Category Archives: Are you a U.S. citizen?

Cook v. Tait 44: “Sovereignty”, “Citizenship” and use of “citizenship” to further the interests of the “sovereign” – The evolution from #CookvTait to #FATCA

As citizenship evolves …

I began this post in 2015. It has languished in draft form since that time. It is now November of 2017. As #TaxReform17 comes to an end, I feel motivated to finish it. It is now 2019. Really, it’s probably now or never. This post draws heavily from posts, insights and comments from a number of bloggers and (past) contributors to the Isaac Brock Society. Your comments have helped to shape this discussion. This post will continue my Cook v. Tait Book (a collection of posts written about U.S. citizenship based taxation taxation-based citizenship, which started in 2011. (Much of the Cook v. Tait book appears as a resource at the Isaac Brock Society – a rich source of comments about life in an FBAR and FATCA world.

About citizenship: One way or the other, citizenship matters ..

The purpose of this post is to explore various aspects of the concept of citizenship through the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century. This is an interesting topic in it’s own right. It is particularly important in the context of Cook v. Tait. As the likelihood of a lawsuit against “citizenship-based taxation” increases, the importance of understanding “the evolution of citizenship” increases. I propose to consider this issue under the following “Part”s:

Part A –  Citizenship under international law – An aspect of the Sovereignty of Nations

Part B – Citizenship, international law and citizenship evolution triggered by “war”

Part C – Evolution of citizenship under U.S. “domestic law” – 1967 – Afroyim – The U.S. Supreme Court and the “constitutionalism” of U.S. citizenship

Part D – Notions of Citizenship in the 21st Century

Part E – The forced imposition of U.S. citizenship

Part F – Citizenship as a weapon – The role of “citizenship taxation” in the “weaponization of finance”

Part G – Citizenship-based taxation as a way of controlling the life choices of Americans abroad

Part H – Citizenship-based taxation as a mechanism to export U.S. cultural values to the rest of the world

Part I – Dual citizenship in a world of U.S. extra-territorial laws

Part J – Citizenship-based taxation as a way to export U.S. cultural values to the Muslim world

Part K – Multiple citizenships and public office: Australia’s “Citizenship Seven”

Appendix – Modern thinking and research on the rights and obligations of citizenship

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Khadr apology and settlement about violation of Charter rights, Trudeau says

Prologue 2014:

(Those who need a “reset” in terms of the issues in the “Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty Lawsuit” should watch the complete video here.)

Canada in 2017:

The article referenced in the above tweet includes:

On Friday, the government confirmed a payment had been made to Khadr to settle a longstanding lawsuit. Khadr’s suit claimed Canada had violated his rights and was complicit with the United States when he was detained at the U.S. base in Cuba, denied access to a lawyer and tortured.

The Supreme Court of Canada in 2010 ruled Khadr’s rights had been violated.

The apology sparked fresh public debate about Khadr, but Trudeau says the settlement is not about the details of Khadr’s case but the fact his rights were violated.

Trudeau says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, “even when it is uncomfortable.”

When the government violates any Canadian’s Charter rights, we all end up paying for it,” he said.

Trudeau says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, “even when it is uncomfortable”

Pierre Trudeau would have believed that the Charter of Rights of protects all Canadians. Justin Trudeau doesn’t believe that. In theory constitutional (including Charter rights) are great things. In practice “rights” often make people feel uncomfortable.

The examples of Canadians with a “U.S. taint” and Mr. Khadr make people uncomfortable. That is perhaps why both really are “Charter of Rights” cases!

(Of course the Supreme Court of Canada has not (unlike in the case of Mr. Khadr) YET ruled that the rights of Canadians with a “U.S. taint” have been violated. Perhaps, that is the real difference.)

Relinquished US citizenship in the 1970s? Are you still a U.S. “Tax Slave”?

The above tweet references a comment at the Isaac Brock Society.

Returning to the purpose of this post:

The question asked by Stephen Kish is how should Caroline be advised. Mr. Reed proposes two interpretations of S. 877A which he calls the “literal approach” and the “common sense” approach. One problem of reading articles written by the tax compliance community is, that by focusing on the theoretical, they minimize the “real life” consequences to the people they advise. So, what are the “real life consequences?” The “literal approach” results in the destruction of your life. The common sense approach means that you still have a life. (Which do you think is the better approach?)

Here is why.

Rather than frame the issue as “the literal approach” vs. the “common sense approach”, the issue should be framed as:

Approach 1 – Your Life Is Over: Under this “literal” interpretation of S. 877A, you poor dumb former American will have to turn your life savings over to the IRS (and pay the adviser to help you do this) because you did not go out and obtain a CLN. It doesn’t matter that a CLN was not required by law. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t know what one was. It doesn’t matter that the U.S. Government was threatening you with the loss of your U.S.citizenship if you became Canadian. It doesn’t matter that in some cases the U.S. was denying entry to the USA to those who had become Canadians. What matters is ONLY that this is what the statute says NOW!!!!!!! So, you better step right up and turn your life savings over to the IRS.

Approach 2 – It’s Your LIfe! Why don’t you keep it!: Let some “common sense” prevail. You were one of the smart ones. Because you relinquished U.S. citizenship – according to the clear laws of the USA in the 1970s – you are not affected by this new law. The only people affected by this new law are the “dumb bunnies” who decided it was a good idea to be a U.S. citizen AND were U.S. citizens when this law took effect on June 16, 2008. I don’t think you should draw attention to yourself. You might want to document the circumstances that led to your becoming a Canadian citizen in 1978. When documenting those circumstances, you probably should make it clear that you were intending to relinquish U.S. citizenship. But, either way you have to sleep. So, you might as well – Sleep well!. There is no good reason to turn your assets over to the IRS and pay your adviser to help you do it.

A fair reading of the legal commentary on this issue appears to be:

One group of lawyers (including the three who commented on this article) do NOT believe that the “literal” (or as Michael Miller says, the “absurd”) approach is correct.

A second group of lawyers thinks that the “literal” approach MIGHT be correct. But, they aren’t really sure. Even though they are not sure, for reasons known only to them, they usher clients into turning their assets over to the IRS. Hmmmm, …

Given the existing commentary and lack of certainty (on the part of those who recognize the “literal approach”), what I can’t understand is:

1. How any adviser could possibly advise a client that the “literal” approach is correct (turn your assets over to the IRS). Yet, we know that a very large number of people are being advised to do just that. (Note that, since June 16, 2008 a CLN is most certainly required lose U.S. tax subjectness. But NOT before.)

2. How any client, given the existence of conflicting views, could possibly allow themselves to be guided into accepting that they should turn their assets over to the IRS. (Actually I know the answer. It’s because there is ONLY one certainty in life. If you turn over all your assets to the IRS, then you will never have tax problems again. But, you won’t have a life either and then you will have a different set of tax problems.)

This reality notwithstanding:

There is/are a large number of people who clearly relinquished U.S. citizenship many years before the current laws, who have allowed themselves to be guided into the “literal appraoch” – turning their assets over to the IRS.

Conclusion: The result that you get will be determined by your choice of adviser. Think about it!

Born abroad to US citizen parents in a #CookvTait world? Are you a US citizen or do have a right to US citizenship?

Introduction:

The above tweet references an earlier comment on this vitally important question.

The purpose of this post is to continue hammering away at this very narrow issue/question.

Does the United States have the right to deem a person born outside the United States to be a U.S. citizen? Can the United States forcibly impose citizenship on a person NOT born in the United States?

To be more specific, I understand that the United States has the right to offer U.S. citizenship to anybody who it wants. The question is whether the United States can force a person (who has not accepted U.S. citizenship) to be a U.S. citizen. Given that the United States is “Hunting For Citizens Abroad”, this is an important question. I have written on this topic before here and here.

This is an attempt to explore the question form from the possible perspectives of: Congress, the State Department, U.S. Courts and legal scholars. I then conclude by asking the questions of whether:

– those unknowingly registered as U.S. citizens by parents should have the right to “reject” U.S. citizenship; and

– whether any forcible imposition of U.S. citizenship on the citizens of other countries could be a violation of international law.

Here we go …
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The hopelessness and despair of #Americansabroad

The above tweet references an interesting Facebook discussion that begins with:

 

With all this talk about fbar and fataca , I’m curious as to what people really think in terms of the odds of anything changing for us Americans living elsewhere- and by changing I mean for the better in terms of taxes and reporting. More precisely, law abiding dual citizens living ex-America.

 

Few people believe either the form or the extent of the way USA abuses #Americansabroad

I came across an interesting discussion at Keith Redmond’s American Expatriates Facebook group.

The discussion starts here:

Interesting observation for the week. I have had the opportunity to explain to my fellow Australians the dire situation we face as US expats at the hands of the US government. I get the impression that the people I have told are doubting my facts because they find the unfairness of CBT so frigging unbelievable, the intrusiveness of FATCA so arrogant it couldn’t possibly be true. The shock on their faces is somewhat gratifying. So this is the type of “ambassadors” the US has made of 8.7 million  expats.

I encourage you to read the comments. I agree with this. In my experience the reality of the abusiveness of the U.S. government towards it’s citizens abroad that many people do NOT even believe it’s possible.

Confession: I didn’t think it was possible either.

Renounce and rejoice!

 

 

And Homelanders wonder why #Americansabroad are renouncing US citizenship

 

The above tweet references a comment at the MapleSandbox.ca blog that is worth turning into a post. And they wonder why people renounce U.S. citizenship!

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#Americansabroad will be subject to “economic quarantine” in a #FATCA world

The above tweet references a comment at the Isaac Brock Society.

@Nervousinvestor

See Deckard’s comment here:

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/01/27/are-strata-corporations-the-next-target-of-canadian-banks-fatca-zeal/comment-page-1/#comment-5391660

and Badger’s comment here:

http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/01/27/are-strata-corporations-the-next-target-of-canadian-banks-fatca-zeal/comment-page-1/#comment-5394406

It is quite obvious that “U.S.ness” is a form of contamination that has the potential to first infect and then effect every aspect of human society. In Deckard’s comment he notes the restrictions placed on the Jews during the Third Reich. The restrictions were completely unjustifiable. Notice how they proceeded one “law” at at time. (what could be more legitimate than that – Remember the “Battle Cry of the Condor” – FATCA is “U.S. law”.)

Restrictions on U.S. persons are completely justifiable.

In the case of FATCA, U.S. persons really ARE a threat to the societies where they live. The reason, as has been articulated time and time again is that:

U.S. citizens are being used by the U.S. as tools (via citizenship-based taxation) to extract capital from other countries and transfer that capital to the U.S. There are people who do not understand this. There are people who pretend to not understand this. But, at the end of the day U.S. citizens really are IN ACTUAL FACT a threat to any country where they may reside.

Eventually countries will be forced to protect themselves from what I would call the:

“U.S.ness Forced Extraction of Capital” and the compliance costs associated with having U.S. citizens as residents.

Who could have imagined even 5 years ago that the discussion on this thread was even taking place?Whether a real threat or not, this newly discovered “Condo Terror”, will make condo boards and developers want to avoid U.S. persons. Same for jobs, marriages, businesses, etc.

But, here is the most likely next step.

Special tax laws imposed on U.S. persons. These laws will be for the purpose of neutralizing the extraction of capital by U.S. tax laws. Simple example:

“No person who is taxable as a U.S. person can have a tax free capital gain on a principal residence.”

(the effect would be to produce a Canadian tax which can be used as a credit against a U.S. tax)

So, although U.S. citizens would still be allowed to own property, they will be subject to special tax rules. These rules are designed to protect the local tax base from the theft of capital by the U.S. Perfectly reasonable. Unfair to the U.S. person? Of course, but they can and should renounce.

On a positive side, I predict a whole new universe of financial products.

These will be designed to:

A. Provide products that give U.S. persons the opportunity to plan for retirement; and

B. Segregate U.S. persons from “free people” so that the “free people” cannot be harmed by the “U.S. contamination”

These new investment vehicles will be a welcome development.

Perhaps we will see Condominiums that are specifically for those who carry the disability of U.S. citizenship.

U.S. citizenship is now a disability and this opens up a whole new world of possible financial products for this group of disabled people.

We are witnessing the beginning. What’s important to note here is that by using FATCA and CBT to attack the tax base of other countries, the U.S. has created a situation where retaliation against U.S. persons is rational, necessary and completely justifiable.

If you don’t want to live in the USA you should renounce NOW. You won’t be able to have any kind of life as a U.S. citizen abroad!

The defensive measures taken to protect countries from “U.S. person contamination” will be incremental and significant. But, they will quickly add up to a world where “U.S. persons are subject to “economic quarantine”. I could also see them being barred from certain professions. For example, the legal profession. Do you really want a lawyer who is subject to FBAR on client trust accounts? Real Estate: Do you really want a broker who must report his trust accounts (with your money) to the IRS?

The implications are huge.

No doubt, some will view this prediction as extreme.

Consider this comment to be a “message in a bottle”. Read it again in 10 years.

And finally, (to echo some of the posters here):

If you want to stop this, then you support the people who are fighting on your behalf.

I am thinking of the stopfatca.ca legal challenge.

Nice collection of #FATCA #FBAR #Renouncecitizenship comments from @GlobeAndMail

Very nice collection of comments from StudentAdvocate including:

Our neighbour just got more dysfunctional

US dysfunction affects all Canadians. Due to US law the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the world’s banks and financial institutions are now agents of the US Treasury Department, and are on a witch-hunt for so-called US persons – basically anyone with a US place of birth. FATCA is one of the most arrogant and dysfunctional laws to ever pass Congress, and was passed as an add-on rider, with little debate or consideration for consequence. In Canada, the Harper Conservatives capitulated to the US law FATCA, and made history by making banking and financial discrimination against any Canadian with a US birthplace mandatory. Embedded in omnibus budget bill C31 was an an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to embody the dysfunctional US law FATCA into Canadian law. This was largely covert and under-reported, the US demanded FATCA compliance and the Canadian government – at the behest of Canada’s banks – pushed it through, despite unanimous opposition from NDP, LIberal and Green Party. Now, the hunt is on for so-called US persons in Canada. All banks, financial institutions and insurers must search their customers records for indications of a US place of birth. They must ask all new customers if they have a US birthplace or similar connection. If found, the confidential bank records will be forwarded to the US IRS – via compliant poodles at CRA. The US considers the local and legal Canadian financial accounts of any Canadian with a tie of so-called US person-hood to be a potential undeclared and illicit “offshore account” – and the penalties are draconian. Because so many Canadians were either born in the US or immigrated from the US, the effect is profound. This may effect up to one million Canadians, many of whom have only a tenuous tie to the US (including border babies: Canadians incidentally born in the US due to happenstance or medical referral). Because the Canadian FATCA IGA in Bill C31 violates the Charter by making “place of birth” discrimination mandatory, it is being legally challenged. A small grassroots organization – The Alliance for Defense of Canadian Sovereignty – has raised almost $300,000 through crowdfunding and hired leading Constitutional advocate Joe Arvay to challenge this in court. All Canadians should oppose the shameful embedding of dysfunctional US law in Canadian law, because it has created a new class of 2nd class Canadians: any Canadian with a US place of birth now has significantly reduced financial