a resident of the United States.

(One would think that the result should be THE EXACT OPPOSITE!”)

Specific request: The S. 877A Exit Tax should be repealed. If the United States is to impose a tax on expatriation, the tax should not extend to “non-U.S. pensions” earned while the individual was NOT a U.S. resident. Furthermore, the tax should NOT extend to “non-U.S. assets” that were accumulated while the individual was NOT a U.S. resident.

But, that’s assuming that the United States should have ANY kind of “Exit Tax!”

Continue reading Why is the United States imposing an “Exit Tax” on the Canadian pensions of Canadian citizens living in Canada?