John will also be doing information sessions in Sydney (Nov 1) and Auckland (Oct 31). See details and email the address given to register.
A series of information sessions (some formal presentations and some informal discussions); for information concerning the content of the programs please see here.
John Richardson is a Toronto citizenship lawyer, the co-chairman of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty as well as the Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation. He is a member of the ACA Taxation Advisory Panel. He holds the degrees of B.A., LL.B., and J.D. He is a member of the Massachusetts, New York and Ontario bars. His law practice focuses on “Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship” including relinquishing and the “Exit Tax”. He gives programs for expats (and Green Card holders) all across Canada and Europe. He writes extensively at citizenshipsolutions.ca.
Bangalore, India – October 22
Brisbane, Australia – October 25
with Karen Alpert
THU, OCT 25 AT 7 PM UTC+10
Information session – Brisbane
12 Payne St, Auchenflower QLD 4066, Australia
Karen Alpert founded the website Let’s Fix the Australia/US Tax Treaty and its associated Facebook group. The purpose of the group is to lobby and educate the Australian government regarding the impact of extraterritorial US laws on Australian citizens and residents and the cost to Australia of surrendering its sovereignty in these matters. Karen has a Ph.D. (UQ, Finance) and lectures in Finance at the University of Queensland.
Auckland, New Zealand – October 31
Sydney, Australia – November 1
Thursday, November 1
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The Rex Centre – Baroda Room
58A Macleay Street
Entrance near Baroda Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
Cost: Free, but preregistration is required for all sessions except the October 25 session in Brisbane (where you can just appear)
Registration: please send an email to: citizenshipsessions at citizenshipsolutions.ca or nobledreamer16 at gmail.com
- Kings Cross train station is within walking distance.
- Bus route 311 stops on Macleay Street, near Orwell Street.
- Bus routes 323, 324, 325, 326 and 327 stop on Bayswater Road, near Darlinghurst Road.
- Limited on-street parking.
- Kings Cross parking station is nearby.
Dubai, UAE – November 4
Limassol, Cyprus – November 7
Information presented is NOT intended or offered as legal or accounting advice specific to your situation.
According to an article by Michael Cohn in Accounting Today, a multi-lateral tax enforcement group has been formed. TThe Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (or J5 for short), intend to “collaborate in fighting international and transnational tax crimes and money laundering.”
U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Netherlands form international tax enforcement group https://t.co/x3bX03Ardw Enough Already! We've got Treaties, #FATCA , #CRS When will it end? pic.twitter.com/4DRrjKSVhg
— Citizenship Taxation (@CitizenshipTax) July 1, 2018
Membership of the J5 includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the U.K., the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).
Leaders of the group met Thursday in Montreal to formulate their plans. The J5 plans to work together to gather and share information and intelligence, as well as conduct operations and build capacity for tax crime enforcement officials. Areas of focus include cybercrime and cryptocurrency, data analytics, and enablers and facilitators of tax crimes. The alliance will concentrate on building international enforcement capacity, as well as enhancing operational capability by piloting new approaches and conducting joint operations, to bring perpetrators who enable and facilitate offshore tax crime to justice
While it sounds like the planned operations will be aimed at bigger fish, what will be interesting to see is how Canada and the Netherlands proceed. Both countries have Mutual Collection Assistance provisions in their tax treaties with the U.S. (as do France, Sweden and Denmark) that indicate they will not collect from their own citizens if they were citizens when the tax was incurred. And of course, in the case of Canada, no collection of FBAR penalties. Unless I misunderstand, it sounds like the J5 intend to move into enforcement, which sounds like collection to me.
It appears that in addition to provisions in any number of DTA’s, we now have several “information exchange” programs/policies/statutes such as Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (#FATCA) , the Common Reporting Standard (#)CRS and the OECD’s CONVENTION ON MUTUAL ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE IN TAX MATTERS . It is difficult enough to read ONE treaty and comprehend what is covered. How is one to evaluate ALL of the aspects that are touched upon by these different programs?
Up to now the one principle that protected one from extraterritorial collection was the revenue rule. A
paper I came across years ago (dated 2004) by Professor Vern Krishna was already predicting the fall of the “revenue rule.” This paper was written a few months after the U.S. passed the American Jobs Creation Act, (see page 154 from link) while removing the issue of intent* to avoid paying tax when renouncing, also created the notion of “tax citizenship.” When relinquishing or renouncing, the requirements of notifying the State Department and filing information with the IRS were added to the process. Four years away from the H.E.A.R.T. Act (the Exit Tax 877A) and 6 years from
H.I.R.E. Act ( FATCA).
In tax law, absent special enforcement treaties, sovereign countries do not enforce the revenue laws
of other countries (the “revenue rule”).
To overcome this rule, many countries negotiate bilateral treaties for information disclosure and
mutual enforcement assistance to counter tax evasion.
In theory, the common law revenue rule reflects the principle that a country has exclusive
sovereignty over its tax policy. However, Lord Mansfield’s rule has limited scope in a world of
increasing regulatory supervision and information exchange between countries on money
laundering and terrorism financing.
The traditional rule that a country will not enforce the revenue laws of another country
and that no country is under an obligation to disclose financial information to foreign governments is very much on its way to extinction.
What do you think? Will all these actions eventually result in a system where there are no privacy laws concerning one’s finances, every bloody dime one earns will be owed to someone as tax?
*removed the intent issue of renouncing for tax purposes by establishing 3 tests (income, asset, certification of tax compliance for 5 years on form 8854) to determine
I was very surprised to receive the following email on Friday evening. I cannot recall ever getting anything like this before. I will not identify the author because it is not proper to publicly share an email without the permission of the sender. It is not anyone I have ever heard of before and I doubt any of you have either. It took me a while to decide if I would answer or not. I tried to put my reaction aside after all, why be surprised that a tax compliance professional would demonstrate so little awareness outside of his/her experience. In the end, I simply could not ignore how I felt. I replied and have decided to publish the email without naming its author and my response.
I wish I had pointed out to this person that technically, due to the Canadian IGA (or likely any Model I agreement), that there are no harsh penalties that have been implemented. A professional who is truly conversant with this situation should have stated this better. Does such a statement show a conscious attempt to confuse the expat, assuming penalties from FBAR, OVDP etc will come to mind? Could it be a reference to the idea that Form 8938 is a harsh penalty all on it’s own? (As a matter of torture, most definitely….) Or is the practitioner just sloppy? (Maybe we could get this person to rule on all the “plain language” misapplications we hear of….retroactive 877A, anyone?).
I also wish I had challenged the statement that “the program is working.” There is nothing to suggest that the majority of non-resident (or resident, for that matter) Americans have become compliant. The numbers quoted in the statistics for the OVDP are nowhere near 9 million and we know some of those who came forward are Homelanders. For some interesting figures regarding compliance please see Professor William Byrnes’ “Is FATCA Much Ado About Nothing“? . Prof. Byrnes states “The IRS War on the FBAR is simply not working.” (“The IRS received 807,040
FUBARS FBARs in 2012; compliance with FBAR filing appears to be declining.”) Every tax compliance professional should be required to read this report. It would go a long way in curtailing the inflammatory language we experience, intended to confuse & frighten and assumes we are all idiots.
I also should have challenged the nonsense about ICE not allowing visas of former citizens being allowed to enter the U.S. This amounts to the usual threat of the Reed Amendment. Does ICE have the power to override the State Department?
I am simply astonished at the arrogance of this person. What to say of the obvious limited exposure of such an “expert.” (I have never heard anyone suggest that there are bank problems in Canada). Mentioning OVDP and not Streamlined. Who on earth does this person think he/she is?
My USC/resident-CPA sister strongly suggests I complain to the appropriate accountancy board.
And the unmitigated gall of implying I should send clients………good gawd………
(emphases are mine)
If this is the Patricia Moon who has given up her US citizenship because of FATCA, then this is for you. I have seen your “protests” regarding FATCA and filing US tax returns. You stated that you were delinquent in your filings, and that you caught yourself up and then renounced your citizenship.
You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented. I have been practicing in the international tax area, specializing in US expatriates, for over 31 years. I am the chairman of a state CPA Society’s International Tax Committee, and have an international reputation in this area. Over my 31 years’ time I have prepared and/or reviewed several thousand tax return. I have seen dozens of people such as yourself , people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen, while failing to fulfill the obligations that come with citizenship – namely filing a US tax return and paying any tax due. One cannot enjoy the benefits of American citizenship without complying with the responsibilities.
Since FATCA has been implemented, there have been citizens such as yourself who have renounced their citizenship. I understand from a couple of US Customs & Immigration attorneys that I work with that ICE often won’t allow visas to come back to the US, sometimes even for vacations, to former US citizens. However, a much larger number of persons have come forward and are now filing tax returns and complying with the responsibilities of being a US citizen.
So the law has worked. It is accomplishing its intended goals. I personally have worked with several formerly noncompliant individuals to “get them legal” through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.
Staying legal is not a difficult process. It requires filing a US tax return every year. Often there is no tax due from it, as the foreign tax credits and the foreign earned income exclusion will reduce or eliminate the tax on all but US-sourced income.
Giving up citizenship is a drastic step when compliance is so easy. It is like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail.
And, from my experience, most larger banks WILL continue to work with Americans abroad. Very few are closing American accounts. In Canada, for example, I know that BMO Harris actually promotes accounts for Americans. I have several clients in Canada who bank with them. RBS Bank, Banque Scotia, TD Mortgage Corporation, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and many others.
Just my thoughts. Feel free to give my name to any individual who wants to become legal, but does not want to go to the extreme that you did.
Your email is extremely offensive and demonstrates that you understand this situation from one point of view and one only.
Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that the large majority of expats living outside the US for decades were simply unaware of any requirement to file taxes and information returns. The U.S. made no attempts to educate or notify people of these requirements. Surely you have known people who were “non-willful.” I certainly hope you did not put any persons such as these in the OVDP/OVDI.
Your comment “You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented” is curious, given I did not owe any tax. I was a stay-at-home mother with an annual income that never exceeded $11,000 CAD from doing the books for my husband’s company. An annuity inherited from my parents was transferred at a later time and I most certainly paid the tax that was due.
As to “I have seen dozens of people such as yourself, people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen….”
- I had not lived in the United States for thirty years and was/am a law-abiding, tax compliant citizen/resident of Canada
- I was not “enjoying the benefits of being an American citizen”
- If you are referring to having the right of return, there is nothing particularly unique there; the majority of countries on earth allow their citizens to return
- And I certainly am in no need of the Marines coming to save me in Canada (a “benefit” that one would have to pay for, were it even relevant to those living in first-world countries).
If by “benefit” you mean having access to “the greatest country on earth” I will tell you that a component of renouncing involved my observations about Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, the assassination of American citizens by drone without due process and other actions that frankly made me ashamed to have ever been an American citizen. In other words, your assertion that my renunciation was “like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail” simply does not cover all that was involved. Not the least of which, was my Canadian family and how they felt about the effect of U.S. policy on their lives. My husband resented any account information being turned over to FINCEN (given the fact it was his money)and it was a huge issue in the marriage.
I have remained active in this movement having renounced over 6 years ago. I don’t gain anything personally by volunteering a huge portion of my life to this. I am fully conversant with what is required regarding compliance. It is not always simple and it is very expensive. You fail to mention facts such as:
- the U.S. would expect capital gains tax on the sale of our personal residence for a gain greater than $250k
- the U.S. treatment of Canadian mutual funds as PFICs is particularly punitive and would require 8621 every year
- the U.S. insistence that my country’s tax-deferred vehicles designed to help save for education, disability and non-RRSP uses are foreign trusts requiring 3520 and 3520A every year; all of these plans mirror similar programs in the US (529s, ABLE and Roth IRAs)
- had I been signed on my husband’s company (I wasn’t) we could have found ourselves subject to an annual 5471 and the particularly abusive Transition Tax
I personally have no desire whatsoever to go to the United States. I don’t care what CBP and ICE do. It doesn’t frighten me at all. A Canadian does not need a visa to visit the U.S. anyway.
None of us have ever claimed that obtaining bank accounts or mortgages is difficult in Canada. This is a situation that primarily affects Europeans and it is very, very real. I know many people who have been severely impacted by it. It was perversely disingenuous for Judge Rose claim in the Bopp FATCA ruling, that this was not due to FATCA but to independent action of the banks.
Over the years I have encountered many people such as yourself, who seem to think they are entitled to inflict their opinions and judgments about character based upon presumptions made about U.S. expectations. I wonder if it could ever occur to you that there are other places and people in the world who do not base the value of their existence upon opinions such as you have expressed. I find it difficult to believe you would end asking me to send you clients. I trust this will be the end of any communication.
cross posted from Quora
If I have an American citizenship, am I stuck paying taxes to them for life unless I get rid of the citizenship? How do you get rid of the citizenship?
U.S. Citizens are subject to extreme regulation wherever they live in the world…
— John Richardson – Citizenship Lawyer (@ExpatriationLaw) January 3, 2018
U.S. AKA American citizenship is very different from all other citizenships in the world. It is a difficult citizenship to maintain if you do NOT actually live in the United States. The reason is that the United States is the only (I am not counting Eritrea) country that requires ALL if its citizens to abide by the rules in the Internal Revenue Code, regardless of where they live in the world. I note that some of the answers to this question confirm that U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. taxation whether they live in the United States or not. Although U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. taxation regardless of where they live in the world, the requirements in the Internal Revenue Code are about much more than taxation. Here are some ways that the Internal Revenue Code imposes requirements that are not specifically about taxation:
- The requirements of the Internal Revenue Code also include a very large number of “penalty laden” reporting requirements. (A U.S. citizen resident in Canada was recently fined $120,000 by the IRS for failing to disclose that he was running a small consulting business through a Canadian corporation.) Furthermore, although this requirement is found in the Bank Secrecy Act and not the Internal Revenue Code, U.S. citizens living outside the United States are required to report their “local” bank accounts (including those shared by a non-U.S. spouse) to the Financial Crimes Division of U.S. Treasury (FinCEN).
- The rules of the a “foreign” mutual fund and subject to punitive (in some cases the gains could be taxed at rates approaching 100% of the gains).
- The rules of the Internal Revenue Code treat “non-U.S. citizen” spouses differently from U.S. citizen spouses. Although not specifically stated the effects of this differential treatment appears to assume that a spouse who is NOT a U.S. citizen exists only at best as an opportunity for money to leave the U.S. financial system and at worst a form of tax evasion.
I could go on, but you get the point. The Internal Revenue is NOT only about taxation. It is about enforcing life and investment choices (and ultimately U.S. cultural values) that do NOT recognize that U.S. citizens living in other countries also have tax obligations to those other countries. The effect of (1) being subject to the restrictions imposed by the Internal Revenue Code and (2) being subject to taxation in their country of residence.
How is U.S. citizenship obtained …
One can become a U.S. citizen by either “birth” (either born in the USA or in certain cases born to a U.S. citizen outside the United States) or by “naturalization” (a choice made after birth). Most countries do NOT confer citizenship simply by virtue of birth in the country.
Interestingly, the United States is the ONLY country that both:
Imposes citizenship because one was born in the United States; and
Imposes a comprehensive tax code based on citizenship.
Therefore, those born in the United States are required to obey ALL the rules of the Internal Revenue Code (whether based directly on taxation or reporting …) for life.
In a Global World, there are many U.S. citizens who are citizen/residents of other countries …
The big problem is that under the guise of “citizenship-based taxation” the United States is imposing full taxation (and the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code) on people who are citizens and tax paying residents of other countries. Think of it! For more discussion of this issues see:
Why is the United States imposing full U.S. taxation on the Canadian incomes of Canadian citizens living in Canada?
But, there are actually two kinds of U.S. citizenship and ALL U.S. citizens are “dual citizens” …
The first kind of U.S. citizenship is citizenship for the purposes of nationality. This is the what most people understand citizenship to be. This is what is meant when one enters a country with a passport. U.S. citizenship for nationality purposes gives one the right to “enter the United States”, to live in the United States, to vote in the United States, etc.
The second type of U.S. citizenship (first created in 2004) is citizenship for the purposes of the Internal Revenue Code. Let’s call this “tax citizenship” which means that you are considered to be subject to regulation and taxation by the Internal Revenue Code. Significantly one can cease to be a U.S. citizen for the purposes of “nationality” (no right to live and work in the United States), but still be a U.S. citizen “tax citizen” meaning that you are still subject to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. (This is a very difficult situation to be in. Incidentally Green Card holders have exactly the same kind of problem. They can lose their right to live in the USA but still be subject to the rules in the Internal Revenue Code.)
Relinquishing both kinds of U.S. citizenship – breaking the bonds of nationality and the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code …
Since June 16, 2008 (there was a different set of rules prior to that date) a “Certificate of Loss of Nationality” (“CLN”) is required to cease to be both a U.S. citizen for the purposes of “nationality” and for the purposes of “taxation”. A CLN is acquired by either formally renouncing U.S. citizenship or by applying to the State Department for a (“CLN”) based on another kind of relinquishing act. Here is a blog post that I wrote about that describes the issue in a general way:
Renunciation is one form of relinquishment – It’s not the form of relinquishment, but the time of relinquishment
Are U.S. citizens renouncing U.S. citizenship to avoid the payment of U.S. taxes?
Few people renounce U.S. citizenship because of taxes. Most people who renounce are residents of other countries and subject to the tax systems of those countries. They renounce bc the Internal Revenue Code prohibits them from financial planning in their country of residence.
— John Richardson – Citizenship Lawyer (@ExpatriationLaw) January 8, 2018
In my experience no. Because of various tax mitigation rules (foreign tax credits and foreign earned income exclusion) many U.S. citizens abroad do NOT owe U.S. taxes. In fact very few of the people who I assist with renunciation owe U.S. taxes. Therefore, the notion that people renounce U.S. citizenship to avoid U.S. taxes is a a myth. As Ted Sorenson wrote for President Kennedy:
“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
People do renounce U.S. citizenship to escape the regulatory aspects of the Internal Revenue Code that make it very difficult to live productive lives outside the United States
Caution!!! Caution!! – Since June 16, 2008 relinquishing U.S. citizenship may subject you to the draconian Exit Tax rules found in S. 877A of the Internal Revenue Code!!!
Anybody contemplating relinquishing U.S. citizenship needs to be cautious. You need to understand what the possible U.S tax implications of renlinquishing/renouncing U.S. citizenship would be FOR YOU with YOUR SPECIFIC tax and FINANCIAL PROFILE. This is NOT a “one size fits all” kind of exercise. To learn how the S. 877A Exit Tax rules work see:
Renouncing US citizenship? How the S. 877A “Exit Tax” may apply to your Canadian assets – 25 Parts
Do you have to be compliant with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code to relinquish/renounce U.S. citizenship?
The answer is NO YOU DO NOT! But, a failure to be compliant with the rules in the Internal Revenue Code for each of the five years prior to renouncing/relinquishing would make you subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax rules.
In closing …
As you might have guessed, I spend a significant part of my professional life helping people terminate their relationship to the United States (both citizens and Green Card holders). I have written this detailed answer to correct a lot of the incorrect information found in various sources. That said:
Under NO circumstances should this answer construed to be legal advice or any other kind of advice. Furthermore, laws are subject to change and you should NOT assume that the information I have given is even correct. You should NOT relay on this answer and absolutely should seek a competent advisor who will help you understand your situation and come to an appropriate decision for you.
Citizenship Counselling For U.S. Citizens in Canada and Abroad
About the Author John Richardson
Toronto citizenship lawyer: FATCA U.S. tax + renunciation of citizenship
B.A., LL.B., J.D. (Of the bars of Ontario, New York and Massachusetts)
Co-chair of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty and the
It appears that we are very likely at a breaking point in this intolerable situation faced by expatriates as regards U.S. application of citizenship-based taxation. Tax reform does not happen often. It is critical that relief for expats occur in the current legislation. Many of us simply will not be around in 30 years for the next shift. It will be completely unacceptable if there is no transition (at the very least) to territorial taxation for individuals. Some people may be forced at this point to renounce if only to put a stop on future tax liability. Some will not choose to become compliant simply because it is expensive, they have no ties to the U.S., no intent to go there, etc.
In addition, there is a very dangerous aspect (the “transition tax”) that appears in both the House and Senate bills; it is arguable that it does NOT apply to small corporations owned by US citizens residing outside the United States. The biggest danger here, is that it may remain unclear. We have seen what has happened in a number of situations when this is the case. Some examples are:
1) People who relinquished citizenship decades ago (and who do not have a CLN) have been told they are still U.S citizens. Not by the State Department, not even by the IRS. And not even by the banks per sé. It is the position of many members of the tax compliance community. This is completely unacceptable and no expat should accept such a conclusion without investigating the citizenship aspects of the situation.
2) Accidentals have been told the same thing; they are Americans and must become tax compliant. Again, not directly by the US government (as in “coming after them) but by members of the tax compliance community. This is also unacceptable and no one should become compliant without a complete examination of whether it is in his/her best interests (or not).
3) People who did NOT belong in the OVDP/OVDI programs were put there by tax professionals with hideous and tragic results. The law says one has to file, nowhere does the law say one had to enter one of those programs. If anybody should have known that, it would be the tax compliance community.
4)The IRS has not given a ruling on whether or not 877A is to be applied retroactively. This is another area where tax compliance professionals have decided it is the law. This is definitely NOT in the best interest of anyone renouncing their citizenship and most definitely should not be applied to anyone who renounced/relinquished before it became law.
5)One of the most egregious and limiting situations involves owning foreign mutual funds. There is nothing to support the practice of treating non-US mutual funds as PFICs. Again, guess who insists on this treatment?
All of the above points are as unacceptable as is a lack of change for Americans abroad in tax reform. We have had enough.
THIS HAS TO STOP
We, as a community, have to make a conscious decision that what they say does not apply to us, is not in our best interests. The application of U.S. law outside of its borders is highly questionable, and should not override the laws of the countries we are residents of. (The IGAs do not represent approval/acceptance of US policy; they are merely proof of what happens when the US threatens to destroy the economies of other nations). “It’s U.S. law.” This is always the argument used to justify application of these ridiculous actions, often with absurd results. Penalties, FATCA “outing” us, application of the Reed Amendment (or worse, the ExPatriot Act if it ever passes)- all can be quite frightening if applied as the tax community claims. Yet there is nothing to suggest that these things are realities. The only people who have been harmed by these things are the ones who are/or tried to comply.
It is time to resist not only the idea that U.S. law should run our lives but also, that the tax community should determine what courses of action we should take. We need to be consistent in our message on this, on FB, in tweets, blogs etc. No more. No more. No more…………
New punitive rules that apply to US citizens who own a business. Currently, most US citizens who own a Canadian corporation that is an active business don’t pay tax on the company’s profits until they take the money out. The House plan changes this. It imposes a new, very complicated, set of rules on US citizens that own the majority of a foreign corporation. The proposal would tax the US citizen owner personally on 50% of the entire income of the Canadian corporation that is above the amount set by an extremely complex formula. At best, this will make the compliance requirements for US citizens that own a business extremely complicated and expensive. At worst, this will cause double tax exposure for US citizens who own a Canadian business on 50% of the profits of that business.
Imposition of a 12% one-time tax on deferred profits. Under the new rules, the US corporate tax system is transitioning to a territorial model. As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986. Take a simple example to illustrate the enormity of the problem. A US citizen doctor moved to Canada in 1987. She has been deferring income from personal tax in her medical corporation and investing it. Now, 12% of the total deferred income since 1986 would be subject to a one-time tax in the US. That may be a significant US tax bill.
It is unclear what, if anything, will be enacted. However, US citizens in Canada – particularly those that own a business – should pay close attention as their tax situation could get significantly worse. Renouncing US citizenship may become an increasingly attractive option.
There has been much discussion of whether or not this is going to happen (assuming a tax reform bill containing these measures actually is passed).
A very good argument for why this should NOT apply to #AmericansAbroad is
The following comment appeared today on Brock. It reiterates the position that the “transition tax” cannot be viewed as applying to Americans abroad who own small corporations. We can expect that tax professionals are going to claim it does. Start now to learn why it doesn’t make sense and why no one should listen to the notion they owe a tax to the US based upon this new “tax reform.”
November 14, 2017 at 7:16 pm
@ Patricia Moon
With respect to the discussion of whether there is a tax on the retained earnings of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations:
First, pick this discussion of the changes to the territorial tax system for corporations at the 35 minute mark here:
There is NO evidence of any intention to apply the “transition tax” to anything other than large corporations and certainly not to small business corporations owned by Americans abroad.
Second, an interesting summary was published by the Toronto law firm Oslers which talks about U.S. tax reform and makes NO reference to a possible tax on the retained earnings of CCPCs.
Note no mention that this could affect CCPCs owned by Canadians:
” Foreign minimum tax – Current taxation of “Foreign high returns”:
Under this provision, a U.S. parent corporation would be subject to
current U.S. taxation (at the new 20% rate) on 50% of its controlled
foreign corporations’ (CFCs’) “high returns.” Tax would be required
to be paid on these imputed income streams regardless of whether the
corresponding earnings were actually distributed to the U.S. parent.
“Foreign high returns” are the excess of the CFC’s net income over a
baseline return (7% plus the federal short-term rate) on the CFC’s
adjusted tax bases in depreciable tangible property, reduced by
interest expense included in the CFC’s net income. “Foreign high
returns” would be defined to exclude certain types of income (including
“effectively connected income,” income from the disposition of
commodities produced or extracted by the taxpayer, and income subject
to tax at an effective rate of at least 18%). This provision, which
cuts against the theory of a “pure” territorial tax system, was
designed to counterbalance incentives that may otherwise linger for
U.S. companies to locate high return generating assets/activities (like
intangible property) in offshore locations.”
My feeling is that regardless of the language that this was not intended to apply to Americans abroad.
What should be done:
The danger is that the compliance community will make the law by interpreting this to apply beyond its obvious intention. The obvious solution is to NOT use the services of any tax firm who interprets the law as applying to CCPCs. After all, it was the compliance firms who created the notion that Canadian mutual funds are PFICs.
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.
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.
reposted from Maple Sandbox .
Posted on March 6, 2013 by Pacifica777 .
There’s no question with renunciation (Immigration and Nationalities Act, s. 349(a)(5)). You are relinquishing your citizenship and notifying the US government of it at the same time, and that’s the date your US citizenship ends.
But what if you relinquished your citizenship by a different method of INS, s. 349(a), such as taking citizenship in another country with the intent to relinquish your US citizenship (349(a)(1))?
The State Department is clear. No matter when you notify the US govt of your relinquishment, once your CLN application is approved, your US citizenship ended on the date you actually relinquished it (that is the date your performed the relinquishing act, eg. naturalised as a citizen of another country — this date is indicated as your expatriation date on the the CLN.)
The IRS, however, according to s. 877A(g)(4) of the US Tax Code, considers the date of your relinquishment for IRS purposes is not the date of your actual relinquishment but the date you notified the US government of it (your consulate meeting). This was not the case prior to 2004, however [the relevant section was 7701(n) in 2004 and it was replaced by 877A in 2008].
So, what if you relinquished your US citizenship long ago, but only recently learned of US law and policy changes which make it important to be able to prove you are not a US citizen, and wish to obtain Certificate of Loss of Nationality (a document you probably never even heard of before)? What if the current law regarding IRS and citizenship termination did not exist at the time you relinquished? Logic leads one to the conclusion that laws passed after a person ceases to be a citizen are irrelevant. The IRS has never made a definitive statement on this issue, however their instructions for the 8854 (expatriation tax form) are only directed at people with expatriation dates “after June 3, 2004.”
Tax lawyers Michael J. Miller and Ellen Brody have just published an excellent article on this matter, Expats Live in Fear of the Malevolant Time Machine, in which they point out the legal, as well as common sense, absurdity of a retroactive application position. It’s very clear reading with useful references to legislation and case law as well.
cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions
Supporter of CBT, is more like supporter and citizen of U S A !
Who does not know about CBT as applied to residents of other countries.
— JC Double Taxed (@JCDoubleTaxed) July 29, 2017
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.
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.
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) July 29, 2017
“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
“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
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
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:
— Patricia Moon (@nobledreamer16) May 27, 2017
Profesor Paul Caron, on his TaxProfBlog posted the following article:
CONSIDERING “CITIZENSHIP TAXATION”:
IN DEFENSE OF FATCA 20 Fla. Tax Rev. 335 (2017):
by Young Ran (Christine) Kim
If any description could possibly be demonstrated over & over in this piece it would be the term “offensive.” I confess to a hard-edged bias against academia, likely for the same reasons as most people; i.e., the rather noticeable and consistent lack of everyday common sense. Even in my own field (piano performance, where a doctorate is called a DMA not a Phd) there is a prevalence of people who may be perfectly schooled in the accuracy of Baroque ornaments, precise methods of articulation in Classic-period pieces or any number of other tedious accomplishments yet their actual playing (which is the whole point of a performance degree vs an academic one) is so devoid of vitality and inspiration it is enough to make one weep. I don’t know if the same exists in all disciplines but one thing that does apply here is a complete (and I mean complete) lack of awareness on the part of the author, of the harshness of how these theories play out on the lives of REAL people. What would make much more sense would be to address these problems head-on rather than justify “concepts” through a lot of theoretical jargon.
The following comment says it well:
The people affected by “citizenship-based taxation” are U.S. citizens and Green Card holders who live outside the USA and are “tax residents” (and often citizens) of other nations. The paper discusses (sort of) “citizenship-based taxation” as an abstract concept without considering the brutal effects that it has on the people subjected to it. The acknowledgement of the difficulties with pensions, retirement planning, foreign spouses, mutual funds, CFC rules, etc. (the reality of citizenship taxation) is most notable in its absence. And no, FBAR and Form 8938 (as obnoxious as they may be) are reporting requirements and not the specific tax rules (PFIC, etc.) that affect Americans abroad. I suspect that this paper will be subjected to the criticism that it so richly deserves.
Posted by: John Richardson | May 26, 2017 1:14:02 PM
While this criticism can be equally leveled at the members of Congress who passed FATCA, the Treasury Department personnel who wrote the regulations and last but not least, the heartlessness of many tax compliance practitioners, there is something especially repugnant about those pontificating from their ivory towers, proclaiming that FATCA, citizenship-based taxation, global transparency and all the rest of it, are worth the grief being caused.
Ms Kim indicates her paper finds its origins in Ruth Mason’s recent article, Citizenship Taxation, [89 S. Cal. L. Rev. 169 (2016),
A major difference between the two is that Ms Mason basically sees citizenship taxation in a negative light while Ms. Kim attempts to find it as a natural basis to support FATCA.
She addresses three main arguments; the fairness argument, the efficiency argument and the administrative argument.
I.) THE FAIRNESS ARGUMENT
Individual taxpayers’ obligations to file Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR) or report under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) are not seriously onerous. The fact that citizenship taxation along with FBAR and FATCA enhances global transparency further supports the case for citizenship taxation……..because the rules have been improved through various exceptions and substantially high reporting threshold amounts.
Ms. Kim asserts that the obligation to file FBARS is not “seriously onerous.” The very real threat of a non-willful penalty of $10,000 per account per year (or worse for “willful) is certainly enough to strike the fear of God in even the most reticent individual. The idea that this reality is not considered when evaluating FBAR is beyond reasonable. Articles about FATCA often cover only the reporting done by the FFI’s. However, the other component is the requirement to file 8938’s which duplicate information from the FBAR and can incur serious penalties. The average person is not able to complete an 8938 and will have to pay to have a professional do it. Nowhere in this article does the author address the issue of compliance costs for individuals which can easily be $2500 a year for someone owing no tax and involve 50 or more pages of returns. Not onerous? Furthermore, there are simply NO FIGURES yet, to make any claim that FATCA “enhances global transparency.” Professor William Byrnes describes
the oft-quoted figure of $10 billion. This amount has absolutely NOTHING to do with FATCA; it is largely comprised of penalties and interest collected through the OVDI programs (and does not even represent actual tax recovered). While the FATCA thresholds are higher, please, the threshold for FBAR remains at $10,000, the same figure when the Act was created in 1970 – 47 YEARS AGO!
FOCUSING ON THE ABILITY TO PAY PRINCIPLE
First, consent theory argues that taxing nonresident citizens is justified because retaining citizenship represents consent to such taxation.
One cannot consent to something one doesn’t even know about. Is the author completely unaware of the history underlying the persecution of expats once Treasury/Justice went after the Swiss banks in 2008? There are still likely more Americans abroad who remain unaware of the obligation to file taxes and worse yet, the oppressive information returns with penalties simply for not filing a piece of paper (i.e. no tax due). For those who do know and who retain citizenship, keeping it is much a matter of confusion and fear and could hardly be described as “consenting to taxation.”
Second, benefit theory attempts to justify citizenship taxation as an obligation of nonresident citizens in return for the benefits they receive from the government.
This argument is so ridiculous at this point it is hard to believe it remains part of the discussion. Cook v Tait is nearly 100 years old and does not address the large changes globalization has produced. There is the endless nonsense of hearing how “The Marines will come to rescue you,” after which you receive a full bill. How many living in first-world countries have any need for “rescue?” And last but not least we “owe” the U.S. for consular services (for which we pay, dearly in the case of renouncing – $2350 or $50 USD to notarize a single page). All tiresome and nowhere near justifiable for being taxed “the same” as Homelanders.
Third, social obligation theory
the underlying assumption of this theory is that people have an obligation to pay taxes to support the members of the society to which they belong in accordance with their ability to pay taxes, which should be measured by their worldwide income.
I remember my reaction to Prof Michael Kirsch’s comments (at the ACA Program in Toronto, May 2014, “CBT vs RBT”)regarding polity and such. It seemed ridiculous to me to consider those of us living outside the United States as being a member of that society in any meaningful way. In my own life, now 35 years outside the U.S.(over half my life), the only times I identified as a “member ” of U.S. society was when defending against strong anti-American sentiment (the first few years away) and national tragedies such as 911. I cannot see any way that those infrequent occurrences defined me as being an American more than being a Canadian. I would say a more meaningful and valid way to apply the social obligation theory is whether or not I support policies that promote the social welfare of those around me, whether or not I give the homeless guy I see everytime I go to the bank, a bit of money so he can buy some lunch. IOW, except in an idealistic or nostalgic way, one can really only measure his/her “social obligation” based upon what they come face-to-face with, i.e., where they live.
Due to the different factors affecting the ability to pay, such as difference in the standard of living or amenities between places, “it would be fairer to calculate a person’s ability to pay by reference to the place where she lives rather than to the place where she holds her citizenship.”
“actually tax them alike,” which would require the repeal of the foreign-earned income exclusion and the allowance of unlimited foreign tax credits, including foreign consumption taxes, as well as the implicit taxes and subsidies to compensate the differences.
While all expats readily understand the reality that they are NOT “taxed the same” as Homelanders, the idea of being able to adjust all these factors to the number of foreign countries with all the differences in structure etc., absolutely discourages any realistic notion that this could ever be accomplished. Current retirement-oriented plans such as the Australian Super; the lack of recognition of tax-deferred vehicles registered by governments being treated the same as their US equivalents; requiring capital gains tax on the sale of principle residences which are tax-free in the countries where they are located ; and above all else, the obscene “savings clause,” all speak to the built-in bias the US has for anything “foreign” and its pronounced tendency to punish people for making use of non-US instruments. Add the effect of the Patriot Act, which makes it impossible to even open a US account with a foreign address and a non-resident American understandably lacks the will to try and weave one’s way through all these complicated, impossible-to-delineate requirements and procedures. The fact that the IRS does not clarify ambivalent sections such as §877A as well as the fact that no two compliance professionals can be counted on to give the same opinion is proof positive that disparate tax systems simply cannot be adjusted “fairly.”
when its critics condemned the new obligations to file FBARs and FATCA as an excessive compliance burden for nonresident citizens created by the Bank Secrecy Act.
There are no “new” obligations to file FBARs; they have been required (and unenforced) since 1970 and are part of Title 31. FATCA was NOT created by the Bank Secrecy Act. It comprises part of the H.I.R.E. Act (2010) and is part of 26 U.S.C. § 1471–1474, § 6038D.
II.) THE EFFICIENCY ARGUMENT
citizenship taxation may distort both Americans’ and non-Americans’ citizenship decisions, is not convincing
American citizenship renunciation rate is not particularly serious compared to other countries
residence-based taxation confronts an additional hurdle on top of enforcement difficulties: determining the residence of the individuals. Determining residence by considering all facts and circumstances creates problems beyond enforcement difficulties. The facts-and-circumstances test itself contains inherent problems when compared to a bright-line test
….and to what extent renunciation is treated as immoral and/or illegal, and so on.
The idea that citizenship taxation does not affect the decisions of Americans abroad concerning their citizenship is patently absurd. Without question, citizenship taxation IS THE MAIN REASON anyone renounces. Not because of tax per sé (don’t even think of trying to scare with the Reed Amendment) but rather, due to all the complications of trying to match two different tax systems. Add the non-financial issues such as the stress on marriages (to “aliens”), passing U.S. citizenship on one’s children, etc. etc. It has become a nightmare not worth living and something to escape if one can.
Ms. Kim devotes a long section to establishing the idea that the renunciation rate of U.S. citizens is “not particularly serious.” Again, we have someone indicating that unless the numbers are large, whether compared to that of other countries, the proportion of renunciations to the numbers of those abroad or to the number of entering immigrants, there is nothing being lost here. If that is the case, then the U.S. has virtually nothing to lose by simply letting these people go without all the forms, swearing under penalty of perjury and so on. One might occasionally consider that Americans abroad were once the best ambassadors the country could have. Now those tables are turned and some are more anti-American than any “alien” could ever be. Nothing like betrayal to warm the heart.
Regarding determination of residency, it is interesting that all 191 other countries of the world are able to surmount this difficult obstacle, which will be even more pronounced once CRS is operative. The “bright line test” which I presume means using citizenship rather than residency to base reporting on, is not truly useful given the fact that only the U.S. (Eritrea does not count) does this. When a U.S. citizen is living abroad with dual citizenship, with no determinant indicia, ask any bank how easy it is to establish whether or not one is a U.S. citizen. If it were clear, one would not see so many institutions refusing to serve Americans.
The Expatriation Act of 1868 gives all Americans the right to give up their citizenship if they so desire. It is not an issue of illegality. When a country treats its own citizens in the manner we have experienced from 2009 onwards (particularly the Accidental Americans who are not American in any normal understanding of the term), who is there to even suggest renunciation is immoral?
III.) THE ADMINISTRATIVE ARGUMENT
Citizenship taxation has been criticized as difficult to enforce on nonresident citizens abroad….Determining residence by considering all facts and circumstances creates problems beyond enforcement difficulties
Next to failing to point out the outrageous 30% withholding “sanction” inflicted on every other country of the world, this has to be the weakest argument in this paper. The fact that the U.S. cannot effectively collect anything outside of the country is the number one reason people feel safe in remaining “under the radar.” After the initial scare of 2009/2011 seeing that the people hurt the worst were those who tried to do the right thing, people started considering the reality that being identified (“caught”) may amount to virtually nothing for a number of reasons. First of all, the majority of expats who are not compliant are NOT wealthy tax cheats with foreign accounts in order to deprive the U.S. of tax revenue. They are first of all, compliant where they live, which speaks volumes. Secondly, they have these “foreign” accounts in order to live their lives. This is in no way comparable to Homelanders who are guilty of tax evasion when they stash money in tax havens (and let’s not forget Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming, shall we?). The Revenue Rule still stands; even the 5 countries with Mutual Collection Agreements (Canada, Denmark, Sweden, France and the Netherlands)WILL NOT collect on those who were citizens of their countries at the time the tax was incurred. Canada WILL NOT collect FBAR penalties. With regard to fear about crossing the border, if one is not in the U.S. system, there is nothing for the IRS to report to DHS or CBP etc. All these things may change over time but as it stands now, the most IRS can do to most people, is send them a letter asking them to pay. EXACTLY WHAT IS THE POINT OF HOLDING ON TO CBT IF THERE IS NO WAY TO COLLECT?
Is the Compliance Burden Actually Onerous?
the IRS has provided the OVDI that a U.S. taxpayer can utilize to avoid criminal sanctions for the failure to report the existence of, and income earned on, a foreign account on tax returns as well as for the non-filing of the FBAR. In exchange for avoiding criminal sanctions, taxpayers will generally be subject to a 27.5% penalty on the highest aggregate value of their undisclosed offshore assets.86 In addition, for non-willful violators, IRS provides Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP), a program that was expanded in 2014 to cover a broader spectrum of U.S. taxpayers residing abroad and to provide penalty relief. Therefore, nonresident citizens who no longer have a strong economic and social connection with the United States or happenstance Americans are no longer likely to be subject to the severe FBAR penalties.
To suggest that OVDI and Streamlined “make everything alright” is to avoid the real issue altogether which is that citizenship taxation is simply wrong. No other country on earth “claims” its citizens for life. (Eritrea does not count). No other country on earth taxes its citizens after they abandon residence. No other country on earth applies an Exit Tax on assets that were acquired prior to obtaining residence in that country. There are reasons why no other countries do any of the things associated with citizenship taxation. It’s high time the United States stop this appalling abuse of human rights.
THIS ARTICLE FURTHER AIMS TO DEFEND the administrability of citizenship taxation in conjunction with the Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBARs) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
FBAR-absolutely not the way it is being conceived of now. FBAR, created in 1970 was aimed at uncovering money being laundered in smuggling, the drug trade and terrorism. It also was not originally conceived of being applied to those outside the U.S. Once the DOJ/Treasury departments went after the Swiss banks, they realized they could stretch the intent of FBAR to apply to non-resident Americans and the penalty regime thickened.
The criticism… has continued even after the U.S. government committed to enter into Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) in an attempt to address those concerns
A huge oversight on the part of the author. FATCA was without question an extraterritorial imposition on other countries. Only the United States would be as uncivil as to suggest imposing a 30% withholding charge on their allies and trading partners. The U.S. appeared not to understand that other countries could not comply even if they wanted to as privacy laws prevented the level of reporting required by FATCA. Banks would be sued were they to comply. To suggest that the US committing to the IGAs was a gracious act is revolting. Under the guise of being rooted in tax treaties, the IGAs simply bypassed what should have been required; that Congress ratify such agreements and implement legislation to do so. There is nothing in FATCA that warrants the creation of the IGAs. The U.S. downloaded ALL of the costs of compliance to the other countries. There is no mention of any penalties for the U.S. failing to comply. The U.S. made only the vaguest promises of reciprocity. It is simply unbelievable that the immorality of taking capital out of other nations is considered acceptable by the United States.
IV>) FATCA:MERITS AND CONCERNS
The OECD’s AEOI and the U.S. FATCA are two important developments, but FATCA plays a more important role.
First, FATCA provided critical momentum
Second, FATCA facilitates multilateral implementation of AEOI by creating an extensive network with more than 100 countries in the world, at the center of which is the United States.
This is unsubstantiated nonsense. First of all, it is bizarre to say FATCA “plays a more important role” Who gains from FATCA other than the United States? So far, nobody. The United States is at the Center of AEOI/CRS? The US has not even signed on to CRS. There are huge differences that matter greatly. The OECD AEOI/CRS agreements are determined by the countries involved; the terms of residency are established by those exchanging the information. FATCA is vastly different in that the United States alone determines who is/is not a “US Person” “US Citizen” irrespective of the status of such a person to the other country. And so far, the U.S. is not “paying its fair share” by requiring its banks to implement the same systems and legislation required (imposed) by FATCA. The IGAs do not constitute “acceptance” by other countries. To think otherwise is ridiculous. One could not possibly view such stipulations as reasonable.
criticism that…. FATCA exposes taxpayers’ private information to potential abusive use by foreign tax authorities.
This is a matter of real concern to Americans abroad living in some of the more troubled areas of the world-or those living Colombia in South America and particularly in some of the Middle East countries. Ironically enough, the U.S. has had some of the worst breaches of security and leakage of private information; certainly this is disturbing and worrisome.
Ms. Kim’s discussion of the Bopp FATCA lawsuit I will leave to someone else.
Second, opponents of FATCA and EOI argue that an EOI system removes a country’s unilateral control over its own tax policy, resulting in the forfeiture of sovereign autonomy. Although such argument has withered since the U.S. government entered into IGAs with other countries, it was strongly asserted by Canadian opponents of FATCA when the IGA Implementation Act included in Bill-31 was debated in Canadian Parliament.
How outrageous to suggest a foreign country does not have the right to have unilateral control over its own tax policy. The proof is in the pudding. The U.S. would never allow the equivalent. The IGA’s are the proof.
I have watched the video of the Canadian FINA hearings on FATCA many, many times. It is not possible to convey the absolute disgust we have for the majority Conservative government which minimized completely, the capitulation that occurred with the implementation of the IGA. It was nothing more than protecting the banks, without any regard to the effect it would have on Canadian citizens resident in Canada.
However, a government’s control over its tax policy is more severely harmed when a country segregates itself from the global community and loses the ability to enforce effectively its own tax laws against its taxpayers with interests in foreign jurisdictions
More unsubstantiated nonsense. This is an opinion completely unsupported up by any facts.
A Case for American Exceptionalism
conclusion, if FATCA makes the world better off by enhancing global transparency on tax information, then this may serve as another support for citizenship taxation, as well as an example of constructive exceptionalism.
While all of us raised in America understand unconsciously what exceptionalism is, it truly takes living outside the country to appreciate how incredibly arrogant and offensive it is. It is questionable whether FATCA “makes the world better off….” that a questionable tenet should “serve as a support for the imposition of citizenship taxation.” It is nothing short of reprehensible that the author should suggest what the U.S. has done is “constructive” or in any way justifies the gross aberration of power demonstrated by the creation of FATCA.