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Welcome to Citizenship Solutions (and Green Card solutions) – John Richardson

Welcome to Citizenship Solutions – The blog of John Richardson

https://twitter.com/asalexanderdesk/status/777939199265804288

I am guessing (actually I know for sure) that you arrived here because of some aspect of being a U.S. citizen living outside the United States. Maybe you are a Green Card holder. Perhaps you are a former U.S. resident who has just learned that you may still be subject to U.S. “worldwide taxation” even though are a “tax resident” outside the USA. I also know how you are feeling.

“U.S. citizens” and “Green Card holders” are referred to as “U.S. Persons”. So, if you are a “U.S. Person Abroad”, well, life is pretty tough. in fact living as a “U.S. Person” outside the United States is: hard, expensive, confusing and (quite frankly) unsustainable.

Some of you are NOT in compliance with the intricate and (almost) impossible to understand web of tax and reporting requirements. Non-compliance has its share of problems.
Some of you ARE in compliance (as far as you know) with the intricate (and almost) impossible to understand web of tax and reporting requirements. Compliance also has its share of problems (stress, expense, anxiety).

Whether you are in compliance or not in compliance, you have problems. This is because:
U.S. citizenship is the one citizenship in the world that affects virtually every aspect of your life. in addition to the information on this blog, I help people with the following kinds of specific problems/questions (which include):

1. Are you a U.S. citizen at all? Have you relinquished U.S. citizenship along the way? If you have relinquished U.S. citizenship, are you a “U.S. Person” for FATCA and tax filing purposes?

2. Have you just received a “FATCA Letter” addressed to you as an INDIVIDUAL or to you as an ENTITY (corporation, trust, etc.)? How to respond. What’s a W9? What’s a W-8BEN-E anyway?

3. What about that old Green Card sitting in your drawer? You may still be subject to U.S. taxation, even when you don’t live in the USA! What are the tax obligations of Green Card holders? What to do? ….

4. Renouncing U.S. citizenship – What’s the “right way”? What’s the “wrong way”? The better question is “what’s the safest way”? What about that “back dated” relinquishment?

5. Green Card expatriation – How to exit the tax system and the U.S. immigration system.

6.  Oh My God!! The moment many of you will never forget. Yes it’s a problem. No it’s not as much of a problem as you think. Make certain that you respond and not react. If all you want to do is file U.S. taxes

7.  U.S. S. 877A “Exit Tax” consulting. If you think you can leave the “Land Of The Free” for free, you better think again. A bit about the the United States expatriation taxes. Those of you with a  non-U.S. pension and want to renounce U.S. citizenship should take specific note!

8. Retirement and financial planning (including pensions) as a “U.S. Person” abroad – You will be surprised at the problems you will have living as a U.S. tax compliant American abroad. Think (or maybe you shouldn’t) “PFIC“.

9. Coming into U.S. tax complianceWhat are the various options?  Why one option over another? What about “Streamlined” compliance? 99% of you should NEVER use “OVDP”!!

10. Non-U.S. AKA “Foreign Corporations” – Yes, these can be a BIG problem. Caution: The U.S. CFC tax rules may attribute income to YOU that you never received!

11. Getting a divorce? Are you a U.S. citizen married to a non-citizen? – Your U.S. citizenship will play a role.

Respond, don’t react! – Do NOT make any decisions without understanding the present and FUTURE consequences of those decisions.

So, how do I know this?

First, I am a person (Toronto based lawyer actually) who was born in the United States and has lived almost all of my life outside the United States. In other words, I have lived and do live these problems.
Second, I have spent the last few years of my life assisting “U.S. Persons abroad” survive the unjust imposition of FATCA, FBAR and “CBT” (AKA U.S. “place of birth taxation”) on Americans abroad. I work with many groups of people including: “accidental Americans“, long term dual citizens who wish to retain U.S. citizenship, long term dual citizens who feel they must renounce U.S. citizenship, Green Card holders (whether they live in the United States or not) and those who have ONLY U.S. citizenship. It’s what I do.

Third, I have been (and continue to be) actively involved in efforts to oppose FATCA in the courts and in the process of making submissions to the U.S. Treasury. If you want to learn about the Alliance For The Defense of Canadian Sovereignty lawsuit against the Government of Canada, see here.

I work with people all around the world! I have given “live presentations” about the “Problems of U.S. citizenship” all over Canada and Europe. I have given a number of “media interviews” about FATCA and the problems of U.S. citizenship. I have testified as a witness before the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (May 2014). I have written hundreds of articles and blog posts about FATCA, FBAR and U.S. taxation-based citizenship. I have and continue to teach courses both for Americans abroad and for professionals who counsel U.S. citizens abroad.

Anyway, the blog is free. The counselling and assistance require individual consultations. Contact me if you want me to help you solve these problems as they apply to YOUR SITUATION.

John Richardson

P.S. Here is the one of the very first posts that I wrote on for this blog. Some posts are “timeless”. “What you need to consider BEFORE consulting a lawyer or tax professional“.

 

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"Coming Into Tax Compliance Book" – How Americans can come into U.S. tax compliance in a FATCA world

Are you “Coming To America” by entering the U.S. tax system as an American Abroad?

The “How To Come Into U.S. Tax Compliance” book for Americans abroad

John Richardson, LL.B, J.D.

I have contributed to establishing the new “Citizenship Taxation” site. As part of launching that site, I have written a series of posts providing relevant information (in a broad sense) about how Americans abroad, who did not know about their U.S. tax obligations, can come into U.S. tax compliance.

Sooner or later, it’s likely that many people will receive a FATCA letter. In your panic, you should be careful. There are a number of things Americans abroad should consider before consulting a lawyer or tax professional.

This series of posts developed from my “Educational Outreach” program for Americans abroad. It is an effort to respond in a practical way to the questions that people have.

The chapters of “Coming Into Compliance Book” are:

Chapter 1 – “Accepting Cleanliness – Understanding U.S. Citizenship Taxation – To remain a U.S. citizen or to renounce U.S. citizenship

Chapter 2 – “But wait, I can’t renounce U.S. citizenship if I’m not a U.S. citizen. How do I know if I am a U.S. citizen?”

Chapter 3 – “No matter what, I must come into U.S. tax compliance – Coming into U.S. tax compliance for those who have NOT been filing U.S. taxes

Chapter4 – “Oh no, I have attempted U.S. tax compliance by filing tax returns. I have just learned that I have made mistakes. How do I fix those mistakes?”

Chapter 5 – “I don’t want to renounce U.S. citizenship. How to live outside the United States as a U.S. tax compliant person

Chapter 6 – “I do want to renounce U.S. citizenship. This is too much for me. How the U.S. “Exit Tax” rules might apply to me if I renounce

Chapter 7 – “I really wish I could do retirement planning like a “normal” person. But, I’m an American abroad. I hear I can’t invest in mutual funds in my country of residence. The problem of Americans Abroad and non-U.S. mutual funds explained.

Chapter 8 – “We all have to live somewhere. Five issues – “The problem of Americans Abroad and non-U.S. real estate explained

Chapter 9 – “Receiving U.S. Social Security – #Americansabroad and entitlement to Social Security

Chapter 10 – “Paying into Social Security – #Americansabroad, double taxation and the payment of “Self-employment” taxes

Chapter 11 – “Saving the children – INA S. 301 – “Residence” vs. “Physical Presence” and transmission of US citizenship abroad

Chapter 12 – “Issues surrounding 401k, IRAs, Roths and Americans Abroad

Chapter 13 – “Married filing separately” and the “Alien Spouse” – the “hidden tax” on #Americansabroad

Chapter 14 – “The Obamacare “Net Investment Income Tax” – Pure double taxation of #Americansabroad

Chapter 15 – “To be “FORMWarned is to be “FORMArmed” – It’s “FORM Crime” stupid!!

Chapter 16 – “Most “Form Crime” penalties can be abated if there is “reasonable cause”

Chapter 17 – “How to get “credit” for taxes (foreign) paid to your country of residence

Chapter 18 – “I don’t pay taxes in the country where I live. Can I “exclude” my foreign income from the U.S. tax return?

Chapter 19 – “Is it better to take the “Foreign Tax Credit” or the “Foreign Earned Income Exclusion” – a discussion


Chapter 20
– “The child tax credit: take it, leave it or how to take it

Chapter 21 – “How #Americansabroad can continue to use the #IRA as a retirement planning vehicle

Chapter 22 – “To share or not to share” – Should a U.S. citizen share a bank account with a “non-citizen AKA alien spouse? – Reporting Edition

The “Coming Into Compliance Book” is designed to provide an overview of how to bring some sanity to your life.
 Coming to America

You may remember the old Eddie Murphy movie about “Coming To America”.

Welcome to the confusing and high stakes rules for U.S. taxation and Americans abroad.
The United States has the most complex, confusing, most penalty ridden and most difficult anti-deferral regime in the world. McGill Professor Allison Christians has noted that Americans abroad are both:

“deemed to be permanently resident in the United States for tax compliance and financial reporting purposes” …

and are

“subject to the most complex aspects of the U.S. tax code regardless of any activity in the United States, and facing extraordinary compliance costs and disclosure risks even for nil returns”

Although Americans abroad are deemed to be resident in the United States, their assets are treated as “offshore”. In addition Americans abroad are subject to taxation in their country of residence.

All of this means that:

1. Americans abroad are subject to the worst and most punitive aspects of the U.S. tax system (there is no Homelander who is treated as badly as an American abroad); and

2. Denied most benefits of the tax systems of their country of residence.

To put it simply, Americans abroad get the worst of all possible tax systems.

The most horrific aspects of the U.S. tax system are saved for Americans abroad. Prepare to be shocked. As one commenter at the Isaac Brock Society site recently said:

Continue reading

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Renouncing US citizenship? How the S. 877A "Exit Tax" may apply to your Canadian assets – 25 Parts

Introduction:

usexittax

There is much discussion of the U.S. rules which operate to impose taxation on the residents of other countries and income earned in those other countries. You will hear references to “citizenship taxation”, “FATCA Canada“, PFIC, etc. It is becoming more common for people to wish to relinquish their U.S. citizenship. The most common form of “relinquishment is renunciation”. The U.S. tax rules, found in the Internal Revenue Code, impose taxes on everything. There is even a tax on “renouncing U.S. citizenship”. I don’t mean the $2350 USD administrative fee which everybody has to pay. (Isn’t that really a tax?). I mean a tax on your assets. To be clear:

You must pay a price to NOT be a U.S. citizen.

This tax is found in S. 877A of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

It’s defined as the:
Tax responsibilities of expatriation

Few people are aware of this tax. Fewer still understand how it works.  As FATCA operates to enforce U.S. taxation on many Canadian citizens, and increasing numbers wish to NOT be U.S. citizens, the importance of understanding the U.S. “Exit Tax” increases.

It is particularly important to understand what triggers the “Exit Tax”. You will be subject to the “Exit Tax” if you are a “covered expatriate”. You must know what that means and why, sooner or later, everybody will become a “covered expatriate”.
The “Exit Tax” is not a simple “token tax”. For Canadians, the tax can be a significant percentage of their net worth. Furthermore, the tax is payable NOT on actual gains, but on “pretend gains”. (Where would the money come from to pay the tax?)
Hang on to your seats. You will shocked, amazed and horrified by this.

Since the advent of FATCA in Canada, this issue is increasingly important.*

To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

This is a 25 part series which is designed to provide you  with some basic education on:

How the U.S. S. 877A Exit Tax rules work; and

How they particularly affect Canadians with a U.S. birthplace, who lived most of their lives in Canada.

This will be covered over a 9 day period in a “9 part” series. (It has since been expanded to 25 posts and counting.)

Although this series is beginning on “April Fools Day”, I assure that this is NOT a joke.

The 25 parts are:

Part 1 – April 1, 2015 – “Facts are stubborn things” – The results of the “Exit Tax

Part 2 – April 2, 2015 – “How could this possibly happen? “Exit Taxes” in a system of residence based taxation vs. Exit Taxes in a system of “citizenship (place of birth) taxation

Part 3 – April 3, 2015 – “The “Exit Tax” affects “covered expatriates” – what is a “covered expatriate“?”

Part 4 – April 4, 2015 – “You are a “covered expatriate” How is the “Exit Tax”  actually calculated

Part 5 – April 5, 2015 – “The “Exit Tax” in action – Five actual scenarios with 5 actual completed U.S. tax returns

Part 6 – April 6, 2015 – “Surely, expatriation is NOT worse than death! The two million asset test should be raised to the Estate Tax limitation – approximately five million dollars – It’s Time

Part 7 – April 7, 2015 – “Why 2015 is a good year for many Americans abroad to relinquish U.S. citizenship – It’s the exchange rate

Part 8 – April 8, 2015 – “The U.S. “Exit Tax vs. Canada’s Departure Tax – Understanding the difference between citizenship taxation and residence taxation

Part 9 – April 9, 2015 – “For #Americansabroad: US “citizenship taxation” is “death by a thousand cuts, but the S. 877A Exit Tax is “death by the guillotine”

Part 10 – April 10, 2015 – “The S. 877A Exit Tax and possible relief under the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty

Part 11 – April 11, 2015 – “S. 2801 of the Internal Revenue Code is NOT a S. 877A “Exit Tax”, but a punishment for the “sins of the father (relinquishment)

Part 12 – April 12, 2015 – “The two kinds of U.S. citizenship: Citizenship for “immigration and nationality” and citizenship for  “taxation” – Are we taxed because we are citizens or are we citizens because we are taxed?”

Part 13 – April 13, 2015 – “I relinquished U.S. citizenship many years ago. Could I still have U.S. tax citizenship?

Part 14 – April 14, 2015 – “Leaving the U.S. tax system – renounce or relinquish U.S. citizenship, What’s the difference?

Part 15 – May 22, 2015 – “Interview with GordonTLong.com – “Citizenship taxation”, the S. 877A Exit Tax, PFICs and Americans abroad

Attention: Parts 16 – 21 focus on the “dual citizen exemption in the context of Canada’s Citizenship laws.

Part 16 – February 16, 2016 – “Why the S. 877A(g)(1)(B) “dual citizen exemption” encourages dual citizens from birth to remain US citizens and others (except @SenTedCruz) to renounce” – Note that this module is composed of Parts 16 – 21 – six posts.

Part 17 – February 16, 2016 – The history of Canada’s citizenship laws: Did the 1947 Canada Citizenship Act affirm citizenship or “strip” citizenship and create @LostCanadians?

Part 18 – February 16, 2016 -The S. 877A “dual citizen” exemption – I was born before the first ever Canada Citizenship Act? Could I have been “born a Canadian citizen”?

Part 19 – February 16, 2016 – The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: The 1947 Canada Citizenship Act – Am I still a Canadian or did I lose Canadian citizenship? (The “Sins Of The Father”)

Part 20 – February 16, 2016 -The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: The 1947 Canada Citizenship Act and the requirements to be “born Canadian

Part 21 – February 16, 2016 – “The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: I was born a dual citizen! Am I still “taxed as a resident” of Canada?

Part 22 – February 29, 2016 – “The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: MUST certify tax compliance for the five years prior to relinquishment

More on the United States Expatriation Tax – ongoing miscellaneous:

Part 23 – “How the 1966 desire to “poach” capital from other nations led to the 2008 S. 877A Exit Tax

Part 24 – “Clinton Treasury representative Les Samuels explains why the U.S. Exit Tax SHOULD apply to the assets of Americans abroad

Part 25 – “Relinquishing US citizenship: South African Apartheid, the Accidental Taxpayer and the exit tax
 
________________________________________________________________________________________
* Why this is of increased importance: The role of FATCA and U.S. taxation in Canada

A picture/video tells a thousand words. Have a look at the “Rick Mercer FATCA video” in the following tweet:

FATCA is U.S. law which is designed to identify financial assets and people, outside the United States, that the U.S. believes are subject to its tax laws. (It makes no difference whether the person is a Canadian citizen”.) This includes people who were:

– born in the U.S.

– Green card holders

– people born to U.S. parents in Canada

– “snow birds” who spend too much time in the United States

The Government of Canada is assisting the United State to implement FATCA in Canada. To be specific:

– on February 5, 2014 the Government of Canada formally agreed to change Canadian law to identify “U.S. connected” Canadians in Canada

– in May of 2014, the Government of Canada passed Bill C 31 which contained the implementing legislation

– on July 1, 2014 FATCA became the law in Canada

– since July 1, 2014 many Canadians have received a “FATCA Letter” (can the U.S. claim you as a taxpayer?)

The Alliance For The Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty has sued the Government of Canada in Federal Court on the basis that the participation of the Canadian Government in FATCA, is in violation of the Charter Rights of Canadians. You can keep up with their progress on the Alliance blog” which is here.
FATCA is a tool to enforce “U.S. taxation in Canada”. The result is that more and more Canadian citizen/residents  will be forced to pay U.S. taxes. But, U.S. tax rules include much more than tax. They are source of comprehensive information gathering and “information returns”. Typical returns required by U.S. taxpayers in Canada include: FBAR, FATCA Form 8938, Form 5471, Form 3520, Form 3520A and many more.

In addition, U.S. tax rules are different from Canadian tax rules. The most painful example is that when:

– Canada allows a “tax free” capital gain on your principal residence
– the U.S. imposes a 23.8% tax on the sale of your principal residence (you get a $250,000 deduction)

Sound horrible?

It is, but:

It’s only Canadian citizens with a past “U.S. connection” who will be subject to these taxes. It is estimated that approximately one million Canadians may be subject (as “U.S. Subjects”) to these rules. But, Canadians with a “U.S. connection” are members of families. Therefore, U.S. taxation in Canada will impact all members of a Canadian family which has at least one “U.S. connected” member.

John Richardson Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

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Americans abroad and the compliance dilemma: What should be considered before contacting a lawyer

The “Readers Digest Version …

It’s difficult to be a U.S. citizen living outside the United States. The U.S. extra-territorial tax regime has created an industry of professionals who “feast off the injustice” of the U.S. tax and regulatory regime. U.S. citizenship taxation reinforced by FATCA has truly created for tax, financial planning, and immmigration professionals:

“The gift that just keeps on giving.”

The messaging to Americans abroad includes:

Americans abroad who don’t file U.S. taxes are constantly warned of the consequences of non-compliance.

Americans abroad who DO file U.S. taxes are constantly warned of the consequences of mistakes in their attempts at compliance.

Americans abroad attempting financial and retirement planning outside the United States are constantly on the search for financial products that wont’ conflict with U.S. tax rules.

Americans abroad who want to escape by renouncing U.S. citizenship are constantly being warned of possible tax and immigration consequences associated with renunciation.

(It’s clear that U.S. citizens living outside the United States are being punished for who they are and NOT what they do or don’t do.)

In this context, there continues to be a significant “fear mongering” coming from various players in the U.S. tax compliance industry. I suggest that Americans abroad should exercise caution in how they respond to these messages. In 2013 I wrote a post suggesting eleven principles for how one should respond to the U.S. tax compliance (or noncompliance) problem. This 2023 post is intended to provide an update to the 2013 post. The 2013 post is reproduced as Part C of this update.

This general purpose is to provide suggestions for how to RESPOND rather than REACT to your possible situation as a U.S. citizen living outside the United Staes. My thoughts are organized in the following four parts:

Part A – “Proper U.S. legal advice” – What does it mean and where should you seek it?
Part B – The evolution of the compliance landscape from 2013 to 2023
Part C – My original post from July of 2013
Part D – Summary and two final thoughts

Part A – “Proper U.S. legal advice” – What does it mean and where should you seek it?

Further thoughts and updates – November 24, 2023 …

This post (see Part C) was originally written on July 10, 2013. I had completely forgotten about it, but was reminded of it when I read an “advertorial” this week. The “advertorial” was from a U.S. tax compliance firm which was “fanning the flames of fear” and generally trying to market their services …

The article included the suggestion that U.S. citizens in Canada receive “proper U.S. legal advice“. The implication is that “proper U.S. legal advice” would come from a U.S. licensed lawyer (yes, sounds reasonable). That said, it’s important to understand that “U.S. lawyers” who “practise before the IRS” are subject to the Treasury’s Department Circular 230. Circular 230 includes what is in effect a code of professional conduct for tax professionals who practise before the Internal Revenue Service. (This includes U.S. licensed lawyers, U.S. licensed accountants, Enrolled Agents, etc.) Of particular note are the following two sections which are of direct relevance to Americans abroad seeking advice about their U.S. tax compliance obligations.

The obligations that Circular 230 imposes on the U.S. advisor include:

1. The obligation to inform the person of noncompliance and the associated penalties/consequences

§ 10.21 Knowledge of client’s omission.

A practitioner who, having been retained by a client with respect to a matter administered by the Internal Revenue Service, knows that the client has not complied with the revenue laws of the United States or has made an error in or omission from any return, document, affidavit, or other paper which the client submitted or executed under the revenue laws of the United States, must advise the client promptly of the fact of such noncompliance, error, or omission. The practitioner must advise the client of the consequences as provided under the Code and regulations of such noncompliance, error, or omission.

(Note that this directs the advisor to describe the possible penalties.)

2. The requirement of NOT assisting in or advising non-compliance

§ 10.51 Incompetence and disreputable conduct.

(a) Incompetence and disreputable conduct.
Incompetence and disreputable conduct for which a practitioner may be sanctioned under §10.50 includes, but is not limited to —

(7) Willfully assisting, counseling, encouraging a client or prospective client in violating, or suggesting to a client or prospective client to violate, any Federal tax law, or knowingly counseling or suggesting to a client or prospective client an illegal plan to evade Federal taxes or payment thereof.

(At a minimum this directs the advisor to NOT suggest that non-compliance is an option.)

Bottom line: “Proper U.S. legal advice” is likely to include: identification of noncompliance, a discussion of penalties and a directive that compliance is the correct course of action. It’s important that this be understood BEFORE seeking U.S. centric advice.

Would it make a difference if one consulted a non-U.S. advisor?

I suspect that the answer may vary on a county by country basis …

The situation in Canada appears to be that Canadian lawyers, accountants, etc. are NOT subject to Circular 230. I expect they might tell you that there is no Canadian law that requires Canadian residents to comply with U.S. tax laws. In any case, they clearly are NOT required to read you the “Circular 230 Riot Act”. While updating this post I came across a 2016 fascinating post at the Isaac Brock Society that discusses this very issue. Obviously, the post could not be understood to be legal advice. That said, it does make some interesting observations.

The context of the Isaac Brock Society post is captured in the introductory paragraph:

[Many readers living outside the U.S. who are not IRS compliant, have sought advice from tax attorneys on whether they should or should not enter into a lifetime of IRS compliance, and what would be the “cost”. Maybe your tax attorney living in Canada etc. is also an Enrolled Agent of the U.S. IRS, possibly affecting the nature of the interaction between attorney and you the client. What were the options suggested and especially disclosures made to you by your attorney? Attorneys must adhere to the professional and ethical standards of their law societies. See discussion below:]

As always, I suggest that your general advisor should be different from the person who does your actual tax preparation!

Part B – The evolution of the compliance landscape from 2013 to 2023

Generally since, 2013:

– the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” – OVDP – was retired in 2018

– the “streamlined compliance procedures” are better and available to more people

– the IRS “Relief Procedures For Former Citizens” program was introduced in 2019

– the “delinquent international information return” procedures (including “Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures“) have evolved

A 2020 podcast exploring these options is available here.

My general advice about how to approach this problem remains intact. I continue to recommend separating the “advisor” from the “tax preparer”.

Part C – My original post from July of 2013

(Note that I have included a horizontal line through the parts that are no longer relevant because of the change in compliance options detailed in “Part B” above.)

What should be considered before contacting a lawyer

decision

The Reality of U.S. Citizenship Abroad

Nobody denied that the unintended targets of Congressional legislation aimed at those who supposedly “owe allegiance” to the USA, now assisted by craven foreign governments anxious lest their financial services entities lose access to the US market, are mostly unlikely to do anything at all. But the whole idea of universal self-assessment of taxation is to keep the taxpayer in an anxious condition, to make him overpay if possible, but at least not to underpay. Those now faced with an unprecedented, even retroactive, enforcement campaign and who must, if they wish to become compliant and avoid penalty or even prosecution (should they be identified in the future), sacrifice much of their wealth, even become insolvent.

Comment at the Isaac Brock Society blog – July 29, 2013

It’s a tough time to be a U.S. citizen abroad. The world is awash in FATCA anxiety. The U.S. has discovered FBAR as a way to raise penalty revenue and have embarked on an “FBAR Fundraiser”. Incredibly all bank accounts outside the U.S. are considered to be “offshore accounts“. U.S. law requires U.S. citizens to enter the U.S. with a U.S. passport. Those renewing their passports are now required to provide information relevant to tax compliance. Many are inclined to simply renounce their U.S. citizenship. Even renouncing citizenship has tax implications. Yet, all indications are, that the vast majority of U.S. citizens abroad are NOT tax compliant. Continue reading

Americans Abroad Have Until April 29, 2024 To Tell FinCEN Why They Should Be Exempt From FBAR

Outline

To learn more about Mr. FBAR, I invite you to watch the following discussion with U.S. tax lawyer Virginia La Torre Jeker.

Part 1 – Introducing Mr. FBAR – Looking For Mr. FBAR
Part 2 – 2011 – Financial Crimes, FBAR and Americans Abroad – Perspective From The Isaac Brock Society
Part 3 – 2020 – Financial Crimes, FBAR and Americans Abroad – Comments From Americans Abroad And Treasury’s Answer
Part 4 – 2024 – Financial Crimes, FBAR and Americans Abroad – Americans abroad need to keep commenting
Part 5 – What should you include in your comment?
Appendix – Treasury’s 2021 response to the comments of Americans abroad

To cut to the chase:

Pursuant to 31 U.S. Code § 5314 the Treasury Secretary has the clear statutory authority to exempt Americans abroad from the FinCEN 114 AKA FBAR reporting requirements. The statutory language is:

(b)The Secretary may prescribe—
(1)a reasonable classification of persons subject to or exempt from a requirement under this section or a regulation under this section;

Therefore, it is important to make your views known to Treasury!

Treasury has provided another opportunity (the last one was in 2020) for Americans abroad to comment directly on the FinCEN 114 AKA FBAR requirement. I strongly recommend that Americans abroad take this opportunity to comment on the appropriateness of FBAR being required for the local bank comments of Americans abroad.

The site requesting comments is here..

A direct link to the place where you comment is here:

https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRA/icrPublicCommentRequest?ref_nbr=202403-1506-001&fbclid=IwAR3onw_sIYUYJUPs7FE2peIqHvstLp6GWznHz_ES3wC3a3V9HS7YFcZJB94_aem_AZ4juvxyHvLGAFVzYZYrCQ13We1R4LDFI_ajzrZ1EVldNPEGw2Z8jNAb397dlqBeaGzAxjXeEySvXWDbPMjth6tv

Update April 16, 2024 – Understanding the context of the comment request

I just received the following note from a reader of this post – “Someone out there”:

The Paperwork Reduction Act mandates that agencies engaging in information collection must seek approval every 3rd year from the Office of Management and Budget to extend the collection for an additional 3 years. The agency must demonstrate that the information collection is necessary, has utility and that the burden is minimal. Here’s an overview of the process: https://pra.digital.gov/clearance-process/

The first comment period (step 2 in the renewal process) was initiated in October of last year and Treasury received 40+ comments). Now the process is at step 4. Treasury has read the comments from October and has summarized them into their supporting statement which has now been submitted to OBM. The current supporting statement as well as the October public comments can be found here: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewDocument?ref_nbr=202403-1506-001

Comments during the current 30 day period are sent directly to OBM for consideration. If for whatever reason OBM finds the information collection to be unnecessary, it has the authority to take a few actions: approve, disapprove, file comment, or return the ICR to the agency if it fails to meet the procedural requirements. The OBM can even instruct the agency to undergo “rulemaking” which means that Treasury would have to propose new FBAR rules which could eventually make its way into the regulations.

The statutes for this PRA approval process is found in 44 U.S. Code § 3507 and 44 U.S. Code § 3508 but the key subsection is 3507(h).

So any comments submitted during this 30 day period should be aimed at convincing the OBM that Treasury’s supporting statement is inadequate or that FBAR is unnecessary, doesn’t provide utility, is a burden and that the OBM should instruct Treasury to propose new rules that would modify the FBAR regulations.

Those who are interested in learning more, read on … Otherwise please go directly to the comment page.

Continue reading

FATCA Is Not the Answer

Reposted from SEATNow.org.

On February 26, 2024, Tax Notes Federal published an article entitled “Taxing Fat Cats Abroad.”

The article defended the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) as an “automatic exchange of information used to track down and tax accounts held by wealthy U.S. citizens living abroad.”

The article contained many errors and misinterpretations.

SEAT co-founders John Richardson, Karen Alpert, and Laura Snyder submitted a response to the article, entitled “FATCA Is Not the Answer.”

Their response, published on March 18, 2024, can be accessed via SSRN at this link.

The response explains:

1. The considerable differences between FATCA and CRS. They include FATCA’s lack of reciprocity and the United States’ refusal to join CRS;

2. The inequalities inherent in the U.S. tax system with respect to Americans living outside the United States and their discriminatory treatment;

3. The irrelevance of FATCA with respect to Farhy v. Commissioner and Bittner v. United States;

4. The unjust stigmatization of Farhy, Bittner, and all Americans living outside the United States;

5. Inconsistencies between the article’s defense of citizenship-based taxation and the “single tax principle” advocated by professor Reuven Avi-Yonah;

6. The failure of the article, in its theorectical defense of citizenship-based taxation, to contend with the real system in place today and its myriad intractable problems;

7. The lack of any connection between taxation and voting rights;

8. The importance of the 14th Amendment for the equal protection of the rights of Americans living outside the United States; and

9. That the 16th Amendment is not — and it should not be used as — a license to channel violations of constitutional and human rights through the tax code.

John Richardson – Follow me on X.com

Considering Renunciation Part 2: Recognizing And Overcoming The Emotional Barriers

I recently wrote a post describing some of the objective tax, immigration and financial planning issues surrounding the renunciation of U.S. citizenship. For all people tax and financial planning issues should be objectively considered. But objective issues can take one only so far. We are all individual human beings who experience the world differently. We all ascribe various degrees of importance to different things. Citizenship is about more than immigration, tax and financial planning. Citizenship is also a huge component of how we see ourselves in the world. Citizenship is part of who we are!

Therefore, for many people the renunciation of U.S. citizenship is very much a psychological and emotional process. It is a process of transitioning to a both a new stage of life and a new stage of self! This is because citizenship is very much a component of (1) who we are today, (2) our personal histories and (3) how we see our futures. I was recently seated at a lunch table with a new Canadian citizen who immigrated to Canada from China. By becoming a Canadian citizen he ceased to be a citizen of China. I asked him how he felt about losing Chinese citizenship. He said that he felt very bad and very sad. But, he said his present and future was in Canada and that he wanted to be and identify as a Canadian citizen. (U.S. citizens do NOT automatically lose their citizenship by naturalizing as Canadian citizens.) To think about citizenship is to think about life planning and (especially for U.S. citizens) financial planning. Citizenship can deprive people of opportunities or open up new opportunities.

As I was counselling a people who was renouncing in February 2024, I was asked:

“Do many people regret renouncing U.S. citizenship?”

In all the years I have been assisting people I have had exactly two people regret their renunciations. But, this was immediately after renunciation and the regret was short lived. In most cases, people comment that they wish they had renounced sooner. That said (especially for those who grew up in the United States) people wish they were not placed in a position where they feel they must renounce.

When it comes to renouncing U.S. citizenship:

People are NOT renouncing because they want to.

People are renouncing because they feel they have to.

Two podcasts to help people overcome the regret of renouncing U.S. citizenship


1. The Retired Citizen – You can always identify as a U.S. citizen if you want to

https://prep.podbean.com/e/the-retired-us-citizen/

2. The Dodge Stratus ad – You’re not losing a sports car. You are GAINING two doors!

https://prep.podbean.com/e/about-loss-of-identity-what-the-dodge-stratus-teaches-us-about-renouncing-us-citizenship/


Hope this helps you clear the emotional hurdles!

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Considering renunciation Part 1? The Problem is HOW To Make The Renunciation Decision

For Americans U.S. citizenship is an asset that depreciates with age. U.S. citizenship is more valuable for younger people beginning their careers than for older people moving toward retirement. The United States is a large market with many career and employment opportunities. In addition, older people often live off capital, (which if “foreign” to the United States) comes with punitive U.S. taxation and reporting.

There are many reasons to retain U.S. citizenship or to renounce U.S. citizenship. It is a “circumstance dependent” decision. To be clear, the process of renunciation is relatively easy. Renunciation is a process that takes place under the Immigration and Nationality Act. That said, the fact of renunciation has consequences that extend well beyond the Immigration and Nationality Act.

What follows is a list of “some” specifics people should consider as part of making the renunciation decision. This is a “quick and dirty” post. I make no attempt to detail the specific reasons why these considerations may be important. This list is intended only to “raise your level of awareness” about a decision that has long term implications in your life.

The renunciation decision requires a tolerance for uncertainty.

Deciding whether to renounce is a decision made in an uncertain environment. Where there is uncertainty one must think in terms of “better vs. worse” outcomes. Not “right vs. wrong” outcomes.

On the one hand one never knows what the future could hold.

On the other hand U.S. citizenship carries many present and future costs.

The process of renouncing U.S. citizenship is easy.

The process of understanding the implications that renunciation may have on your life are neither easy nor well understood.

Continue reading

Aroeste v. United States – November 2023

Introduction – Aroeste v. United States

Who you are is different from what you must do! Filing a 1040 instead of a 1040NR will NOT convert a treaty nonresident into a U.S. resident for tax purposes!!

Warning!! Warning!! Warning!!

Green Card holders who are “long term residents” and who file as “treaty non-residents” may be deemed to have expatriated and will be subjected to the exit tax rules to determine whether they are “covered expatriates”. Do NOT ever file as a treaty nonresident without proper advice.

(This does NOT seem to have been explored in the Aroeste case.)
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The summary of Aroeste is found in the conclusion …

IV. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, the Court DENIES the Government’s motion for summary judgment and GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Aroeste’s motion for summary judgment.

Specifically, the Court finds Aroeste is a United States person, but ceased to be treated as a lawful permanent resident of the United States because he commenced to be treated as a resident of Mexico under the Treaty, did not waive the benefits of such Treaty, and notified the Secretary of the commencement of such treatment. Thus, Aroeste is not subject to FBAR penalties. The Government must discharge Aroeste’s liability for penalties still outstanding for the non-filing of a FBAR for the years 2012 and 2013 pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 5321, totaling $21,851.76, and must refund Aroeste’s payment of $3,004.

The Court further finds Aroeste untimely notified the Secretary of the commencement of treatment as a resident of Mexico, and thus is subject to penalties pursuant to I.R.C. § 6712(a) equal to $1,000 per failure to timely report his Treaty position, totaling $2,000 for 2012 and 2013. The Government may proceed accordingly in this later regard.

The Court ORDERS the Clerk of Court to CLOSE THIS CASE.

The purpose of this post is to compile both the Aroeste decision and the relevant provisions of the statutes, regulations and treaty in one place for easier reference.

In January of 2024 the U.S. Government announced that it would appeal the decision in Aroeste.

At present (subject to appeal) the Aroeste case stands for these principles:

1. A Green Card holder who is treated as a nonresident of a tax treaty who gives “notice to the Secretary” is NOT a “U.S. Person” for the purposes of the FBAR regulation 1010.350 and is NOT required to file an FBAR.

2. Notice can be given to the government retrospectively. In 2016 Mr. Aroeste notified the government that he was a treaty nonresident pursuant to 7701(b)(6) and the provisions of the U.S. Mexico Tax Treaty.

3. Filing the wrong kind of tax return. (1040 instead of 1040NR) does NOT waive the treaty benefits!

4. Notice 2009-85 may not be valid because of a failure to meet the APA requirements for notice and comment.

Al link to the Aroeste decision is here …

Aroeste-v-United-States-Order-Nov-2023

Part A – The FBAR Statute – 31 U.S.C. 5314

31 U.S. Code § 5314 – Records and reports on foreign financial agency transactions
(a) Considering the need to avoid impeding or controlling the export or import of monetary instruments and the need to avoid burdening unreasonably a person making a transaction with a foreign financial agency, the Secretary of the Treasury shall require a resident or citizen of the United States or a person in, and doing business in, the United States, to keep records, file reports, or keep records and file reports, when the resident, citizen, or person makes a transaction or maintains a relation for any person with a foreign financial agency. The records and reports shall contain the following information in the way and to the extent the Secretary prescribes:

(1) the identity and address of participants in a transaction or relationship.
(2) the legal capacity in which a participant is acting.
(3) the identity of real parties in interest.
(4) a description of the transaction.

(b) The Secretary may prescribe—
(1) a reasonable classification of persons subject to or exempt from a requirement under this section or a regulation under this section;
(2) a foreign country to which a requirement or a regulation under this section applies if the Secretary decides applying the requirement or regulation to all foreign countries is unnecessary or undesirable;
(3) the magnitude of transactions subject to a requirement or a regulation under this section;
(4) the kind of transaction subject to or exempt from a requirement or a regulation under this section; and
(5) other matters the Secretary considers necessary to carry out this section or a regulation under this section.

(c) A person shall be required to disclose a record required to be kept under this section or under a regulation under this section only as required by law.

(Pub. L. 97–258, Sept. 13, 1982, 96 Stat. 997.)

Regulations under 1010.350 – Who is a U.S. person?

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/1010.350

Part B – The FBAR Regulation

Regulations under 1010.350 – Who is a U.S. person?

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/1010.350

31 CFR § 1010.350 – Reports of foreign financial accounts

§ 1010.350 Reports of foreign financial accounts.

(a) In general. Each United States person having a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, a bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country shall report such relationship to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for each year in which such relationship exists and shall provide such information as shall be specified in a reporting form prescribed under 31 U.S.C. 5314 to be filed by such persons. The form prescribed under section 5314 is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (TD–F 90–22.1), or any successor form. See paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this section for a special rule for persons with a financial interest in 25 or more accounts, or signature or other authority over 25 or more accounts.
(b) United States person. For purposes of this section, the term “United States person” means—
(1) A citizen of the United States;
(2) A resident of the United States. A resident of the United States is an individual who is a resident alien under 26 U.S.C. 7701(b) and the regulations thereunder but using the definition of “United States” provided in 31 CFR 1010.100(hhh) rather than the definition of “United States” in 26 CFR 301.7701(b)–1(c)(2)(ii); and

Part C – IRC 7701(b)(6)

6) Lawful permanent resident For purposes of this subsection, an individual is a lawful permanent resident of the United States at any time if—
(A) such individual has the status of having been lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws, and
(B) such status has not been revoked (and has not been administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned).
An individual shall cease to be treated as a lawful permanent resident of the United States if such individual commences to be treated as a resident of a foreign country under the provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and the foreign country, does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the foreign country, and notifies the Secretary of the commencement of such treatment.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7701

Part D – IRC 7701(b)(6) Treasury Regulations

See the Appendix below.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/26/301.7701(b)-7

Part E – The U.S. Mexico Tax Treaty

ARTICLE 4
Residence
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “resident of a Contracting State” means any person
who, under the laws of that State, is liable to tax therein by reason of his domicile, residence, place of management, place of incorporation, or any other criterion of a similar nature. However, this term does not include any person who is liable to tax in that State in respect only of income from sources in that State.
2. Where by reason of the provisions of paragraph 1, an individual is a resident of both Contracting States, then his residence shall be determined as follows:
a) he shall be deemed to be a resident of the State in which he has a permanent home available to him; if he has a permanent home available to him in both Contracting States, he shall be deemed to be a resident of the State with which his personal and economic relations are closer (center of vital interests);
b) if the State in which he has his center of vital interests cannot be determined, or if he does not have a permanent home available to him in either State, he shall be deemed to be a resident of the State in which he has an habitual abode;
c) if he has an habitual abode in both States or in neither of them, he shall be deemed to
be a resident of the State of which he is a national;
d) in any other case, the competent authorities of the Contracting States shall settle the
question by mutual agreement.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-trty/mexico.pdf

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatrationlaw

Appendix – 26 CFR § 301.7701(b)-7 – Coordination with income tax treaties.

§ 301.7701(b)-7 Coordination with income tax treaties.

(a) Consistency requirement—(1) Application. The application of this section shall be limited to an alien individual who is a dual resident taxpayer pursuant to a provision of a treaty that provides for resolution of conflicting claims of residence by the United States and its treaty partner. A “dual resident taxpayer” is an individual who is considered a resident of the United States pursuant to the internal laws of the United States and also a resident of a treaty country pursuant to the treaty partner’s internal laws. If the alien individual determines that he or she is a resident of the foreign country for treaty purposes, and the alien individual claims a treaty benefit (as a nonresident of the United States) so as to reduce the individual’s United States income tax liability with respect to any item of income covered by an applicable tax convention during a taxable year in which the individual was considered a dual resident taxpayer, then that individual shall be treated as a nonresident alien of the United States for purposes of computing that individual’s United States income tax liability under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder (including the withholding provisions of section 1441 and the regulations under that section in cases in which the dual resident taxpayer is the recipient of income subject to withholding) with respect to that portion of the taxable year the individual was considered a dual resident taxpayer.
(2) Computation of tax liability. If an alien individual is a dual resident taxpayer, then the rules on residency provided in the convention shall apply for purposes of determining the individual’s residence for all purposes of that treaty.
(3) Other Code purposes. Generally, for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code other than the computation of the individual’s United States income tax liability, the individual shall be treated as a United States resident. Therefore, for example, the individual shall be treated as a United States resident for purposes of determining whether a foreign corporation is a controlled foreign corporation under section 957 or whether a foreign corporation is a foreign personal holding company under section 552. In addition, the application of paragraph (a)(2) of this section does not affect the determination of the individual’s residency time periods under § 301.7701(b)–4.
(4) Special rules for S corporations. [Reserved]
(b) Filing requirements. An alien individual described in paragraph (a) of this section who determines his or her U.S. tax liability as if he or she were a nonresident alien shall make a return on Form 1040NR on or before the date prescribed by law (including extensions) for making an income tax return as a nonresident. The individual shall prepare a return and compute his or her tax liability as a nonresident alien. The individual shall attach a statement (in the form required in paragraph (c) of this section) to the Form 1040NR. The Form 1040NR and the attached statement, shall be filed with the Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255. The filing of a Form 1040NR by an individual described in paragraph (a) of this section may affect the determination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service as to whether the individual qualifies to maintain a residency permit.
(c) Contents of statement—(1) In general—(i) Returns due after December 15, 1997. The statement filed by an individual described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, for a return relating to a taxable year for which the due date (without extensions) is after December 15, 1997, must be in the form of a fully completed Form 8833 (Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b)) or appropriate successor form. See section 6114 and § 301.6114–1 for rules relating to other treaty-based return positions taken by the same taxpayer.
(ii) Earlier returns. For returns relating to taxable years for which the due date for filing returns (without extensions) is on or before December 15, 1997, the statement filed by the individual described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section must contain the information in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this section in effect prior to December 15, 1997 (see § 301.7701(b)–7(c)(1) as contained in 26 CFR part 301, revised April 1, 1997).
(2) Controlled foreign corporation shareholders. If the taxpayer who claims a treaty benefit as a nonresident of the United States is a United States shareholder in a controlled foreign corporation (CFC), as defined in section 957 or section 953(c), and there are no other United States shareholders in that CFC, then for purposes of paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the approximate amount of subpart F income (as defined in section 952) that would have been included in the taxpayer’s income may be determined based on the audited foreign financial statements of the CFC.
(3) S corporation shareholders. [Reserved]
(d) Relationship to section 6114(a) treaty-based return positions. The statement required by paragraph (b) of this section will be considered disclosure for purposes of section 6114 and § 301.6114–1(a), but only if the statement is in the form required by paragraph (c) of this section. If the taxpayer fails to file the statement required by paragraph (b) of this section on or before the date prescribed in paragraph (b) of this section, the taxpayer will be subject to the penalties imposed by section 6712. See section 6712 and § 301.6712–1.
(e) Examples. The following examples illustrate the application of this section:

Example 1.

B, an alien individual, is a resident of foreign country X, under X’s internal law. Country X is a party to an income tax convention with the United States. B is also a resident of the United States under the Internal Revenue Code. B is considered to be a resident of country X under the convention. The convention does not specifically deal with characterization of foreign corporations as controlled foreign corporations or the taxability of United States shareholders on inclusions of subpart F income, but it provides, in an “Other Income” article similar to Article 21 of the 1981 draft of the United States Model Income Tax Convention (U.S. Model), that items of income of a resident of country X that are not specifically dealt with in the convention shall be taxable only in country X. B owns 80% of the one class of stock of foreign corporation R. The remaining 20% is owned by C, a United States citizen who is unrelated to B. In 1985, corporation R’s only income is interest that is foreign personal holding company income under § 1.954A-2 of this chapter. Because the United States-X income tax convention does not deal with characterization of foreign corporations as controlled foreign corporations, United States internal income tax law applies. Therefore, B and C are United States shareholders within the meaning of § 1.951–1(g) of this chapter, corporation R is a controlled foreign corporation within the meaning of § 1.957–1 of this chapter, and corporation R’s income is included in C’s income as subpart F income under § 1.951–1 of this chapter. B may avoid current taxation on his share of the subpart F inclusion by filing as a nonresident (i.e., by following the procedure in § 301.7701(b)–7(b)).

Example 2.

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that B also earns United States source dividend income. The United States-X income tax convention provides that the rate of United States tax on United States source dividends paid to residents of country X shall not exceed 15 percent of the gross amount of the dividends. B’s United States tax liability with respect to the dividends would be smaller if he were treated as a resident alien, subject to tax on a net basis (i.e., after the allowance of deductions) than if he were treated as a nonresident alien. If, however, B chooses to file as a nonresident in order to claim treaty benefits with respect to his share of R’s subpart F income, his overall United States tax liability, including the portion attributable to the dividends, must be determined as if he were a nonresident alien.

Example 3.

C, a married alien individual with three children, is a resident of foreign country Y, under Y’s internal law. Country Y is a party to an income tax convention with the United States. C is also a resident of the United States under the Internal Revenue Code. C is considered to be a resident of country Y under the convention. The convention specifically covers, among other items of income, personal services income, dividends and interest. C is sent by her country Y employer to work in the United States from January 1, 1985 until December 31, 1985. During 1985, C also earns United States source dividends and interest and incurs mortgage interest expenses on her personal residence. The United States-Y treaty provides that remuneration for personal services performed in the United States by a country Y resident is exempt from United States tax if, among other things, the individual performing such services is present in the United States for a period that is not in excess of 183 days. The treaty provides that the rate of United States tax on United States source dividends paid to residents of Y shall not exceed 15 percent of the gross amount of the dividends and it exempts residents of Y from United States tax on United States source interest. In filing her 1985 tax return, C may choose to file either as a resident alien without claiming any treaty benefits or as a nonresident alien if she desires to claim any treaty benefit. C files as a nonresident (i.e. by following the procedure described in § 301.7701(b)–7(b)). Because C does not satisfy the requirements of the United States-Y treaty with regard to exempting personal services income from United States tax, C will be taxed on her personal services income at graduated rates under section 1 of the Code pursuant to section 871(b) of the Code. She will not be entitled to deduct her mortgage interest expenses or to claim more than one personal exemption because she is taxed as a nonresident alien under the Code by virtue of her decision to claim treaty benefits, and section 873 of the Code denies nonresidents the deduction for personal residence mortgage interest expense and generally limits them to only one personal exemption. C will be subject to a tax of 15 percent of the gross amount of her dividend income under section 871(a) of the Code as modified by the treaty, and she will be exempt from tax on her interest income. C is not entitled to file a joint return with her spouse even if he is a resident alien under the Code for 1985.

Example 4.

The facts are the same as in Example 3, except that C does not choose to claim treaty benefits with respect to any items of income covered by the treaty (i.e., she files as a resident). Therefore, she is taxed as a resident under the Code and pays tax at graduated rates on her personal services income, dividends, and interest. In addition, she is entitled to deduct her mortgage interest expenses and to take personal exemptions for her spouse and three children. C will be entitled to file a joint return with her spouse if he is a resident alien for 1985 or, if he is a nonresident alien, C and her spouse may elect to file a joint return pursuant to section 6013.
[T.D. 8411, 57 FR 15251, Apr. 27, 1992; 57 FR 28612, June 26, 1992, as amended by T.D. 8733, 62 FR 53387, Oct. 14, 1997]

The Unknown Ambassadors: A Saga Of Citizenship – Phyllis Michaux

I just read “The Unknown Ambassadors: A Saga Of Citizenship” by Phyllis Michaux.* Phyllis Michaux was an American citizen who married a French citizen/resident. She lived her adult life in France. By any standard, she was an impressive and effective advocate for the rights of Americans abroad.**

I recommend the book (if you can find a copy) to all Americans abroad. As diverse as the community of Americans abroad is, what unites them is far greater than what divides them. What unites all Americans abroad is the horrible discriminatory treatment they suffer at the hands of the U.S. government. (As the distribution of vaccines in the covid pandemic demonstrated, the discriminatory treatment is NOT limited to taxation.) In this respect the United States is practically unique. Ireland honours and celebrates its diaspora. France gives it expats representatives in the legislature. The United States does (in 2024) and always has (as documented in “The Unknown Ambassadors”) mistreat its citizens abroad. U.S. citizens abroad are examples of the “discrete and insular minorities” contemplated in Justice Stone’s infamous Carolene Products footnote 4.)**** U.S. citizens, more than the citizens of any other country are in need of a second citizenship.

Phyllis Michaux’s achievements from the 20th century offer lessons for the many individuals and groups who are advocating to achieve justice for Americans abroad in the 21st century.

“The Unknown Ambassadors” provides an account of Ms. Michaux’s recognizing discrimination against Americans abroad as a matter of fact, identifying the laws responsible for that discrimination, identifying the appropriate U.S. government agencies to lobby for change and finally executing that change. Advocates for Americans abroad in the 21st century should read this book. A testament to her achievements is that the “Phyllis Michaux Papers” are found in the “Georgetown University Archival Resources”.

Continue reading

Part 54 – Reactions To The Argument Before The Supreme Court In Moore: “Due Process” Does Matter

Introduction – More on Moore – A Focus on “due process”

Much of the argument before the Supreme Court in the Moore case focused NOT on whether there was income (it was accepted that the foreign corporation had realized income). Rather the discussion was focused on “due process issues”. Specifically the issues of (1) the retroactive nature of the income and (2) the fairness of attributing the income of the foreign corporation to the U.S. shareholder.

In Part 42 and Part 49 have written about the relevance of retroactivity.

Because “due process” issues were raised in the hearing, some commentators have begun discussing the “due process” issues which are part of the Moore appeal.

What follows are links to some examples of the discussion.

It will be fascinating to see how “due process” factors into the decision of the Court.

Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter at @USTransitionTax

The Five “Americans Abroad” Obama Would Meet In Heaven – How Taxation “Slices and Dices” Americans Abroad

Reminder:

US citizenship abroad information/discussion sessions in January of 2024:

1. London, UK – Wednesday January 17, 2024 – 18:00 – Location: The Sutton Arms – first floor wine room – 6 Carthusian Street, London – EC1M 6EB

2. Prague, Czech Republic – Sunday January 21, 2024 – Brix bar & Hostel, Rohacova 132/15, Prague 3 Žižkov
– 200CZK – includes lunch

3. The Prague session will be livestreamed on the IRSMedic Youtube Channel. Check there for how to join.

Further details here.

Outline, table of contents and purpose of this post.

Because U.S. citizenship taxation impacts different groups in different ways, it is hard to garner a significant mass of people to committed to the mission of ending citizenship taxation. There are five different groups who are impacted by citizenship taxation. Yet they would seem very different if you were to meet them in heaven.

Part A – “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” – the notion of interconnectedness
Part B – Barack Obama and the revival of citizenship taxation – how did his administration “slice and dice” Americans abroad?
Part C – Different kinds of Americans abroad with different attitudes toward the taxation of Americans abroad
Part D – Fault Lines Among Americans Abroad – The discussion in Keith Redmond’s American Expatriates Facebook group
Part E – The Five Types Of Americans Abroad Obama Would Meet In Heaven
Part F – Conclusion

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Continue reading

Canadian citizenship: When citizenship in one country affords rights of access to another country

Part I – Citizenship in the 21st century

In the 20th century few people thought much about citizenship. Few people thought about the value of multiple citizenships.

In the 21st century people think about citizenships. People are beginning to see the value of having more than one citizenship. They are also (because of the awareness (caused by FATCA) of U.S. citizenship taxation) beginning to see the value of NOT being a U.S. citizen. (Interestingly U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is claiming that dual citizenship provides enhanced opportunities for tax evasion.)

When people renounce U.S. citizenship they will experience the following changes:

1. For U.S. immigration purposes they cease to be U.S. citizens and are treated by the United States like all other citizens of their country of citizenship; and

2. For U.S. tax purposes they cease to be “U.S. Persons” and become “nonresident aliens”. (This loss of U.S. citizenship may or may not be a benefit depending on their individual circumstances). The definitions of “U.S. Person” and “nonresident alien” are found in “26 U.S. Code § 7701 – Definitions“.

When citizenship may afford enhanced rights of access to other countries

Those with more than one citizenship will remember situations where citizenship in one country provided benefits that citizenship in another country did not. Sometimes the benefits are mundane (citizens of one country paying less for an entry visa than citizens of another country). Sometimes citizenship is a condition for various kinds of “enhanced entry programs” (think the U.S. Global Entry programs that include NEXUS.) Sometimes the benefits are more substantive (visa free access for citizens of country A and no visa free access for citizens of country B). Sometimes citizenship in one country gives the right to live in other countries (think citizenship in EU countries). Sometimes citizenship in one country gives the right to seek specific employment in other countries (think Canada-US-Mexico TN visas.) Sometimes there are tax advantages (the France U.S. tax treaty affords interesting tax benefits for U.S. citizens living in France). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from extradition requests (civil law countries are reluctant to allow their citizens to be extradited). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from tax enforcement claims from another country (the U.S./Canada tax treaty affords certain protections to individuals based on citizenship status). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from certain kinds of taxation (Canada’s “Underused Housing Tax” and the BC “Speculation and Vacancy Tax” are recent examples). The point is that citizenship may (and often does) afford benefits that extend beyond the right to live and work in a country. When considering whether to seek various citizenships or renounce various citizenships it is important to think beyond the basic right to live in a country.

Conclusion: ANY change in your citizenship (whether renouncing U.S. citizenship or acquiring an additional citizenship) should consider the issues raised above!!

Part II – What about Canadian citizenship? What do Canadians give up by renouncing U.S. citizenship? What are the reasons (there are many) why Permanent Residents of Canada should naturalize as Canadian citizens?

Because of generous and easy access to the United States, Canadian citizens who renounce U.S. citizenship give up far less than citizens of many other countries. Furthermore, becoming a Canadian citizen affords many privileges vis-a-vis the United States and Canada.

Rather than list the reasons individually I am pleased (with his kind permission) to refer you to a recent post by Los Angeles based immigration lawyer Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq. The post – Six Benefits of Canadian Citizenship for Access to the U.S. Market – is referenced in the following tweet.

The post has its origins in a recent twitter exchange and begins as follows:

Does being a Canadian citizen offer unique benefits of access to the United States market?

This is more-or-less the question I read on twitter from U.S. citizenship renunciation expert John Richardson last week on the last day of 2023.

“Question on @Quora: Is the only real advantage in being a Canadian in accessing the US market, six months visa free stays & a limited range of professions on the TN visa list which also does not lead do a Green Card? No special concessions or fast track ..”

The author provides an excellent, well researched summary. It not only demonstrates why Canadians give up less by renouncing U.S. citizenship but also why Canadian citizenship is valuable to have.

I encourage you to read the complete post here …

https://www.malakoutilaw.com/six-benefits-of-canadian-citizenship-for-access-to-the-u-s-market

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

US Citizens Abroad – Discussion: Sunday January 21, 2024 – 13:00 – Prague Czech Republic (and London, UK – Jan. 17 – 18:30)

U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders Abroad!!

Update – … London, UK too

I will be in London on Wednesday January 17, 2024. Since I am already there, I am happy to connect with London residents who wish to discuss all things related to surviving as a U.S. citizen living outside the USA. The session is:

When: Wednesday January 17, 2024 – 18:00 – 20:00

Where: Pret A Manger 18:00 – The Sutton Arms – first floor wine room – 6 Carthusian Street, London – EC1M 6EB

Registration for the London session: Please send me an email to: citizenshipsolutions@protonmail.com

Just tell me me your name and indicate that you wish to attend.

Read on to learn what these events/discussions are about.

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Prague – Sunday January 21, 2024 – Livestream or attend live in Prague

Read on …

An appropriate New Year message …

Are you …

frustrated with the U.S. policy of citizenship taxation?

disappointed with the progress in achieving a change in the law?

fed up with being asked for your vote with no candidates representing your interests?

– finding it difficult to understand what it means to be in compliance?

– finding you cannot afford U.S. tax compliance?

forced to plead GILTI for running a small business?

experiencing further FATCA related problems?

wondering if/when the USA will join the rest of the world by adopting residence taxation?

– concerned that this may impact your non-citizen spouse and family?

– worried about how to plan for retirement?

– worried about estate planning?

– considering renunciation of U.S. citizenship?

These topics and more …

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage in discussion with people who live with the constant of anxiety of being a U.S. citizen living outside the United States. (Green Card holders are welcome too …)

Speaker: John RichardsonToronto based expatriation lawyer, co-founder of SEAT, blogger at CitizenshipSolutions.ca, Commentator on X.com/ExpatriationLaw

When: Sunday January 21, 2024 – 13:00

Where: Brix bar & Hostel, Rohacova 132/15, Prague 3 Žižkov

Cost: 200CZK – includes lunch

Registration:

In order to register please email:

g.smith@brixhostel.com

We look forward to a great (nonpartisan) discussion!