Twelve % Tax on Deferred Earnings Likely to Apply ONLY to Larger/Multi-National Corporations

 
UPDATE November 6 2017 – see below
 


 
Since the new House GOP Tax Bill came out, many are looking beyond the obvious and trying to analyze what this might really mean in peoples’ lives. This post appeared on the Isaac Brock Society on Nov 2 by Stephen Kish. The following sections are excerpts from that post:

Here is the United States House “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” bill of November 2, 2017.

This is a first pass proposed repeal/amendment etc. of the 1986 Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is permanently stored here.

November 3 UPDATE:

I was just made aware of an article by Max Reed that apparently indicates that US persons overseas who own small business corporations might be harmed by the new tax legislation. In particular, the imposition of a one-time 12% tax on deferred earnings [THIS INCLUDES LOCAL EARNINGS] would hit not just the intended giant corporations overseas, but also the tiny incorporated businesses (e.g., family or one person farming or medical doctor “corporation”). This would include “U.S. Persons” who have no meaningful relationship with the U.S.

From the Max Reed article:

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

Imposition of a 12% one-time tax on deferred profits. Under the new rules, the US corporate tax system is transitioning to a territorial model. As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986. Take a simple example to illustrate the enormity of the problem. A US citizen doctor moved to Canada in 1987. She has been deferring income from personal tax in her medical corporation and investing it. Now, 12% of the total deferred income since 1986 would be subject to a one-time tax in the US. That may be a significant US tax bill…”

November 4 UPDATE:

Republicans Overseas responds to the above concern:

“Stephen Kish, Your comments were forwarded to a House Ways and Means Committee member’s office. His legislative counsel is looking into this. We will report once we receive their reply.

*******

Needless to say, while many hoped there would be improvements in our situation, virtually no one voiced concerns about something appearing that would make things worse. Imagine being an incorporated individual (such as a doctor, accountant, lawyer etc, in Canada) and suddenly being told any retained/deferred earnings left in the corporation since 1986 would be taxed at 12%! While there are no guarantees at the moment, before this idea takes firm hold, particularly in the minds of the tax compliance community, here is an analysis which suggests such a notion could most definitely seen as out-of-context if viewed as a standalone. It really only makes sense when applied to the corporations who moved overseas for whom the U.S. is trying to entice to come back.

*******
 
USCitizenAbroad says
November 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

@Stephen Kish

You refer to the “frightening prospect” of the 12% tax on the retained earnings of Canadian Controlled Corporations suggested by Max Reed as follows:
 

Imposition of a 12% one-time tax on deferred profits. Under the new rules, the US corporate tax system is transitioning to a territorial model. As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986. Take a simple example to illustrate the enormity of the problem. A US citizen doctor moved to Canada in 1987. She has been deferring income from personal tax in her medical corporation and investing it. Now, 12% of the total deferred income since 1986 would be subject to a one-time tax in the US. That may be a significant US tax bill…”

 
@Eric in a later comment confirms that Mr. Reed’s analysis comes from a reference to Sec. 4004 (the transition tax).
 

@Stephen Kish: Yes, he’s referring to Sec 4004 (the transition tax)

 
Although this is unclear and generally difficult to read, I believe that the 12% transition tax (dealing with past retained earnings) does NOT apply to the retained earnings of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations which are owned by INDIVIDUAL shareholders.
 
My reasoning follows …
 
Sections 4001 – 4004 are part of Subtitle A in the proposed bill which appears to deal specifically with the “foreign source” dividends received from certain specific 10-percent owned foreign corporations”. The point is that it deals with domestic corporations that are shareholders of “foreign corporations”.

If you analyze Sections 4001 – 4004, they appear to achieve their objective by amending two different Subchapters of the Internal Revenue Code.
 
Amendments to Sec. 245 which is in the Subchapter of the Internal Revenue Code that describes the computation of taxable income
 
Sec. 4001 is an amendment to the current Sec. 245 which deals very specifically with the deductions available to corporations in the computation of taxable income. Furthermore, by its plain terms Sec. 4001 describes domestic shareholders that are shareholders of foreign corporations. In general the section allows domestic corporations to deduct foreign dividends from the calculation of taxable income. This is the way the USA moves to “territorial taxation” for corporations ONLY.
 
Amendments to the subpart F rules which are found in Subchapter N and used to attribute the income of controlled foreign corporations to U.S. shareholders (Sec. 956, Sec. 961 and Sec. 965)
 
Sec. 4002 is an amendment to the current Sec. 956 which speaks only to the application (or non application) of the section to corporations. In other words, Sec. 4002 applies only to corporations.
 
Sec. 4003 is an amendment to the current Sec. 961 which applies ONLY to corporate shareholders of foreign corporations.
 
Sec. 4004 replaces Sec. 965 which is a section that deals specifically with “the case of a corporation which is a United States shareholder”. I agree that Sec. 4004 (if read outside the context of Subtitle A) could be interpreted to apply to individual shareholders. That said:
 
1. Sec. 4004 replaces a section that deals specifically with corporations; and

2. For Sec. 4004 to apply to individuals would make it the “odd man out” in Subtitle A (in the proposed bill) which is clearly descriptive of how corporations would transition to “territorial taxation”.
 
For these reasons I don’t see how the 12% “transition tax” would apply to individual shareholders.
 
But, Mr. Reed also describes a “prospective tax” (found in Sec. 4301) of the proposed bill on the U.S. citizen shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations as follows (which I think may be accurate):
 

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.

 
Renounce & Rejoice!

*******

UPDATE November 6 2017

Stephen wrote to Max, asking him to explain his conclusion and why it differed from USCitizenAbroad’s. Unfortunately for us, he is sticking to his initial analysis. Let us hope this gets clarified ASAP.

 

Max Reed has just reviewed USCA’s analysis for me but still feels that, irrespective of intent of the drafters, the proposed tax reform bill, as stated, captures ALL owners of foreign corporations (bad news for us if true).

I am passing this analysis on to Republicans Overseas hoping that it will be passed on to the mark-up folks.

 

Max’s November 6, 2017 response sent to me:

“The purpose of the two sections 4004 and 4301 are to transition the US federal corporate tax regime from a global model to a territorial model. To accomplish this, they create new categories of Subpart F” income that relies in large part on the existing controlled foreign corporation US citizens abroad are already familiar with these rules as they apply to those who own foreign corporations.

As a result, the way the sections are drafted provides for a broader application than the drafters may have intended (I’m not sure).

The technical reasons for this result are briefly summarized as follows. Both sections 4004 and 4301 apply to “United States Shareholders”.

That term is currently defined in Code section 951(b) to mean a US person defined in 957(c) who owns 10% or more of the voting stock of a foreign corporation. Section 957(c) essentially adopts the definitions 7701(a)(30) including US citizen.

There is no change to either Code section 951(b) or Code section 957(c) in the House bill that would alter this. Consequently, 4004 and 4301 apply to “US Shareholders” including all US citizens, US green card holders, US trusts as well as US corporations who own 10% or more of the voting stock of a foreign corporation.

There is no carve out elsewhere in the bill.

The fact that other provisions in the same section only apply to corporate shareholders does not affect the reading of 4004 and 4301. Those sections specifically note the limited application of those provisions whereas 4004 and 4301 do not. Further, the fact that existing section 965 only applied to corporate shareholders also does not matter as it is being replaced in its entirety by new section 965.

In short, the purpose of the provisions may be to assist in the transition to a territorial corporate tax system.

But, as drafted, from a technical perspective the legal effect of them will be so much broader. It will apply this 12% one-time tax to US citizens who own an interest in CFCs [e.g., an incorporated medical doctor’s clinic].

It will further apply an ongoing complex new tax regime to US citizens that own a foreign business that earns active business income. These provisions may not be passed in their current state. I certainly hope not. But if they are the effects on US citizens outside the US will be significant.”

*******

a response from USCitizenAbroad

@Stephen Kish

Re: The Max Reed response to you vis-a-vis my suggestion that that the proposed should NOT be read to include the Canadian Controlled Private Corporations for the “one off 12% tax”.

Mr. Reed’s interpretation is characterized by a the notion that one section of the IRC can/should be divorced from the context in which it appears. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps not. But interestingly the IRS specifically warns that the individual sections of the IRC should be read in the context of the entire code (and therefore obviously the individual subtitles).

Specifically note IRS Official Guidance:

Finally, the IRC is complex and its sections must be read in the context of the entire Code and the court decisions that interpret it. At a minimum, please do not be misled by the false interpretations of the IRC promoted by the purveyors of anti-tax law evasion schemes.

The idea that a a move to territorial taxation for corporations (who have the opportunity to repatriate their earnings at a discount) should be applied to the individual shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations, is absurd.

*******

Republicans Overseas TTFI proposal, letters, and petition delivered & discussed with White House staff: EIGHT DAYS (to October 22) LEFT TO SEND IN MORE PETITIONS TO CONGRESS

cross-posted from the Isaac Brock Society
by Stephen Kish

8 DAYS LEFT TO SPEND JUST ONE MINUTE OF YOUR TIME TO SEND TTFI PETITION TO U.S. CONGRESS AND MAKE A CHANGE

Having renounced, I cannot be a Republican, but I do support the effort of hardworking Republicans Overseas (RO) to end citizenship-based taxation and establish TTFI (territorial taxation for individuals).

See below the 10/10/2017 letter emailed to me from RO’s Michael DeSombre.

— The key time sensitive point of this post is that although our letters and petitions (1744) have already been delivered and discussed with White House and some legislative staff, WE ASK FOR YOUR HELP IN OBTAINING EVEN MORE (at least 5000 total) PETITIONS — TO BE DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO CONGRESS BY OCTOBER 22, 2017.

Please take one minute to fill out the petition HERE.

The letter from RO:

“One of the most important items discussed [at the White House meeting] was Republican Overseas’ political strategy for having TTFI included in tax reform. These discussions provided significant positive feedback and insight. With this new information, RO will tailor its lobbying strategy going forward to maximize our chances of ending citizenship based taxation.

The three most important meetings with regards to ending CBT were with Samantha Zager, White House Associate Political Director, and with Matt Stross, Legislative Counsel to Congressman George Holding (North Carolina), and Congressman David Schweikert, a key member on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ms. Zager was impressed with the letters and the volume of petitions. The White House supports our grassroot efforts to reach out to Congress and to lobby for the inclusion of TTFI. Ms. Zager will help to facilitate meetings with individual members in both the White House and Congress who can help with TTFI inclusion.

While we have White House support, only Congress makes law. We need to ensure that any tax reform bill sent to the President includes TTFI. Congress needs to hear from overseas Americans directly.

What you probably want to know now is: “Have we done it? Is CBT a thing of the past? Is this double taxation nightmare over?” Unfortunately, CBT is not gone yet, but we are definitely in the process of consigning CBT to history.

The next step is to take our fight to Congress.

We are setting up meetings with key members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on October 23-25, 2017. Republicans Overseas has three goals for this second phase:

Deliver a petition requesting the inclusion of TTFI in the tax reform package with 6400 signatures from overseas Americans. Our petition campaign will continue until October 22, 2017 in order to gather the necessary signatures.

— Deliver 10-20 letters that will be included as testimony into the Congressional hearings on tax reform.

— Meet with key people who are drafting the tax reform package and ensure that they have heard your voices and understand that TTFI tax reform will benefit America as well as benefiting overseas Americans.

We need your help! Here is what you can do to support TTFI:

Please sign the petition if you haven’t already done so. I assume all of you have already done so, but if not, please do so right away. The campaign will run until October 22, 2017, and we have a new landing page for the petition. We have your signature if you have already signed—no need to sign again.

— Please go out again to your mailing list or friends and ensure they have all signed the petition. -Ensure you hit both Democrats and Republicans.

— Become a paid member (e.g., Associate level) of Republicans Overseas HERE. RO is entirely self-funded, and your membership fees will be used to continue the legal and political battle against FATCA as well as to fund the political efforts to end citizenship based taxation.

Thank you for your ongoing support! We can’t do it without you. We will continue to fight for the end of citizenship based taxation.

Regards,

Michael DeSombre”

The Value of Participation is not about the Result; it Paves the way to Awareness & Education which must Come First

 

FYI -01 OCT 2017
I submitted my letter 1 hour late/on Oct 1 and it was accepted. Please keep them coming
 

In the last few weeks there has been a plethora of posts, comments and articles about tax reform, and whether or not the issues of non-resident Americans have been addressed. There have also been calls for letter-writing campaigns; the response has been disappointing. Many reasons have been suggested as to why more have not contributed to this effort. The prevailing point of view seems to be that it won’t do any good, it’s pointless, etc. Nobody understands this feeling better than those who have spent countless hours working to promote change. Please think about that for one moment. Would it be acceptable for the visibly active people to just decide, “well, this isn’t doing any good so I will just not bother anymore.” The problem with this way of thinking is that it is based only upon an expected result. Of course anyone who is engaged in an effort wants to see their goals reached. But that is rarely what happens in life; anyone who is married or has children well knows the compromise required, the sacrifices that have to be made to make a household run, for children to thrive, for a family to function well in the world. Life is messy, random and confusing.

I think the value of this post lies in it’s recognition that this process is not perfect. It is not predictable down to the nth degree. It is not instant. It is definitely not easy. But without it, there cannot be a result that achieves change. THAT is why your letters are needed. They will pave the way for the shift to begin. There is no substitute for it no matter how well-written a submission is, how many hours someone puts in presenting meetings, etc. What is needed is your signature on a petition and a letter that Solomon and Michael can deliver to the White House on Tuesday. You can even just sign the pre-made letter-what counts here more than anything, is numbers. Crass? Maybe, but it is what it is. There is still time to sign the dotted line on these two items. Please help by doing these two simple things.

If you need inspiration, please read and digest the post below. If you came to the expat movement later, you may be unaware of all that has been done. The post speaks to what HAS been accomplished in the last 5 years and what must continue. Giving up on this hideous, painful and expensive situation is simply not an option. We have built a community, a grassroots movement which is making history. We will likely not see another opportunity like this one for a long time. It is so very important not only for our sakes but for our kids and our adopted countries. Please don’t take a back seat now.

cross posted from the Isaac Brock Society
a comment by USCitizenAbroad

@Embee sums it up very well:

I found a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien today which made me dream a little dream of anarchy. I’m sick to death of control, no matter who or what is the purveyor and/or enforcer of it.

“The most improper job of any man is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”

We can’t just sit back and wish for freedom though. There may only be a slim chance of anything of significance to us coming out of US tax reform but if we don’t push our particular concerns forward in whatever manner is made available to us, slim becomes zero.

Solomon and Michael need petition signatures and letters. I hope they get enough in time.

The comments in this thread have reflected a diverse collection of views. The RO proposal has been severely criticized for various reasons (mostly revolving around the taxation of nonresident aliens). It’s true that the RO proposal has many flaws.

That said, I think it’s important to recognize that in broad terms, the RO proposal will change the impact of CBT as it currently stands. In that respect the proposal is at least a start and that start is described as “Territorial Taxation For Individuals”. It is possible (and I think advisable) to support the broad principle of changing CBT without necessarily agreeing with every aspect (or any aspect) of the specific RO proposal. Some of you may have read the most recent ACA proposal which does a good and interesting job of explaining what “territorial taxation” (borrowing from the language of the RO proposal) could mean for individuals. (Interestingly what “territorial taxation” COULD mean for individuals is what most of us think of as “residence-based taxation”.)

The Isaac Brock Society began in 2011. Since that time, the following things have happened or are happening. All this would have seemed to be nothing more than a fantasy in 2011.

– 2012 FATCA Forum in Toronto (transcripts & vidweos at this link) While naysayers wrote this off since it did not draw crowds, this meeting brought together a set of people whose influence has been enormous. It paved the way for the testimonies given at the Canadian FINA hearings-setting an example for others, spreading information in spite of the fact our politicians did not/would not listen.

– 2013 submissions to the House Ways and Means Committee

– 2014 Led by Stephen Kish and Lynne Swanson, the Canadian Charter Challenge collects over $18,500 in one week to fund legal opinion for a Charter Challenge to the IGA

– 2014 ACA Debate with Kirsch/Schneider in Toronto on the University of Toronto campus
Announcement
Video
Play-by-Play Reporting from Seminar to Brock Blog

– 2014 -present ADCS FATCA lawsuit in Canada raised nearly $600,000 and is alive and well

– 2014 Human Rights Complaint to the UN

– 2014 – present RO Bopp FATCA lawsuit in the USA

– 2014 Keith Redmond creates the American Expatriates FB group; leads to development of the Accidental American movement in France. Makes many media appearances and begins lobbying US government agencies

– 2015 submissions to Senate Finance Committee
Also here

– 2015 live meeting with staff of Senate Finance Committee in DC

– 2015 –ADCT formed to explore litigation against CBT in US courts

– 2016 – French Commission report acknowledging the effects of U.S. extra-territorial legislation on other countries

– 2016 Pushback to FATCA grows to more countries:

– 2016 Israeli Knesset postpones passing FATCA until Supreme Court hears case; case the injunction is denied -many links available
here
Background

– 2016 Trinidad & Tobago resistance to signing of IGA

– 2016 formation of Australian group to
Fix the Australia/US Tax Treaty

– 2016 Nigel Green teams up with James Jatras to form #FATCA lobby Fantastic letter to members of
Congress with 25 signatories including Mr. Green and Mr. Jatras, Andrew Mitchell and Grover Norquist

– 2017 FATCA Hearing in DC (Meadows) Description Video

– 2017 Recent testimony in front of the European Parliament

open discussion and support of a general lawsuit against CBT in the USA

– although not always popular ACA has run long fight against CBT and a move to RBT

– Democrats Abroad is now “officially” supporting RBT for individuals

– and now (the subject of this thread) the RO initiative to attempt to get “territorial legislation for individuals” in the actual tax proposals for Tax Reform 2017

(and countless blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook groups, individual meetings, etc.)

All of these achievements (and believe each and every one of these things is a HUGE achievement) involved the tireless efforts OF A VERY SMALL GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS. But, these SMALL GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS RECEIVED THE WIND IN THEIR SAILS FROM A LARGER GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED THESE INDIVIDUALS. This support can from encouragement. This support came from small individuals, who did small things, often by writing small letters (see for example: http://fatca.eu.pn). This support came from the willingness to do the small things that are necessary to make the big things possible!

I am not a fan of the U.S. Government. I am not a fan of their tax policies. I am not a fan of their abuse of Americans abroad. But, (for the most part) I don’t think the U.S. Government has been fully (or in some cases) even partially aware of the effects of the combination of their tax and reporting rules. (They don’t even understand these rules let alone how they impact Americans abroad).

A necessary condition to change these laws is to make those involved in Tax Reform:

1. Aware of what these laws are

2. How these laws actually impact Americans abroad

3. Aware that there is significant awareness and opposition to these laws.

On October 2 two members of RO have made it clear that they will be having direct interaction with those who can make a difference in tax reform. They are asking for your support in doing ONE THING. That ONE THING is to write and “support territorial taxation for individuals”. You don’t have to support their specific proposal to support “territorial taxation for individuals” (which in its most basic terms is a move away from CBT). The purpose of the exercise is to make it clear (awareness point 3) that the current tax policies are a problem. Without this awareness NOTHING is possible.

Even with the awareness, change will be difficult. Change will involved compromises. Change will be time consuming and frustrating. Unfortunately, that’s what the democratic process is about. You/we have lived with the problems of CBT. The lawmakers don’t even know that that CBT exists (let alone the problems). For RO to be able to personally deliver these letters could be a huge step in educating the lawmakers. It’s NOT that the lawmakers are supportive of CBT. The lawmakers don’t even know that CBT exists. On this point, think of Rep Connolly in the FATCA hearings where he said something to the effect that: “All countries tax their citizens” (obviously equating citizens with residents).

I am NOT defending the behavior of U.S. law makers or the administration (few have been more critical than I have been and continue to be). I am simply trying to argue that change will require education. Education will require engagement. Engagement requires personal interaction.

Your sending a letter and/or signing the petition will help RO achieve the personal interaction that they need to engage and educate. If you care about this issue at all, then you must participate.

I don’t believe that the mere fact of sending letters or signing petitions will make a difference. But, I do believe that WITHOUT YOUR EFFORTS and support that NO CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. Therefore, you are really deciding whether you want to act in a way that makes change possible or if you choose to act in a way that makes change not possible. It’s your choice. This is NOT about supporting a specific proposal. This is about behaving in a way that opens the door to discussion about change.

If it matters, I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. To the extent that I am political, I would be an independent. I am not primarily a U.S. citizen. So, these comments are not partisan. But, I am deeply committed to the struggle to getting these unjust laws changed. Furthermore, I believe that change can happen ONLY if all those affected create a united front in opposition to CBT. It is the opposition to CBT that unites ALL Americans abroad.

It’s very simple really. Where laws are made through a democratic process: If you don’t make your view known you can’t expect change.

Your participation may or may not make a difference. But, your NONPARTICIPATION will make a difference because it will ensure that no change will happen.

The lack of response to the request for letters makes it clear that Americans abroad are NOT willing to support this important move towards the abolition of CBT. Why not? You don’t have to support every aspect of the RO proposal to support this RO initiative.

This is not a political issue! It is a human rights issue that can be remedied through the political process!

Will There or Won’t There be Tax Reform by the End of 2017?

I wrote this introduction for a program to be presented to tax professionals outside of North America back in March 2017. It was only meant as a general guide for those who might have been completely unaware of our grassroots movement as well as several attempts made by Congress to study our situation. It was not meant to be a complete discussion of the entire history of all our efforts but simply to inform them that we exist. To stimulate them to be more than paper-pushers and blind parrots for the IRS.

I still have a hard time believing effective tax reform for our dilemma will happen. Partially because awareness is not “new.” Since Dave Camp and the W&M call for submissions 4 years ago, there have been no less than 9 different studies, drafts etc and up to now, no real progress, no change. In addition, the general dysfunction of Congress (they can’t get health reform right) and the Trump Administration continues. It is now nearly September. There will be a huge effort needed to deal with Hurricane Harvey.

Will we or won’t we see tax reform?
 
Can this situation be tolerated as is for years to come?
 
What do YOU think?
 



INTRODUCTION

THE PROBLEMS

The recent history of tax reform in the United States, as pertaining to American citizens abroad is quite a back-and-forth sort of acknowledgement of the issues with recommendations followed by a complete lack of concrete action to address the problems. A short introduction of the intervening factors is truly necessary in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any tax reform for this unique population of “Americans.”

Once the Swiss bank debacle resulted in successful litigation by the Department of Justice, Americans abroad were swept up in the attempts to gain access to all offshore accounts. The IRS created and tried to steer everyone into the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Programs/Initiative. (The current 2014 OVDP is derived from the 2012 program). The tax compliance community and the media pushed this avenue of action in spite of the fact that the program was designed for criminals, has no legal basis, and should never have included those who had foreign accounts in order to function where they live. It is despicable that many who had lost U.S. citizenship decades ago and those who were “Accidental Americans,” were told they must enter this “amnesty” program.

2009 OVDP
2011 OVDI
2012 OVDP

Due to serious issues with OVDP, expats became very vocal about their concerns of exhorbitant penalties. Then-US Ambassador to Canada Jacobson had promised relief. Instead, the IRS issued Fact Statement of 2011-13. It outlined how non-compliant expats could file and claim “reasonable cause” for not filing FBARs. (I filed this way with no issues). Some in the compliance community and some expats were disappointed as there was “nothing new” about FS 2011-13. It was simply the way things had always been done. Then Streamlined Program, which appeared on September 1, 2012 was fraught with difficulties. The newer version of Streamlined Streamlined allows filing with strong expectation of no penalties.Based upon direct statements by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and and then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline Ciraolo, there are some concerns that as more become aware of the requirement to file, the Streamlined Program will be discontinued. This may or may not be a scare tactic, after all, what is required by law is simply to file and reasonable cause (which is what Streamlined uses to mitigate penalties) has always been available to abate penalties. It will likely be impossible to undo the level of fear created by the IRS, the tax compliance community and the media should it become necessary for people to file outside of Streamlined.

The signing of the FATCA IGAs followed by implementing legislation passed in a majority of the world’s countries exacerbated the situation for expatriates. The U.S. government including the IRS and CI departments of Treasury Department, the State Department, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are well aware of these problems. There is now a great deal of pressure on the current Congress to include some relief for Americans living outside the United States. It must take into account an incredibly complicated interplay of U.S. citizenship and taxation law to try and mold into meaningful reform. In addition, non-resident Americans experience different tax laws overall, due to their residence in other countries. Regardless of the U.S. government’s assertion that the tax code “treats all Americans the same” in reality, this cannot be true and is not true.

RESPONSES/DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE EXPATRIATE COMMUNITY

Historically, American Citizens Abroad is credited as the primary group lobbying for these non-resident citizens. Of special note are the late Roger Conklin & his testimony before Ways and Means and Jacqueline Bunion and her many excellent submissions & videos. Democrats Abroad , FAWCO and AARO are sister groups located in Europe; all support FATCA as well as a move to Residence-Based-Taxation. A main emphasis has been on the
“Same Country Exception”,which would allow tax-compliant Americans abroad to be exempt from FATCA reporting for accounts located in the country they reside in. The Treasury Department recently denied SCE. These measures would have protected approximately 1 million tax-compliant expats from FATCA but would not address the more complicated problems of the other approximately 7 million living abroad.

Republicans Overseas created a set of Resolutions which they intended to be included in the Party Platform. They are the primary backers of the FATCA Legal Action group, funding the
“Bopp Lawsuit” which is currently preparing for an appeal (and has since been denied).

There has been a huge grassroots resistance originating with the Isaac Brock Society in 2011, from which came Maple Sandbox, Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty currently in litigation against the Canadian government; the Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation , (anticipating future litigation with the American government).

A few years later came Keith Redmond and the American Expatriates Facebook Group from which came the Accidental Americans Facebook group and the corresponding groups American Accidental.com and Association des Americains Accidentals centered in France.

After the Isaac Brock Society insistence upon independent research concerning compliance and renunciation, the renunciation numbers began to rise as more and more expatriates realized the true financial risk of remaining American without a matching effort of the U.S. (who cannot seem to find a way to apply procedures that enable discovery of, identification and collection from Homelanders with foreign accounts for the purpose of evading tax versus Americans outside the United States who have legitimate foreign accounts for the purpose of living). The huge amount of non-compliance of this second group, coming to light in 2009 with a much larger wave in 2011, simply speaks to the lack of due diligence on the part of the American government, to educate this population as to their tax obligations and more importantly, their reporting obligations. It is no small thing that FBAR was unenforced for 40 years. Perhaps longer for “regular” filing. There is no excuse for the threatening and punitive campaign pursued by the IRS for this second group.

In addition to the efforts of expatriates, there has been consistent strong support from the Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson. She has repeatedly brought attention to the problems in the Annual Reports to Congress .

James Jatras has been against FATCA from the beginning and has joined with Nigel Green in a lobbying effort The Campaign to Repeal FATCA .

Later support has come from Grover Norquist & Americans for Tax Reform ;
the Coalition of 23 Groups letter calling for the repeal of FATCA as part of tax reform and the FATCA Hearing chaired by Congressman Mark Meadows.
 
*******
PROPOSED TAX REFORMS
 
The first major attempt at tax reform was sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (113th Congress (Jan 3, 2013 to Jan 2, 2015) in 2013. Calls for submissions were answered by many expatriates and interestingly enough, are reflected in the Joint Committee of Taxation report of May 6, 2013. You can read submissions
here .

On May 9, 2013 a paper Senate Finance Committee Staff Tax Reform Options for Discussion was released. This report suggested non-resident Americans could be taxed the same as non-resident aliens; that an exit tax could be implemented and advocated repeal of the FEIE.

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Coming quite late in the tenure of the 113th Congress, was The Tax Reform Act of 2014. Regrettably, none of the issues of expats were addressed in this legislation (which failed to pass). For an interesting discussion of the approaches considered that do not necessarily address expat issues see:
here & here .

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In December 2014, a very favorable report was released by the Republican Staff Committee on Finance United States Senate. A primary consideration was to tax non-resident citizens only on U.S. sources.

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On February 2, 2015 the Obama Administration tried to address some of the problems involved for “Accidental Americans. In the “General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 Revenue Proposals”also called the “Green Book,” it was proposed that certain dual citizens could renounce their US citizenship without the fear of penalization, particularly with regard to being“covered” and liable for the Exit Tax. While not tax reform per sé, it represents awareness on the part of the government. It also, for better or worse, raised the hopes of expats everywhere that something was going to be done. The same proposal was put forward a year later, adjusted for changed dates.

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On March 11, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee established five working groups to address reform one of which was the International Group chaired by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) & Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Expatriate submissions are < href=http://fatca.eu.pn/ ). The committee report was released in July 2015. It contained a mere two paragraphs with no specific recommendations.

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In June 2016, Republican members of the Ways & Means Committee created a working paper
“The Better Way.” It is expected that this will lay the foundation for new legislation. One aspect of this paper is the intent of the GOP to repeal the estate tax and the GST but does not address the gift tax. A concern is that an individual could gift an asset to someone in a lower bracket before a taxable event and have it returned once the income been taxed. It also does not say that a capital gains tax should apply at death (due to no estate tax). The blueprint fails to mention eliminating the step-up basis to FMV that is now available at death nor is there a carry-over provision that would make tax due once an heir sells the property. Whether this is what the Committee intends is not clear.

Unfortunately for expats, this paper has only one sentence pertaining to expats which does not tend to suggest that many of the much-discussed possibilities are likely to find way into actual tax reform legislation

SOME DESCRIPTIONS FROM TAX REFORM PROPOSALS OUTLINING MAJOR NEEDS OF AMERICANS ABROAD

Joint Committee on Taxation May 6 2013
Summary of points applying to U.S. citizens abroad
From Recommendations p 516 –522

3. U.S. citizens residing abroad – Numerous comments were received that relate to the taxation of U.S. citizens living abroad. These comments include the following recommendations:

  • Repeal or revise the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”);
  • Provide an unlimited foreign-earned income exclusion for permanent residents of a foreign country;
  • Expand the foreign-earned income exclusion to include passive as well as earned income;
  • Repeal the special rules on passive foreign investment companies;
  • Repeal the provisions imposing tax responsibilities on those who expatriate by relinquishing U.S. citizenship or residency, including the ban on issuance of visas to expatriates who avoid payment of taxes;
  • Adoption of residence-based taxation (see below);

Residence-based taxation should not include a provision for imposing 30 percent withholding tax on U.S.-source pensions;

Any move to residence-based taxation implies the need to eliminate the savings clause from new and existing tax treaties;

Creation of a bipartisan commission responsible for studying the impact of Federal laws and policies on U.S. citizens living abroad, especially those provisions and administrative programs that require disclosure of financial information. The Commission would report to Congress with recommendations and submit a follow-up report on any remedial administrative response to the report.

The Working Group also received technical comments related to the computation of income tax when a portion of income is excluded under the foreign-earned income exclusion. Adoption of residence-based taxation. Many comments proposed adopting a residence-based tax system to treat certain U.S. citizens domiciled abroad in the same manner as foreign persons, applying withholding taxes to U.S.-source income earned by such U.S. citizens and taxing effectively connected income as under the present law rules. The proponents of a residence-based tax system suggest the following elements:

U.S. citizens that meet certain requirements could continue to be taxed under the rules of present law or could elect into residence-based taxation.

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INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS
Senate Finance Committee Staff
Tax Reform Options for Discussion
May 9, 2013

Page 12

IV. NON-RESIDENT U.S. CITIZENS

1. Provide an election to citizens who are long-term nonresident citizens to be taxed as nonresident aliens if they meet certain conditions (Schneider, “The End of Taxation Without End: A New Tax Regime for U.S. Expatriates,” 2013; similar to the law in Canada)

a. Require a minimum period of residence abroad
b. Impose an exit tax on electing taxpayers where deemed to sell all assets at the time of election

2. Repeal the foreign-earned income exclusion (H.R.2 (108th Congress), Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003, sponsored by Rep. Thomas)

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Resolution to Repeal the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
Republicans Overseas December 5, 2013

Whereas, In 2010 Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in an effort to catch tax evaders; but this Act has inadvertently ensnared every United States Citizen living overseas due to its overzealous invasion of privacy and punitive taxation and enforcement;
Whereas, The United States is one of the only two countries in the world that taxes foreign income of its citizens living abroad who already pay taxes where they reside;
Whereas, FATCA creates enormous reporting burdens for American taxpayers living overseas and puts them a great risk for even the slightest innocent mistake;
Whereas, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions, to enter into an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify their U.S. account holders and to disclose the account holders’ names, taxpayer IDs, addresses, and the accounts’ balances, receipts, and withdrawals (sometimes in violation of foreign privacy laws);
Whereas, FATCA has resulted in Americans living and working overseas finding themselves, and their companies, shut out from access to banks, insurance loans and investment opportunities, as many foreign financial services providers have concluded that doing business with Americans is simply too much trouble thus decreasing America’s competitiveness overseas;
Whereas, FATCA’s primary mechanism for enforcing compliance of foreign financial institutions is a punitive withholding levy on U.S. assets, creating a strong incentive for foreign financial institutions to divest (or not invest) in U.S. assets, resulting in capital flight, hurting the U.S. economy;
Whereas, Time magazine reported a sevenfold increase in Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship between 2008 and 2011 and has attributed this at least in part to FATCA and another surge in renunciations in 2013 to record levels has been reported in the news media, with FATCA cited as a factor in the decision of many of the renunciants; and
Whereas, FATCA forces Americans living abroad to make a horribly unfair choice between renouncing their citizenship and abandoning their businesses abroad because foreign financial institutions won’t handle their transactions or accounts; therefore be it
RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee hereby presents this Resolution to each Member of Congress and urges the U.S. Congress to repeal FATCA and to allow those U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship under FATCA to regain their citizenship;
RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee urges the IRS to cease inflicting damage on the United States and on the global financial system in an attempt to vindicate FATCA’s misguided approach to tax enforcement;
RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee by presenting this Resolution to each Member of Congress urges them to increase the competitiveness of Americans overseas and remove inappropriate invasions of American citizens’ privacy; and
RESOLVED, The Republican National Committee hereby presents this Resolution to each Ambassador and Representative from every foreign nation and warns them that the privacy rights of their own citizens are at risk due to reciprocal agreements.

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Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond
By Republican Staff Committee on Finance United States Senate
December 2014
Pp 282-283
The United States needs to rethink its taxing rules for nonresident U.S. citizens.
If a U.S. citizen is living and working abroad with some permanence, and the primary nexus the individual has to the United States is citizenship, we think it makes sense to tax the individual, as a general rule, only on income from U.S. sources.
A test would need to be developed to determine at what point a U.S. citizen is considered a nonresident of the United States and then at what point the U.S. citizen is considered to be a resident again.
Some factors that may be considered include:

*the permanence and purpose of the stay abroad,
*residential ties to the United States,
*residential ties to the foreign country, and
*regularity and length of visits to the United States.

The test could be adopted, in some part, from the existing rules that are used to determine residency of alien individuals, i.e., those individuals who are not U.S citizens.
In addition, an exit tax could be applied when the U.S. citizen is considered a nonresident and no longer subject to U.S. worldwide taxing jurisdiction

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General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 Revenue Proposals
pp 282-283

Proposal Under the proposal, an individual will not be subject to tax as a U.S. citizen and will not be a covered expatriate subject to the mark-to-market exit tax under section 877A if the individual:
1. became at birth a citizen of the United States and a citizen of another country,
2. at all times, up to and including the individual’s expatriation date, has been a citizen of a country other than the United States,
3. has not been a resident of the United States (as defined in section 7701(b)) since attaining age 18½,
4. has never held a U.S. passport or has held a U.S. passport for the sole purpose of departing from the United States in compliance with 22 CFR §53.1,
5. relinquishes his or her U.S. citizenship within two years after the later of January 1, 2016, or the date on which the individual learns that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and
6. certifies under penalty of perjury his or her compliance with all U.S. Federal tax obligations that would have applied during the five years preceding the year of expatriation if the individual had been a nonresident alien during that period.

The proposal would be effective January 1, 2016.

This same proposal appeared in the 2017 Revenue Proposals with the same conditions and minor date adjustments. Outlined on pp 254-555

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The International Tax Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
United States Senate Committee on Finance July 7, 2015

pp 80-81
F. Overseas Americans
According to working group submissions, there are currently 7.6 million American citizens living outside of the United States. Of the 347 submissions made to the international working
group, nearly three-quarters dealt with the international taxation of individuals, mainly focusing on citizenship-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). While the co-chairs were not able to produce a comprehensive plan to overhaul the taxation of individual Americans living overseas within the time-constraints placed on the working group, the co-chairs urge the Chairman and Ranking Member to carefully consider the concerns articulated in the submissions moving forward.

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We Believe in America
The GOP Party Platform July 2016

Section 3 A Rebirth of Constitutional Government

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.

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A Better Way Forward on Tax Reform
Republicans of the Ways & Means Committee June 2016

p. 29

In addition to these important reforms that will create a modern international tax system for businesses, the Committee on Ways and Means will consider the appropriate treatment of individuals living and working abroad in today’s globally integrated economy

Now’s the Time – Here’s What They Promised – Let’s Hold Them to It

UPDATE SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13, 2016

REINCE PRIEBUS CHOSEN TO BE PE TRUMP’S CHIEF OF STAFF

EXCERPTS:

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday chose Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories.

But as chief of staff, Mr. Priebus will be the one who has several hundred White House staff members reporting to him. He will be the primary gatekeeper for Mr. Trump and the person most responsible for steering the president’s agenda through Congress. That role will be especially critical for Mr. Trump, who has never served in government and has few connections to important political figures.

As Mr. Trump denounced the Republican primary process as rigged and, on occasion, threatened to quit the party and run on his own, Mr. Priebus remained neutral. And when Mr. Trump secured the nomination, Mr. Priebus stood by his side.

Mr. Priebus worked with Mr. Trump on the nuts and bolts of presidential politics, trying to smooth his rough edges and staying in close contact as a bare-bones campaign prepared to go up against the Clinton machine.


PRESS RELEASE
VIA MR. PRIEBUS JULY 2015

RNC PR NO FATCA

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I found myself wondering just what it is expats will want to focus on now, that the Republicans have the Presidency, and control of the House and the Senate. As Stephen Kish pointed out, this could change in two years (well, really just a bit more than a year as once the campaiging for the interim elections in 2018 start, we will likely have lost our chance to get this done quickly. What we do in the next year is critical to dumping FATCA and CBT.

I started thinking about what they promised and have gone through the Platform. I am going to list the main things I found that relate to our issues; if anyone finds more, please post. I also have two documents that focus specifically on FATCA and RBT as well as the link to Republicans Overseas Resolutions posted long ago on their FB site. It would be helpful if others want to isolate points and phrases to focus on in communications to the Republicans.

People may. may not want to coordinate efforts but I assume there will be letters written, emails sent and so on. You may remember that Congressman Mark Meadows (R NC) introduced H.R. 5935 seeking to have an oversight hearing on FATCA repeal. Once we know the date of the hearings and who will sit on the committee, we would start there I presume. And then follow the movement of what occurs……Calls for witnesses were posted on the Isaac Brock Society indicating interested parties should contact Keith Redmond by email at FATCA_Testimonials@outlook.com

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THE REPUBLICAN PLATFORM
excerpts from sections related to our issues

RESTORING THE AMERICAN DREAM

Fair and Simple Taxes for Growth p 1

The current tax code is rightly the object of both anger and mockery. Its length is exceeded only by its complexity. We must start anew. That will be an enormous undertaking and, if it is to succeed, it must command the attention and approval of the American people………….. We will welcome all to this enterprise — to discuss, debate, challenge, and amend — so that together we can restore economic growth for the American people and, even more important, renew their faith in the future

NB:This is their promise to listen.
 
Our Tax Principles p 2
To ensure that past abuses will not be repeated, we assert these fundamental principles. We oppose retroactive taxation. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes. We oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare.

NB:This would deal with the bizarre idea that 877A is retroactive.
 
To guard against hypertaxation of the American people in any restructuring of the federal tax system, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.

NB:This would eliminate the whole need for filing in terms of taxes as value added or national sales tax will not affect Americans abroad in any significant way.
 
A Competitive America p 2
American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rates. That’s like putting lead shoes on your cross-country team. It reduces companies’ ability to compete overseas, encourages them to move abroad, lessens their investment, cripples job creation here at home, lowers American wages, and fosters the avoidance of tax liability — without actually increasing tax revenues. A more damaging policy is hard to imagine.

NB:Please see an excellent paper by Roger Conklin which outlines how CBT directly affects Trade.(via The Revenue Act of 1962 & The Tax Reform Act of 1976; the U.S. has never recorded a trade surplus since 1975).

 

We endorse the recommendation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as well as the current Administration’s Export Council, to switch to a territorial system of taxation so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home. We believe American companies should be headquartered in America. We should reduce barriers to accomplishing that goal. A Winning Trade Policy International trade is crucial for all sectors of America’s economy. Massive trade deficits are not. We envision a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets, what has been called a “Reagan Economic Zone,” in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.

NB:Trade is important to Trump. He needs to know how CBT affects it. If they offer territorial taxation to corporations,they can offer RBT to Americans abroad.
 
A REBIRTH OF CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy p 13

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.

NB: This needs no comment. Other than it might be pointed out that many of the accounts reported on FBAR and 8938, are registered government plans. Some even include government grants which are taxed. The idea that these can be used for money laundering or terrorism is simply absurd.
 

GOVERNMENT REFORM

Reforming the Treaty System p 26

We intend to restore the treaty system specified by the Constitution: The president negotiates agreements, submits them to the Senate, with ratification requiring two-thirds of the senators present and voting. This was good enough for George Washington but is too restrictive for the current chief executive, who presumes to bind this country to bilateral and multilateral agreements of his devising. His media admirers portray his personal commitments — whether on climate change, Iranian weapons, or other matters — as done deals. They are not, and a new Republican executive will work with the Congress to re-establish constitutional order in America’s foreign relations. All international executive agreements and political arrangements entered into by the current Administration must be deemed null and void as mere expressions of the current president’s preferences. Those which are in the national interest but would traditionally have been made by treaty must be abrogated, renegotiated as treaties, and transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent as required by the Constitution. The United States will withdraw from all agreements and arrangements failing those standards.

NB: Bye bye IGAs

Please see Professor Allison Christians excellent paper The Dubious Legal Pedigree of IGAs (and Why it Matters)

 
Internal Revenue Service p 27

We also support making the federal tax code so simple and easy to understand that the IRS becomes obsolete and can be abolished.

NB: Bye bye OVDP, Streamlined, threats of penalties etc
 
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Here are three more direct sources of the Republican positions. I will probably do the same with these as above. But the more the merrier!

Resolution Supporting Residence Based Taxation

Resolution toRepeal the Foreign AccountTaxCompliance Act

A proposed RNC Resolution titled — Resolution to Repeal the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compiled by Republicans Overseas.

 

Republicans Overseas July 5, 2016 Appeal of U.S. FATCA Lawsuit Dismissal

 
 

cross-posted from: Isaac Brock Society

by Stephen J. Kish

The Plaintiffs (of which I am one of seven) of the Republicans Overseas United States FATCA lawsuit, filed, on July 5, 2016 in U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a “Brief” arguing that the U.S. District Court erred in dismissing the FATCA lawsuit.

We are suing: United States Department of the Treasury, United States Internal Revenue Service, and United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. SEE THE BRIEF.

“The district court held that no Plaintiff has standing for any of the eight counts (Dismissal Order, RE 42), even with added plaintiffs and facts in the proposed Amended Complaint (RE 32-1).”

“Preliminarily, note that while the Government asserts interests in fighting tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorism, Plaintiffs are ordinary people abroad seeking freedom from serious harms from challenged provisions and IGAs. Plaintiffs are not alone. An extensive, careful survey,[from Democrats Abroad…]”

“The Government has other, successful tools to catch scofflaws without the unconstitutional, intrusive, bulk-data-collection approach of the challenged provisions and IGAs that so harm ordinary Americans.”

“Taxpayer information was recently stolen from the IRS itself because the IRS has not prevented hacking of its own systems and theft of taxpayer information.”

“Thus, people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy from the U.S. and foreign governments in their bank accounts under the situations at issue here. They reasonably do not expect the bulk, blanket reporting of information under challenged provisions and IGAs, including to foreign governments, without any hint of wrongdoing and without judicial oversight, the lack of which makes such searches “per se unreasonable.”18 So Plaintiffs have a cognizable privacy interest.”

“…Plaintiffs rely on no third-party standing, though they provide information about relevant third parties to demonstrate how FATCA negatively affects their lives and relationships. Rather, they rely on their own interests, especially the constitutionally protected interest in not disclosing information they do not want to disclose.”

“The district court said that because Plaintiffs harms, particularly problems in getting banking services for essential everyday-living accounts,20 are not fairly traceable to government action, Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge provisions motivating FFIs not to provide services to Americans abroad….So the argument is not that, e.g., the IRS persuaded some bank to deny services to Plaintiffs Crawford or Kuettel, but that FFIs don’t accept Americans’ accounts because of FATCA/IGA burdens. Where a provision/agreement harms a person by causing FFIs to deny services (or by disrupting marital joint accounts or the ability to open an account in a minor’s name), that harm is fairly traceable to the government responsible for the provision/agreement.”

“The law on causation for standing recognizes such indirect harm. For example, Plaintiffs affected by FATCA/IGAs have standing for the reasons stated regarding Count 1 because the FFI Passthrough Penalty is designed to punish noncompliance by account holders. And Plaintiffs would like to be noncompliant because they are burdened by FATCA/IGAs, which they believe are unconstitutional, but cannot be recalcitrant because of the Passthrough Penalty.”

“Furthermore, Plaintiffs alleged that they reasonably fear that they will be subject to the Willfulness Penalty for willful failure to file FBARs, indicating that they are filing FBARs. The FBAR report is a trap for the unprepared, uninformed, unwary, imposing this excessive penalty on those who know of the report but for some reason fail to get it done.”

“Moreover, Plaintiffs’ harms will be redressed by requested relief as to this Count. See Part I.C. Any notion that they must await a penalty or enforcement action is erroneous because one need not await enforcement to challenge unconstitutional provisions/agreements. And Plaintiffs would not file FBAR reports—and so become subject to this penalty—but for the challenged provision. So Plaintiffs have standing for Count 6…”