U.S. CBT is Enforced ONLY by the Compliance Industry

 

 

This post is based upon a comment of USCitizenAbroad at Brock. It makes a very important point that all of us should keep in mind generally but especially if the Tax Reform Bill passes with the insidious clause concerning taxing the retained earnings of small CFCs (which really isn’t INTENDED but………..)
 
USCitizenAbroad says:
November 18, 2017 at 8:55 am
 

@Plaxy quoting @Badger writes:

badger: “What is with the reverence for or tacit acceptance of US
law on Canadian sovereign autonomous soil?”

Exactly. Why accept US law, US/Canadian duals residing in Canada?

Stop filing and renounce.

__________________________________________________________________

After having watched the proceedings at both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committees, I can say with absolute confidence that:

– the members of the these committees don’t even understand how these provisions affect Homeland Americans

– have no consciousness that the USA has “citizenship-based taxation”
that would apply to people living outside the United States

– do NOT understand the technicalities of how “territorial taxation” for corporations is being implemented

– have no understanding that there is a “transition tax” and/or that it could possibly apply to the owners of Small Business Corporations living outside the United States.

There is no possibility that the “transition tax” could possibly have been intended to apply to the small business corporations owned by Canadian citizens resident in Canada.

BOTH Mr. Reed and Mr. Nightingale state their views that the application of the “transition tax” to CCPCs is NOT intended; but

The plain wording of Sec. 4004 (by making the statute apply to individual U.S. persons as defined in the subpart F rules which reference back to the definitions in Sec. 7701) means that it would apply to any U.S. citizen (regardless of where he has “escaped to”) anywhere in the world.

Please remember that the U.S. legislators:

– equate citizenship with residence (didn’t you know that a citizen is a resident and a resident may or may not be a citizen)

– don’t know there is a world beyond the USA

– are therefore NOT thinking at all about the application of U.S. law outside the USA

Also, again I make the point that the Internal Revenue Code does NOT anywhere explicitly mandate “citizenship-based taxation” – referring only to “individuals” and then allowing the inference that “individuals”
include “citizens”. My point is only that the application of U.S. tax laws outside the USA is not something that is even on the radar in Washington.

Also, to the extent that U.S. laws impact Americans abroad, they are NOT enforced directly by the USA anyway. The USA has downloaded enforcement to the banks and tax compliance professionals. Think about it this way:

FATCA is enforced NOT by the USA directly but by the banks. Yes, your friendly neighborhood bank is a FATCA enforcement agent.

U.S. CBT is enforced ONLY by the compliance industry. If you stay away from the tax professionals you will not be within their “enforcement area” … The ONLY people with U.S. tax problems are those who have attempted U.S. tax compliance. Leaving aside the complicated legal/moral/ethical issues of “to comply or not to comply” (tax compliance people are amoral) the individuals who have been brutalized are those who have attempted compliance. The people who must renounce are those who have complied. Those Americans abroad who want to retain U.S. citizenship do so by NOT attempting compliance.

So, where are we now?

The early commenters from the compliance industry are saying: Bad luck, although NOT intended, this new and exciting instrument of confiscation applies to you. Okay, they should also add to their “news bulletin”
that: Because they are compliance “professionals” that they will NOT sign the returns of anybody who does NOT pay this tax.

This poses an interesting question:

What is a poor compliant person, dependent on his tax professional, doesn’t believe this tax applies to him and needs professional help to do? Completing his return (that form 5471 is not easy for an individual to do). Will you let your friendly neighborhood tax professional force you to turn your retirement fund over to the IRS?

The question it seems to me is this:

Is there a duty to obey a law that clearly was NEVER intended to
apply to you and can be construed to apply to you ONLY because of
the literal wording? That is the question.

This is the question that should have been asked in some other interesting contexts which include:

Were the PFIC rules really intended to apply to the Canadian mutual funds owned by Canadian residents?

Were the S. 877A Exit Rules intended to apply to those who clearly relinquished prior to 2004?

Were OVDP and OVDI appropriate compliance options for Americans abroad who have lived for many years outside the USA?

Were the CFC rules intended to apply to Americans abroad, etc. …

Are you going to allow your assets to be confiscated yet again?

When the “Call Of The Condor” becomes the “Law Of The Land”

Neither the IRS nor Congress really know how these laws apply (or not) outside the USA. What happens is that the compliance industry becomes the single most important vehicle for determining how these laws are to be interpreted. Once enough tax people start behaving in a certain way, the others are sure to follow. Put it another way: In general (and I am not referring to either Mr. Reed or Mr. Nightingale) tax professionals know less about this than you do. So, if you call a tax professional and
ask:

“Does the Sec. 4004 “transition tax” apply to Canadian business
corps” they will just ask their associate”. Yes, it really is that
bad. So, I would NOT rely on “tax professionals” to give you good
advice on how these laws might or might not apply to Americans
abroad.

But, to get back to my original question:

Is there a duty to obey a law that clearly was NEVER intended to
apply to you and can be construed to apply to you ONLY because of
the literal wording? That is the question.

I expect that different people will have different answers to this question. But, I don’t think that the “tax professionals” are worth asking. After all, they can’t sign your returns unless you comply with their interpretation of the law.

I have previously explored this issue in the following comments (which I am including here so that I can find them again later):

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2017/11/02/here-is-the-2017-u-s-house-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-bill-does-it-help-or-harm-us/comment-page-9/#comment-8045126

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2017/11/02/here-is-the-2017-u-s-house-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-bill-does-it-help-or-harm-us/comment-page-9/#comment-8045126

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2017/11/02/here-is-the-2017-u-s-house-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-bill-does-it-help-or-harm-us/comment-page-14/#comment-8049389

isaacbrocksociety.ca/2017/11/02/here-is-the-2017-u-s-house-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-bill-does-it-help-or-harm-us/comment-page-25/#comment-8053507

And on the compliance choice …

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2017/11/02/here-is-the-2017-u-s-house-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-bill-does-it-help-or-harm-us/comment-page-16/#comment-8049549

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 Merry-Go-Round of “Unintended Consequences”

 

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

A little more than 10 days ago, an article by a Canadian tax lawyer claimed the proposed House Bill contained two very startling changes that would affect #AmericansAbroad:

BAD NEWS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
If your cross-border client owns a business, his tax position “may get substantially worse,” Reed says, noting two areas of concern:

a one-time 12% tax will be imposed on all income previously deferred from U.S. tax in Canadian (foreign) corporations; and
new complex rules make it difficult for U.S. citizens who own Canadian (foreign) corporations to defer active business income.
The 12% tax is part of the transition to a territorial corporate tax system.

“Although perhaps unintentional, since U.S. citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986,” says Reed.

He offers the example of a U.S. doctor who moved to Canada in 1987 and has since deferred income from personal tax in her medical corporation, and invested it — resulting in a potentially significant tax bill.

Deferring active business income

New punitive rules that apply to US citizens who own a business. Currently, most US citizens who own a Canadian corporation that is an active business don’t pay tax on the company’s profits until they take the money out. The House plan changes this. It imposes a new, very complicated, set of rules on US citizens that own the majority of a foreign corporation. The proposal would tax the US citizen owner personally on 50% of the entire income of the Canadian corporation that is above the amount set by an extremely complex formula. At best, this will make the compliance requirements for US citizens that own a business extremely complicated and expensive. At worst, this will cause double tax exposure for US citizens who own a Canadian business on 50% of the profits of that business.
 

This post was a response to the issues raised.

 

Today, another Canadian compliance professional made similar observations about the proposed Senate bill.

 

Kevyn Nightengale published an article on LinkedIn; excerpts below:

American? Own shares in a foreign corporation? Get ready for a pain in the wallet

Published on November 10, 2017
by Kevyn Nightengale

Accumulated deferred foreign income

One thing they will do is apply an immediate tax (well, sort of immediate – it’s to be paid over 8 years) to the retained earnings of those foreign subsidiaries. And there’s some logic to this as well. Those earnings have been tax-deferred until now. If they fell into the “exempt” system in future years, US multinationals will have effectively gamed the system by keeping them offshore long enough to completely escape tax.

One problem is that if you’re an American individual, and you own shares in a foreign corporation directly, this provision will create an immediate tax in your hands.

You won’t get a foreign tax credit for the corporate tax (like a US domestic corporate parent). You won’t get a special deduction (like a US domestic corporate parent). You just have to pay tax on the retained earnings.

It’s a double whammy if you live abroad

If you live in a country where it’s common to run a small business through a corporation (say, Canada), you already have enough double-tax issues to worry about (Subpart F, filing forms 5471, FINCEN 114, etc.). This new provision will probably lead to double taxation. And even if you can pay out dividends to limit that, it probably will create extra tax in your country. The US tax probably isn’t creditable in your country (in Canada, it isn’t).

Global intangible low-taxed income (“GILTI”)

…… The shareholder (yes, including a US citizen living abroad, in the same country as the company) has to include an amount in his income.

The amount is the company’s total income less a deemed return (10%) on tangible assets. This means that any type of income is caught. Companies that provide services are especially vulnerable, because they typically have only a small amount of tangible assets. Incorporated professionals are going to be hit hard. They’ll be taxed on their companies’ incomes, even if the company doesn’t distribute it to them. And that tax will apply at full tax rates, not qualified dividend rates.

Can this be avoided?

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

*******
 
I find it puzzling that both gentlemen indicate these policies are not intended to include #AmericansAbroad, yet act as if they have no choice but to “enforce” this if it becomes U.S. law. Haven’t the “unintended” consequences of #FBAR caused enough grief for #AmericansAbroad? Why does everyone assume there is nothing that can be done to stop this from extending to expats? If the law is not meant to be applied that way, does not specifically indicate they are to be included, how can they claim they must do so because it is “U.S. law?” That is clearly not the correct position to take. And what will the result be if people are mad/scared enough to simply not deal with this U.S. situation any longer?

 

*******

John Richardson comments:

There are many who interpret the proposed changes, to include a provision that would lead to the confiscation of a significant portion of the retained earnings of small business corporations, owned by Americans abroad. I wrote the above referenced post and used the example of a U.S./Canada dual citizen living in Canada who owns a small business corporation. By the way, it is very common for Canadians to utilize small business corporations to carry on their businesses.

This specific provision is found in Sec. 4004 of the Proposed tax bill.
The way it would operate (after identifying those who own small Canadian Controlled Private Corporations in Canada) would be to:

1. Focus on the retained earnings of the corporation since 1986. Note that these earnings were either NOT subject to U.S. taxation at the time or were already included in the income of the shareholder via the subpart F provisions.

2. Impose a tax of either:

House Bill: 14% (cash) or 7% (non-cash)

Senate Bill: 10% (cash) or 5% (non-cash)

on the retained earnings by including those earnings in Subpart F income.

Understand that for many Canadians these small business corporations contain their retirement savings. So, the bottom line is the the United States proposed to literally confiscate these assets.

Understand also that Sec. 4004 is part of the section that creates the system of territorial taxation for U.S. corporations. The idea is that the “transition tax” is a way to repatriate the earnings which have not returned to the USA (obviously because of confiscatory taxation). After paying this “transition tax” those U.S. corporations will get the benefit of territorial taxation.

Understand also that U.S. individual shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations do NOT get the benefit of “territorial taxation”
but (if this is interpreted correctly) are still required to pay this.

What the USA, in it’s great wisdom is doing, is to:

1. Retroactively go back and deem income that was NOT taxable at the time to be taxable; and

2. Use the mechanism of subpart F inclusion (I am not going to dignify this by calling it a tax) to CONFISCATE the asset.

Understand also that this is one more of a long line of indignities inflicted on Americans abroad that includes:

– the virtual confiscation of Canadian pensions (via the Sec. 877A Exit Tax rules applied to some who renounce U.S. citizenship) that were earned in Canada while the individual was NOT living in the United States; and

– the application of the 3.8% Obamacare surtax to distributions of from Canadian RRSPs (the equivalent of U.S. IRAs) and excluding distributions from IRAs.

I suspect that this will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

And “The Band Played On ….””

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

NO Evidence of Intent to apply the “”Transition Tax” to Small Business Corporations of #AmericansAbroad

 

It appears that we are very likely at a breaking point in this intolerable situation faced by expatriates as regards U.S. application of citizenship-based taxation. Tax reform does not happen often. It is critical that relief for expats occur in the current legislation. Many of us simply will not be around in 30 years for the next shift. It will be completely unacceptable if there is no transition (at the very least) to territorial taxation for individuals. Some people may be forced at this point to renounce if only to put a stop on future tax liability. Some will not choose to become compliant simply because it is expensive, they have no ties to the U.S., no intent to go there, etc.

In addition, there is a very dangerous aspect (the “transition tax”) that appears in both the House and Senate bills; it is arguable that it does NOT apply to small corporations owned by US citizens residing outside the United States. The biggest danger here, is that it may remain unclear. We have seen what has happened in a number of situations when this is the case. Some examples are:

1) People who relinquished citizenship decades ago (and who do not have a CLN) have been told they are still U.S citizens. Not by the State Department, not even by the IRS. And not even by the banks per sé. It is the position of many members of the tax compliance community. This is completely unacceptable and no expat should accept such a conclusion without investigating the citizenship aspects of the situation.

2) Accidentals have been told the same thing; they are Americans and must become tax compliant. Again, not directly by the US government (as in “coming after them) but by members of the tax compliance community. This is also unacceptable and no one should become compliant without a complete examination of whether it is in his/her best interests (or not).

3) People who did NOT belong in the OVDP/OVDI programs were put there by tax professionals with hideous and tragic results. The law says one has to file, nowhere does the law say one had to enter one of those programs. If anybody should have known that, it would be the tax compliance community.

4)The IRS has not given a ruling on whether or not 877A is to be applied retroactively. This is another area where tax compliance professionals have decided it is the law. This is definitely NOT in the best interest of anyone renouncing their citizenship and most definitely should not be applied to anyone who renounced/relinquished before it became law.

5)One of the most egregious and limiting situations involves owning foreign mutual funds. There is nothing to support the practice of treating non-US mutual funds as PFICs. Again, guess who insists on this treatment?

All of the above points are as unacceptable as is a lack of change for Americans abroad in tax reform. We have had enough.
 
THIS HAS TO STOP
 
We, as a community, have to make a conscious decision that what they say does not apply to us, is not in our best interests. The application of U.S. law outside of its borders is highly questionable, and should not override the laws of the countries we are residents of. (The IGAs do not represent approval/acceptance of US policy; they are merely proof of what happens when the US threatens to destroy the economies of other nations). “It’s U.S. law.” This is always the argument used to justify application of these ridiculous actions, often with absurd results. Penalties, FATCA “outing” us, application of the Reed Amendment (or worse, the ExPatriot Act if it ever passes)- all can be quite frightening if applied as the tax community claims. Yet there is nothing to suggest that these things are realities. The only people who have been harmed by these things are the ones who are/or tried to comply.

It is time to resist not only the idea that U.S. law should run our lives but also, that the tax community should determine what courses of action we should take. We need to be consistent in our message on this, on FB, in tweets, blogs etc. No more. No more. No more…………

**********

Shortly before the House of Representatives released the Markup for H.R. 1 a Canadian tax lawyer Max Reed authored an article (also here ) claiming that:

New punitive rules that apply to US citizens who own a business. Currently, most US citizens who own a Canadian corporation that is an active business don’t pay tax on the company’s profits until they take the money out. The House plan changes this. It imposes a new, very complicated, set of rules on US citizens that own the majority of a foreign corporation. The proposal would tax the US citizen owner personally on 50% of the entire income of the Canadian corporation that is above the amount set by an extremely complex formula. At best, this will make the compliance requirements for US citizens that own a business extremely complicated and expensive. At worst, this will cause double tax exposure for US citizens who own a Canadian business on 50% of the profits of that business.
Imposition of a 12% one-time tax on deferred profits. Under the new rules, the US corporate tax system is transitioning to a territorial model. As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986. Take a simple example to illustrate the enormity of the problem. A US citizen doctor moved to Canada in 1987. She has been deferring income from personal tax in her medical corporation and investing it. Now, 12% of the total deferred income since 1986 would be subject to a one-time tax in the US. That may be a significant US tax bill.
It is unclear what, if anything, will be enacted. However, US citizens in Canada – particularly those that own a business – should pay close attention as their tax situation could get significantly worse. Renouncing US citizenship may become an increasingly attractive option.

There has been much discussion of whether or not this is going to happen (assuming a tax reform bill containing these measures actually is passed).
A very good argument for why this should NOT apply to #AmericansAbroad is
here.

The following comment appeared today on Brock. It reiterates the position that the “transition tax” cannot be viewed as applying to Americans abroad who own small corporations. We can expect that tax professionals are going to claim it does. Start now to learn why it doesn’t make sense and why no one should listen to the notion they owe a tax to the US based upon this new “tax reform.”
 
USCitizenAbroad
November 14, 2017 at 7:16 pm
 
@ Patricia Moon

With respect to the discussion of whether there is a tax on the retained earnings of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations:

First, pick this discussion of the changes to the territorial tax system for corporations at the 35 minute mark here:

https://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/continuation-of-the-open-executive-session-to-consider-an-original-bill-entitled-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act

There is NO evidence of any intention to apply the “transition tax” to anything other than large corporations and certainly not to small business corporations owned by Americans abroad.

Second, an interesting summary was published by the Toronto law firm Oslers which talks about U.S. tax reform and makes NO reference to a possible tax on the retained earnings of CCPCs.

TaxAuthorities/US Tax Reform for Busy Canadians

Note no mention that this could affect CCPCs owned by Canadians:

” Foreign minimum tax – Current taxation of “Foreign high returns”:

Under this provision, a U.S. parent corporation would be subject to
current U.S. taxation (at the new 20% rate) on 50% of its controlled
foreign corporations’ (CFCs’) “high returns.” Tax would be required
to be paid on these imputed income streams regardless of whether the
corresponding earnings were actually distributed to the U.S. parent.
“Foreign high returns” are the excess of the CFC’s net income over a
baseline return (7% plus the federal short-term rate) on the CFC’s
adjusted tax bases in depreciable tangible property, reduced by
interest expense included in the CFC’s net income. “Foreign high
returns” would be defined to exclude certain types of income (including
“effectively connected income,” income from the disposition of
commodities produced or extracted by the taxpayer, and income subject
to tax at an effective rate of at least 18%). This provision, which
cuts against the theory of a “pure” territorial tax system, was
designed to counterbalance incentives that may otherwise linger for
U.S. companies to locate high return generating assets/activities (like
intangible property) in offshore locations.”

My feeling is that regardless of the language that this was not intended to apply to Americans abroad.

What should be done:

The danger is that the compliance community will make the law by interpreting this to apply beyond its obvious intention. The obvious solution is to NOT use the services of any tax firm who interprets the law as applying to CCPCs. After all, it was the compliance firms who created the notion that Canadian mutual funds are PFICs.

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“.

Will Territorial Taxation Solve All the Problems of #AmericansAbroad?

 


 
Tomorrow’s the big day! Will there be something for us in tomorrow’s Ways & Means Committee bill? Lots of hints suggest something is there. Most seem to expect a shift to territorial taxation for individuals. That’s a great start! There are still likely to be lots of issues remaining and this comment from the Isaac Brock Society lays it out.

This is not meant to be negative in any way. However, to expect that suddenly ALL of our issues will simply disappear is extremely unlikely. Better to have a reasonable expectation to offset disappointment! But, who knows? Tomorrow will tell….
 

USCitizenAbroad says
November 1, 2017 at 9:26 am

Fred (B)

I’m sorry, but anything that truly makes life easier for US persons abroad is fine by me. I have been skeptical of TTFI, and dream of true simple RBT. But frankly, at this point, if the US says what you do abroad stays abroad, I’ll take it.

I wonder if TTFI would do away with FBARs. After all, if they don’t need to look at your income abroad, they don’t need to look at your accounts abroad. Well, I know that’s not true — they want to make sure people aren’t spiriting funds abroad to hide them there.

Fred (IMHO) they will NEVER get rid of FBAR. The FBAR statute in its purest form requires any person who enters the USA on business to report his/her foreign bank accounts. The original purpose of FBAR was not primarily about taxation. Treasury has considered getting rid of FBAR for Americans abroad and declined to do so. Recent events make it clear that FBAR is an effective tool of intimidation … Mr. FBAR embodies what it means to be an American.

A move to “territorial taxation” (what income is subject to U.S. taxation) has nothing to do with (1) the definition of “tax resident” (what persons are subject to the U.S. tax system) and (2) the FBAR requirements found in Title 31.

It follows from this that a move to “territorial taxation” (absent further legislative change) would in no way affect:

– FBAR rules
– the FATCA IGAs (which are based on the U.S. definition of “tax resident”)
– Chapter 4 of the IRC (Sections 1471 – 1474 which are FATCA)
– the requirement to file a tax return and other information returns
– the draconian “Exit Tax” rules
– gift tax rules
– estate tax rules (unless the estate tax is abolished)

and much more.

ONLY a move to RBT can affect the above …

Of course a move to “territorial taxation” is helpful to Americans abroad. But, (without additional changes) it is only a beginning.

What a move to “territorial taxation” would probably achieve is, that foreign source income would not be subject to U.S. taxation. I would think (but wouldn’t count on) that territorial taxation would lead to the elimination of certain information return requirements: 8938 and 8621 (which have already been eliminated for Green Card holders who make a treaty election).

But, these are just some thoughts. Who knows what the final product will look like? It’s possible to move to “territorial taxation” for individuals and retain A LOT of the pain for Americans abroad. On the other hand, a lot of the pain could be removed.

Neither RO nor ACA has proposed the elimination of CBT. The RO proposal makes CBT more tolerable for Americans abroad. The ACA proposal reinforces CBT, but allows a “buy out” for specified individuals (and is ultimately better for those who can take advantage of it).

DA has yet to make a specific proposal. But, in the DA worldview, CBT is essential to ensure that a small group of people don’t escape paying their “fair share”. For this reason, DA does NOT really support RBT – time for the loyal Democrats to stop drinking the “Kool Aid”.

The ONLY proposals for RBT are found in the some of the individual submissions to House Ways and Means (2013) and Senate Finance (2015).

But on the other hand: We don’t know what the proposed legislation will look like. It could incorporate various suggestions from various proposals and could actually be RBT. But, given the fact that there has been no organized support of RBT, I think this is unlikely.

I read somewhere (or did I just dream it) that:

“All roads lead to renunciation!”