Category Archives: dual citizenship

Problems and opportunities of dual citizenship

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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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)

 

It’s time for Canada to cede sovereignty and unilaterally seek Trump approval of the NAFTA Treaty

Justin Trudeau’s pre-emptive decision to tell one of the planet’s most voracious deal-makers that Canada is willing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, without even being asked, ranks as one of the great examples of a sovereign government disintegrating like cheap toilet paper.

See the complete article here.

Justin Trudeau thinks that President Elect Trump has initiated an “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” for countries that have treaties with the USA.

Step 1: Remind the USA of the treaty

Step 2: Ask the USA how to make the treaty better for the USA.

The solution to all of Canada’s problems would be for Canada to simply join the United States. Were this to happen there would:

– be no more pesky treaties.

– no more second class Canadians – all Canadians would be Americans

– no more foreign offshore accounts

– no more CFCs

– no more foreign trusts

– no more PFICs

Think of it!

FATCA Hatred: “It makes me so sad to say that I never thought I would harbor so much hatred for my own country”

Eric in Switzerland says
September 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm

It might be a novel but it sure isn’t fiction.

I could write a short book myself about lives turned upside down here in Switzerland. My elderly parents (American father/ Swiss mother) had their account shut down for a time by UBS. My American sister who only lived in the US until she was eight years old and her successful French husband went through FATCA hell in Geneva until she renounced out of desperation on their lawyer’s advice. FATCA wanted her French husband to cough up “back taxes” for the sin of sharing an account with his American wife…but you guys know all this.

I’ve had friends lose their house mortage, credit card accounts etc. I know an American couple who lived and prospered here since 1972 and were forced to sell everything and retire in the US although they had prepared for years to retire in Switzerland. FATCA made that Swiss retirement totally impossible. They spent a small fortune trying before just giving up.

I cannot speak for other countries in Europe but the Swiss banks are enforcing FATCA with a rare zeal. I am almost prepared to believe that they are collectively saying “You bloody American bastards want FATCA, well then we’ll give you FATCA even if it means chasing every goddam US citizen out of the country.”

I’m half Swiss. I have Swiss uncles, aunt’s, cousins, nieces, nephews and a Swiss half-brother from my Swiss mom’s first marriage. I know the Swiss. I have lived and worked and married into Switzerland since 1985. The Swiss are polite but they are definitely not docile. Above all they hate being pushed around; especially like this, and especially when it’s a foreign power doing the pushing.

The US used the carrot and the stick to force the IGA signing but really, in the end, all there was was the stick. The Swiss know this and they are very bitter.

I had lunch with my half-brother about two months ago. He is a very honest, wealthy, clever and hard working businessman based in Geneva. He’s mainly into real estate. He owns a dozen apartment buildings, restaurants, a tourist hotel near the Cornavin train station and who knows what else. He has never lived or worked in the US. He just turned seventy last July. So we were having lunch and he told me that he deeply resented having to fill out a new form for his bank stating that he had no dealings with any Americans in the form of partners,investors, etc. He told me that he called up his bank and said “what is this bullshit”!?. They just told him (politely of course) to fill it out and sign it or we’ll have to suspend all your banking activities until you do. They also said, again very politely, don’t get pissed at us and change banks because there’s no escape. All Swiss banks are doing this.

You can multiply this outrage by every single business account holder in Switzerland.

Oh congratulations Chuck Schumer D/NY. Oh job well done Charlie Rangel D/NY. Sterling idea there Carl Levin (ret.) D/MI. And finally, bravo mister president Barack Hussein Obama, you thick c%ç*. You have successfully pissed off the entire international business world and have made them puke at the very idea of getting an American “person” even remotely involved with their enterprise in any way, shape or form. Brilliant, just f&%*ing brilliant!

I am a proud US Navy veteran. I volunteered in 1974. The Navy launched my career in aviation maintenance which eventually took me all the way to working for Swissair. It makes me so sad to say that I never thought I would harbor so much hatred for my own country. It makes me cry to think that short sighted and insatiable greed has replaced every noble principle that America was originally founded on.

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.

 

Cook v. Tait 29: “Citizenship-based taxation” or “Taxation-based citizenship” – From @IsaacBrockSoc

1. Citizenship-based taxation?

The above tweet references the following comment which is certainly “food for thought”.

A small change in vocabulary may be helpful. In point of fact, the US primarily practices RBT. More than 99.9% of tax returns are filed on by US residents. Within the US, the US tax net applies to RESIDENTS, both citizens and aliens and without distinction. It is meaningless to talk of taxing resident citizens based on citizenship when non-citizens are taxed on precisely the same basis. It is like saying we only tax people with blue eyes, but all people with eyes must pay the same tax. Within the US, it is meaningless to talk of CBT, since citizens and non-citizen residents are taxed on exactly the same basis.

The ONLY instance where the US practices CBT is in respect of NON-residents. That is a tiny fraction – fewer than a million filed returns from “compliant” non-resident citizens. With 7.6 million citizens outside the US and fewer than a million filed returns, one can only conclude that FATCA + CBT of non-residents has created is a situation of MILLIONS of US citizens hiding from the US government (7.6 million expats or duals can’t ALL be earning less than $2,500 per year…). The queue of renunciants is of course only the tip of the iceberg since almost all non-resident citizens are unquestionably non-compliant and simply live off the (US) grid and have ever done so.

Viewed in that light, the case for finding CBT to be discriminatory would seem to be a whole lot more evident since it ONLY applies to non-residents. A theoretical US resident who somehow renounced US citizenship would still be liable for precisely the same tax the next day as the day before. Citizenship is only a meaningful criterion for eligibility for taxation OUTSIDE the US; it is completely irrelevant within it. I’m sure someone who knows this better than I can check, but I’d be surprised if the domestic US tax return even asked if you are a citizen: why should they care?

2. If NOT “citizenship-based taxation”, then perhaps “taxation-based citizenship”?

The above tweet references the beginning of the discussion on whether the essence of U.S. citizenship really is just taxation. Remember that in 2004 the United States legislated a new kind of U.S. citizenship – that is the “U.S. Tax Citizen”.

Does the U.S. practice “citizenship-based taxation” or is it just “taxation-based citizenship”?

Bubblebustin suggests an answer.

We’ve had it all wrong! Unlike the rest of the world, the US practices taxation-based citizenship.

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Bubblebustin: “Taxation-based citizenship”. Wow! Why haven’t we noticed that before? Well done! Actually, this very morning I woke up with the realization that those expat Americans who are quoted in articles or surveys as being perfectly happy and willing to pay their U.S. taxes from “overseas” because “they’re American and they owe it” are actually filing and paying their U.S. taxes *in order to keep their American citizenship*. That is, indeed “taxation-based citizenship” …. which is about as un-American as it gets!

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Echoing MuzzledNoMore, great phrase you coined @Bubblebustin, re;
“… “Taxation-based citizenship”..”

Got to get that into common usage! Very insightful and useful turn of phrase.
Thanks!

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Leave it to you, dear bubblebustin, one among others of the most creative here, to come up with this descriptive term — CBT turned on its head.

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Taxation-Based Citizenship — TBC

Best one yet, Bubblebustin. It expresses perfectly the mindset of the U.S. government and those shadowy figures behind the U.S. government. Americans at home and abroad are nothing but tax fodder (some are both tax and cannon fodder). And they all thought they were being “loved” for their devotion to flag and country.

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Thanks everybody, but can we make the argument that Taxation-Based Citizenship is correct? I’ve struggled with the term CBT for quite some time and always thought there’s a better, less incriminating way to frame the issue. This all ties into the Human Rights Complaint that I’m actually just reading through now, which is very inspiring in terms of freedom, equality.

I think the argument here would be whether one can still enjoy US citizenship regardless of their personal tax situation. Can someone be denied certain benefits of US citizenship if they aren’t tax compliant?

Language matters. It’s important that we be clear in how we describe the taxation of U.S. citizens abroad.

The American in Canada – Investor education from @TfRitchie interviewed by @rcarrick

In 2012 I did a post about Terry Ritchie’s book “The American in Canada“. It is referenced in the following tweet.

Mr. Ritchie is has done a series of interviews with the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick as follows:


A 2012 presentation by Mr. Ritchie: