Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship triggers a “Reporting Frenzy”!
It’s simply unbelievable. The renunciation of U.S. citizenship triggers more reporting obligations on the part of individuals and government agencies than anything else. More than birth. More than death. More than marriage. More than bankruptcy. More than conviction of a crime (probably). It’s unbelievable.
The purpose of this post is to “slice and dice” what those reporting obligations are.
Let’s Go On A Magical Reporting Tour
The rules governing information reporting when one relinquishes U.S. citizenship are found in Internal Revenue Code 6039G. They impose reporting obligations on “some” individual relinquishers (“covered expatriates”), the State Department whenever a Certificate of Loss Of Nationality has been issued and on U.S. Treasury. (I will comment separately on the situation of Green Card holders at the end of this post.) Most of this is summarized in the following two tweets. But, because this is so confused, I am going to take the time to parse the statute.
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) December 24, 2019
It’s all in Internal Revenue Code – 6039G Note that Section 6039G is found in Subtitle F which is the – “Procedure and Administration” – part of the Internal Revenue Code. In other words, it deals only with information reporting. It does NOT impose taxation. Interestingly, Section 6039G imposes reporting requirements on individuals, the State Department, U.S. Treasury (and in the case of Green Card holders) the Immigration authorities.
That pretty much sums it up. For those who want to understand the analysis …
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) May 20, 2018
“Understanding U.S. Tax Residency …
The United States uses a form of “deemed tax residency“.
The Internal Revenue of the United States deems that all “individuals” (wherever they live in the world – including citizens and residents of other countries) except “nonresident aliens” are subject to taxation in the United States on their world wide income. One qualifies as a “nonresident alien” unless one is a:
1. A U.S. citizen
2. A U.S. resident as defined by Internal Revenue Code Sec. 7701(b) Continue reading →
The IRS recently announced that it was ending OVDP – the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.”
The reaction of the “tax compliance community has been largely that the “retiring” of the OVDP program should be interpreted to be a “last, best chance to come into compliance!” A comment at the Isaac Brock Society asks:
“Those who still wish to come forward have time to do so.”
I haven’t finished reading John’s farewell to OVDP but that IRS statement caught my eye. It does NOT say “who must come forward” or “who have yet to come forward”. Who the heck would ever “wish” to come forward, especially after reading about Just Me’s trial by OVDP fire and the betrayal of trust suffered by our dear Dr. Marcus Marcio Pinheiro (aka markpinetree)?
I suppose there could be two possible reasons:
1. The OVDP program could be replaced with something worse; and/or
2. There could be some (few and far between) situations where OVDP might actually be better than streamlined.
Why a nonwillful taxpayer might prefer OVDP to streamlined – The "penalty base" in #OVDP is different from the "penalty base" in streamlined and treatment of #PFIC is is different. But, … "IRS OVDP to End on September 28, 2018" | US OVDP Tax Law Firm https://t.co/KGr5e3yabd
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) March 19, 2018
What do the “tax professionals” think? A collection of comments from the twittersphere follows: #OVDP Tweets
Interestingly, the IRS announcement was accompanied by the statement that:
The planned end of the current OVDP also reflects advances in third-party reporting and increased awareness of U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax and reporting obligations.
Doesn’t this just mean that they will move from the “voluntary disclosure” model to the “enforcement model” where they will begin to use the information gathered in FATCA, etc, to send notices to people with large fines?
To me, this sounds more like a gunshot that begins the battle between the IRS and expats versus an expat victory.
And in the real world …
Last week I was shown a sample of an IRS form letter received by an elderly American woman who has (apparently) not lived in the United States for fifty years. During those fifty years she had dutifully and responsibly filed her U.S. tax returns. Of course, she was living in a “foreign” country outside the United States.
Those interested might have a look at the following form letter she received. Notice that the letter appears to have been prompted because the IRS received information that she had an account at a “foreign bank”. IRS – ltr form 6019
Looks like quite the fishing expedition to me. What a “penalty laden” list of possible accusations. Would you like to receive a letter like this about your “local” bank accounts?
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) August 25, 2017
Well he won the lottery. Specifically he won the “Green Card” lottery. He and his wife came all the way from an Asian country to “Live The Dream” – specifically the dream of living in the United States of America.
He spoke English. His wife did not speak English. He believed in strict compliance in the law. His wife relied on him to ensure her compliance with the law.
As a Green Card holder he was vaguely aware that he could be deported if he were convicted of certain kinds of offenses. But, mainly he believed in compliance with the law for its own sake.
As a Green Card holder and as a U.S. resident he was subject to laws that were never explained to him. He didn’t realize that he was taxable on his WORLD income (including a small pension that he received from his country of citizenship).
In 2009 the “Offshore Jihad” began. He didn’t think of himself as having “offshore accounts”. After all, he was a just citizen of another country. Surely it could NOT be criminal to have a bank account in his country of origin. Did he have to report his small foreign pension to the IRS? That pension was in no way related to the United States of America? And then he learned about the alphabet soup of “reporting requirements” – Mr. FBAR, Uncle FATCA, etc. He began to learn what the “reporting requirements” were. But, the penalties (as least described) were certain. He could not believe the extent of the penalties.
It was at this moment that his “Oh My God” moment began. He was confused and mentally disorganized. At that moment, all of his life assumptions were reversed. Assumption 1: He had always believed that he was a good, moral “law abiding” person. How could it be that he was NOT in compliance with the law. He had no reason to believe that the reporting requirements would even exist. Welcome to the United States of America where any involvement with anything “foreign” makes you a presumptive criminal. Assumption 2: He had always believed that the United States was a “just nation”. How could the United States threaten to impose such penalties on a person in his situation?
Welcome to the United States of America where justice is NOT the norm. What’s a poor “Green Card” holder to do?
He was ill prepared to deal with the situation in which he found himself.
He strived to learn what he could. The IRS would not answer his questions – suggesting that he go to a “tax professional” The “tax professionals” gave him different, conflicting and contradictory answers.
His greatest frustration was that he could NOT completely understand what was expected of him – although he did understand the threat of penalties, penalties and more penalties.
He eventually decided that he had to move back to his home country. He did this NOT to escape U.S. taxation, but because:
He could not completely understand what was required of him to be U.S. tax complaint; and
He was worried that he would die and leave his wife in a situation where she would not know how to be U.S. tax compliant.
In order to prepare for leaving he:
entered the streamlined program (domestic version) and “back filed” for 3 years
stayed in America for two more years so that he could certify the “five years of tax compliance” when he handed in the I-407
even filed the “Sailing Permit” (The 1040C) that is required of ALL aliens (resident or nonresident) when they leave the United States
He in now trying to file his final return and 8854. Fortunately he will not be subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax. He is currently focusing on staying alive long enough to complete his U.S. tax filings. He feels that it is important that he NOT die and leave the U.S. tax compliance problem to his wife. His emotional state:
Like many he is living in a state of fear. I pointed out to him that he was a small insignificant person and that nobody in the U.S. Government cared about him. He thanked me for telling him that “nobody in the U.S. Government cared about him”. He said that it was the first time in his life that he felt good that nobody cared about him. Epilogue:
One more day. One more life ruined. One more person chased out of America because of the Internal Revenue Code.
His greatest wish is that he lives long enough to file Form 8854 to log him and his wife out of America.
Nobody, but nobody should move to America without reading the fine print!
#YouCantMakeThisUp! John Richardson
Has it become too much work to remain a U.S. citizen? Has the time come to renounce U.S. citizenship? Would you be a "covered expatriate" if you renounced? Subject to the "Exit Tax"? https://t.co/1sSX7ZQeX9 via @ExpatriationLaw
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) March 11, 2018
The reality of being a “DUAL” Canada U.S. tax filer is that you are a “DUEL” tax filer
“It’s not the taxes they take from you. It’s that the U.S. tax system leaves you with few opportunities for financial planning”.
I was recently asked “what exactly are the issues facing “Canada U.S. dual tax filers?” This is my attempt to condense this topic into a short answer. There are a number of “obvious issues facing U.S. citizens living in Canada.” There are a number of issues that are less obvious. Here goes …
There are (at least) five obvious issues facing “dual Canada U.S. tax filers in Canada”.
At the very least the issues include: Continue reading →
This post is based on (but is NOT identical to) a July 17, 2017 submission in response to Senator Hatch’s request for Feedback on Tax Reform “Re the impact of the S. 877A “Exit Tax” on those “Americans living abroad” who relinquish U.S. citizenship: Why is the United States imposing an “Exit Tax” on their “non-U.S. pensions” and “non-U.S. assets”? After all, these were earned or accumulated AFTER the person moved from the United States?” Part A – Why certain aspects of the Exit should be repealed
In a global world it is common for people to establish residence outside the United States. Many who establish residence abroad either are or become citizens of other nations. Some who become citizens of other nations do NOT wish to be “dual citizens”. As a result, they “expatriate” – meaning they relinquish their U.S. citizenship. By relinquishing their U.S. citizenship they are cutting political ties to the United States. They are signalling that they do NOT wish the opportunities, benefits and protection from/of the United States.
Yet Internal Revenue Code S. 877A imposes a separate tax on “expatriation”. The “expatriation tax” is discussed in a series of posts found here.
Specific examples of HOW the “Exit Tax Rules” effectively confiscate pensions earned outside the United States are here.
Assuming, “covered expatriate status” and NO “dual-citizen exemption to the Exit Tax“, the S. 877A “Exit Tax” rules operate to:
Virtually “confiscate” non-U.S. pensions that were earned when the individual was NOT a United States resident; and
Allow for the retention of “U.S. pensions” which were earned while the individual WAS a resident of the United States.
(One would think that the result should be THE EXACT OPPOSITE!”) Specific request: The S. 877A Exit Tax should be repealed. If the United States is to impose a tax on expatriation, the tax should not extend to “non-U.S. pensions” earned while the individual was NOT a U.S. resident. Furthermore, the tax should NOT extend to “non-U.S. assets” that were accumulated while the individual was NOT a U.S. resident. But, that’s assuming that the United States should have ANY kind of “Exit Tax!” Continue reading →
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) May 22, 2017
Introduction – Introducing Gerd Topsnik – The World According to Facebook
Discussion on Topsnik, tax treaties and the S. 877A Exit Tax. Can tax treaties be used to avoid paying tax anywhere? https://t.co/OowVORbJHq
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) May 22, 2017
“This case will be seen as the first of an (eventual) series of cases that determine how the definition of “long term resident” applies to Green Card holders. The case makes clear that if one does NOT meet the treaty definition of “resident” in the second country, that one
cannot use that treaty to defeat the “long term resident” test. A subsequent case is sure to expand on this issue. Otherwise, the case confirms that the S. 877A Exit Tax rules are “alive and well” and that the “5 year certification” test must be met to avoid “non-covered status”
Topsnik may or may not be a “bad guy”. But even “bad guys” are entitled to have the law properly applied to their facts. It would be very interesting to know how the court would have responded if Topsnik had been paying tax (a nice taxpayer) in Germany as a German resident.”