Wisdom of “Three Monkeys” explain why: Although there is little support for “citizenship-based taxation” repeal is difficult

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions


 
 
 
 
 

by John Richardson

Wisdom of “Three Monkeys” explain why: Although there is little support for “citizenship-based taxation” repeal is difficult

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The uniquely American practice of “imposing direct taxation on the citizen/residents of other nations” (“citizenship-based taxation”) has NO identifiable group of supporters (with the exception of a few academics who have never experienced it and do not understand it).

The Uniquely American practice of imposing direct taxation on the citizen/residents of other nations has large numbers of opponents (every person and/or entity affected by it). In addition to the submissions of Jackie Bugnion, “American Citizens Abroad“, “Democrats Abroad“, Bernard Schneider there is significant opposition found in the submissions of a large number of individuals. It is highly probable that the submissions come from those who are attempting compliance with the U.S. tax system.

The “imposition of direct taxation” on the “citizen/residents of other nations” evolved from “citizenship-based taxation”. “Citizenship-based taxation” was originally conceived as a “punishment” for those who attempted to leave the United States and avoid the Civil War. I repeat, it’s origins are rooted in PUNISHMENT and PENALTY and not as sound tax policy.

In 1924, the U.S. Supreme Court in Cook v. Tait upheld the U.S. practice of “citizenship-based taxation”. This means only that (assuming the validity of the decision almost 100 years later), the U.S. has the right to impose “punishment and penalty” (Justice McKenna actually said that “government by its very nature benefits its citizens”) in the form of “citizenship-based taxation”. This does NOT mean it’s a good idea to do so. Cook v. Tait should be considered in terms of (1) the evolution of citizenship and (2) the evolution of taxation.

The United States has (at least in theory) been imposing direct taxation on Americans abroad (who are mostly the citizen/residents of other
countries) for over 100 years. During this period, there has been no serious discussion about ending this unfair and destructive practice.
See the following article in the New York Times (from the Titanic era) – March 7, 1914.

NYT
March 1914

The United States has “gotten away with this” for so long because there was no attempt to inform about or enforce it until the election of Barack Obama. The Obama era will be remembered for FATCA and the attempt to enforce “citizenship-based taxation”. U.S.
“citizenship-based taxation” is now being used to attack the sovereignty of other countries and transfer capital from those countries to the United States.

Because few knew about “citizenship-based” taxation, there was historically very low compliance and little or no attempt at IRS enforcement, on “nonresident Americans”.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that there is still low compliance and few attempts at IRS enforcement on “nonresident Americans”.

Why is it so difficult to get this horrible law (that is damaging to everybody except members of the “tax compliance” industry) repealed?

The wisdom of “The Three Monkeys” explains why.

“See no evil”: Few people even know about U.S.
“citizenship-based taxation”. What you can’t see you can’t know.

1. Almost NOBODY (including – some but not all – U.S. based tax
professionals) even knows that the U.S. imposes taxation based U.S.
citizenship (which is conferred by a U.S. place of birth”). It is simply unknown to the overwhelmingly majority of Americans (how could their country do something as stupid as this?). For a country where citizens are defined primarily as taxpayers (“taxation-based citizenship”), there is little attempt to educate the masses.

2. Citizenship-based taxation is NOT explicitly required anywhere in the Internal Revenue Code. It’s true. The Internal Revenue Code mandates taxing “individuals”
and taxing “nonresident aliens”
(“nonresident aliens on U.S.
source income only). (This suggests that “nonresidents” are NOT required to pay tax to the USA.) It is ONLY through “Treasury regulation”, that “individual” is defined as “citizen or resident”. I kid you not. Read the Internal Revenue Code yourself.

3. Those who do know that the U.S. imposes taxation based on “citizenship” often, equate “citizenship” with “residency”. They think
that:

“citizens are residents” and that “residents are citizens”

On April 26, 2017 at the FATCA hearings in Washington, D.C., Representative Connolly said:

“All countries tax their citizens” when he really meant “All countries tax their residents”.

In other words, the U.S. population and Congress actually believe the United States has “residence-based taxation”! Well, everybody knows that “U.S. residents” are subject to U.S. taxation. But few know (and it would never occur to them), that U.S. citizens who establish residence in another country, are still required to pay taxes to the United States!

“Hear no evil”: Those who know about “citizenship-based taxation” don’t know how CBT actually operates – by subjecting people who live in a “foreign country” to the Internal Revenue Code – as though they live in the United States.

4. “Citizenship-based taxation” is discussed ONLY by academics. I have yet to see A SINGLE paper written by a U.S. based “academic” who understands or even mentions the “Alphabet Soup” list of problems faced by Americans abroad which include: FBAR, FATCA, CBT, PFIC, CFC and Forms 5471, 8621, 8938, 3520/3520A, etc. At most they have some “vague idea” that “citizenship” should include the requirement to pay U.S.
taxes. They do NOT discuss this issue in practical terms that hint at what it really means.

In other words: Those who know of or advocate citizenship-based taxation simply do not understand the problems that it causes.

5. Those who support or tolerate “citizenship-based taxation”, see the problem in terms of Americans leaving the United States (if they have the “wherewithall”) and NOT as Americans leaving the United States and then having becoming subject to BOTH the U.S. tax system and the tax system of their country of residence. In many cases they don’t even seem to understand that all countries require you to pay tax if you live there! In other words, they see this as a “mobility issue” and NOT as “trying to live your life issue outside the USA issue”.

(This is why it is ESSENTIAL that this deplorable state of affairs NOT be described as “citizenship-based, taxation” but be described as “taxing the residents of other
countries
!)

6. “Expatriate taxation” is a narrow and highly specialized area of practice. It is complex and has a long “learning curve”. It is therefore not surprising that many U.S. based tax professionals do NOT understand its practical implications. Many of them do not have the skills to inform and advise Americans abroad.

“Speak no evil”: It is almost impossible to get anybody to “listen to” and “speak about” the problem. It is hard to get the attention of Congress

7. Those impacted by CBT (“Homelanders abroad” and the “citizen/residents” of other nations) do not have political representation in the United States. (Of course it is questionable whether Homeland Americans have political representation either. Such is the reality of a two-party system that dominates the political process.) For the most part, legislative change in the USA is accomplished ONLY through “lobbying” and “money”.

Bottom line – U.S. legislators fall into two
categories:

First, those who don’t know what CBT is – that the U.S.
is imposing taxation on “Homelanders abroad” and the “citizen/residents of other countries”; and

Second, those who are not “paid to care” whether the U.S. is imposing taxation on “Homelanders abroad” and the “citizen/residents of other countries”.

8. The U.S. political system makes it difficult to pass any law. This means that it is both hard to pass new laws and hard to get rid of old bad laws.

9. Congress and Treasury are completely indifferent to “Homelanders abroad” and the “citizen/residents” of other countries. (Indifference being one of the worst forms of abuse.) Therefore, when Congress makes a law or Treasury makes a regulation there is NO consideration given to the effects on persons outside the United States. This indifference would be reasonable if U.S. tax laws did NOT have “extra-territorial application”. But, the indifference is unreasonable when U.S. tax laws do have “extra-territorial application”.

10. The “tax compliance community” is uniquely positioned to advocate for the repeal of “citizenship-based taxation”. Yet it does not do so.
(The repeal of “citizenship-based taxation” would hurt their business
interests.) I am not aware of any tax professionals who have or are actively lobbying for (not even letters to House Ways and Means in 2013 and Senate Finance in 2015) for a move to “residence-based taxation”.

Perhaps “clients” should pressure their “tax professionals” to lobby (either individually and/or through their professional associations) for the repeal of U.S. “extra-territorial taxation”.

Is a Congressional change in the law really needed?

11. The Internal Revenue Code authorizes and requires a large number of Treasury Regulations. I believe it is possible for Treasury to end “citizenship-based taxation” by simple regulation.

Meanwhile the only rational response to this deplorable state of affairs is captured in the thought that:

All roads lead to renunciation!

John Richardson

Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!

 

cross posted from Association of Américains Accidentels

Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!

The “Association of Américains Accidentels” (Accidental Americans Association) is a legally formed entity under the French law of 1901.

Its aim is to defend and protect Franco-American binationals against the nefarious effects of FATCA. The consequences of this Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) between France and the United States have been manyfold and tragic for binational citizens: French banks have refused to open accounts or have closed them, payments of inheritances have been suspended, insurance policies and mortgages have been cancelled among other bureaucratic hassles binationals have had to endure. This has resulted in feelings of great anxiety, anger as well as the feeling that French Authorities has abandoned them to their fate.

The Association has two goals: First, to seek legal opinions in French, European and International law to defeat FATCA in France or better yet in the European Union altogether and secondly to undertake the necessary judicial actions to exclude binationals from the FATCA IGA’s once and for all. Preliminary conversations with highly qualified lawyers have been promising and we think that there may be solid legal grounds to achieve this goal whether at the French or European Union level or both. But legal opinions by good lawyers are not free.

To this end we have started a fund raising drive and we need you.

In advance, many thanks for your help and Let’s Unite to Defeat FATCA!


 

Fabien Lehagre
Président de l’Association des Américains Accidentels (AAA)

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Published on Jun 6, 2017
1ère réunion de l’Association des Américains Accidentels le 29 avril 2017 à Gourin (56).
Les Américains « accidentels » ont répondu à l’appel de Fabien Lehagre qui a lancé son collectif qui regroupe ces Franco-Américains, nés sur le sol français d’au moins un parent américain ou nés sur le sol américain d’au moins un parent français. Les États-Unis, ils n’y ont passé que quelques semaines ou quelques années d’enfance…
Et pourtant, depuis 2014, le fisc américain leur court après. Depuis que la France a signé avec les États-Unis l’accord Fatca, qui oblige les banques françaises à transmettre les informations bancaires de leur client présentant un « indice d’américanité » à l’IRS, le fisc américain.
Depuis, ces Américains Accidentels subissent une effroyable injustice…

All the Side Effects of being a “covered expatriate” Green Card Holder

 

reposted from CitizenshipTaxation FB Group
 

Gary Clueit:

As a long-term GC holder with no way to escape “covered expatriate” status, the article doesn’t really cover all the insidious side-effects. For example, determining the $2M net worth threshold does not cover any assets you might have had before moving to the US, or assets due to bequests from relatives that have never set foot in the US. Even after paying the exit tax on the “deemed sale” of everything you own worldwide, you will have to pay actual capital gains when you do actually sell. And every penny of any bequest or gift you make to someone resident in the US (i.e. a child or grandchild, even if they are not US citizens) is then further taxed at 40% (that they have to pay) with no limit. So, for example, if your net worth is $2.5M on the date of expatriation (i.e. covered expat), you pay the exit tax. Say your wealth increases to $250M AFTER you leave the US – if your heirs live in the US (again, whether citizens or not) and you leave that wealth to them, the entire $250M estate will be taxable to them at 40% regardless of the fact that 99% of your wealth at the time of death was created outside the US.
Even if GC holders decide to stay in the US, they are perpetually screwed. Besides never being allowed to vote (not really an issue since one never desired to be a citizen), though they are still expected to pay taxes on worldwide income. The worst comes at death:
US citizen spouses can transfer or gift an unlimited amount between each other. If you are the spouse of a GC holder the maximum transfer is $149,000 annually.
Upon death, a citizen can leave an unlimited amount to their spouse. If your spouse is a GC holder, the max is just over $5M. If you spouse is a nonresident alien, the maximum is $60,000. Amounts above that are subject to 40% estate tax.
There is also the possibility of being caught up in double estate tax issues when you die.
This is the ultimate in taxation without representation – one of the founding principles behind the creation of the US. Tea parties were held!

Is an American a Piece of Property?

 
 
I originally wrote this piece over a year ago. It comes to mind when considering the hideous practice of citizenship-based taxation. No other country on earth practices this archaic concept and without a doubt, the enforcement of #CBT since 2008 and onward, most definitely has resulted in the new movement of renunciation of American citizenship.

Recent discussions with a friend have me wondering whether Americans abroad are indeed the “property” of the US government. At first I considered this a bit exaggerated but am coming to appreciate that there is a great deal of truth in it. Perhaps reflecting a bit on the past might provide valuable insight on how we might approach this ongoing, changing situation. The idea that a human being could be considered “property” is initially strange to me. The only obvious parallel would be that of being a slave. In spite of growing up in a somewhat racially-tense city, I was largely unaware that the very foundation of the U.S. included slavery. I was 10 years old in 1965 when the riots in Watts occurred. Two years later, there were 159 riots during the “Long Hot Summer of 1967. The next year, following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, more riots. By then I was 13 and able to understand some of the reasons: poor schools, lack of employment, overcrowding in filthy ghettos, pollution, discrimination by police, etc. MLK described it as “humiliation for decades, for centuries.” Along with the other assassinations, Vietnam, etc, it did not yet occur to me that the problem was rooted in a very underlying hypocrisy. In spite of the U.S. being the “Land of the Free and the “American Dream” supposedly available to all, the fact was the U.S. was a place where gross abuse of human “rights” was visible in daily life as long as I had been alive.

There are some interesting CBC Radio “Massey Lectures” given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr that John Richardson wrote about recently on the ADCS wordpress site. As I listened, I was struck by the fact that intellectually, it was obvious enough that “rights” had been violated in a perverse way for so long. But I was more horrified by the immorality of it. I was much too young to really appreciate what he was and am overwhelmed by his intelligence, clarity and devotion to non-violence. The issue of race in America is clearly an ethical issue, no doubt about it. One could go on and on about social, economic and other mitigating factors but at its root, the problem truly is that one group of human beings is denied the basic respect, dignity and consideration others receive due to discrimination of what they are from birth. The recent incidents in Ferguson, Cleveland and other cities show not much has changed in the last 50 years.

I was taught that America was born due to the brave actions of those who left England because of persecution due to religious beliefs; later attempts to tax the colonists who had no representation in the parliament etc. In recent years, having learned my ancestral roots, I have been proud of the fact that my family has played an integral role in that beginning. Yet at the same time, for the last three years, experience of the treatment at the hands of the US government definitely casts a different light on it. Americans abroad (and even people who are not truly “American”) are not given the same respect as those who live in the Homeland. What’s at the root of this? Does the U.S. view us as if they “own” us? Are we their property and are we not free to leave the country? We may be able to buy our way out but fundamentally, what difference is there between that and a slave from the past doing the same? In the modern world there is a tendency to minimalize emotional or mental suffering as if it is not valid since it is not as severe as say, physical torture. That may be true to a certain degree yet I fail to see how that removes the immoral forces that can be responsible for both. In fact, the only way to see it may be to draw parallels between them.
Continue reading “Is an American a Piece of Property?”