Category Archives: accidental Americans

Should tax residency Be Based On The “Circumstances Of Your Birth” Or The “Circumstances Of Your Life”?

Panel session – US Expat Tax Conference from Deborah Hicks on Vimeo.

Should taxation be based on the “circumstances of your birth” or the “circumstances of your life”? President Obama doesn’t think (apparently) that the “circumstances of your birth” birth should determine the “outcome of your life”. Should the “circumstances of your birth” determine your tax residency?

This is a second post exploring what is the true meaning of U.S. citizenship-based taxation. In an earlier post – “Toward A Definition Of Citizenship Taxation” – I explored the contextual meaning and effect of U.S. “citizenship taxation”. The only “contextual effect” and “practical meaning” of U.S. citizenship taxation may be described as:

Therefore, the practical meaning of “citizenship taxation” is the United States imposing taxation on the non-US source income earned by people who live in other countries. To be clear: citizenship taxation means that the United States is claiming the residents of OTHER countries as US residents for tax purposes!

That’s amazing stuff! Most countries believe that they are sovereign and that includes sovereignty over matters of taxation. Yet, any country that is a party to a U.S. tax treaty has actually agreed that a subset of the treaty partner’s tax residents are ALSO U.S. tax residents! Although nobody questions the right of the United States to prescribe its own definition of tax residency, few would agree that the United States has the right to claim the residents of other countries as U.S. tax residents. Yet, this is what the U.S. citizenship taxation regime means. This U.S. extraterritorial claim of taxation is at the root of the FATCA administration problems and at the root of the the events that led to Treasury Notice 2023-11 (released on December 30, 20220).

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Report Of Members Of The PETI Committee Of The EU Parliament Of Their July 2022 FATCA Visit To Washington

Prologue

July 2022 – A FATCA Delegation Goes To Washington, DC

This post is to document a small part of the practical impact of the US citizenship taxation regime. It is a continuation of a series of posts exploring what US citizenship taxation is and how it impacts people who live outside the United States and the countries where they live.

The first post – “Toward A Definition Of Citizenship Taxation” – concluded that the only practical and contextual meaning of citizenship tax is:

Therefore, the practical meaning of “citizenship taxation” is the United States imposing taxation on the non-US source income earned by people who live in other countries. To be clear: citizenship taxation means that the United States is claiming the residents of OTHER countries as US residents for tax purposes!

The second post – “Should tax residency Be Based On The “Circumstances Of Your Birth” Or The “Circumstances Of Your Life”?

The US claim of tax residency is based on the “circumstances of their birth”. The “push back” from those impacted is based on the “circumstances of their life”.

Combining the themes of the first two posts we see that:

The United States claims the right based on and only an individual’s “circumstances of birth” to impose regulations and taxation on that individuals’s income earned outside the United States when his “circumstances of life” are such that he lives outside the United States.

Or to describe it slightly differently:

The United States claims the right based on and only an individual’s “circumstances of birth” to impose taxation on the non-US source income of people when their “circumstances of live” are that do NOT live in the United States.

Or maybe …

The United States claims the right based on and only an individual’s “circumstances of birth” to regulate, penalize and tax those individuals when they no longer live in the United States. This includes imposing tax on the non-US source income of people who do NOT live in the United States.

It is very difficult to arrive at a succinct and simple description of what tax and regulation of individuals based on a a “U.S. birthplace” means.

The effect of claiming these nonresidents as US tax residents results in a massive interference (because of the punitive US tax treatment of non-US assets and income sources) in their ability save, invest and carry on businesses in their country of residence AND their ability (because of FATCA) to access bank accounts in their country of residence.

Categories of problems caused by this US extra-territorial claim of tax residency include (but are not limited to):

1. Direct taxation of non-US source income earned by nonresidents

2. Expensive and penalty compliance requirements which interfere withe the ability to manage the financial/retirement planning options in their country of residence

3. The ability to open and maintain basic bank and investment accounts

The problem of bank account access

The European Delegation visiting Washington, DC in July of 2022 was concerned with and ONLY with access to bank and financial accounts. Significantly and disappointedly the delegation expressed no objection to the U.S. extra-territorial tax policies that “claim” European residents as tax residents of the United States.

Banking Access Problems Of European Residents Who Are US Citizens

The perception in July of 2022

On July 18 to 22 of 2022, a delegation from the PETI Committee of the European Union made a visit to Washington, DC to discuss “FATCA Concerns” with US Treasury and certain members of Congress. An excellent report on the meeting was written by Helen Burggraf in the American Expat Financial News Journal. On January 25, 2023 those members delivered a live report to the European Parliament of the visit.

The perception in January of 2023

The following video – January 25, 2023 in which the delegates report on their trip to Washington to the PETI Committee is worth watching.

https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/event_20230125-0900-COMMITTEE-PETI_vd?start=20230125080941&end=20230125111858

The members discuss:

– how they experienced the meetings

– the necessity of continuing to work on the “European FATCA” problem

– the general attitude of their American hosts towards the FATCA problem (in some cases outright denial).

I would say that the sentiment was “cautious optimism”.

(The article by Stephen Gardner referenced in the above tweet continues additional commentary.)

The video also includes the thoughts of “Prof Carlo Garbarino – Bocconi University, Milano, Italy” who prepared the following report titled: “FATCA LEGISLATION AND ITS APPLICATION AT INTERNATIONAL AND EU LEVEL: – AN UPDATE”

IPOL_IDA(2022)734765_EN

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

New Location: John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

What: John Richardson informal information and discussion session for those impacted by US extraterritorial overreach

When: Thursday October 13, 2022 – 19:30 – 21:30

Where: Sutton Arms – Wine Room
6 Carthusian Street, London, EC1M 6EB

Cost: No charge for the session. You may wish to purchase a beverage at the location.

How to get there: There is a map at the bottom of the home page of the Sutton Arms Site:

https://www.sutton-arms.co.uk/

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John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:00 – 21:00

Attention!! Date, time and location updated!! – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30 – New location! See here.

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John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:00

What: John Richardson informal information and discussion session for those impacted by US extraterritorial overreach

When: Thursday October 13, 2022 – 19:00 – 21:00

Where: Pret A Manger – Directly Across From Russell Square Tube (careful to choose the correct Pret)
40 Bernard Street, London, WC1N 1LE
https://www.pret.co.uk/en-GB/shop-finder/l/london/40-bernard-street/284

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Buying Their Freedom: Toward A More Efficient Process Of US Citizenship Renunciation

Buying Their Freedom – A More Efficient Renunciation Process – The “Readers Digest” Version Of This Post …

The effects of US citizenship taxation enforced by FATCA are causing great distress to the US citizens who reside in and are tax residents of other countries. They are being constructively forced to renounce US citizenship because of (1) the out of pocket costs of US tax compliance (2) the possibility of double taxation (3) the US taxation of things that are not taxable in their country of residence (4) the “opportunity cost” of their inability to engage in financial and retirement planning and in some cases (5) the threat or reality of bank/financial account closures. In addition, these circumstances are unfair to their countries of residence who are forced to deal with a group of people who are more likely to require “social assistance” in their retirement years. US citizenship is a problem for US citizens who attempt to live outside the United States and for the countries where they live.

Although many people are constructively forced to renounce US citizenship, the US has made renunciation very difficult from both a cost and availability perspective.

The purpose of this post is to suggest that the process of renouncing US citizenship should be facilitated in the US citizen’s country of residence by that government. Renunciation could be achieved more quickly, at lower cost and (under my proposal) partially subsidized by the government of residence (which would justify this as “buying back their citizens” from any US claim of taxation or other regulatory burdens). I believe that this proposal would benefit the individual US citizen, the US citizen’s country of residence and the United States itself. The following post describes how this can be achieved under the existing US laws.

As President Obama once said:

“The circumstances of one’s birth should not determine the outcome of one’s life.”

This post is composed of the following parts:

Part A – Introduction
Part B – The US Government And The Oppression OF Americans Abroad
Part C – The Legal Framework Of Renunciation
Part D – The Logistics – How The New Renunciation Process Would Work
Part E – Reviewing The Benefits Of The New Renunciation Process
Part F – The Revised Renunciation Fee
Part G – Democratizing Renunciation – Making It Available To All – A Financing Proposal
Part H – Sadly this could all be be prevented if the United States were to end citizenship taxation and adopt the world standard of residence taxation. But, …
Part I – Conclusion – “All Roads Lead To Renunciation”

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August 29 Letter From US Treasury To Dutch Government Reinforces Commitment To Impose US Citizenship Tax On Dutch Residents

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The world as of September 2022 … The following tweet (which generated a very lively discussion) references a letter sent by US Treasury to the Dutch Government.

The letter includes statements that bear on:

– the Dutch banks and their FATCA obligations

– FATCA

– Citizenship taxation

– the US commitment to imposing US taxation on Dutch residents who happen to be US citizens.

The main point of the letter seems to be to give the Dutch banks a “Blessing From Their US Overlords” that a notice of FATCA non-compliance will not presumptively follow from allowing US citizens (who live in the Netherlands) to have basic depository accounts (to receive pay and pay bills).

But, let’s get real. Under no conceivable interpretation of the FATCA IGA could the fact of having US citizen customers (with or without SSNs) cause the Dutch banks be in noncompliance with their FATCA obligations.

The Dutch banks simply do NOT want to deal with US citizen clients.

This sentiment is entirely reasonable and is a natural consequence of US regulatory overreach. The letter from Treasury is asking that the Dutch banks accept the worst of both worlds. First, to allow Dutch residents, who happen to be US citizens, to have a bank account at a bank of their choosing. Second, to behave in a way that is contrary to the business interests of the bank (as having US citizen customers certainly is). The arrogance displayed in Treasury’s letter is sufficient reason to be wary of having US citizen clients period.

The FATCA IGAs don’t require the Dutch banks to close “US Accounts”

1. As per the clear terms of the US/Netherlands FATCA IGA, Dutch banks are perfectly free to exempt all “depository accounts” with balances of less than $50,000 USD from FATCA obligations.

2. Even if the Dutch banks were in breach of FATCA obligations, the breach is of no consequence unless US Treasury (A) notifies the Netherlands of that non-compliance and (B) gives them 18 months to cure the noncompliance. (It’s perfectly obvious that Treasury can simply issue a proclamation that residents of the Netherlands are exempt from FATCA. But, history indicates they are not willing to do this!) In other words: FATCA noncompliance is not the problem. It’s Treasury’s reaction to FATCA noncompliance that is the problem.

Therefore, it’s clear the reluctance to have US citizen customers is not principally motivated by a concern of FATCA noncompliance. It’s because the US Government has ensured that US citizens are “toxic (taxic) carbon life forms” and it’s better to avoid them. The “toxicity” (taxicity) is caused by US citizenship taxation – specifically the US attempt to impose worldwide taxation on US citizen Dutch residents who live and pay tax in the Netherlands. In other words: the problem is caused by US citizenship taxation and not by FATCA.

Note that the following updated sentence reflects a change from the original sentence to reflect the comment below

Nevertheless, the threat of bank account closures and the need to respond to the immediate harmful effects of US citizenship taxation (including FATCA), have caused many Americans abroad including accidental Americans in the Netherlands, France and elsewhere to concentrate on the effects of citizenship taxation (FATCA) rather than on citizenship taxation itself. (See the comment below …)

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The Weaponization Of Citizenship: From “You Are NOT American” to “You ARE American”

Recommended Reading For Americans Abroad

I recently came across the book “You Are NOT American” by Professor Amanda Frost. I read very few books from beginning to end. This particular book I read twice. The subtitle of the book is “Citizenship Stripping From Dred Scott To The Dreamers“. Ms. Frost documents the struggles of those unlikely people who were conscripted into the an internal struggle – invisible to all except those affected – in the United States. I think of this struggle as the “weaponization of citizenship”. Historically this struggle has resulted from the attempts of the United States to reconcile its ugly history of slavery with its beautiful aspirations of freedom. The book is well researched and Ms. Frost was able to tell the stories of the principal “warriors”, bringing them to life in a way that humanized them. Although each person/warrior was the public face of a legal issue (many of their cases were heard by the Supreme Court Of The United States) we learn and understand the facts and circumstances that brought them to the court. While reading the book, I could feel the pain, the frustration and the injustice. We learn how the laws of the day impacted the people of the day. This knowledge comes from Ms. Frost digging into the archives and finding many original sources. The footnotes constitute a “treasure trove” of information akin to reading old newspapers. The book tells the story of “citizenship stripping” as a commentary on American history, culture and values in a broader sense.
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Be Careful Of Faulty Logic Claiming FATCA And The CRS Are Similar: Seven Ways They Are Not

Prologue

For those more interested in logic than in FATCA, you will find a discussion of the logical fallacy here.

Introduction

Last week I participated in a group discussion about FATCA and its effect on Accidental Americans. It’s difficult to have a discussion about FATCA that doesn’t include the CRS (“Common Reporting Standard”). Neither FATCA nor the CRS is well understood. That said, an introduction of the CRS into a discussion about FATCA detracts from a consideration of how FATCA impacts Accidental Americans (and others). Furthermore, there is a generalized assumption that the CRS is a positive development. Associating FATCA with the CRS enhances the “illusion” that FATCA is also a positive development.

In part, the discussion assumed that:

– FATCA (U.S. “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act”) and the OECD CRS (“Common Reporting Standard“) were similar kinds of information exchange agreements; and

– To attack/criticize FATCA would be to criticize and have the effect of weakening the CRS.

These are absurd claims which are based on faulty logic. The faulty logic is that because FATCA and the CRS overlap in one aspect that they are functionally equivalent in intent, effect, purpose and other aspects. The argument appears to be based on the following reasoning:

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July 5/22: An Opportunity To Educate Resident Americans About The Horrors Of Citizenship Tax

Updated July 5, 2022 …

Great discussion with Bob Paxton and Bob Scarborough:

An Opportunity To Educate Resident Americans About The Horrors Of US Citizenship Tax

First a special thanks to Joe Howard who arranged for this opportunity.

On Tuesday July 5, 2022 at 8 pm EST (20:00) I (John Richardson) will appear on the Fair Tax Power Radio Show. The Fair Tax Power Radio Show is hosted by Bob Paxton and Bob Scarborough. The show is for the purpose of educating US residents about the (1) the problems of the U.S. income tax system and (2) the solution by moving to the Fair Tax. You can learn more about the Fair Tax in my recent blog post found here and on the Fair Tax site. I suggest that you follow their Twitter feed at @FairTaxOfficial.

The Topic: How The US Tax System Disables Americans Abroad From Financial and Retirement Planning and How The Fair Tax System Would Solve This Problem

You understand the problem. You understand the pain. You understand the fear. You understand that you may be forced to renounce U.S. citizenship.

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H.R. 5800 – To establish a commission to study how Federal laws and policies (except US Citizenship Taxation) affect United States citizens living in foreign countries

The Readers Digest Version

Yes, this post is a bit long. If you don’t want to read it, here is the “Readers Digest” version in the form of a tweet:

Now, on to the explanation …

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