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So, You Think You May Be A U.S. Citizen – Think Again!

I never left the U.S. – The U.S. left me!

 

The lyrics to our National Anthem were written by Francis Scott Key, as the British bombed Baltimore, during the war of 1812. On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked. In a misguided attempt to protect Americans and to punish the guilty, the government passed laws which undermined the very freedoms that America was built on.

John Adams, one of the founders of the U.S. constitution noted that:

.. it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished.”

Since September 11, 2001 the freedoms of U.S. citizens have and continue to be eroded.

It has become more important that the guilty be punished then the innocent be protected. Continue reading

Will the International Nightmare of FATCA Finally Be Repealed?

International Liberty

Republicans promised voters all sorts of pro-growth reforms. They assured us that they learned a lesson about the dangers of expanding government and calling it “compassionate conservatism.”

Give us control of both Congress and the White House, they said before the election, and we’ll move our agenda to limit government and drain the swamp in Washington.

  • Repeal Obamacare!
  • Cut tax rates!
  • Slash wasteful spending!
  • Reform entitlements!
  • Eliminate senseless red tape!

Of course, now that they’re in power, they’re getting cold feet. It now appears there will be reform of the disastrous Obamacare law, but not full repeal. Moreover, tax cuts are being jeopardized by a risky scheme for a $1 trillion “border-adjustable” tax hike. Based on Trump’s recent address to Congress, I’m also not holding my breath for much-needed spending cuts and entitlement reform. And it’s unclear whether we’ll see much progress cutting back…

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The @BarackObama #FATCA law: “an absolute disgrace and a dark spot in history”

The above includes some of the text of a comment at the Isaac Brock Society. The comment should be read by all Americans abroad.

Excellent post and I couldn’t agree with you more. I wouldn’t take back US citizenship if they offered it along with no tax obligations, a once a year round trip ticket to the US destination of my choice and leaving me alone forever. No, I wouldn’t want it back because any country that was capable of doing what they did to their expat community and continue doing those same things to their expat community, in spite of all of the articles and pleas alerting them to the fallout and with constant alarm bells ringing and do absolutely nothing, is not to be trusted under any circumstance. I too sadly agree that nothing will change regarding moving to RBT and FATCA wont be repealed either, in my opinion. There is too much to be made by picking the pockets of innocent folks living outside of their ever tightening borders, folks who have little to no say in the laws that are being thrust upon them, no representation in Congress and no interest whatsoever in speaking with them from US lawmakers. Like you say, “Is holding on to the nostalgia of one’s origins worth all that?” Absolutely not! To continue to be exploited, extorted, controlled, be under permanent surveillance, financial and otherwise, while living in another sovereign country, where I am and have been a citizen for nearly my entire life, makes the decision not to accept US citizenship, should it ever be offered back a no brainer. I recommend anyone reading this, in a situation of trying to decide what to do and wondering if, just if, things will change for the better, you should seriously consider renouncing, sooner rather than later. Things are not likely to improve and may in fact even get much worse. I felt ten years, or more, younger after renouncing and now live, invest and see life as a much freer and unburdened person. I will never forgive nor forget what Obama’s FATCA and related laws created and how much damage they did in destroying the overseas US community of citizens and deemed persons. It is and still remains an absolute disgrace and a dark spot in history.

Poll: Is it common for #Americansabroad to have a higher U.S. income tax bill than a comparably situated Homelander?

Imagine the following two people:

We are comparing “Homelander Ted” to “Expat Benedict Arnold”.

Assume that “Homelander Ted” lives and works in the Homeland and purchases in ONLY U.S. dollars. He would not consider using any other currency.

Assume the Expat Benedict Arnold” (having escaped from the Homeland) lives and works in Canada and purchases in ONLY Canadian dollars. He would NOT consider using any other currency.

Assume that each of “Homelander Ted” and “Expat Benedict Arnold” own a home in their respective countries of residence, have employment income, engage in personal finance which includes retirement planning. “Homelander Ted” commits “personal finance” ONLY in the Homeland. “Expat Benedict Arnold” commits “personal finance abroad”.

Assume that “Homelander Ted” and “Expat Benedict Arnold” have financial situations that are comparable in their respective countries of residence.

To be specific both of them:

1. Have a principal residence in that they have owned for more than two years and that was sold on November 30 of the year. Assume further that there was NO capital gain measured in local currency. Assume that the sale included a discharge of an existing mortgage and that interest was paid on the mortgage up to the November 30 sale. Assume further that they each carry a “casualty” insurance policy on the property.

2. Have employment income and have pensions provided under the terms of their respective employment contracts.

3. Have and use mutual funds as a retirement planning vehicle.

4. Have a 401(k) plan in the USA and an RRSP in Canada.

5. Have spouses and must consider whether to use the “married filing separately” or the “married” filing category. “Expat Benedict Arnold” is married to an “alien”.

6. Give their respective spouses a gift of $500,000 on January 1 of the year.

 

U.S. Tax owing – versus TAX MITIGATION PROVISIONS

Assume further that each of “Homelander Ted” and “Expat Benedict Arnold” each prepare a U.S. tax return. Imagine that the Internal Revenue Code does NOT have (TAX MITIGATION PROVISIONS) either the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (Internal Revenue Code S. 911) or the Foreign Tax Credits (Internal Revenue Code 901). Imagine further that there is no U.S. Tax Treaty that mitigates tax payable to the USA under these circumstances.

The question is how much tax “Expat Benedict Arnold” would be required to pay the U.S. Government if there were no TAX MITIGATION provisions.

How likely is that without the TAX MITIGATION PROVISIONS that the “Expat Benedict Arnold” would be required to pay HIGHER U.S. taxes than “Homelander Ted”. In other words:

Does the Internal Revenue Code:

First, impose higher taxes on “Expat Benedict Arnold” for the crime of committing “personal finance abroad“?

Second, mitigate those higher taxes through one of the TAX MITIGATION PROVISIONS described above?

Are U.S. Taxes (not including foreign taxes) actually higher for Americans abroad than for Homelanders?

Please consider the questions (without considering tax paid by “Expat Benedict Arnold” to Canada) in the following poll:

How does the U.S. tax bill of an American Abroad compare to the U.S. tax bill of a comparably situated Homelander?
(polls)

 

Where are you Mainstream Media?

Café Moi

I watched Smerconish last night on CNN. And before you label me a Libtard  or a liberal lackey, and yes, I despise Fox News and the alt right, I am quite disgusted with mainstream media’s filtering the real Obama stories. I rarely watch any news on television anymore, and when I do, it’s usually Canadian CBC, CTV, or BNN. I like my news to be about the news. Stations like Fox and CNN should have the word News stricken from their titles.

Anyway, I like Smerconish. He tends to speak his mind, and his mind is very much in line with my own leanings: centrist, questioning all, and searching for the best. I know you righties cannot comprehend these concepts, so please stop reading before your brains explode. Except I am done with left-right bullshit in this post.

At one point he interviewed Mark Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University in…

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W-8s for U.S. Citizens Abroad: Filing False Information with Non-U.S. Banks

This post contains a great review the W-8 series of forms. It is worth reading for that reason alone. But, I wonder about some of the other suggestions.

Your conclusion that:

“Accordingly, if a U.S. citizen were to sign IRS Form W-8BEN which I have seen banks erroneously request of their clients, they run the risk that the U.S. federal government will argue that such signatures and filing of false information with the bank was intentional and therefore criminal under IRC Section 7206(1).

Indeed, criminal cases are not simple, and I am not aware of any single criminal case that hinged exclusively on a false IRS Form W-8BEN. However, I have seen cases, where the government has alleged the U.S. born individual must have signed the form intentionally, knowing the information was false. It’s a question of proof and of course U.S. citizens wherever they reside, should take care to never sign an IRS Form W-8BEN as an individual certifying they are not a “United States person”; even if they think they are not a U.S. person”

With respect, I believe this statement is misleading.

The relevant statute to which you refer is:

“(1) Declaration under penalties of perjury

Willfully makes and subscribes any return, statement, or other document, which contains or is verified by a written declaration that it is made under the penalties of perjury, and which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter; or . . .”

A conviction requires NOT a false statement, but a false statement with full knowledge that the statement was false. To add to the absurdity, the definition of U.S. citizen is the definition under the Internal Revenue Code – a definition over which there is substantial disagreement AND disagreement that is substantial.

It has become abundantly clear that few tax lawyers understand who or what a U.S. citizen even is.

If the lawyers don’t even understand what a U.S. citizen as defined by the Internal Revenue Code definition, then how is some poor schnuck who has been given a W-8.

In any case, a fair reading of your post leads to the conclusion that one should NOT complete any IRS form period. Maybe you are better off not playing “IRS Form Games” (when to use a Trumpism) “The form games are rigged.” If one completes the form one will be prosecuted for not agreeing to U.S. citizenship and if one does not complete the form, then …

Actually, here is a question for you.

What would be your conclusion if that same poor schmuck, knowing that he is NOT a U.S. citizen (or maybe he could never know that) decides to complete a W-9 because he wishes to be a U.S. citizen?

Tax-Expatriation

Individuals who do not specialize in U.S. federal tax law, often have little detailed understanding of the U.S. federal “Chapter 3” (long-standing law regarding withholding taxes on non-resident aliens and foreign corporations and foreign trusts) and “Chapter 4” (the relatively new withholding tax regime known as the “Foreign Account Tax irs-form-w-8ben-2006-older-version-with-certification-languageCompliance Act”) rules.

Indeed, plenty of U.S. tax law professionals (CPAs, tax attorneys and enrolled agents) do not understand well the interplay between these two different withholding regimes –

Plus, the IRS forms have been significantly modified over the years; with increasing factual representations that must be made by individuals who sign the forms under penalty of perjury.  They are complex and not well understood.  For instance…

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