Tag Archives: FATCA

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.

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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

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”.

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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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Americans Abroad Aren’t Denouncing Because They Want To. They Are Renouncing Because They Feel They Have To

Introduction/background:

Denunciation of U.S. Citizenship – From the perspective from a U.S. Senator

Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship – From the perspective of a U.S. journalist

It’s hard to have a discussion about why Americans abroad are renouncing U.S. citizenship. There are many different perspectives about renunciation. There is very little “shared reality”. Tax academics (who have the resources to know better), “pensioned intellectuals”, politicians and most journalists see this from a “U.S. resident perspective”. They don’t understand the reality of the lives of Americans abroad. But, Americans abroad are NOT a monolith. The ONLY thing they have in common is that they live outside the United States. Their circumstances vary widely. There is little “shared reality” among Americans abroad of what the issues are. AT the risk of oversimplification, I have attempted to divide “Americans abroad” into four categories (as defined below). The categorization will explain why different groups of “Americans abroad” experience the U.S. extra-territorial tax regime differently.

Hint: Americans abroad aren’t renouncing U.S. citizenship because they want to. They are renouncing U.S. citizenship because they feel they have to.

Politicians, tax academics, “pensioned intellectuals” and many journalists deal in the world of opinions. The opinions they hold are often “myths”. They are not “facts”. They are entitled to their opinions (as misguided and ignorant as they may be). They are NOT entitled to their “facts”.

This post is to describe the facts about how the extra-territorial application of the Internal Revenue Code and the Bank Secrecy Act pressure many Americans abroad to renounce U.S. citizenship. Interestingly a large percentage of those renouncing owe ZERO taxes to the U.S. government. They renounce anyway!

First, a bit of background to the problem – what is the problem and who is affected?

They do NOT meet the test of being “nonresident aliens” under the Internal Revenue Code

As SEAT cofounder, Dr. Laura Snyder explains, in the first of her 16 “working papers” describing the problems of Americans abroad:

The people most affected by the U.S. extraterritorial tax system are not a monolithic group. Some left the United States recently, some left years or decades ago. Some left as adults (some young, some middle-aged, and some retirees), while others left as children (with their families), and some have never lived in the United States (they are U.S. citizens by virtue of the U.S. citizenship of at least one parent). Some intend to live in the United States (again) in the near or distant future, while others do not intend to ever live in the United States (again). Some identify as Americans while others do not. Many are also citizens of the country where they live (dual citizens) while others hold triple or even quadruple citizenships. In referring to this group, there is no one term that sufficiently reflects its full diversity. What unites them is that they do not meet the test of “nonresident alien” under the Internal Revenue Code. Depending upon the context, this series of papers will use terms such as “persons,” “individuals,” “affected individuals,” and “overseas Americans.” The latter term has a drawback, however: it emphasizes connections to the United States while minimizing the important connections that such persons have to the countries and communities where they live.

That said, what divides Americans abroad may be greater than what unites Americans abroad!

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Official Notice Of Proposed Rule Change: To Lower The Cost Of The CLN Issued Upon Renouncing US Citizenship From $2350 To $450

Prologue

October 2, 2023 – Notice of Proposed Rule Change

Okay, it’s official. Here is a link to the proposed rule change which is necessary to reduce the renunciation fee from $2350 to $450. Officially, the fee is NOT a fee to expatriate. Rather it is a fee to issue the “Certificate Of Loss Of. Nationality”. also known as a CLN.

There is a 32. day comment period and I strongly suggest that you DO comment!

I encourage you to read the Notice in. its entirety. But, I note that it includes the following:

In the years since the fee was increased, members of the public have continued to raise concerns about the cost of the fee and the impact of the fee on their ability to renounce their citizenship. While there is no legal requirement for individuals to declare their motivation for renouncing U.S. citizenship, anecdotal evidence suggests that difficulties due at least in part to stricter financial reporting requirements imposed by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Public Law 111–147, on foreign financial institutions with whom U.S. nationals have an account or accounts may well be a factor.

After significant deliberation, taking into account both the affected public’s concerns regarding the cost of the fee and the not insignificant anecdotal evidence regarding the difficulties many U.S. nationals residing abroad are encountering at least in part because of FATCA, the Department has made a policy decision to help alleviate at least the cost burden for those individuals who decide for whatever reason to request CLN services by returning to the below-cost fee of $450. Although the prior fee of $450 represents a fraction of the cost of providing CLN services, this change will better align the fee for CLN services with other fees for services provided to U.S. citizens abroad, including, for example, applications for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, which all are set significantly below cost, even as the costs of providing these services have fluctuated over time.

If you go to the following link you can submit a comment (and even email this to a friend).

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/10/02/2023-21559/schedule-of-fees-for-consular-services-administrative-processing-of-request-for-certificate-of-loss

Here is a pdf version:

Federal Register Schedule of Fees for Consular Services-Administrative Processing of Request for Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN) Fee

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

@ADCSovereignty #FATCA Lawsuit Comes To The End Of The Road: Supreme Court of Canada Dismisses Application For Leave To Appeal

Background

The Alliance For The Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty FATCA lawsuit commenced in 2014. It was an incredible initiative which was “crowd funded” by hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals. The lawsuit was commenced by courageous plaintiffs who have been the face of the lawsuit for almost ten years.

A backgrounder on the case is available here.

A backgrounder on the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal is here.

The reasons for why the lawsuit was necessary are evident in this video:

July 13, 2023 – Supreme Court Of Canada Dismisses Application For Leave To Appeal

The order dismissing the appeal, which results in the official ending of this lawsuit is here.

Here is a colourful pdf of the final order:

40552

A series of posts describing various points in the long history of this lawsuit may be found here.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Appendix

The difficulty in framing the narrative is exemplified in the following “Canadian Press” article and the comments to the article …

Professor @Gabriel_Zucman Discusses US Taxation Of Americans Abroad and FATCA

On June 19, 2023 the Global Progressive Caucus of Democrats Abroad hosted Professor Gabriel Zucman to discuss “Fair Share Taxation And Tax Enforcement”. You may know that Professor Zucman is a strong advocate of wealth taxation. Senator Warren (in the specifics of her proposed wealth tax) appears to be a disciple of Professor Zucman’s views.

During the presentation Professor Zucman reinforced his view that “Fair Share Taxation” should include a wealth tax. Interestingly he recommends that FATCA be replaced by the CRS.

But, most interestingly he expressed his view that the current U.S. system of citizenship taxation (as it applies to most Americans living outside the United States) simply cannot be justified. Based on this video, I would say that Professor Zucman may be an ally in the fight to reform the taxation of Americans abroad.

I have put together a short twitter thread to highlight his main points. But, I do recommend that people watch the entire video. The discussion at the end is every bit as interesting (and revealing) as Professor Zucman’s presentation.

A threadreader version of the twitter thread is here:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1674191242681352193.html

A pdf version is here:

ThreadReader_0_expatriationlaw_1674191242681352193

The live Twitter thread …

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

“Dual citizenship affords unique opportunities for cross-border tax evasion” claims report issued by @SenateFinance

As described by AARO (“Association of American Residents Overseas”) in an April 7, 2023 blog post:

On March 29 the Senate Finance Committee Democratic staff issued a report titled “Credit Suisse’s Role in U.S. Tax Evasion Schemes of its investigation of Credit Suisse’s compliance with a 2014 plea agreement with the Department of Justice involving the bank’s participation in a conspiracy to hide offshore accounts from the IRS.

Per Committee chair Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) press release, the report details Credit Suisse’s role in a “potentially criminal tax conspiracy” involving accounts of a U.S. based family that were closed 10 years ago, recycles the Clinton/Bush era tax evasion case by U.S. businessman Dan Horsky, and discusses large undeclared accounts belonging to 23 ultra-high net worth U.S. citizens.

We are surprised that such a large and well-resourced committee working for two years was unable to unearth so little misconduct at a mega-bank that has now collapsed due to mis-management. Most outrageously, the report states that “Dual citizenship affords unique opportunities for cross-border tax evasion,” which gives the impression that ordinary Americans living abroad are prone to criminal tax evasion.

AARO has a meeting scheduled with Senator Wyden’s office in May during our annual Overseas Americans Week, during which we will express our extreme dissatisfaction with this characterization. We will let you know if there are any developments.

AARO deserves thanks and credit from all Americans overseas for publicly pushing back on the report created and published by the Democrat led Senate Finance Committee. The report is outrageous, a waste of public funds and appears to be a “back handed attempt” to justify the hiring of more IRS agents and increasing/justifying the imposition of FBAR penalties. The report is NOT (contrary to media reports) really about Credit Suisse. The report uses Credit Suisse as a “prop” to remind the people of America, that there are some people in America (it all took place ten years ago), who deliberately attempt to evade the payment of U.S. tax. The modus operandi includes moving their money to financial institutions and entities outside the United States. Yes, it’s true. Of course, as an added benefit the Senate Finance Committee gets to demonize Swiss banks (in general) and Credit Suisse (in particular). But make no mistake. The Senate Finance report is NOT about Swiss banks. It’s an advertisement to justify the hiring of more IRS agents funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, to legitimize the imposition of more FBAR penalties and to suggest that Republicans are (somehow) soft on tax evasion.

Why this report is dangerous for U.S. citizens generally and for Americans abroad specifically

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The Issue Is Not @CitizenshipTax. The Issue Is Whether The US Can Claim The Tax Residents Of Other Countries As US Tax Residents!

Introduction – The United States has the “sovereign right” to define who are its “tax residents, but …”

Prologue

There is presently heightened advocacy directed toward the goal of influencing the United States to take action to end (what is described as) U.S. citizenship taxation. Notably this goal is for the purpose of influencing the United States to take action.

Perhaps it would be equally useful to define a separate goal of:

Not allowing the United States to claim the residents of other countries as U.S. tax residents!

Notably this goal would be to engage the governments of other countries!

Ideally both Americans abroad and their countries of residence should seek to stop the United States from reaching into those other countries and claiming the residents of those countries as U.S. tax residents!

In FATCA related discussions it has been common for Government Officials to claim that the United States has the sole right to determine who are its tax residents. Although true, this cannot mean that the United States (or any country) has the right to claim the residents of another country as its tax residents. (The debate is illuminated here and here.)

(Interestingly when the European PETI delegation visited Washington in July of 2022 they made it clear that they did NOT question the right of the United States to define European residents as U.S. tax residents. Rather, they just wanted to find a way to make it easier for European residents to be permitted to have access to bank accounts in the European countries where they live.)

It is appropriate for other countries to accept that the United States has the right (like any country) to define who are U.S. tax residents. It is completely inappropriate for Europeans to accept that the United States has the right to treat European tax residents (who actually live and work in Europe) as U.S. tax residents. By protecting European residents from the United States, European countries would be acting in a manner that is consistent with the OECD tax treaty which anticipates situations of “dual tax residency”. In circumstances of dual tax residency, the model OECD tax treaty (Article 4) provides that the treaty “tie break” will be used to assign tax residency to the country that correlates with the “circumstances of life”. (See page 111 in the document linked to in the previous sentence.) Interestingly, citizenship which absent naturalization, is based on “circumstances of birth” is considered to be the least important criterion under the treaty “tie break”rules.

The treaty tie break rules presumptively assign tax residency based on the “circumstances of life” and not on the “circumstances of birth“.

The bottom line is that, it’s time for the world to simply say:

Of course the United States can define who are its tax residents. But, the United States will NOT be permitted to treat the tax residents of our country (who actually live in our country) to be treated by the U.S. as though they are the tax property of the United States! That is the simple message that must be conveyed!!

Let’s now analyze how the United States goes about claiming the residents of other countries as U.S. taxable property. It’s explained by Mr. Paolo Gentoloni as follows …

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