Category Archives: accidental Americans

A public service announcement during this Holiday Season: Uncle Sam Is Demanding Retired Accidental Americans for Their Life Savings

Uncle Sam Is Demanding Retired Accidental Americans for Their Life Savings

(Some Holiday Season wisdom sent to me from an anonymous source)

Meet one of the most fascinating anomalies of our time, the accidental American. That is to say, folks who were born in the United States but who were not raised there. Whether you identify as an American or not, Uncle Sam is itching to take your money. Here’s what you need to know about being an accidental American, apologies in advance for the inconvenience.

Breaking it Down, Prepare to be Outraged, You Should Be

You might want to brace yourself for the inevitable frustration that will ensue. Picture this, you’ve lived in Spain for most of your life and were born in the United States. You’re about to retire and are getting excited about getting the chance to wind down, relax, and spend more time with your family. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam sees your retirement as his cue to come knocking on your door demanding money.

Uncle Sam Wants to Turn Your Life Savings Into Back Taxes

The money that you worked the better years of your life to accumulate is something to be proud of as a productive citizen. Uncle Sam, less affectionately known as the IRS, is determined to drain your life savings. The U.S. government will tell you that you owe money to them for back taxes. Any rational mind will readily surmise that these claims and demands are as fanciful as they are unfair.

We aren’t talking about a few hundred Euros here. You could easily owe tens of thousands of dollars to the U.S. government for no reason other than having been born in the United States of America.

Unfortunately for all of us retired accidental Americans, Uncle Sam couldn’t care less over the reasoning. The cold hard fact is that America is a business. President Calvin Coolidge spoke some of the most honest words ever uttered by a politician when he said, “The business of America is, business.” That’s it plain and simple. When Uncle Sam comes gunning for your savings, don’t ask him why he’s doing it, it’s just business.

You Are Not Alone

As an accidental American, you are not alone. There are thousands of people who are suffering from the same injustices. Through arrogance, greed, delirium, or all three, the U.S. government is helping itself to the savings of people around the world.

The IRS is an ever-hungry machine that is intent on strangling every red cent out of people that it possibly can. Given the lofty powers awarded to it by way of the U.S. government, they can be a scary bunch. However, staying informed on the monstrous policies that you’re unfairly expected to comply with is always a good idea. The U.S. government has deliberately made it as difficult and as painful as possible to preserve your savings from the ravages of Uncle Sam’s insatiable fiscal desires.

Over the years, governments have been driven to squeeze citizens of their savings. Some governments are fair when it comes to this. The disturbingly innovative voraciousness of the U.S. government’s mechanisms for sucking money out of its citizens is highly concerning. Of course, that voraciousness extends to accidental citizens around the world.

Stay Informed and Stay Angry

It’s always advisable to stay informed on these matters so that you can at least anticipate the damage before it hits you. Unfortunately all staying informed is going to do is let you know what to expect and be a bit proactive about it. The policies themselves aren’t changing and they have shown no signs of doing so any time soon. Why should they? The U.S. government is making a killing by raking in all of that money from accidental Americans.

Skimming from their life savings is a cash cow that will be hard for Uncle Sam to give up. That’s why you should be upset. The IRS is actively targeting your life savings and will use unrelenting bureaucratic forces to get a chunk of it. You have a right to be upset, no one should have to dole out so much of their hard earned money because of a fanciful design in policy.

(Some Holiday Season wisdom from an anonymous source)

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

IRS Relief Procedures For Former Citizens Update – Relief For Former Green Card Holders Coming!

Introduction

On December 17, 2019 Gary Carter published a post on Tax Connections, which outlined the “Options Available For U.S. Taxpayers With Undisclosed Foreign Financial Assets“. It contained an excellent overview and analysis which included a discussion of the IRS definition of “non-willfulness” under the Streamlined Program. In commenting on the definiton of “non-willful” he noted that:

The IRS definition of non-willful covers a lot of territory. Negligence, for example, includes “any failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the provisions of the Code” (IRC Sec. 6662(c)) or “to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the preparation of a tax return” (Reg. Sec. 1.6662-3(b)(1)). Further, “negligence is a lack of due care in failing to do what a reasonable and ordinarily prudent person would have done under the particular circumstances.” (Kelly, Paul J., (1970) TC Memo 1970-250). The court also stated that a person may be guilty of negligence even though he is not guilty of bad faith. So the fact that you ignored the FBAR filing requirements for many years, and failed to report your foreign income, might be negligent behavior, but it’s probably not willful. That means you likely qualify for one of the new streamlined procedures. On the other hand, if you loaded piles of cash into a suitcase and lugged it over to Switzerland to conceal it from the IRS, you don’t qualify, because that is willful conduct. If you believe your behavior may have been willful under these guidelines, consult with an attorney before submitting returns through one of the streamlined procedures. We work with attorneys who are experts in this field and we would be happy to provide a referral, free of charge or obligation.

Notably, the definition of “non-willfulness” for the Streamlined Program is the same as the definition for the new “IRS Relief For Former Citizens Program”.

Part A – IRS Relief For Former Citizens Who Relinquished U.S. Citizenship After March 18, 2010 (the date FATCA became law)

The program was announced on September 6, 2019.

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Naomi Osaka does NOT automatically relinquish US citizenship by choosing Japanese citizenship


Citizenship is becoming more and more interesting. In my last post I wrote about Canada’s Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s U.S. citizenship. Theoretically, on October 21, 2019, Canada could have it’s first U.S. citizen Prime Minister. (Think of the extra pressure that the United States could bring to bear on Canada.)
The newsworthiness of U.S. citizenship continues. There has been much discussion of citizenship as a prerequisite to compete for countries in the Olympic games. This week, it is being reported that tennis star Naomi Osaka , a dual Japan/U.S. citizen is complying with a Japanese law that requires her to choose either U.S. or Japanese citizenship. A number of media outlets are reporting that Ms. Osaka is relinquishing U.S. citizenship. Is this really true? Interestingly the Toronto Globe and Mail initially reported that:


The Globe later (presumably realizing their error) changed the title of the article to:

“Naomi Osaka set to represent Japan at Tokyo Olympics”

Note that there is no U.S. law that requires her to choose one citizenship over the other. Ms. Osaka is apparently linking her “choosing Japanese citizenship” to a desire to represent Japan in the upcoming Olympics. A number of media sources are reporting that by choosing Japanese Nationality (under Japanese law) that Ms. Osaka is relinquishing/renouncing U.S. citizenship under U.S. law. This is probably incorrect. The act of “choosing Japanese nationality” under Japanese law does NOT automatically mean that Ms. Osaka has relinquished U.S. citizenship under U.S. law. As a matter of U.S. law:

Unless Ms. Osaka’s “choosing Japanese Nationality” meets the the test of voluntarily and intentionally relinquishing U.S. citizenship under Section 349(a) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, then “choosing Japanese Nationality” will NOT result in the relinquishment of Ms. Osaka’s U.S. citizenship. The act of “choosing Japanese citizenship” under Japanese law does NOT automatically result in the loss of her U.S. citizenship.

Every country is free to decide who it’s citizens are or are not.
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On October 21, 2019 Canada could have it's first US citizen Prime Minister! Think of the penalties!

It started on the campaign bus


Worked it’s way to the Toronto Star


(Speaking of the “noose” of citizenship-based taxation, it’s worth noting that former New Brunswick Premier David Alward was reported to have been in the IRS OVDI program.)
Brought back memories of other victims
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson renounced U.S. citizenship before becoming Prime Minister.
Somalia’s president revealed that he had recently renounced U.S. citizenship.
Was confirmed by the Isaac Brock Society
As reported at the Isaac Brock Society and assuming the truth of the Toronto Star article referenced in the above tweet, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may become Canada’s first U.S. citizen Prime Minister. If the article is to be believed, he wouldn’t be a U.S. for long. He is apparently in the process of renouncing U.S. citizenship.
Triggered some of our fondest memories in politics


In the 2015 election debate, Justin Trudeau famously claimed that:
“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian!”
Made us ask whether anything in Canada should be off limits to the USA
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Became the subject of public discussion and debate
Update: The Globe and Mail confirms the news! Mr. Scheer is subject to the U.S. sanction of citizenship-based taxation. @InFBARWeTrust!


Q. Is it appropriate for a U.S. citizen to be the head of state of a non-U.S. country?
A. The comments the Globe and Mail article are interesting.
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More twitter coverage/discussion:
https://twitter.com/i/events/1179861494650953728

Presumptions, tax residency and presumptions of tax residency: Nonresident alien status in a FATCA world

Introduction – All The World Is A Multiple Choice Test
Q.1 – A tax resident of the United States is taxable on his worldwide income. According to the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, which one of the following is NOT a tax resident of the United States of America?
(A) A Congresswoman “Born In The USA”, head of her household, who does not and has never had a U.S. Passport
(B) An unmarried Green Card Holder who has never filed an FBAR who lives in El Paso Texas
(C) A fifty year old U.S. citizen who is divorced has never set foot in the United States, doesn’t have a U.S. Social Security Number and lives in and pays full taxes in Germany
(D) A citizen of only Canada who lives four months a year in Florida with his U.S. citizen wife, in a house he owns where he parks a car he owns with Florida license plates
(E) A citizen of Grenada who lives full time in the USA with an E1 visa operating a fast food franchise
For help in finding the answer see …
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/1
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/2
Q. 2 – A tax resident of Canada is taxable on his worldwide income. According to the Income Tax Act Of Canada, which one of the following is a tax resident of Canada?
(A) A Canadian citizen who lives in the United States but has no business, family, social or residential ties to Canada
(B) An individual with a house and family living in Toronto who works and lives in the banking industry in the Middle East
(C) A Massachusetts resident with a summer home in Ontario, Canada in which he visits 180 days every year
(D) An individual who is a legal permanent resident of Canada but actually lives in Hong Kong
(E) A rich Canadian who buys permanent residency in Portugal and uses a tax treaty tie breaker provision to deem himself to be a tax resident of Portugal
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December 31, 2019 and US Born individuals living outside the USA without having a Social Security Number

Introduction – “The Little Red FATCA Book”

More at:

The Two Ugly Faces of FATCA – One for foreign banks and another for US persons

The Obligations of the banks under the IGA

These obligations are described in the FATCA IGA entered into between the United States and the other country. In general the IGA requires non-U.S. banks to “Review, Identify and Report” on U.S. citizens.

The Obligations of the individual taxpayer under IRC 6038D – Form 8938
The mandatory reporting which takes place on Form 8938 is mandated Internal Revenue Code 6038D.

Non-US AKA “Foreign Banks” – The Problem of US Born customers who do NOT have a US Social Security Number are they in danger of their bank accounts being closed?

Those accused of being U.S. citizens who are NOT U.S. citizens have the opportunity to “self-certify” they are NOT U.S. citizens

The Possibility of being “Born In The USA” but NOT being a U.S. citizen

The Possibility of being “Born Outside The USA”, acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth but NOT being a U.S. citizen today

Looks like being “Born In The USA” may not be a great thing!

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @ExpatriationLaw

IRS provides limited tax relief for certain individuals renounced(ing) after March 18, 2010

Update – My thoughts “The Morning After” – September 7, 2019:
After having digested this for a day (it was announced the afternoon of September 6/19), I offer the following additional thoughts:

Practical value: I think that this IRS announcement/program has value. It may be that those who have renounced would NOT want to come into compliance (although there are certainly some who would – just to bring closure). But, the IRS announcement makes clear that this procedure is available to those who have not yet renounced/relinquished and wish to do so in the future. The point is that these future relinquishers can:
1. Come into tax compliance and have up to $25,000 USD in tax forgiven; and
2. Come into tax compliance without getting a Social Security number. This has the potential to be enormously helpful to a lot of people (but this is a minority view). It’s a way to make the compliance/renunciation process easier and less expensive (tax forgiveness) than it has been to date.
Of course, this will anger the thousands who have previously come into compliance, paid taxes and gone to the trouble of getting a Social Security number.
IRS Motivation: Much of the discussion in social media has revolved around the question of: “Why would the IRS offer this program at all? What’s in it for the IRS (especially if they are forgiving taxes)? I don’t know and nobody outside Treasury/IRS knows. But, my guess is that this is a political response from US Treasury to the problems that FATCA is causing with foreign banks. Viewed prospectively, this provides a clearer path for accidental Americans (living outside the USA) to renounce U.S. citizenship. Although renunciation (which does have tax consequences) does NOT require tax compliance, most people seem to think that it does. Also, this is a clear response from Treasury/IRS to the problems that foreign banks are having with FATCA compliance. In other words: I do NOT think that this has anything to do with helping accidental Americans. I do think that it to assist foreign banks with the problems they are having with accidental Americans. Note that the relinquishment date – March 18, 2010 – is tied to the date that FATCA was enacted. But, what do I know?

Now on to the post as originally written …
Breaking news – just released today – September 6, 2019
Background:
In what appears to be a response to how FATCA issues affect “accidental Americans” living outside the United States, the IRS has introduced a procedure providing limited tax relief, penalty relief and certainty for accidental Americans who need to renounce U.S. citizenship in a FATCA world. The problem is described in this recent article by Helen Burggraf at American Expat Finance. Note that March 18, 2010 was the date that the HIRE Act (of which FATCA was a revenue offset) was enacted – making it clear that this relief is tied to FATCA and NOT to “citizenship-based taxation” per se.
In a nutshell, it appears (I will read this in more detail again) to say that:
Individuals who:
1. Have NEVER filed a 1040 U.S. tax return
2. Have relinquished/renounced U.S. citizenship after March 18, 2010
3. File the five tax years in the year prior to relinquishment
4. File a tax return in the year of relinquishment
5. Have a net worth of less than 2 million USD at the time of relinquishment AND at the time of filing*
6. Have a total of less than $25,000.00 in U.S. tax liabilities over the five year period
7. Have an average U.S. tax liability of less than approximately 165,000 USD for the five preceding years*
8. Certify that their failure to file was non-willful.
can file, avoid paying the U.S. taxes owed and NOT be a covered expatriate.
*These mirror the general requirements to not be a covered expatriate.
This is of value for a limited (but probably numerically large) group of people. The benefits appear to be:
1. Forgiveness of tax up to $25,000.00
2. The opportunity to exit the U.S. tax system cleanly and avoid covered expatriate status.
This is likely to upset those who previously went to the trouble of coming into compliance to expatriate. Note that the procedures are not available to anybody who has EVER filed a 1040.
I will write more on this later. But, for the moment here is the announcement from the IRS News Room:

09 | 6 | 19
IRS announces new procedures to enable certain expatriated individuals a way to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and filing obligations
IR-2019-151
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today announced new procedures that will enable certain individuals who relinquished their U.S. citizenship to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and filing obligations and receive relief for back taxes.
The apply only to individuals who have not filed U.S. tax returns as U.S. citizens or residents, owe a limited amount of back taxes to the United States and have net assets of less than $2 million. Only taxpayers whose past compliance failures were non-willful can take advantage of these new procedures. Many in this group may have lived outside the United States most of their lives and may have not been aware that they had U.S. tax obligations.
Eligible individuals wishing to use these relief procedures are required to file outstanding U.S. tax returns, including all required schedules and information returns, for the five years preceding and their year of expatriation. Provided that the taxpayer’s tax liability does not exceed a total of $25,000 for the six years in question, the taxpayer is relieved from paying U.S. taxes. The purpose of these procedures is to provide relief for certain former citizens. Individuals who qualify for these procedures will not be assessed penalties and interest.
The IRS is offering these procedures without a specific termination date. The IRS will announce a closing date prior to ending the procedures. Individuals who relinquished their U.S. citizenship any time after March 18, 2010, are eligible so long as they satisfy the other criteria of the procedures.
These procedures are only available to individuals. Estates, trusts, corporations, partnerships and other entities may not use these procedures.
The IRS will host an on-line webinar in the near future providing additional information and practical tips for making a submission to the Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens.
Relinquishing U.S. citizenship and the tax consequences that follow are serious matters that involve irrevocable decisions. Taxpayers who relinquish citizenship without complying with their U.S. tax obligations are subject to the significant tax consequences of the U.S. expatriation tax regime. Taxpayers interested in these procedures should read all the materials carefully, including the FAQs, and consider consulting legal counsel before making any decisions.

See the following link for more information:
https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/relief-procedures-for-certain-former-citizens
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Why tax compliant #Americansabroad are under great pressure to renounce US citizenship #citizide

Introduction …
Many individuals (Solomon Yue, Keith Redmond, and MANY others) have been working very hard on tax reform for Americans abroad. Many groups (ACA, AARO, DA, etc.) have also been working. The basic goal is to support Congressman Holding’s bill which would provide some tax relief. This has been a long and difficult process (which will eventually succeed), it is very hard for individual legislators to understand the issues. This motivated me to tweet the following:


A response to this tweet included: “So the only resolution is to renounce citizenship. Correct?”
My thoughts to this response …

Part 15 in series: The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies – “I Just Wanted to Punch, Kick, Scream”

Before moving to the post, if you believe that Americans abroad are being treated unjustly by the United States Government: Join me on May 17, 2019 for a discussion of U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” as follows:


You are invited to submit your questions in advance. In fact, PLEASE submit questions. This is an opportunity to engage with Homelanders in general and the U.S. tax compliance community in particular.
Thanks to Professor Zelinsky for his willingness to engage in this discussion. Thanks to Kat Jennings of Tax Connections for hosting this discussion. Thanks to Professor William Byrnes for his willingness to moderate this discussion.
Tax Connections has published a large number of posts that I have written over the years (yes, hard to believe it has been years). As you may know I oppose FATCA, U.S. citizenship-based taxation and the use of FATCA to impose U.S. taxation on tax residents of other countries.
Tax Connections has also published a number of posts written by Professor Zelinsky (who apparently takes a contrary view).
You will find Part 1 to Part 11 of this series of posts here.
Laura Snyder discusses the “emotional toll of U.S. non-resident taxation and banking policies
Laura Snyder has written (in addition to her original four posts) a series of five posts describing and exploring “The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies. Part 10 of this series (comments of Nando Breiter) was a prologue to Ms. Snyder’s five posts.
Now over to Laura …
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Part 14 in series: The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies – “Maybe that’s the Only Way Out”

Before moving to the post, if you believe that Americans abroad are being treated unjustly by the United States Government: Join me on May 17, 2019 for a discussion of U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” as follows:


You are invited to submit your questions in advance. In fact, PLEASE submit questions. This is an opportunity to engage with Homelanders in general and the U.S. tax compliance community in particular.
Thanks to Professor Zelinsky for his willingness to engage in this discussion. Thanks to Kat Jennings of Tax Connections for hosting this discussion. Thanks to Professor William Byrnes for his willingness to moderate this discussion.
Tax Connections has published a large number of posts that I have written over the years (yes, hard to believe it has been years). As you may know I oppose FATCA, U.S. citizenship-based taxation and the use of FATCA to impose U.S. taxation on tax residents of other countries.
Tax Connections has also published a number of posts written by Professor Zelinsky (who apparently takes a contrary view).
You will find Part 1 to Part 11 of this series of posts here.
Laura Snyder discusses the “emotional toll of U.S. non-resident taxation and banking policies
Laura Snyder has written (in addition to her original four posts) a series of five posts describing and exploring “The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies. Part 10 of this series (comments of Nando Breiter) was a prologue to Ms. Snyder’s five posts.
Now over to Laura …
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