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 ….””

US tax reform bill appears to confiscate 12% of retained earnings of certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporations

 

UPDATE November 9, 2017

Today Chairman Brady concluded the “Mark Up” period of his proposed tax legislation. The “Mark Up” period contained NO move to “territorial taxation” for individuals. It did increase increase the “proposed confiscation” of the retained earnings of certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporation, from 12% to 14%.

See the “Manager’s Amendment” here:

summary_of_chairman_amendment_2

Now back to our regular programming …

*******

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions

by John Richardson, J.D.

US tax reform bill appears to confiscate 12% of retained earnings of certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporations

 
Kudos to Max Reed for his quick analysis of the how the proposed U.S.
tax reform bill might affect Canadians citizen/residents who also have hold U.S. citizenship. You will find the bill here. His analysis, which has been widely discussed at the Isaac Brock Society (beginning here) includes provisions that are very damaging to those who are the owners of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (noting they are also under assault from Messrs Trudeau and Morneau). The damaging provisions are both prospective and retrospective.

Continue reading “US tax reform bill appears to confiscate 12% of retained earnings of certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporations”

Renouncing for some is excruciating & not because of the emotional ties

 

 

Barbara left the following comment at Brock earlier today. Her story is different in that she lives in a lower-tax based country (easier to owe US tax) where gaining citizenship is very difficult, if not impossible. I think this situation has come up far less often in public discussions and all of us should be aware of all the ways US tax policy is abusive to expats.

Barbara
2017/10/31

Agree with Mike : Renouncing is not only not easy, it’s excruciating. On that annual Greenback Tax expat survey, they often come up with a number like 37% of expats “considering renunciation”. My husband and I are two of those. I’ll bet the majority our fellow would-be renunciants have not taken the plunge, not because they don’t want to bother, but because the obstacles are just too extreme.

Sure, if you’re a lifelong Canadian, it may be administratively simple to renounce. Sure, you have to deal with is the boo-hoo emotional part, and 5000 bucks; I get that. But if you’re one of the tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans living in Saudi or Korea or Nigeria or China or Iceland, or other such places where it is either nearly impossible, or extremely unattractive, to take on local citizenship–even if we choose to or even enjoy living there–then renunciation is one of the most difficult decisions one can face.

We took years to make the decision. It isn’t costing us $2350 plus a few tears. It’s costing us our entire life’s savings to buy a passport of convenience through a property purchase, one which seems safe, but certainly not the best of all potential financial investments. Then we get to wait three years. Then we get the passports, we think. Then we deal with whether or not changing citizenship might affect our permanent residency status where we live. Only then do we face the pleasure of renouncing.

No matter what happens with the current tax reform, we’re determined to go through with it. We’ve lost all faith in the US government. There’s no doubt in my mind that the next administration will be a reaction against this one, and will be all Democrats, out for blood. And there’s no question the economy and national deficit will be in a worse mess than it is now. And us rich squillionaires hiding money abroad will be the first to be roped right back in.

Anyone who claims renouncing is easy, try thinking outside your own borders.

And I too hate all Homeland Americans. I find it hard to talk to them at all anymore. Who gives a damn about talking about Harvey Weinstein? I want to talk about TTFI.

Congressman Bill Posey asks Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to deal with #FATCA

 

Persistence pays off!
Suzanne Herman, a long-time Brocker, never gives up & look at the result!
We need more of this kind of thing!
BRAVO!!!

See the original here

letterhead image of Posey letter to Mnuchin
 
 

September 29, 2017
The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

I am writing to you regarding the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) [26. U.S.C. § 1471-1474; 26 U.S.C. § 6038D]. As discussed below, FATCA is an invasive, costly failure that I strongly suggest must be repealed at the soonest possible opportunity, hopefully in the context of tax reform enacted this year. In addition, the means adopted during the tenures of your predecessors Jack Lew and Timothy Geithner to implement FATCA via a series of legally dubious and constitutionally infirm non-treaty agreements with other countries must not be allowed to stand. I ask your assistance in assuring that FATCA repeal is part of any relevant legislation, and that the Treasury Department takes prompt action to cease the implementation of FATCA via Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs).
FATCA’s proponents claim that it is simply a “transparency” measure – similar to a domestic 1099 – to ensure greater tax compliance for assets held offshore. This characterization is misplaced. Domestic tax law requires reporting of taxable events, such as income (a W-2 Wage and Tax Statement) or bank interest (a 1 099-INT). U.S. law, based on a presumption of innocence, does not generally require inquiry into asset principle unless there is reason to suspect wrong-doing. By contrast, FATCA requires wholesale reporting of Americans’ assets and transaction history absent any such suspicion, solely because the asset is held outside the United States. This is despite the fact that the IRS’s own Taxpayer Advocate Service reports that “the vast majority” of Americans residing abroad “actually appear to be substantially more compliant than a comparable portion of the overall U.S. taxpayer population.”

Despite such an invasion of privacy, FATCA has failed in its stated purpose of recovering revenue lost to offshore tax evasion. Last year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) credited FATCA for “collecting” $10 billion from “taxpayers coming back into compliance, ,2 but that figure conflates genuine tax revenues with penalties for filing deficiencies and recoveries from all offshore enforcement programs, not just FATCA. In the estimate of Professor William H. Byrnes of Texas A&M University School of Law, the real net tax recovery of FATCA alone is about $200 million annually and may be only half of that. Professor Byrnes projects that FATCA may “soon cost more money than it brings in.”‘ Indeed, his view may actually be overly optimistic in light of the IRS’s commendable enforcement standard of recovering seven dollars for every dollar spent.4

By contrast, because of the IRS’s need to try to discern indicators of evasion within a sea of indiscriminate personal information belonging to non-evaders, W. Gavin Ekins of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation suggests that, under FATCA, finding “a dollar of tax evasion may cost us $5 of actually sifting through the data and compliance costs.”5 FATCA’s unsatisfactory ratio of return must also be weighed against the impact on taxpayers saddled with burdensome reporting paperwork. The Tax Foundation estimated in 2016 that these requirements cost individuals nearly four and half million hours and more than $165 million,6 an amount comparable to FATCA’s likely proceeds. This does not even take into count the massive compliance costs imposed 011 financial institutions.
The above summarizes the good and sufficient reasons why FATCA must be repealed and enforcement dollars spent on more effective programs to detect and punish actual tax evasion. While your support for that effort will be appreciated, it is a task primarily of Congress. But I now turn to a matter almost entirely within your purview, on which I ask your prompt and decisive action. This relates to IGAs invented by the Department in consultation with five European governments for the purpose of enforcing FATCA.

While the IGAs read like treaties and have the effect of treaties in purporting to create mutual obligations between sovereign states they are not submitted to the United States Senate for that body’s advice and consent to their ratification, though the non-U.S. “partner” country is required to do so under its necessary internal procedures for entry into force. In July 2013, I wrote7 to Secretary Lew with a specific request for the statutory authority for the IGAs. The Department responded, after a delay of nearly a year, with the following statutory justification: 8
 

“The United States relies, among other things, on the following authorities to enter into and implement the IGAs: 22 USC Section 2656; Internal Revenue Code Sections 1471, 1474(f), 6011, and 6103(k)(4) and Subtitle F, Chapter 61, Subchapter A, Part III, Subpart B (Information Concerning Transactions with Other Persons).”

 

None of the sections cited above confers on the Treasury Department any authority for making agreements with foreign governments for the furnishing of private financial information. In particular, there is nothing in the cited sections that allows the Department to promise (under the so-called “Model 1” IGA) on behalf of the United States FATCA-“equivalent” reporting to foreign tax services of private information obtained from domestic American financial institutions. Following through with this unauthorized promise would impose on American banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other institutions crushing compliance costs of the magnitude already suffered by foreign institutions – costs that would inevitably be passed on to American consumers.

The IGAs represent a prime example of the kind of executive overreach that unfortunately typified the previous administration. I ask you to rein in this abuse by ceasing the negotiation of new IGAs and freezing the implementation of existing ones. This action should include a freeze on enforcement of FATCA regulations on taxpayers and financial institutions. Further, I ask that you notify IGA jurisdictions that these dubious pseudo-treaties are under legal review and that their nullification or abrogation from the U.S. side can be expected pending FATCA’s anticipated repeal.

Nothing in the foregoing should be construed in any way as being “soft” on tax evasion. Quite to the contrary, in addition to its other flaws FATCA is a distraction and a diversion of resources from effective tax enforcement based on standard investigatory techniques. As a member of the Financial Services Committee I look forward to working with the Department on measures to ensure effective tax enforcement that targets the guilty, without penalizing the innocent or
compromising our cherished American constitutional and legal norms. In the meantime, FATCA and the IGAs must go.

Thank you for your assistance on this critical matter.

posey signature

___________________________________

1 Taxpayer Advocate Service, 2016 Annual Report to Congress, Vol. 1; “FOREIGN ACCOUNT TAX COMPLIANCE ACT (FATCA): The IRS’s Approach to International Tax Administration Unnecessarily Burdens Impacted Parties, Wastes Resources, and Fails to Protect Taxpayer Rights,” page 221; See:https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Media/Default/Documents/2016-ARC/ARC16 Volumel MSP 16 FATCA.pdf

2 IRS press release, “Offshore Voluntary Compliance Efforts Top $10 Billion; More Than 100,000 Taxpayers Come Back into Compliance,” Oct. 21, 2016; See: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/offshore-voluntarv-comphance-efforts-top-10-billion-more-than-100000-taxpayers-come-back-into-compliance

3 “Background and Current Status of FATCA” Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-31, pages 1-34, 35; See: https://paers.ssrn.com/soI3/papers.cfm?abstract id=2926 119

4 IRS press release, “National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Tax Reform, IRS Funding and Identity Theft,” Jan. 9, 2013; See: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/national-taxpayer-aclvocate-delivers-2012-annual-report-to-congress

5 “Why Americans are giving up citizenship in record numbers,” Washington Post, June 1; 2016: See:

6 Tax Foundation, “The Compliance Costs of IRS Regulations,” June 15, 2016; See: https://taxfoundation.org/compliance-costs-irs-regulations/

7 See: http://www.repealfatca.com/downloads/Posev letter to Sec. Lew July 1, 2013.pdf

8 See: http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.com/2014/07/irs-letter-to-congressman-defending-its.html
For a definitive section-by-section demolition of the Department’s response, see Professor Allison Christians, McGill University Faculty of Law, “IRS claims statutory authority for FATCA agreements where no such authority exists,” http://taxpol.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/irs-claims-statutory-authority-for.html

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

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions


by John Richardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. “culture of penalty” and inflation: First, inflation used to first increase the size of #FBAR penalty base and then increase the size of actual penalties

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions blog
written by John Richardson

Introduction: Penalty as a part of American Culture

The above tweet links to a wide range of examples of America’s culture of penalty.

The purpose of this post is to explore how inflation results in the facilitation of enhanced penalty collection in America today.

What is inflation?

In its simplest terms:

“Inflation is defined as a sustained increase in the general
level of prices for goods and services in a county, and is measured as
an annual percentage change. Under conditions of inflation, the prices
of things rise over time. Put differently, as inflation rises, every
dollar you own buys a smaller percentage of a good or service. When
prices rise, and alternatively when the value of money falls you have
inflation.”

Source: Adam Hayes, CFA

(Note his use of the words “goods and services“. Are
FBAR penalties and the S. 877A Exit Tax consumer goods or
government services
?)

Inflation can either be helpful or can be hurtful. Some benefit from
inflation and others are hurt by inflation. At a minimum, inflation will
always erode the value of cash.

Effect of inflation on owners/lenders of cash: When it
comes to cash inflation will hurt the owners/lenders of cash. This is
because inflation will erode the value of cash.

Effect of inflation on borrowers of cash: Inflation
will help he borrowers of cash. This is because inflation erodes the
value of the cash that must be repaid.
Continue reading “U.S. “culture of penalty” and inflation: First, inflation used to first increase the size of #FBAR penalty base and then increase the size of actual penalties”

May 13, 2017 Canadian Federal Court FATCA IGA lawsuit update: Motion for Summary Trial now submitted

“…The government of Canada has a responsibility to stand up for its citizens when foreign governments are encroaching on their rights…We believe that the deal reached between Canada and the U.S. is insufficient to protect affected Canadians…” June 2015 Pre-Election statement of Mr. Justin Trudeau (now Prime Minister of the Government we are suing) to a constituent

May 13 2017 Canadian FATCA Litigation Update:

SUMMARY TRIAL MOTION has now been submitted on Constitutional/Charter issues. We are finally moving closer to trial and our Vancouver litigators have now served and filed in Canada’s Federal Court a “Notice of Motion for Summary Trial”.

As detailed in this brief motion (see link) this is a pleading to the Federal Court of Canada for a summary judgement we are seeking on the Constitutional-Charter issues.

We argue in the motion that the Canadian legislation enabling the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) violates Canada’s Constitution Act (by forfeiting Canada’s sovereignty and facilitating the extra-territorial enforcement of a foreign state’s taxation and tax compliance regime on Canadians) and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 7, 8, and 15).

There is this statement in the Motion:

“The contours of United States citizenship and the definition of US Person are matters of United States law and/or policy and are subject to be changed by the United States at any time.”

There is also this:

“It is a principle of international law that every sovereign state has the right to conduct its affairs without intervention by other states (the “Principle of Non-Intervention”). The Principle of Non-Intervention is at the core of the international legal order and is a corollary of every state’s right to sovereignty, territorial integrity and political Independence. The Principle of Non-Intervention is an element of the unwritten constitution.”

Will the Federal Court of Canada accept this Constitutional argument?

This motion is NOT the main, detailed legal submission (i.e., where all of the case law is discussed, etc.) which will be filed much closer to the hearing date (yet to be decided).

AFFIDAVITS. You will notice on pages 22-23 a long list of affidavit titles. Because of a technical issue related to the litigation, it is not possible to publish the text of these affidavits at the present time.

Some of the affidavits include those we previously submitted and those Government submitted – which we feel will help our case.

There are also expert reports from three witnesses (Ryan Liss, Roy Berg, Kevyn Nightingale) who were selected by our litigators to provide an expert opinion based on our litigators’ assessment of their expertise and experience.

In addition, there are affidavits listed from lay witnesses.

Our litigators made a strategic decision on the selection of specific lay witnesses for the trial from the larger group of volunteers. I thank the lay witnesses and all witness volunteers for their courage and commitment to push for return of Canada to Canadians.

LIKELY NEXT STEPS. On May 19, 2017 there will be a teleconference with Government, Case Management Judge, and our side to deal with the Government Motion to compel further documents from the three plaintiffs (we oppose the motion).

After the ruling, Examinations for Discovery of the three expert witnesses and the plaintiffs will be scheduled and conducted. Our lawyers will likewise examine the Attorney General’s witnesses. It is also possible that the Attorney General might examine our lay witnesses. We currently do not know if they will elect to do so.

Upon completion of the all examinations of the parties, and after filing all required submissions, we will await a trial date to be set by the court. Trial dates are dependent on the availability of Justices and court (backlog) schedules.

I know that the slow pace of our litigation is frustrating. Thank you for your continued support and kind thoughts.

Stephen Kish

Continue reading “May 13, 2017 Canadian Federal Court FATCA IGA lawsuit update: Motion for Summary Trial now submitted”

The agony of US citizenship for US citizens living outside the US

cross-posted from renounceuscitizenship blog

The agony of US citizenship for US citizens living outside the US
 

 
U.S. citizens cry out in agony! But, the U.S. government Silence is Deafening .

The cries are getting louder and louder! Inside the U.S. only Taxpayer Advocate seems to be listening. Outside the United States, American Citizens Abroad continues to soldier on. In Canada, the home of (probably) the largest number of U.S. citizens (many of who are also Canadian citizens) the Government of Canada is listening. Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, has been consistent in his position that FATCA is intrusive and unnecessary and the Canada will not collect FBAR penalties. He has been consistent with the sentiments expressed in his public letter of September 16, 2011. U.S. citizens in Canada are in a far better position than U.S. citizens in other countries. Furthermore, Mr. Flaherty has been responsive to citizen’s concerns, recognizing that Canadians are desperate for help. The evidence is building. to protect themselves from the U.S. government. Take the above poll which is from a previous post describing how renunciations of U.S. citizenship are soaring under Obama. Consider the following wisdom from a U.S. citizen living in France.

Homeland Americans do not love their “Domestic Abroad” and routinely characterize them as “traitorous Benedict Arnold’s.” Now these citizens abroad are in a complete panic now that they are aware of the U.S. tax and reporting requirements. They are facing the same compliance issues as U.S. immigrants and they are now encountering discrimination in their host countries (loss of local banking services, for example, or limited retirement investment opportunities or even being cut out of business deal by non-US partners) as a result of FATCA.

Many of them cannot easily return to the U.S. – if they did they would have to close their businesses or leave their jobs, get divorces from their foreign spouses and, in some cases, leave their minor children behind in the host country. Contrary to popular belief in the homeland, the vast majority of these people are not millionaires and run a real risk of arriving back home in the U.S. with limited assets, if not in a state of outright penury. On the other hand, they can no longer continue to reside in their host countries as U.S. citizens where they risk paying double taxes (U.S. taxes in addition to host country taxes) and must pay the increasing cost of compliance (international tax specialists to file the 1040 and a whole host of other forms demanded of overseas citizens who have built lives abroad and are permanent residents of their host countries). Even Nina Olsen, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate in the U.S., said in her 2011 report:

The complexity of international tax law, combined with the administrative burden placed
on these taxpayers, creates an environment where taxpayers who are trying their best to
comply simply cannot. For some, this means paying more U.S. tax than is legally required,
while others may be subject to steep civil and criminal penalties. For some U.S taxpayers
abroad, the tax requirements are so confusing and the compliance burden so great that they give up their U.S. citizenship.And that sums up quite nicely what is, in fact, happening. Those who are in the know and can afford it are mostly “complaining and complying” while those who cannot are renouncing U.S. citizenship. 2011 was a banner year for renunciations of U.S. citizenship. 2012 will be worse (see this and this excellent analysis over at Overseas Exile.)

http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.ca/2012/03/diaspora-tax-war-of-2012-stakeholder_27.html

In addition to the current Government of Canada, the Official Opposition of Canada (NDP) is taking the IRS assault on Canadian citizens very seriously. Individual MPs have made an effort to respond and educate. Individual MPs have organized public meetings. Interestingly, the newest NDP MP, Craig Scott is a law professor/human rights lawyer. Furthermore, he attended a public meeting about FATCA. He would be a great addition to the cause. Interestingly there has been very little support from the Liberal Party of Canada. Here is a letter from Bob Rae. Although the Green Party of Canada has only one seat in the House of Commons, their leader Elizabeth May (who was born in the U.S.) has expressed her support for Canadians.

As the FATCA implementation date comes closer and as we find ourselves in tax season, many U.S. citizens (whose only crime is to live outside the United States) are living in a state of desperation and agony. Some samples:

This man gives the word “prescient” real world application:

In closing, some “psychotherapy for U.S. citizens living outside the United States” – the Widsom of Moe Levine:

We are living in interesting times.