Category Archives: Enforcement of US tax debts

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

Extradition Is One Way That Changes In Another Country’s Tax Laws May Change Your Tax Relationship With The US

Prologue

As long as the US continues to employ citizenship taxation any changes in US tax law will continue to have unintended consequences on Americans abroad. In March of 2022 I outlined how some of the tax changes proposed in the 2023 Biden Green book would impact US citizens who live outside the United States. As important as US tax changes are, Americans abroad must be aware of how changes in the laws of their country of residence may also impact their “tax relationship” with the United States.

The purpose of this post is provide five simple examples. Some of the examples are based on Canada’s tax laws and others are of a more general nature.

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Under the Starry Flag by @SalyerLucy shows how the history of citizenship struggles repeat themselves: The USA of the 21st Century is like Britain in the 19th Century

Under the Starry Flag – exploring the historical context of the 1867 Expatriation Act


In 2018 Professor Lucy Salyer of the University of New Hampshire published “Under the Starry Flag” – a book largely about the 1868 Expatriation Act. The book describes a period in American history where Britain treated its “subjects” as having perpetual loyalty to the British Crown. To put it simply: One could NOT emigrate to America and expatriate. No matter what one did, those who were born British Subjects were destined to die British Subjects.
The above tweet links to an interview of Professor Lucy Salyer conducted on February 9, 2019. The interview is about Professor Salyer’s new book “Under the Starry Flag”. It is a fascinating (brilliantly researched) work. The publisher describes the book as:

The riveting story of forty Irish Americans who set off to fight for Irish independence, only to be arrested by Queen Victoria’s authorities and accused of treason: a tale of idealism and justice with profound implications for future conceptions of citizenship and immigration.
In 1867 forty Irish American freedom fighters, outfitted with guns and ammunition, sailed to Ireland to join the effort to end British rule. Yet they never got a chance to fight. British authorities arrested them for treason as soon as they landed, sparking an international conflict that dragged the United States and Britain to the brink of war. Under the Starry Flag recounts this gripping legal saga, a prelude to today’s immigration battles.
The Fenians, as the freedom fighters were called, claimed American citizenship. British authorities disagreed, insisting that naturalized Irish Americans remained British subjects. Following in the wake of the Civil War, the Fenian crisis dramatized anew the idea of citizenship as an inalienable right, as natural as freedom of speech and religion. The captivating trial of these men illustrated the stakes of extending those rights to arrivals from far-flung lands. The case of the Fenians, Lucy E. Salyer shows, led to landmark treaties and laws acknowledging the right of exit. The U.S. Congress passed the Expatriation Act of 1868, which guarantees the right to renounce one’s citizenship, in the same month it granted citizenship to former American slaves.
The small ruckus created by these impassioned Irish Americans provoked a human rights revolution that is not, even now, fully realized. Placing Reconstruction-era debates over citizenship within a global context, Under the Starry Flag raises important questions about citizenship and immigration.

In the 19th Century Britain regarded its subjects as subjects for life. Many Americans abroad will appreciate how the book applies to their lives in the 21st century. To put it simply: Americans abroad are treated as primarily Americans citizens – even though they are often citizens and residents of other countries. The FATCA IGAs are the most obvious example of this reality. (Shades of the British – History does have a way of repeating itself.) Renunciation is desirable, difficult, expensive (and for those who are in the U.S. tax system – inevitable). For many Americans abroad:

All Roads Lead To Renunciation.”

Furthermore, dual citizens (for example the accidental Americans in France) are beginning to request that their countries of citizenship/residence intervene and assist their citizens in breaking ties with the United States. History does repeat itself.
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How can the IRS enforce US tax debts in foreign countries? Does renunciation of citizenship matter?

For years people have asked the question: Can the United States enforce U.S. tax debts in foreign countries? If this is possible, how would this work. I sometimes answer questions on Quora. My answer to this question (comments invited) is here:
Read John Richardson's answer to Can the IRS confiscate non US-based assets for taxes owed after someone renounces their citizenship? on Quora