Category Archives: Cook v. Tait

Seeking short social media – twitter and facebook posts – explaining why @citizenshiptax and #FATCA are wrong

On June 3, 2020 I plan to do a podcast with Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge Capital and SALT Conference fame. The June 3 podcast has its roots in the following @Scaramucci tweet which was the subject of discussion at the Isaac Brock Society.

Mr. Scaramucci’s tweet generated a great deal of discussion. If you click on the tweet, you will see, what some of the responses were.

A third party individual has arranged for me to do a podcast with Mr. Scaramucci. This will take place on June 3. In order to provide background information for “citizenship taxation”, FATCA and how they impact Americans abroad, I would ask that you reply to the following tweet. It is your opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Feel free to leave a comment to this post. I will ensure that it finds its way into the twitter thread.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Why ALL individuals should support the @RepHolding Tax Fairness For Americans Abroad Act

What: You are invited to a live conversation with Solomon Yue and John Richardson to discuss the Holding bill
When: Tuesday January 15, 2019 – 12:30 EST/17:30 GMT (Toronto, Canada) time (one hour)
Where: http://www.uberconference.com/orgop2 or by calling: 503 – 773 – 9640
Pre-Registration: Required – please visit http://www.facebook.com/RepublicansOverseas for instructions (or leave a comment at the bottom of this post which includes your name, email and country of residence).
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Tax, culture and how the USA uses #citizenshiptaxation to impose US culture (and penalties) on other countries

Civilizations and countries define themselves in part by their tax policies
In 1993 Samuel Huntington wrote “The Clash Of Civilizations“. His basic thesis is captured in the following paragraph from Foreign Affairs Magazine.

World politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be-the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

Tax policy and the possible “clash of civilizations”
To what extent does the insistence of the USA on imposing the Internal Revenue Code (“citizenship-based taxation”) on the citizen/residents of other countries, foreshadow a “clash of civilizations”?


This post was motivated by the article by Virginia La Torre Jeker which is referenced in the above tweet. It is an excellent discussion of how the Internal Revenue Code might (or might not) accommodate the reality of Sharia law. The post raises many questions and alerts practitioners to the challenges of applying the Internal Revenue Code to the lives of people whose culture is largely outside the United States. The post raises many “technical issues”. I expect there will further discussion of this issue on Virginia’s blog.
Taxation does NOT exist in a cultural vacuum. A country’s tax system reflects the counry’s cultural values. As the tax historian Charles Adams has noted, the rise and fall of civilizations can be linked to its tax policies. To impose the Internal Revenue Code on people who live outside the United States is to export U.S. cultural values and impose those values on other nations. The United States claims the right to impose the Internal Revenue Code on U.S. citizens who live outside the United States. The reality is that there are millions of people with no connection to the United States (other than a place of birth). U.S. citizenship is acquired automatically if one has the fortune (or misfortune depending on your point of view) of having been (as Bruce would sing) “Born In The USA!
FATCA and the tax compliance industry are working hard to identify those who may be U.S. citizens and do NOT live in the United States. What the United States views as a good source of tax revenue should be seen more broadly. Leaving aside basic issues of fairness, to impose U.S. taxation (according to U.S. rules/cultural values) on the residents of other countries, is sure to create problems. As part of tax reform, the United States must stop imposing the Internal Revenue Code on people who are NOT residents of the United States!
The following “Storification” is an attempt to explain the problem from an “outside the USA” perspective …
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Wisdom of "Three Monkeys" explains why: Although there is little support for "citizenship-based taxation" repeal is difficult


The uniquely American practice of “imposing direct taxation on the citizen/residents of other nations” (“citizenship-based taxation”) has NO identifiable group of supporters (with the exception of a few academics who have never experienced it and do not understand it).
The Uniquely American practice of imposing direct taxation on the citizen/residents of other nations has large numbers of opponents (every person and/or entity affected by it). In addition to the submissions of Jackie Bugnion, “American Citizens Abroad“, “Democrats Abroad“, Bernard Schneider there is significant opposition found in the submissions of a large number of individuals. It is highly probable that the submissions come from those who are attempting compliance with the U.S. tax system.
The “imposition of direct taxation” on the “citizen/residents of other nations” evolved from “citizenship-based taxation”. “Citizenship-based taxation” was originally conceived as a “punishment” for those who attempted to leave the United States and avoid the Civil War. I repeat, it’s origins are rooted in PUNISHMENT and PENALTY and not as sound tax policy.
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Determining Tax Residency In the United States: Citizenship and other forms of deemed tax residence

Introduction


The advent of the OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) has illuminated the issue of “tax residency” and the desire of people to become “tax residents of  more “tax favourable” jurisdictions. It has become critically important for people to understand what is meant by “tax residency”. It is important that people understand how “tax residency” is determined and the questions that must be asked in determining “tax residency”. “Tax residency” is NOT necessarily determined by physical presence.
What is meant by tax residence? Different rules for different countries
All countries have rules for determining who is a “tax resident” of their country. Some countries have rules that “deem” people to be tax residents. Other countries have rules that base “tax residency” on  “facts and circumstances”. Canada is a country that bases “tax residency” on either “deemed” tax residency OR tax residency based on “factual circumstances”.
What if a person qualifies as “tax resident” of two countries?
When an individual (who is NOT a U.S. citizen) is a “tax resident” of two countries, it is common to consider any tax treaty between those two countries. Often the tax treaty will contain a “treaty tie breaker” provision which will allocate “tax residence” to one of the two countries. (Note that the “savings clause” which is found in standard U.S. tax treaties prevents U.S. citizens from having most tax treaty benefits. Note “treaty tie breaker” provisions are available to Green Card Holders.)
In summary: for the purposes of the “CRS”, tax residence is determined by BOTH a country’s domestic laws AND tax treaty provisions that assign “tax residence” to one country.
Even though the United States has chosen to NOT participate in the OECD “Common Reporting Standard” (CRS), and is NOT a “reportable jurisdiction, the OECD reminds us of the rules for determining “U.S. tax residency”.


Deemed tax residency in the United States …


The IRS discussion of “U.S. Tax Residency” includes:
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Around the world in 192 pages: Experiences of #Americansabroad in an #FBAR and #FATCA world


Here it is:
richardsonkishcommentsamericansabroadapril152015internationaltax-2
This is one of seven parts of the Richardson Kish submissions to the Senate Finance Committee in April of 2015. I thank Patricia Moon for her unbelievable effort in putting this document together!
And speaking of Americans abroad in an FBAR and FATCA world, you might like to read:


The message is:
When In Rome, Live As A Homelander
#YouCantMakeThisUp!
John Richardson
 

Canada Pension Plan (and other "foreign social security"), The "net worth" test, Form 8854 and Form 8938

Q. How does the inability of the state of Rhode Island to pay its employee pensions help us understand the “net worth” of a U.S. citizen wanting to renounce U.S. citizenship?
A. The answer (like most wisdom in the modern world) is explained in the following tweet.


The article referenced in the above tweet helps us understand the difference between an “entitlement” created by statute and a “right” created by contract.

In most states, lawmakers or the courts have taken steps to make public pension systems creatures of contract law, as opposed to mere creatures of statute. This may sound obscure, but the difference is critical. Statutes are relatively easy to change — lawmakers just amend the law. But states that want to tear up pension contracts face an uphill fight, because of a clause in the United States Constitution that bars them from enacting any law that retroactively impairs contract rights.

Conclusion: Rhode Island’s Governor was able to change the Rhode Island pension benefits. The reason was that: the pension benefits were created by statute (the government can create the statute and the government can change the statute) and not by an enforceable contract (nobody can take the pension away) creating an enforceable right.
The article is fascinating. Other states have not been as fortunate and cannot legislate their pension obligations away. But, what does this have to do with anything?
For Americans abroad: “All Roads Lead To Renunciation“.
Renouncing U.S. citizenship – leaving the U.S. tax system …
“U.S. citizens” considering relinquishing U.S. citizenship or “long term residents” abandoning their Green Cards “may” be subject to the draconian S. 877A Exit Tax rules. I say “may”. Only “covered expatriates” are subject to the “Exit Tax”
Unless you meet one of two exceptions,* “U.S. citizens” and “long term residents” will be “covered expatriates” if they meet ANY one of the following three tests ..
1. Income test (well, based on “tax liability on taxable income”) – You have an average tax liability of approximately $160,000 for the five years prior to the year of relinquishment or abandonment
2. Net worth test – Assets totaling up to of $2,000,000 USD or more
3. Compliance test – Fail to certify compliance with the Internal Revenue Code for the five years prior to the date of relinquishment or abandonment
* See Internal Revenue Code S. 877A(g)(1) which describe the “dual citizen at birth” and the “relinquishment before age 181/2” exceptions.
Net worth is based on the value of all your property. Foreign pensions are included in property. Is non-U.S. “Social Security” included? “Social Security” is a creation of statute. “Social Security can be taken away by changing or repealing the statute.
Because “pensions” are based on a “contractual” right to receive the pension they are included as “property”. If your employer doesn’t pay the pension you are owed you have the right to sue.
Because “social security” is created by statute and can be taken away by statute it is NOT “property”.
Specified Foreign Financial ASSETS – “Non-U.S.” Social Security and Form 8938 …
When it comes to “non-U.S.” Social Security (think Canada Pension Plan) created by statute, the IRS says:


(This makes sense because “Social Security” which is created by statute is NOT property!)
But, when it comes to “foreign pensions” which were created by contract, the IRS says:


(This makes sense because the “pension” is a contractual right and is therefore property.)
Is the Australian Superannuation a Foreign “Social Security Type” plan? – Are Australian “Poorer Than They Think?”


See the post referenced in the above tweet.
Well, the “compliance industry” actually creates the law.** Perhaps the “compliance industry” in Australia should simply take the position that Australian Superannuation is the equivalent of “U.S. Social Security”. The U.S. Australian tax treaty would then exempt it from U.S. taxation.
Article 18(2) of the U.S. Australia Tax Treaty reads:

(2) Social Security payments and other public pensions paid by one of the Contracting States to an individual who is a resident of the other Contracting State or a citizen of the United States shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State.

Important question indeed! Whether Australians are subject to asset confiscation the S. 877A “Exit Tax”,  may depend on the answer to this characterization/question.
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** In a recent post discussing the death of Dr. Pinheiro and the various “branches” of the U.S. tax compliance system, I identified brach 3 as follows:

Branch 3: The Tax Professionals – These include lawyers, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax preparers. The latter two are specifically licensed by the IRS.
 What needs to be understood is that:

  1. U.S. tax laws are NOT enforced by the IRS as much as they are enforced by the “Tax Professionals”.
  2. The “Tax Professionals” “create” the interpretation of various laws by how they respond to them. (There is a reason that nobody knew about PFICs prior to 2009.) Is a TFSA really a “foreign trust”? Are the S. 877A Exit Tax rules retroactive?
  3. Tax Professionals are NOT independent of the IRS and depend on the IRS for their livelihoods.
  4.   Tax Professionals are also subject to Circular 230 which is the “Rules of Practice” before the Internal Revenue Service.

Understand that very very few “tax professionals” inside the United States know anything about U.S. taxation of its citizens abroad. This is a complex area that is highly specialized.
This is why your choice of tax professional matters very much! Tax Professionals  are NOT all the same. The fact that they are a licensed EA, CPA or lawyer is completely irrelevant. Some of them understand this stuff and some don’t. When it comes to “International Tax”, there is an exceptionally long learning curve. Regardless of their intention, tax professionals have, through their possible ignorance, possible incompetence and almost certain desire to “get along with the IRS”, the potential to completely destroy you!

Food for thought!
John Richardson

Relinquishing US citizenship: South African Apartheid, the Accidental Taxpayer and the United States S. 877A exit tax

Introducing this “guest post”
This guest post is written by Dominic Ferszt of Cape Town, South Africa. I first became aware of Mr. Ferszt when, in October of 2014, his post: “The Accidental Tax Invasion” was published in Forbes. I have discussed various aspects of “citizenship-based taxation” with him since. I am very pleased that he has accepted my invitation to write this “guest post” for publication at Citizenship Solutions. His post exposes an aspect of “citizenship taxation” and the S. 877A U.S. expatriation tax that has not (as far as I am aware) been discussed before. Those who did NOT acquire “dual citizenship” at birth because of discriminatory laws (example British and Canadian laws saying that citizenship could be passed down from the father but not from the mother) will find this post extremely interesting and relevant.
Without further adieu …
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Apartheid and the Accidental Taxpayer
How the United States Congress has passed legislation which imposes a tax obligation in accordance with the discriminatory policies of foreign nations; and how this might offer a glimmer of hope to millions around the world who feel unjustly targeted by FATCA or the IRS.
By Dominic Ferszt, Cape Town
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