Collective psychotherapy – U.S. citizens outside U.S. – Not what they take from you, it’s what they leave you with

cross-posted from renounceuscitizenship blog

Going back to a general thread from a few weeks ago – on law and morality – this post speaks more to the effects of the law when it is not rooted in morality. On one level, an apologist might claim that “doing one’s duty” and “paying one’s share” is moral and is necessary to maintain funding and order in a society. However, when such a law is applied to those who live outside that society, as we all know from experience, unexpected conflicts, resulting punitive actions and penalties tend to denigrate the quality of life. We are not talking about “quality of life” amounting to physical comforts or financial wealth. By “quality of life, what is referred to is mental stability, emotional trustworthiness and the ability to move through difficulties with a sense of direction and confidence. When these parameters are stifled by confusion/lack of clarity of what is expected, and ridicule and negativity is directed toward those affected, the result is a not an issue of lack of compliance but rather, wrongly imposed requirements that simply make people anxious, immobilized by fear, depression and a general inability to adjust to the situation. How this can be justified when those same people ARE compliant in the society where they live, strikes many as simply being immoral.

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The Wisdom of Moe Levine Moe Levine (not that I ever met him) was considered to be one of America’s greatest trial lawyers. Although he died in 1974, his wisdom lives on his book (appropriate called) “Moe Levine on Trial Advocacy“. He (legend has it) was a master at delivering the closing statement in his jury trials. When arguing for a severely injured plaintiff he (according to the commentators of his time) would tell the jury (referring to a badly injured client):

“It’s not what you take from them it’s what you leave them with.”

In other words, the inability to live a normal life was worse than the injury itself. Leaving aside the financial costs, Obama/IRS tyranny has had a very serious effect on the lives of many U.S. expats. Few of them will ever forget the day they learned about these problems. One (of many) example is the story of Ambassador Jacobson’s 70 Year old grandmas” in Saskatchewan.

A recent post offered people the chance to describe how recent events have impacted on the lives of U.S. citizens outside the U.S. Check out the comments – there were plenty of them. Yesterday a post appeared on at the Isaac Brock Society called “Your Citizenship Personality“. The comments included a number of descriptions of how the recent Obama/IRS/Levin assault on U.S. citizens living abroad has damaged their lives. I encourage you to read all the comments, but I wanted to share the following two (the second of which is my own) in a separate post:

fullTurtle

March 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I’ve been a lurker on this site for over a month. I’ve never “blogged” before today. I am not a writer, nor as eloquent as most you and am woefully ignorant of all this tax and legal stuff. In these 30+ days, I have read every single thread on this site and have visited every link offered. I have read the entire “OVDI Drudgery for Minnows”, all of the personal stories, and have even printed out pages & pages of suggestions and opinions (thank you so much, JustMe!). But I can’t take it anymore… this being silent and feeling so estranged and “criminalized”. The only place I feel connected anymore is while I’m reading postings from all of you. After reading zucchero81′s comments on this thread (“…this whole FATCA issue has been more like going through the 5 stages of grief…”) I feel compelled to peek out of my seemingly safe lurker shadows. You have it right, usxcanada… I am one of those lurkers wondering if/how to transition past pure denial. I have yet to make a real decision (which would require real action) on what the heck to do. My gut reaction is to run fast, run far, hide deep. But the more I read, the more that is sounding impossible to accomplish. I have chosen “fullTurtle” as my alias because doing a “full ostrich” would leave far too much exposed at the surface. Since becoming aware just 6 weeks ago (and purely by accident) of my requirement for filing US taxes… then FATCA and all the rest, my whole life has turned upside down. I can think of little else. I’ve attended a free seminar on the subject of cross-border taxation given by a high-end legal accounting firm in town (can you say ca-CHING?) and have spent the vast majority of my waking hours researching the subject. All I seem to have done is become almost catatonic with dread. I swing wildly between the extremes of near homicidal rage and suicidal depression. Okay, I’m more in the homicidal phase today. To get back to the topic of this thread, I want to renounce my citizenship so bad I can taste it. And thanks renounceuscitizenship; I agree 100% with pretty much everything you’ve posted, and I visit your site regularly too. It would be so worth the $450 USD just to fling my passport & birth certificate down at the US Consolate and tell them exactly where to shove it. When the day comes that I can renounce (my Canadian citizenship application was mailed Feb.6th so it will be 18 mo’s to 2 years), I will write that cheque on a shirt, duly certified by the bank of course, and explain it to them thusly: “Seeing as the US Gov’t is taking the shirt off my back, I thought you might like to keep the shirt.” In ending this tirade, I am so grateful to ALL of you regular posters who have unknowingly kept me from jumping from a tall building (so far). And especially you, Petros, for creating this web site. You have no idea the number of people you are helping give voice. I hope someday to add my story to those of you who have survived this holocaust. Okay whew, if I can do this… the rest of you lurkers out there can do it too!

renounceuscitizenship

March 10, 2012 at 9:36 am

@Fullturtle A warm welcome to the Isaac Brock Society. It’s a great place – with a lot of great people. It’s interesting how the comments often move the intent of a post in a different direction. What struck me about these comments is that one can feel the excruciating pain, the agony, the fear, the uncertainty, the despair, the anger, the rage, the sense of betrayal, and in some cases the unbelievably intense hatred of the U.S. government. I do believe that many people on this board have never experienced the range and intensity of emotions they are feeling today. As noted by Pacifica777: “This horrible gamut of emotions and mood swings seems to be universal, and statistically, I would guess that few of us have ever had to deal with such extreme feelings before, so it’s so unfamiliar that it’s scary. I have never felt such intensity of emotions and such a bizarre range of them, nothing close to it, ever. This US mess just takes over one’s life, feeling like caught in a complex trap, that it will never end. Though it’s not over yet, I have found as time went on, while I still feel an amazing range of emotions, they don’t seem to be so intense and overpowering. For a couple of months, it overtook all of my life — with such an overpowering complex confusing situation, it was hard to focus on anything else. Eight months on, it is still, unfortunately, a big part of my life, but slowly I’ve found more and more of my normal life, and my normal personality, returning. It’s still a big problem but not overwhelming everything else.” Blaze reiterates: “I’m hoping you are just joking in your comment about wanting to jump from a tall building, but I fear you may be serious. Another person has expressed similar disturbing thoughts. Many of us have had sleepless nights, health challenges, strained marriages and personal relationships, expensive accountants and lawyers who are draining retirement savings, difficulties at work, worry about Canadian born children, etc.” JustMe (in his infinite wisdom) has said that it is important to not hate. It will only destroy the person doing the hating. You need to be focused, methodical, purposeful and committed to achieving whatever course of action you decide is best for you. You said that you felt “criminalized”. I understand. If you are not careful, and if you allow yourself to feel “criminalized” long enough, you may actually believe that you have done something wrong. You have done NOTHING wrong (and chances are that you have done a lot right). You are on the receiving end of a vicious assault by an unprincipled vicious debt-ridden thug – The United States of America. I want to add one more thought to this moment of “collective psychotherapy”. There is good news and bad news. First, the good news. You do NOT live in the U.S. You live in Canada. You are in a situation that any sane person would dream to be in. Sure, Canada has its problems. But, lurking beneath all the problems is a basic assumption of fairness, justice and decency. I repeat you live in Canada. In addition to the good things I just mentioned, you have the benefit of the tax treaty. Canada will not collect FBAR penalties. Furthermore, (I don’t have stats on this), but I suspect that a large number of U.S. citizens here are also Canadian citizens (giving them political power). Second, the bad news. As horrible as this situation is (and it is a nightmare for most), you must go on with your life. At least in my case (and I suspect most of you) that life is a life shared with non-U.S. citizens. This is a very important point. The Obama/IRS/Levin assault cannot be understood by anybody unless they are a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. To be specific, they cannot understand your rage and anger. They cannot understand your feeling of injustice. They cannot understand the intensity of your emotions. They cannot understand your sense of betrayal. They cannot possibly understand these things because they are not experiencing it (and probably will never experience anything like it). So, don’t expect the understanding from them that you really need. My point: You need to be very careful to not allow any of this to damage the valuable relationships in your life – friends, marriage, work, extended family, etc. We are in a situation where we are in a sense forced to protect ourselves from a repressive government. This is has gone on throughout history. Never did I believe, that government would be, (according to Margaret Thatcher) the United States –that “Great Citadel of Freedom and Justice”. But, that’s what is happening. I once met a man who had escaped from another repressive government. He wanted his children to be well educated – commenting that, the only thing that a government couldn’t take from you was your knowledge/education. It’s not the only thing they can’t take. They can’t take your attitude, or your capacity to tell right from wrong. Unless of course you let them (and we wouldn’t let than happen, now would we)! Take the weekend off from your worry. You deserve it. Renounce and rejoice!

So what am I trying to say? 1. There is no way the IRS can understand the effect of their conduct on honest, hard working people, who just happen to live outside the United States. They cannot understand it and never will. 2. Your job is to get through this and have the life you deserve.

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