The proper care and feeding of the Green Card – An interview with “long term resident” Gary @Clueit

UPDATE 10 SEP 2018

Gary replied to this same post on the Citizenship Taxation Facebook Group. .

Gary Clueit In the example of the Covered Expat inheritance 40% tax on heirs I gave during the interview, I misstated that there was no credit available for any foreign estate tax or IHT paid, giving the UK as an example. Apparently, the amount due to the IRS can be offset by any amount paid to a foreign country. It makes no difference in my case, since my domicile is a country that has no estate or inheritance tax.

Also, only 4 OECD countries (Japan, South Korea, France, UK) have an estate tax equal to or more than the US. Every other country either has none (including 15 OECD countries), or is at a lower rate than the US. Which means, unless you are domiciled in one of the very few high tax countries, your heirs will still lose a significant portion of their inheritance.

It is one thing to pay death taxes where you are living/domiciled. It is an entirely different matter to have to pay anything to somewhere you once lived, left and paid an exit tax on ALL unrealized gains at the time. And zero credit for any increase in wealth since you departed.

Exceptionalism at its best!

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Cross-posted from Citizenshipsolutions

JR 24UG2014 pic

                  INTRODUCTION

The Internal Revenue Code of the United States imposes worldwide income taxation on ALL individuals who are U.S. citizens or who are otherwise defined as “residents” under the Internal Revenue Code. “Residents” includes those who have a visa for “permanent residence” (commonly referred to as a Green Card).

        John Richardson

A visa for “permanent residence” is a visa for immigration purposes. Once an individual receives a visa for “permanent residence” he will be considered to be a “resident” under the Internal Revenue Code. His status as a “resident” for tax purposes continues until he fulfills specific conditions to sever his “tax residency” with the United States. The conditions required to sever “tax residency” with the United States are found in S. 7701 of the Internal Revenue Code. (Basically a Green Card holder can’t simply move from the United States and sever tax residency.)

In the same way that U.S. citizens are subject to taxation on their worldwide income even if they don’t reside in the United States, “permanent residents” will continue to be subject to taxation on their worldwide income until they take specific steps to sever tax residency in the United States. In certain circumstances Green Card holders living outside the United States can avoid filing some of the “forms” that are required of U.S. citizens living abroad.

The steps to sever tax residency are found in S. 7701(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Those wishing to explore this further are invited to read my earlier posts about Gerd Topsnik: Topsnik 1 and Topsnik 2. Those “permanent residents” who qualify as “long term residents” will be subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax rules if they try to sever tax residency with the United States. It’s probably easier to secure a “permanent residence visa” for immigration purposes, than it is to sever tax residency for income tax purposes.

On September 5, 2018 I had the opportunity to participate in a conversation with Mr. Gary Clueit who has been a permanent resident of the United States for 34 years. The following tweet links to the podcast of the conversation. Anybody considering moving to the United States as a “permanent resident” should listen to this podcast.

Mr. Clueit has previously written on how the S. 877A Exit Tax affects his situation. The following two tweets link to posts which capture his writing.
 
First, from CitizenshipTaxation.ca:

Gary Clueit:

As a long-term GC holder with no way to escape “covered expatriate” status, the article doesn’t really cover all the insidious side-effects. For example, determining the $2M net worth threshold does not cover any assets you might have had before moving to the US, or assets due to bequests from relatives that have never set foot in the US. Even after paying the exit tax on the “deemed sale” of everything you own worldwide, you will have to pay actual capital gains when you do actually sell. And every penny of any bequest or gift you make to someone resident in the US (i.e. a child or grandchild, even if they are not US citizens) is then further taxed at 40% (that they have to pay) with no limit. So, for example, if your net worth is $2.5M on the date of expatriation (i.e. covered expat), you pay the exit tax. Say your wealth increases to $250M AFTER you leave the US – if your heirs live in the US (again, whether citizens or not) and you leave that wealth to them, the entire $250M estate will be taxable to them at 40% regardless of the fact that 99% of your wealth at the time of death was created outside the US.

Even if GC holders decide to stay in the US, they are perpetually screwed. Besides never being allowed to vote (not really an issue since one never desired to be a citizen), though they are still expected to pay taxes on worldwide income. The worst comes at death:
US citizen spouses can transfer or gift an unlimited amount between each other. If you are the spouse of a GC holder the maximum transfer is $149,000 annually.

Upon death, a citizen can leave an unlimited amount to their spouse. If your spouse is a GC holder, the max is just over $5M. If you spouse is a nonresident alien, the maximum is $60,000. Amounts above that are subject to 40% estate tax.

There is also the possibility of being caught up in double estate tax issues when you die.
This is the ultimate in taxation without representation – one of the founding principles behind the creation of the US. Tea parties were held!

Second, from the Isaac Brock Society:

Perils & Pitfalls of Being a Green Card Holder

gary clueit

I am posting this comment of Gary Clueit that appeared on the Robert Wood article couple of days ago. Over the past few months, we have “met” Gary on FB, Twitter etc. Especially the Wednesday Tweet Rally- A group that just keeps on giving!!

by Gary Clueit
continued at the original post here

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For more on Green Cards please see the following three articles by John Richardson:

Green Card Holders; the Tax Treaty TieBreaker rules and taxation of subpart F and PFIC income

Green Card Holders, the Tax Treaty Tie Breaker and REporting Forms 8938, 8621, and 5471

Green Card Holders, the Tax Treaty Tiebreaker and Eligibility or Streamline Offshore

FATCA Repeal Update: The action to take right now!

From Global Advocate for the American Overseas, Keith Redmond is this important message:

ATTENTION AMERICANS OVERSEAS!

There is a SERIOUS bi-partisan push for an updated FATCA hearing to address the sharing of personal financial data and the lock-out of Americans overseas from foreign financial institutions (i.e. their local banks).

As a result of Suzanne Iclef Herman’s hard work and tenacity in establishing and cultivating a relationship with her Congressman and his staff, we have succeeded in building bi-partisan momentum in an updated FATCA hearing. Suzanne requested to Congressman Posey’s office that I get involved in order to have as many Americans overseas as possible contact their respective Congressmen/Congresswomen.

The attached letter has been sent to Members of Congress (MOC) in a bi-partisan effort to have the House Ways & Means Committee hold another FATCA hearing. In conjunction with the request, MOCs have been sent a letter (in the same aforementioned attachment) which each MOC can send to House Ways & Means Committee showing their support for another hearing. Americans overseas are asked to write their Congressmen/Congresswomen to sign the letter.

Therefore, I am requesting that you contact your Congressman/Congresswoman via e-mail and/or fax AND FOLLOW-UP WITH A TELEPHONE CALL.

I have attached the THREE STEPS to be taken in order to contact your representative via e-mail as well as the link to find your representative’s fax number. Please follow the instructions.

Continue reading FATCA Repeal Update: The action to take right now!

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

 

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions blog

by John Richardson

Beginning with the conclusion (for those who don’t want to read the post) …

For the reasons given in this post, I believe that there are grounds to argue that the imposition of the Sec. 965 “transition tax” on Canadian resident/citizens DOES violate the Canada U.S. tax treaty. It is my hope that this post will generate some badly needed discussion on this issue.

If you are an individual who believes you may be impacted by the “transition tax”, you should consider raising this issue with the Competent Authority. I would be happy to explore this with you.

Need some background on the Sec. 965 “U.S. transition tax”?

The following tweet references a 7 part video series about the Internal Revenue Code Sec. 965 “Transition Tax” created by John Richardson and Dr. Karen Alpert.

(Video 6 gives examples of what various approaches to “Transition Tax Compliance” might look like.)

A reminder of what the possible imposition of the “transition tax” would mean to certain Canadian residents

Interesting article that demonstrates the impact of the U.S. tax policy of (1) exporting the Internal Revenue Code to other countries and (2) using the Internal Revenue Code to impose direct taxation on the “tax residents” of those other countries.

Some thoughts on this:

1. Different countries have different “cultures” of financial planning and carrying on businesses. The U.S. tax culture is such that an individual carrying on a business through a corporation is considered to be a “presumptive tax cheat”. This is NOT so in other countries. For example, in Canada (and other countries), it is normal for people to use small business corporations to both carry on business and create private pension plans. So, the first point that must be understood is that (if this tax applies) it is in effect a “tax” (actually it’s confiscation) of private pension plans!!! That’s what it actually is. The suggestion in one of the comments that these corporations were created to somehow avoid “self-employment” tax (although possibly true in countries that don’t have totalization agreements) is generally incorrect. I suspect that the largest number of people affected by this are in Canada and the U.K. which are countries which do have “totalization agreements”.

2. None of the people interviewed, made the point (or at least it was not reported) that this “tax” as applied to individuals is actually higher than the “tax” as applied to corporations. In the case of individuals the tax would be about 17.5% and not the 15.5% for corporations. (And individuals do not get the benefit of a transition to “territorial taxation”.)

3. As Mr. Bruce notes people will not easily be able to pay this. There is no realization event whatsoever. It’s just: (“Hey, we see there is some money there, let’s take it). Because there is no realization event, this should be viewed as an “asset confiscation” and not as a “tax”.

4. Understand that this is a pool of capital that was NEVER subject to U.S. taxation on the past. Therefore, if this is a tax at all, it should be viewed as a “retroactive tax”.

5. Under general principles of law, common sense and morality (does any of this matter?) the retained earnings of non-U.S. corporations are first subject to taxation by the country of incorporation. The U.S. “transition tax” is the creation of a “fictitious taxable event” which results in a preemptive “tax strike” against the tax base of other countries. If this is allowed under tax treaties, it’s only because when the treaties were signed, nobody could have imagined anything this outrageous.

6. It is obvious that this was NEVER INTENDED TO APPLY TO Americans abroad. Furthermore, no individual would even imagine that this could apply to them without “Education provided by the tax compliance industry”. Those in the industry should figure out how to argue that this was never intended to apply to Americans abroad, that there is no suggestion from the IRS that this applies to Americans abroad, that there is no legislative history suggesting that this applies to Americans abroad, and that this should not be applied to Americans abroad.

7. Finally, the title of this article refers to “Americans abroad”. This is a gross misstatement of the reality. The problem is that these (so called) “Americans abroad” are primarily the citizens and “tax residents” of other countries – that just happen to have been born in the United States. They have no connection to the USA. Are these citizen/residents of other countries (many who don’t even identify as Americans) expected to simply “turn over” their retirement plans to the IRS???? Come on!

Some of theses thoughts are explored in an earlier post: “U.S. Tax Reform and the “nonresident corporation owner”: Does the Section 965 “transition tax apply”?

And now, on to our “regularly scheduled programming”: The possible use of the U.S. Canada Tax Treaty to as a defense to the U.S. “transition tax”

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote: “Responding to the Section 965 “transition tax”: “Resistance is futile and compliance is impossible“. I ended that post with a reminder that the imposition of Section 965 “transition tax” on Canadian residents has (at least) four characteristics:

1.The U.S. Transition Tax is a U.S. tax on the “undistributed earnings” of a Canadian corporation; and

2. Absent deliberate and expensive mitigation provisions, the U.S. transition tax contemplates the “double taxation” of Canadian residents who hold U.S. citizenship.

3. The “transition tax” is a preemptive “tax strike” against a corporation in Canada. Historically Canada would have the first right of taxation over Canadian companies.

4. The U.S. Transition Tax creates a “fictitious” taxable event. It is not triggered by any action on the part of the shareholder.

The purpose of this post is to argue that the Canada U.S. tax treaty may be a defense to the application of the Section 965 “Transition Tax”

Part A – Exploring what a “Subpart F” inclusion really is

Part B – The Canada U.S. Tax Treaty: Relevant provisions

Part C – Impact of the “Savings Clause”

Part D – The Interpretation of the tax treaty: WHO interprets the treaty and HOW is the treaty to be interpreted

_________________________________________________________________________

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

Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “Transition Tax”: “Resistance is Futile” but “Compliance is Impossible”

 

Cross-posted from the citizenshipsolutions blog

by John Richardson

Introduction and background …

“This legislation is being interpreted by a number of tax professionals to mean that individual U.S. citizens living outside the United States are required to simply “fork over” a percentage of the value of their small business corporations to the IRS. Although technically “CFCs” these companies are certainly NOT foreign to the people who use them to run businesses that are local to their country of residence. Furthermore, the “culture” of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations is that they are actually used as “private pension plans”. So, an unintended consequence of the Tax Cuts Jobs Act would be that individuals living in Canada are somehow required to collapse their pension plans and turn the proceeds over to the U.S. government” -John Richardson

I have previously suggested that the Section 965 “transition tax” should not be interpreted to apply to Americans abroad. This argument was based largely on a “lack of legislative intention” coupled with the fact that individuals (whether in the USA or living abroad) do NOT get the benefits of the transition to “territorial taxation”.

These are difficult times for many Canadians who are the owners of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations. Canadian residents use Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (“CCPCs”) to operate small businesses and to create pension plans for their retirement. Importantly a Canadian corporation meets the definition of a “CCPC” only if it is controlled by residents of Canada. By definition all “CCPCs” are local to their owners. The use of “CCPCs” reflects the reality of Canadian tax laws going back to 1972. Governments the world over are taking steps to ensure that corporations cannot be used for the deferral or avoidance of taxation.

The election of the Trudeau Liberals resulted in the Government of Canada taking an interest in “Tax Reform” (or at least “tax reform” in relation to Canadian Controlled Private Corporations. On February 27, 2018 Finance Minister Morneau delivered the Liberals third budget. Although not widely publicized, the budget including major changes in how the passive income of CCPCs is to be taxed in Canada.

Of course those “CCPC” owners who have U.S. citizenship must also deal with the U.S. tax system. Interestingly, both the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States have the owners of “CCPCs” on their radar.

Canada – On the “Home front” (meaning in Canada) the Liberal Government of Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are targeting the “retained earnings” in their corporations. Specifically they believe that “retained earnings” that were subject to the lower small business tax rate provide an unfair tax deferral, resulting in more capital to invest, which allows for the creation of additional passive income. The February 27, 2018 Canadian budget is a direct response to this perception.

The United States – The “Homeland” has just passed the TCJA (“Tax Cuts Jobs Act”). One provision of the TCJA amended Internal Revenue Code Section 965 to impose a one time tax on the “United States shareholders” of “Deferred Foreign Income Corporations” (a “DFIC”). This tax is based on the “undistributed earnings” of corporations. The application of this tax to U.S. citizens living outside the United States is newsworthy, is debatable (and is being debated). The application of the Section 965 “transition tax (assuming the applicability of the tax to Canadian resident owners of “CCPcs”), would be a direct, retroactive tax on the “retained earnings” of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations. Notably these “retained earnings” were NEVER subject to U.S. taxation before (it’s retroactive). The mechanism that the U.S. Government is using to impose direct taxation on the retained earnings of “CCPCs” is to (1) attribute the corporate undistributed earnings to the individual shareholder and (2) impose taxation directly on the individual shareholder. For “Tax Geeks” (and those who want boring cocktail conversation), from a U.S. perspective this process of income attribution is called “Subpart F” income. (You can learn all about it by reading Internal Revenue Code Sections 951 – 965). I emphasize that a Subpart F inclusion (by definition) attributes corporate income to a “shareholder” without any realization event whatsoever.
Continue reading Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “Transition Tax”: “Resistance is Futile” but “Compliance is Impossible”

It’s Happening Again – Enough is Enough is Enough

 

NB: STAY TUNED – a 7-part video on the Transition Tax, with
John Richardson & Karen Alpert will be posted in the next couple of days.

 
 
NB: For anyone with time to spare/the interest/needing specifics to make the point regarding the “intention” of the law, here are some of the relevant House/Senate hearings and/or documents:

Oct 3, 2017 Full Committee Hearing -Senate Finance

Nov 6 – 9, 2017 H W & M Markup
Nov 13, 2017 Open Executive Session to Consider an Original Bill Entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Sessions also continued Nov 14, 15, 16 with videos at the page)
Supporting Document Markup – Senate Finance Committee

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Another day, another set of articles and comments where the #TransitionTax & #GILTI are being stuffed down the throats of expatriates who have their own small corporations. The proliferation of articles on this issue, all proclaiming the U.S. can now inflict a deeper cut into the retirement savings of non-residents, is infuriating. The first two articles at least expressed the idea that these provisions might affect non-resident U.S. taxpayers.

Max Reed , posted on November 3, 2017:

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.

Kevyn Nightengale, posted on November 10, 2017 (I have not included the updated comments because this is what we saw at that time):

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

When I saw the House version, I expected that individuals would be exempted after a sober second (or third) thought. Or at least individuals living abroad would be exempted. But seeing a parallel provision in the Senate version makes me expect the worst.

Seems fairly obvious that the biggest clue that the #TransitionTax IS NOT meant to apply to small CFC’s is that they are not “transitioned” from a worldwide system to a territorial one. This is so basic it is hard to believe nobody just calls these people out on this. How many tax professionals watched all of the House/Senate hearings? Many of us did, all hoping to hear that the move to territorial would include individuals; or at least some mention of us. There simply was nothing to suggest that this tax applied to anyone except large multi-national corporations.This provides the context in which the law was conceived. It should be considered just as thoroughly as the plain reading that professionals claim catches expats in the net. Just exactly who is really making the law here?

Now, on to the two prominent articles of the week. The Financial Post has U.S. tax reform to bring double taxation to some Canadians by Julius Melnitzer. Mr. Melnitzer is well-known for making huge distortions of reality. Canadians are familiar with the fact that he perpetuated “the biggest personal loan fraud in Canadian banking history.”

The biggest personal loan fraud in Canadian banking history was the work of a wealthy, respectable London, Ontario lawyer, Julius Melnitzer. When he left the board of Vanguard Trust, a small firm with which his law firm had been dealing, he just happened to take a copy of the corporate seal that Vanguard had used, among other purposes, to attest to the validity of certain forms which it issued in lieu of custom-designed share certificates. Melnitzer’s first trick was to create fake shares by simply typing in the share amounts and stamping the certificates with the company seal. He created five certificates representing a total of almost 900,000 shares. Then he used these “shares” as collateral for personal lines of credit. He also forged financial statements of a company that his father had founded, in which Melnitzer owned 20% of the shares, along with a pledge from the company that it would guarantee Melnitzer’s debts. Using the Vanguard shares and the phoney loan guarantees Melnitzer received a total of $5.6 million in lines of credit from five major Canadian banks. The scam went on for years. Each time a bank would start to press him for repayment, he would threaten to take his business elsewhere. He would also request a letter of recommendation from one bank, then use it to obtain funds from its competitors. A few years later, the banks pressed him to either pay up or come up with better collateral. Emboldened by the fact that no one had questioned the veracity of the forged documents, he decided to do the second.

Melnitzer went to a small local printing company that his law firm had done business with for years. He told them he was representing a client charged with using forged stock certificates to get loans at banks. He wanted to prove in court that printing technology had improved so much, even a small shop like theirs could do a credible job. When the company agreed, he ordered single shares of five blue-chip companies in the name of his daughter to avoid suspicion. He then altered them to put in his own name and bumped up the amounts until they had a face value of about $30 million. Not only did the great majority of the financial institutions he dealt with accept these in the place of the initial collateral, but some even significantly increased his line of credit. Alas, when an officer at National became suspicious about how Melnitzer’s personal wealth had risen so quickly, the officer asked bank experts to inspect the stock certificates. Melnitzer was arrested three days later.

Further:

Julius Melnitzer, a London, Ont., lawyer, was brilliant in the courtroom and had a stable of powerful clients, including some of the province’s biggest landlords. Thanks to a tip from an observant middle manager at a bank, the police discovered Melnitzer had printed up more than $100 million worth of stock certificates bearing blue-chip names like Exxon Corp. and used them to secure around $67 million in loans from several banks. He also bilked several friends out of more than $14 million by getting them to invest in a bogus property deal in Singapore. In 1992, Melnitzer pleaded guilty to 43 counts of fraud. He was sentenced to nine years in jail but was out on day parole after a couple of years and full parole in 1995. Melnitzer is now a well-known and respected Canadian legal affairs writer.

For Mr. Melnitzer’s point of view see here.

So why am I making such a big deal out of Mr. Melnitzer’s background? Irony. Hypocrisy. Disgraceful. Despicable. Along with government and the tax compliance community, the media is guilty of presenting only one side of the picture, consistently. We are labelled as “tax cheats” “scofflaws” and so on for not filing pieces of paper we knew nothing about. This man, who cheated banks out of $67 million, his friends out of $14 million, is promoting a questionable point of view that seriously affects the lives of millions of expats. Sorry, I cannot consider him a “well-known and respected Canadian legal affairs writer.”

The article quotes Roy Berg on the Transition Tax issues and Paul Seraganian on estate tax issues. An example of the Transition Tax issue:
 
A doctor who is a dual citizen practising in Canada,
with $2M of accumulated earnings in a private Canadian corporation,
would have a one-time U.S. tax liability of $300,000 this year

Roy Berg, director, U.S. tax law, Moodys Gartner
 

“A one-time tax liability of $300,000.” Incredible. Just a “fact.” Doesn’t matter at all how immoral this tax is in the first place. Doesn’t matter that this likely represents the doctor’s retirement savings. He/she likely worked very hard to earn that.This is a real-life person, not a hugely wealthy individual such as a corporate CEO who makes far more than $2 million a year in bonuses alone. It’s not small potatoes to confiscate that from a non-resident “U.S.” person. A Canadian citizen and resident. It is unbelievable that anyone, in any country would simply accept that U.S law applies outside it’s borders. It seems to me that “tax professionals” need to think carefully about what they are doing, who they are hurting and their role in what is truly an amoral regime at best and an immoral regime at worst. And people affected by this should think long and hard about parting with such amounts. I sincerely hope renunciations will be off the charts next year. One can at least be certain that “unofficial” renunciations, people “just walking with their feet” (as in non-compliance) will continue. There is a limit to the value of anything and U.S. citizenship is quickly becoming something non-residents simply cannot afford to keep.

An excellent comment by Karen Alpert on this article:

It is patently clear that Congress was not thinking about the impact of tax reform on non-resident US citizens. None of the discussion in the lead-up to tax reform, or in the committee hearings, indicated that Congress intended to punish the citizens and residents of other countries who happen to be claimed by the US as citizens. Nothing written by the IRS so far has indicated that they believe this applies to non-resident individuals – every example in the IRS notices has specifically looked at corporate shareholders. The only indication that this might apply to non-resident individual shareholders is from the tax compliance industry that stands to earn a large amount of fees on attempts to comply with this extra-territorial over-reach by the US.

If applied to non-resident individuals, the “transition” tax would be a pre-emptive grab at the tax base of Canada and every other country where US emigrants and Accidental Americans are living. The “deferred foreign income” that would be confiscated is money that was never subject to US tax, and is only claimed by the US because of a fictional “deemed repatriation”. Think about what that really means – the US is pretending that US emigrants are “repatriating” funds back to a country where they don’t live, and that they may no longer really identify with. The only good that could possibly come from this is the long overdue realisation that US taxation of the citizens and residents of other countries is contrary to the national interests of those countries and contrary to normal international practice.

The comments section is still open; please go over and make your views known.

**********

The other major article this week is at the Financial Times.

You can see the article on the

citizenshiptaxation facebook group

 
Financial Times
Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules
by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York – FEBRUARY 4, 2018

John Richardson comments:

(A previous comment of John’s is here . )

@Mitchell @WBY @Brian Lillis @Monte

@Mitchell gives us an excellent description of the reality of this situation.

We are dealing with a situation where the “tax compliance community” says: “Resistance is futile” and the reality is “compliance is impossible”.

What will be people do? Those who have long term relationships with “tax compliance people” are probably in the worst situation. They will be under enormous pressure to transfer their pensions (in reality this is how these corps are often used) to the IRS. These people will be confused, frightened and “easy prey”for the amoral individuals who populate the industry. I saw one explanation of the “transition tax” from a highly regarded tax firm that noted that they must search their client base for “victims”.

Notably, this is also taking place against a backdrop where VERY FEW “tax professionals” even understand how this (so called) tax works and how to work with it (or against it).

It is laughable that the only way any individual could even know that this exists is because of the combined efforts of the media and the “tax compliance industry” (frankly the last group of people I would trust).

I would also like to stress that members of the tax compliance community do NOT know more about this than the individuals impacted. Sure, they may be able to calculate the tax better (assuming that it applies to Americans abroad at all.) But their insight into this is limited by the thought (if you want to call it a thought):

The law is the law – the intent of the law was irrelevant – the unintended consequences are irrelevant.

The unfortunate truth is this:

People are going to have to choose between following the advice from their tax professional that “the law is the law” and retaining their life savings.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

 
 

Appears U.S. can Suggest but Cannot/Will not Force Citizenship on Those Born Outside the Country

 
This post appeared at reddit. It is interesting that while the Consulate in Montreal asked “why we did not want to apply for citizenship of our son” several years later, there had been no efforts to impose or force it. This gentleman explains it as pressure however, the lack of any follow-through by the Consulate suggests strongly that the U.S. simply cannot or will not impose citizenship on persons born outside the U.S., simply because they are eligible for it.

It should also be considered that while it is commonly understood that the INA establishes certain situations that define when one can be a citizen, it does not say that one must. The underlying assumption is that one would automatically want to be a U.S. citizen but this does not constitute a “law.” There is no reason to assume U.S. law has power over individuals who are citizens and residents of other countries.

 

Pressure to have kids become US citizens by consulate in Montreal (self.expats)

submitted 14 hours ago * by UncutExpat American living in Montreal
 

I’m a US expat living in Montreal for many years. My wife is Canadian and we have two kids born here (who have Canadian passports). My wife’s also an accountant who does tax returns (Canadian and US). She told me that if our kids are also US citizens, then our paperwork for US tax returns is more complex.

We have education funds for both kids, so we need to legally declare that revenue to the US. They need at least a tax ID number, so we want to fill IRS W-7. That form requires certified copies to the of the supporting documents, and the information shown on the form is as follows:

You may be able to request a certified copy of documents at an embassy or consulate. However, services may vary between countries, so it is recommended that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy for specific information.

For our first son, several years ago, we were able to get the certified copies in Montreal (for $50), but it was not easy. We had to speak with three different people at the consulate who asked us why we did not want to apply for citizenship of our son. At first I thought it was really none of their business, but by the end of the last meeting, I politely said I would do the US citizenship application if someone paid for my wife’s time with the additional paperwork that would be required for the next 18 years at least! The whole deal took more than 3 hours.

This time, for our second son, we only had to see two people (who asked us the same pressuring questions as before). The second person finally told us (after speaking to a colleague when we explained it was for accounting reasons that we did not want to apply for citizenship now) that since the form was 4 pages, it would cost $200.00 for the certified copies ($50 per page). We asked why it was so much, and they told us the policy had changed since the last time. We politely declined and left, realizing the whole episode was a waste of time. We often visit Boston or other cities, and it can be done there in an IRS office.

Just wondering if anyone else had such annoyances, and how they solved the problem. Needless to say, I’m not happy with this policy of the consulate (and actually wonder what is the benefit to the US, given that immigration is a big issue these days).

EDIT: the Tax ID is needed mostly for me to claim them as dependents (it’s not much of a deduction, as we don’t pay much income tax to the US now — however, it could be worth it in the future and my accountant says it’s a red-flag to suddenly claim children as dependents when they weren’t on last year’s return). Also, if my kids grow up in Canada and never want to move to the USA, they’ll be stuck with an obligation to declare their income every year as long as they have a US passport (huge paperwork burden with no real benefit).

 

I am an American citizen -do I have to pay taxes for life? How do I get rid of American citizenship?

 
cross posted from Quora
 

If I have an American citizenship, am I stuck paying taxes to them for life unless I get rid of the citizenship? How do you get rid of the citizenship?
 


by John Richardson
 

U.S. Citizens are subject to extreme regulation wherever they live in the world…
 


 
U.S. AKA American citizenship is very different from all other citizenships in the world. It is a difficult citizenship to maintain if you do NOT actually live in the United States. The reason is that the United States is the only (I am not counting Eritrea) country that requires ALL if its citizens to abide by the rules in the Internal Revenue Code, regardless of where they live in the world. I note that some of the answers to this question confirm that U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. taxation whether they live in the United States or not. Although U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. taxation regardless of where they live in the world, the requirements in the Internal Revenue Code are about much more than taxation. Here are some ways that the Internal Revenue Code imposes requirements that are not specifically about taxation:

  1. The requirements of the Internal Revenue Code also include a very large number of “penalty laden” reporting requirements. (A U.S. citizen resident in Canada was recently fined $120,000 by the IRS for failing to disclose that he was running a small consulting business through a Canadian corporation.) Furthermore, although this requirement is found in the Bank Secrecy Act and not the Internal Revenue Code, U.S. citizens living outside the United States are required to report their “local” bank accounts (including those shared by a non-U.S. spouse) to the Financial Crimes Division of U.S. Treasury (FinCEN).
  2. The rules of the a “foreign” mutual fund and subject to punitive (in some cases the gains could be taxed at rates approaching 100% of the gains).
  3. The rules of the Internal Revenue Code treat “non-U.S. citizen” spouses differently from U.S. citizen spouses. Although not specifically stated the effects of this differential treatment appears to assume that a spouse who is NOT a U.S. citizen exists only at best as an opportunity for money to leave the U.S. financial system and at worst a form of tax evasion.

I could go on, but you get the point. The Internal Revenue is NOT only about taxation. It is about enforcing life and investment choices (and ultimately U.S. cultural values) that do NOT recognize that U.S. citizens living in other countries also have tax obligations to those other countries. The effect of (1) being subject to the restrictions imposed by the Internal Revenue Code and (2) being subject to taxation in their country of residence.
 
How is U.S. citizenship obtained …

One can become a U.S. citizen by either “birth” (either born in the USA or in certain cases born to a U.S. citizen outside the United States) or by “naturalization” (a choice made after birth). Most countries do NOT confer citizenship simply by virtue of birth in the country.

Interestingly, the United States is the ONLY country that both:

Imposes citizenship because one was born in the United States; and
Imposes a comprehensive tax code based on citizenship.

Therefore, those born in the United States are required to obey ALL the rules of the Internal Revenue Code (whether based directly on taxation or reporting …) for life.
 
 
In a Global World, there are many U.S. citizens who are citizen/residents of other countries …

The big problem is that under the guise of “citizenship-based taxation” the United States is imposing full taxation (and the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code) on people who are citizens and tax paying residents of other countries. Think of it! For more discussion of this issues see:

Why is the United States imposing full U.S. taxation on the Canadian incomes of Canadian citizens living in Canada?
 
 
But, there are actually two kinds of U.S. citizenship and ALL U.S. citizens are “dual citizens” …

The first kind of U.S. citizenship is citizenship for the purposes of nationality. This is the what most people understand citizenship to be. This is what is meant when one enters a country with a passport. U.S. citizenship for nationality purposes gives one the right to “enter the United States”, to live in the United States, to vote in the United States, etc.

The second type of U.S. citizenship (first created in 2004) is citizenship for the purposes of the Internal Revenue Code. Let’s call this “tax citizenship” which means that you are considered to be subject to regulation and taxation by the Internal Revenue Code. Significantly one can cease to be a U.S. citizen for the purposes of “nationality” (no right to live and work in the United States), but still be a U.S. citizen “tax citizen” meaning that you are still subject to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. (This is a very difficult situation to be in. Incidentally Green Card holders have exactly the same kind of problem. They can lose their right to live in the USA but still be subject to the rules in the Internal Revenue Code.)
 
 
Relinquishing both kinds of U.S. citizenship – breaking the bonds of nationality and the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code …

Since June 16, 2008 (there was a different set of rules prior to that date) a “Certificate of Loss of Nationality” (“CLN”) is required to cease to be both a U.S. citizen for the purposes of “nationality” and for the purposes of “taxation”. A CLN is acquired by either formally renouncing U.S. citizenship or by applying to the State Department for a (“CLN”) based on another kind of relinquishing act. Here is a blog post that I wrote about that describes the issue in a general way:

Renunciation is one form of relinquishment – It’s not the form of relinquishment, but the time of relinquishment
 
 
Are U.S. citizens renouncing U.S. citizenship to avoid the payment of U.S. taxes?


 
In my experience no. Because of various tax mitigation rules (foreign tax credits and foreign earned income exclusion) many U.S. citizens abroad do NOT owe U.S. taxes. In fact very few of the people who I assist with renunciation owe U.S. taxes. Therefore, the notion that people renounce U.S. citizenship to avoid U.S. taxes is a a myth. As Ted Sorenson wrote for President Kennedy:

“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”

People do renounce U.S. citizenship to escape the regulatory aspects of the Internal Revenue Code that make it very difficult to live productive lives outside the United States
 
 
Caution!!! Caution!! – Since June 16, 2008 relinquishing U.S. citizenship may subject you to the draconian Exit Tax rules found in S. 877A of the Internal Revenue Code!!!

Anybody contemplating relinquishing U.S. citizenship needs to be cautious. You need to understand what the possible U.S tax implications of renlinquishing/renouncing U.S. citizenship would be FOR YOU with YOUR SPECIFIC tax and FINANCIAL PROFILE. This is NOT a “one size fits all” kind of exercise. To learn how the S. 877A Exit Tax rules work see:

Renouncing US citizenship? How the S. 877A “Exit Tax” may apply to your Canadian assets – 25 Parts
 
 
Do you have to be compliant with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code to relinquish/renounce U.S. citizenship?

The answer is NO YOU DO NOT! But, a failure to be compliant with the rules in the Internal Revenue Code for each of the five years prior to renouncing/relinquishing would make you subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax rules.
 
 
In closing …

As you might have guessed, I spend a significant part of my professional life helping people terminate their relationship to the United States (both citizens and Green Card holders). I have written this detailed answer to correct a lot of the incorrect information found in various sources. That said:

Under NO circumstances should this answer construed to be legal advice or any other kind of advice. Furthermore, laws are subject to change and you should NOT assume that the information I have given is even correct. You should NOT relay on this answer and absolutely should seek a competent advisor who will help you understand your situation and come to an appropriate decision for you.
 
Further information:

Citizenship Counselling For U.S. Citizens in Canada and Abroad
 
*****
 
About the Author John Richardson

John Richardson
Toronto citizenship lawyer: FATCA U.S. tax + renunciation of citizenship
Lawyer 1982-present
B.A., LL.B., J.D. (Of the bars of Ontario, New York and Massachusetts)
Co-chair of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty and the

I was born in Canada by an American mother, so am I an American citizen?

 

Cross-posted from Quora

I was born in Canada by an American mother, so am I an American citizen?

 
Answer by John Richardson , Lawyer (1982-present)

Anybody concerned with the answer to this question should (1) do the appropriate research and (2) get the appropriate advice.

Unless you live in the United States or want to live PERMANENTLY in the United States, you would NOT want U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. taxation on ALL OF THEIR WORLDWIDE INCOME, even if they do NOT live in the United States. In fact U.S. citizens living outside the United States who are “tax residents” of other countries are always “subject(s)” (pun intended) to two tax systems.

The question is: “I was BORN IN CANADA to an AMERICAN mother, so am I an American citizen?” Note that if you were born in Canada you are born in another country where U.S. laws (as much as they would like them to) do NOT presumptively apply. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act is the statute that defines who is an American citizen and who is NOT an American citizen.

Here is my answer which is written in a way to encourage caution and to NOT just listen to the first “accountant” (what would an accountant know about this anyway?) or lawyer or immigration consultant.

The answer is “maybe”. It depends. Your approach to this question depends on whether you want to be a U.S. citizen or do not want to be a U.S. citizen.

For those born in Canada and who WANT to be U.S. citizens:

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act has specific rules that say under what circumstances a person born to an American mother outside the USA “shall” be a U.S. citizen. The answer is dependent on the mother having a certain number of years of actual physical presence in the United States. (The one year “continuous presence” test was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2017 decision of Morales-Santanya).

Therefore, if you want to be an American citizen you would have to establish the existence of specific facts and present those facts to the U.S. State Department and ask them to issue you a U.S. passport. Note that you are NOT entitled to a U.S. passport until those specific facts are proven to the satisfaction of the State Department.

For those born in Canada who do NOT want to be U.S. citizens:

There are some in the tax compliance industry (what do they know about citizenship law anyway?) who have marketed the idea that U.S. citizenship can be imposed on people born in Canada (and other countries) even if they have never considered themselves to be U.S. citizens.

Can the USA forcibly impose U.S. citizenship on people who were NOT “Born In The USA”? What if one was born to an American mother in China (a country that does NOT allow “dual citizenship”). Can the USA forcibly impose U.S. citizenship on that citizen of China?

If you have accepted that you are a U.S. citizen and have traveled on a U.S. passport (and that kind of stuff) then you would NOT be able to defend the accusation of U.S. citizenship. But, if you have done NONE of those things and just happened to have been born outside the United States to an American mother, then your situation is probably different. You are arguably in a position where you would have the “right” to U.S. citizenship (under U.S. law if you want) but NOT the obligation to accept U.S. citizenship (because you were born in a country where the USA does not have jurisdiction).

I am not aware of a single instance where a U.S. court has ruled that people born outside the United States are required to be U.S. citizens.

In any case, if you were NOT born in the USA, you do not have the objective characteristics that would raise the question of “U.S. citizenship” anyway.

This issue has been discussed at the Isaac Brock Society and other sites. The following post provides some of the “analytical tools” to consider the question.

Help: Can the United States IMPOSE US citizenship on those born outside the US?

If you have read this far you might find the following video of interest:

U.S. citizenship and the Government of Australia

The question of “dual citizenship” and whether somebody IS a “dual citizen” was of practical relevance in Australia in 2017. Basically, seven (at least) Australian politicians were accused of being “dual citizens” (making them ineligible to serve in Australia’s legislative body). This “farce” provides a real world example of why it would matter if somebody born outside the USA to an American other would be an American citizen. See the following:

Australian Greens Senator @LarissaWaters resigns because of her CANADIAN place of birth. Too bad she was born in Canada (with images, tweets) · expatriationlaw

Support the Paul Amendment to Repeal FATCA!

 

repealFATCA

This Is an Urgent Campaign to Repeal FATCA ALERT!

Support the Paul Amendment to Repeal FATCA!
 
 
 

November 29, 2017

This week the Senate version of the tax reform bill will come to the Senate
floor. The Campaign to Repeal FATCA has learned that Senator Rand Paul
(R-Kentucky) plans to offer as a floor amendment his bill S. 869 to repeal
the so-called “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

The Campaign to Repeal FATCA is asking everyone immediately to contact your
Senators with this simple message:

“Support the Paul Amendment to Repeal FATCA!”

You can find the contact information for your state’s two Senators
here. Given the partisan divide
in the Senate, it is especially important to contact Republican Senators. If
your state has one from each party, contact the Republican first!

Here is a suggested draft message you can use via the email contact. (NOTE:
If you are contacting a Democratic Senator, please delete the sentence in
red referring to the Platform.):

Dear Senator [Name]:

As your constituent, I strongly urge you to support the floor amendment to
be offered by Senator Rand Paul to repeal the so-called Foreign Account Tax
Compliance Act, or FATCA. Despite the claims of its sponsors when it was
passed in 2010, FATCA is a failure in its supposed aim to recover offshore
tax assets hidden by “fat cats.” Instead, it has imposed massive costs on
middle class Americans, violated Americans’ privacy without probable cause,
and led to a huge increase in U.S. citizenship renunciations. The 2016 GOP
Platform called for the repeal of this wrongheaded Obama-era law – and the
Republican Party should keep its promises! Please support the Paul Amendment
to repeal FATCA!

[Name, location]

In addition, if you represent an organization, please issue a statement in
support of the Paul Amendment to repeal FATCA and send it to Senate offices
and distribute via social media.

Time is of the essence. Thank you for your help at this critical moment!

Nigel Green and Jim Jatras

Co-Leaders, Campaign to Repeal FATCA

www.RepealFATCA.com

Further information points on why FATCA must be repealed follow:

The GOP called for repeal in its 2016 Platform. “The Foreign Account Tax
Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Foreign Bank and Asset Reporting Requirements
result in government’s warrantless seizure of personal financial information
without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Americans overseas should
enjoy the same rights as Americans residing in the United States, whose
private financial information is not subject to disclosure to the government
except as to interest earned. The requirement for all banks around the world
to provide detailed information to the IRS about American account holders
outside the United States has resulted in banks refusing service to them.
Thus, FATCA not only allows ‘unreasonable search and seizures’ but also
threatens the ability of overseas Americans to lead normal lives. We call
for its repeal and for a change to residency-based taxation for U.S.
citizens overseas.”

FATCA fails in its stated purpose of recovering tax revenues. On enactment
in 2010, FATCA was scored as raising about $800M per year. According to
Texas A&M law professor William Byrnes, actual recoveries are closer to
$100-200M per year and falling. FATCA will soon cost more than it brings in.

FATCA is an indiscriminate violation of privacy. FATCA data reporting
requires no probable cause or even suspicion. Unlike domestic 1099s and W2s,
no taxable event is required. Compliance burdens fall disproportionately
upon people of moderate means, few of whom are engaged in evasion or owe any
tax. Foreign banks’ denying services to Americans leads to increased U.S
citizenship renunciations.

FATCA is costly. Estimates of global compliance spending rely on aggregation
of per-institution costs: millions for each small bank, hundreds of millions
for a big one. One projection puts cumulative cost at $58 to $170 billion.
This is an order of magnitude greater than any recoveries from FATCA.

FATCA relies on Obama-era Executive overreach. Because of other countries’
privacy laws, FATCA is unenforceable without so-called “intergovernmental
agreements” (IGAs) invented by Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department. The IGAs
are not authorized by statute or submitted to the U.S. Senate as treaties.

FATCA threatens our domestic financial industry. Reciprocal “Model 1” IGAs
promise “reciprocity” from U.S. domestic banks. This threatens massive
FATCA-like costs on U.S. banks and consumers.

Keeping FATCA on the books risks future harm. The OECD, which for years has
sought to extinguish personal financial privacy and create a worldwide
financial data fishbowl, has praised the IGAs as a “catalyst” to that end.
If FATCA remains on the books, the next Democrat Administration and Congress
may press reciprocity on domestic American financial firms to create a
global FATCA – or “GATCA.” This is the opposite of what the GOP Platform
promised.

Transparency is when citizens monitor government.

When government monitors citizens, that’s tyranny.

It’s the Subpart F Rules, Stupid

 

 

There is a very good discussion going on over at Brock regarding the “Transition Tax” and the unintended consequences that may be passed on to expats. Fortunately, this cross-posted comment by USCitizenAbroad demonstrates how we have moved from the complicated verbiage of statutes/IRS Code to something understandable. (!!!!!)

@Plaxy

First, there has never been ANY background discussion that suggests that a transition tax would apply to individual shareholders (whether in the US or abroad) of non-U.S. corporations.

Second, ALL of the discussion has been in the context of finding a way to impose taxation on the offshore trillions supposedly owed by the corporate shareholders of foreign corporations,

Third, notice that some of the discussion (for example in the two Morse articles) raises the question of how the tax should be designed (inside the income tax system, outside the tax system, subpart F, etc.).

What I think has happened is that, by making a subpart F inclusion the mechanism for taxing the “offshore trillions”, it has theoretically drawn individuals (and by extension Americans abroad) into harm’s way.

Because the subpart F rules do apply to the individual shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (even though originally intended for corporations), and the mechanism to capture the “offshore trillions” is subpart F, individuals have been drawn in.

Had the mechanism for inclusion been something other than subpart F, I suspect that we would not even be having this discussion. But, what discussion? What is generating the discussion?

Interestingly, the ONLY discussion of the impact of this on individual Americans abroad comes from the tax compliance industry in Canada (because they are the only group considering individual Americans abroad) and probably tax people in other countries.

There is no final legislation and the rules are complex. So, what happens is that one tax person says: “These rules apply to Americans abroad” and the rest follow. They have few (if any) independent thoughts on this. It is very difficult to read and understand this proposed legislation. They read legislation literally. They don’t read contextually. They in effect “make up the law”. We have seen this happen time after time.

Now, what are individuals to do? It’s obvious that this tax was NEVER intended to apply to them. But, (I expect) the tax compliance industry will work hard to force people to pay up. What is clear is the tax compliance community will NOT (if they adopt the “party line”) tell people that the tax does not apply to them. They won’t be willing (and understandably so) take the risk. But, they don’t know any more about this than you or I.

So, what should be done? What should the response be?

At the present time there are still many unknowns. But, I really don’t see how people can pay a tax that

  1. was never intended for them
  2. will confiscate their retirement plans
  3. is in effect a retrospective tax – they are (possibly) going back in time and deeming income that was not taxable at the time to be taxable now.
  4. is not based on any “event” whatsoever – this is why it is pure confiscation. Even if it were 1 cent it would be pure confiscation because there is no event triggering a tax.
  5. (5) reaches directly into the tax base of Canada.

Since July the Government of Canada has been discussing this same pool of Canadian capital. This whole discussion is confusing theory, reality and practicality. This cannot and should not be paid.

My suggestion I guess is:

Get your tax preparer to reveal his/her position on this before work on the returns commences. If the preparer will not sign the returns without paying this tax – then find another preparer or do them yourself or don’t file at all. Obviously the pressure to renounce has become even more intense.

What you cannot due is let the tax compliance community turn your retirement savings over to the IRS based on a law that was never intended to apply to you.

Furthermore, I think that tax preparers have a moral obligation to make their position on this known in advance.