The Isaac Brock Society consists of individuals who are concerned about the treatment by the United States government of US persons who live in Canada and abroad.
The United States is one of two countries in the world that taxes its people no matter where in the world they may reside. The other is Eritrea, which the USA has condemened for terrorism and for its diaspora tax. The majority of US persons who live abroad are not aware of their filing requirements. But recently, the US government has decided to crack down on those who are not in compliance.
But what is more, the US government has begun, since about 2004, to apply with great pressure a long-neglected requirement of 35-year old law called the Bank Secrecy Act. That requirement is FBAR, the foreign bank account report, which the United States government expects annually from those who have accounts outside of the United States which exceed $10,000 in aggregate. The fines for failure to file this form are extortionate, and virtually no US person who lives abroad even knew about FBAR, while most of them, over a certain age, own bank accounts with retirement savings exceeding that amount. The threats of fines and imprisonment has frightened many people who as a result have consulted expensive accountants and tax lawyers to get this mess sorted out, only to face high accounting or legal fees on top of potential fines and back taxes. In 2009 and 2011, the IRS offered voluntary disclosure programs (OVDI). Some who entered into the 2009 OVDI, because of fear of the penatlies, were shocked when the IRS assessed them fines in the tens of thousands, essentially treating them as tax evaders instead of a law abiding citizens in their countries of residence.
For many US expats, renunciation now seems like a really good idea. Why not? Many haven’t lived in the US for years and now they have few ties there except perhaps some family members. So they want to renounce their citizenship only to find that the laws regarding expatriation are confusing and that the exit tax requirements are at best complicated and invasive, and at worst, extortionate and utterly in violation of their right to expatriate.
The media coverage of this issue has been uneven. There have a been a few balanced stories, but most of the time, the media has merely publicized the purposes of the US government; this is especially true of US media sources. The Canadian media has generally done a much better job of grabbing the attention of the world about the abuses of the US government. That being said, even the Canadian media sometimes falls into the IRS trap of projecting fear in order to force compliance. Overall, we regret when the media offers only condemnation and fear without telling the story from the side of the victims or informing them of their rights and alternatives.
US persons abroad also face US border guards who are starting to put pressure on all those who have a US place of birth to travel only on a US passport, even if the person has not been a US person for decades–an arbitrary change of policy making those who relinquished citizenship into would-be loyal taxpayers to a profligate government that has to borrow 40 cents on every dollar its spends.
The Isaac Brock Society is here to fight. Sir Isaac Brock prepared Canadians for war with the United States and gave his life in repelling a US invasion in 1812. So we also want to fight for US persons who are frightened by the IRS, the border guards, the compliance condors, and the media. We are here to provide one another with resources and strategies, comfort and advice.
But not only so, we are here to warn other Canadians about the illegal incursion of the US federal government into the lives of the US expat community. Pretty soon, with the new FATCA legislation, this arrogant attitude of the United States will affect every man, woman and child on the planet who wants to open or maintain a bank account or to invest in a retirement fund. Now, according to FATCA, you will have to tell the United States whether you are a US person when you open up a bank account in, e.g., Australia or Thailand. This makes every country in the world a protectorate of the United States, for, if they comply with FATCA, they are ceding their very sovereignty to a nation which has not invaded or conquered the rest of the world, but only uses its waning hegemony over the financial sphere to coerce other nations.
So whether you are a US person living in exile, a Canadian or a citizen of any other country, we ask you to join us in this struggle for freedom and justice.
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Thank you for this. It begs the question then, of any/all children who were registered without consent, must they go through renouncing or what? My son has an appt in Toronto for June 25. I seem to recall the standard now is one appt for renouncing. Does anyone know if that is actually the case?
Unfortunately US consulate procedure differs from one place to another. What we can say, based on reports to Isaac Brock, is that the Vancouver US consulate is the only backwards one in Canada, still requiring two appointments — and a very long, hindering, undue process in my mind. All other US consulates in Canada require only one appointment for both renunciation or relinquishment — unless there is some irregularity. Pacifica has documented experiences of appointments in many countries — most require only one appointment.
Good question regarding children registered without consent — I don’t know, sue their unknowing parents who thought they were doing the right thing for their children?
Calgary 411 Please remember the key point to my brother’s and my position is that we were both born in Canada, raised in Canada, live and work in Canada. We have no property ties or work ties to the US. So our situation reflects only a Canadian born to a US parent with no other official ties to the US. We never lived in the US.
And neither has my son, as well as many other “accidental Americans” — born in Canada, never registered with the US, raised in Canada, never lived in the US, never had any benefit from the US, does not have property or work ties to the US. He is, as you and your brother, a Canadian — in my eyes. I want that reflected officially somewhere that, with the extra-territorial US citizenship-based taxation coupled with FATCA, I don’t have to hide in the shadows from banks or the Canadian government that may give my son’s (and by extension my as I am the trustee of my son’s finances) financial information or access to proceeds from any US taxes — or the obligation for compliance year after year after year — for what purpose?
I made my decision that I am a Canadian back in 1975 when I became a Canadian citizen. I will never return to the US to live. I did make many grievous mistakes that put me back into the US taxation clutches, mistakes I don’t want any others to make. Saying that, I fully realize there are other US Persons in Canada whose situations are very different and they do plan to return to the States to live or to work one day. Their claim to US citizenship can give them that. I have renounced US citizenship (instead of the relinquishment I would have been able to claim had I not been so stupid). I have a CLN to take to the bank to prove I am not a US citizen when the witch hunt is on. I want something, that same tangible proof as my CLN, that my son is not a US citizen. So do many others. Why should it be up to adult “accidental Americans” to have to register with the US, get a US social security number, file back tax returns and FBARs in order to have the right then to renounce their US citizenship that they didn’t want in the first place and it was not their choice to have — a citizenship gifted to them by their accident of birthplace and parent citizenship? Why is my son and others trapped by their developmental disability or other mental incapacity? Why does it have to be so hard; why do we have to be criminalized and threatened by the US for an accident of place of birth?
And, as bubblebustin gives example of, I don’t want some rogue US border guard to tell me that my son or anyone in my family is an American until the US tells them they are not, as was done for someone entering the US from BC. I don’t want any border official to have told me or to tell my son in the future that they will let me cross the border into the US this time, but the next time it must be with a US passport, which is the law, as was told to me (not my son). More US obfuscation is the randomness of the US law that says all US Persons must enter and leave the US only with a US passport. I don’t want some US Ambassador to my country tell me or others as if it is not a big problem (from US Ambassador to Canada expounding on the fairness of US citizenship-based taxation:
I have actually made a post of your comment, We want to know once and for all, is there a choice for claiming US citizenship. which I believe is very important information for US Persons Abroad, especially “accidental Americans” as you and your brother — and my son — and so many, many, many others, many of whom are not even yet aware of the absurdity.
Maybe our Minister of Foreign Affairs should hear about how Canadians are being railroaded by the USG into taking US citizenship.
Shall we count the ways?
Regarding appointments at Toronto, they switched to one appt for renunciations late last year and several Brockers have reported doing so in recent months.
I received essentially the same information from the Embassy in Ottawa. They told me that someone born to a US citizen may have a right to claim US citizenship, but until they have claimed it (and proven everything that needs to be proven) they aren’t a US citizen. No need to apply for and then renounce citizenship. I would love to see that from a more official source, though!
Thanks for your comment, aaa123.
I have placed your comment into the dedicated post where you may wish to read the comment stream: We want to know once and for all, for sure: Is it true, legal policy, a CHOICE: the US cannot force anyone who is born outside of the US to acquire US citizenship?
Thanks. I thought that was what I remembered. Son has a 25 June appt.
This seems to be the right place to ask this slightly paranoid question inspired by PRISM : for those of us who have already made comments on IBS, the comments form is pre-filled with our online name and our email whenever we go to the site. Is this data saved on a database on the IBS site, or is it kept in a cookie on our computer?
Speaking of PRISM, check out the Canada Post site’s comments on online data storage security. Question 4 mentions that some storage services might store your data outside of Canada (could they be alluding to Google Drive or Skydrive?) 😉
And here, on a page vaunting their own data storage service, called Vault, they maintain that all data is stored in Canada.
Sorry, here’s the second linl.
I just thought I would share some history, along with some personal facts that I think make for interesting coincidences.
As some of you may know, The Battle of Stoney Creek was fought on 6 June 1813 during the War of 1812 near present day Stoney Creek, Ontario. British units made a night attack on an American encampment. Due in large part to the capture of the two senior officers of the American force, and an underestimation of British strength by the Americans, the battle was a victory for the British, and a turning point in the defence of Upper Canada.
The first house my husband and I lived in together, was in Stoney Creek on a street that intersected Issac Brock Drive. We lived there for 13 years, and during that time we welcomed our youngest daughter named Laura who shares the same name as Laura Secord (unintentionally). Laura Secord walked 20 miles out of American-occupied territory in 1813 to warn British forces of an impending American attack. Her contribution to the war was little known during her lifetime, but since her death she has been frequently honoured in Canada. My daughter Laura, turned 12 in 2012 (and turns 13 in 2013). My mother’s birthday is on the same month and day that Laura Secord died.
For 13 years, every day on my way home from work, I drove up Stoney Creek Mountain past the Battlefield House Museum and Queenston Park, a National Historic Site where the battle of Stoney Creek took place, and where an annual re-enactment is held. May 13 of 2013 marked a 100 anniversary of the Battlefield monument; a well-recognized local landmark at Queenston Park since 1913; the monument stands 100 feet tall to commemorate a century of peace between the British and the Americans. My husband and I climbed that monument once.
I hope that 2013 is another turning point for ‘US persons’ in Canada (and throughout the world), and that once again the Americans will have underestimated the strength of those it is trying to enslave with FATCA and enforcement of citizenship based taxation!
Thanks for some interesting parallels in your family’s life, WhiteKat. May your hope / our hope for 2013 be realized.
Yes, thank you. Do you feel as I do, that you’ve somehow been called to activism on these issues concerning Americans abroad?
Yes bubblebustin, in some small way perhaps as a messenger of sorts, as I am well aware of my relative insignificance in the ‘big picture’.
The timing of my ‘OMG moment’ was when hurricane Sandy hit the USA. I remember standing on the porch in front of my home (we live in the woods), with the wind howling like I have never heard it before, and the trees blowing wildly with the fallout from the storm. I felt like nature was in sympathy with my sense of shock, betrayal, unjustness and anger, and was on my side.
The US is going to lose this one badly. Remember what the history books will say:
The great events in history, those events that cause massive change and realignment are not recognized until years later.
When the history of the United States is written, it may say something like:
In 2010 under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the United States of American began a series of attacks on the sovereignty of other nations. Some of these attacks were against the people of other nations using drones. Some of those attacks were against the banks, economies and societies of other nations using FATCA.
These attacks united the world against the United States. Soon the resentment toward the United States was growing at a faster rate than the U.S. could defend against it. The United States realized it needed to stop the growth of the resentment and repair the damage.
When the United States realized it’s mistake it looked to U.S. citizens abroad to be ambassadors for the U.S., to repair the damage/resentment it had caused. The problem was that between 2011 and 2014 the Obama administration had completely destroyed “U.S. citizenship abroad” leaving nobody to repair all the damage it had caused. The only U.S. persons left outside the United States were living in terror, hiding their “U.S. personhood”, and were hiding.
Finally, the U.S. bankrupted itself by trying to protect itself against the resentment it had generated against itself.
And that Dear Reader is how the United States as a world power ceased to be. It is possible to visit the United States today on a tourist visa. Make sure that you stop at the “FBAR Museum” in Washington, DC. But, try to stay away from the beggars on the street who are looking for food and shelter.
As much as I detest taking an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to something as reprehensible as these initiatives, I think it would behoove expatriates to work together to figure out how to lobby Schumer/Casey/Reed to recognize that removal of the retroactivity clause would make their bill far more defensible before the courts, while still accomplishing their stated objective of preventing FUTURE expatriations.
I certainly don’t mean to condone the absurdity of what they are proposing. But let’s face it – there’s not going to be much opposition if they manage to get this on the docket. People who have already expatriated really do share one (if only one) thing in common with Casey, Schumer, and Reed: We’d all be better off if retroactivity were struck from the bill. Their bill would avoid post-facto and other legal challenges, and those of us “covered” expatriates whose motivation had nothing to do with tax avoidance woudn’t be unfairly persecuted.
Can anyone think of a way to get them to listen to reason on this one point? These particular senators don’t seem like the reason-oriented types…
@Old&Simple: Re prefilled comments form: I think it’s the cookies that are keeping you “signed in”.
If you delete the isaacbrocksociety cookie from your cookie manager, and then refresh the page in your browser. I think you’ll find that the prefilled entries have disappeared.
(Regret I don’t know how to do that in your particular browser, but it’s “help” button should tell you.)
Deleting cookies works for me, which implies that the cause is not recognition of the ip address, but rather the cookies that are keeping you signed in. Hope that helps!
Old & simple It’s kept on your computer browser . For example in Safari, if you go to preferences- auto fill-other, you can delete any website where forms are being filled with previous info.
Re OVDI/Streamlined Process – a success story
We are now retired senior citizens. We are Canadian citizens, having arrived in Canada in 1968. We obtained Canadian citizenship in 1974. We were eager to become Canadians.
At that time we were warned that if we became Canadians we would lose our U.S. citizenship. Despite that understanding, we became Canadians and relinquished our U.S. citizenship. We were no longer U.S. citizens. (Years later we have discovered that that position of the U.S. had changed and we were considered dual citizens.)
Once we became Canadian citizens we no longer filed U.S. income tax returns. Late in 2011 we were informed by a taxation preparer that we might be considered U.S. citizens obligated to file U.S. tax forms and FBARs. He told us about the OVDI. We had US tax forms and FBARs prepared (at great expense) and submitted them. We owed no US taxes. But, fearing horrendous penalties for not submitting FBARs on time, under protest because we believed we should not be required to do so, we applied under the OVDI and paid the smallest penalty we thought might be accepted. We protested paying any penalty at all.
Almost two years later we received a call from an IRS agent who told us about the Streamlined Process and recommended that we apply under the Streamlined Process. Our application under that process was successful. We have received a full refund of the penalty we paid.
While we were successful, and while IRS agent was very helpful and supportive, this experience has been costly and extremely distressing. It has been an on-going nightmare. |It has deeply soured our relationship with the U.S. government.
Our next step is to renounce our U.S. citizenship.
We appreciate the intervention by James M. Flaherty, Canadian Minister of Finance, with the U.S. government on behalf of Canadians in our situation.
Thank you for sharing your OVDI experience. The wasted energy and resources is beyond unacceptable. All those of us in OVDI can hope for is closure. The rest of the experience we just have to suck up it seems.
Kingston You shouldn’t have to renounce. You relinquished your citizenship in 1974. You should be able to obtain a CLN backdated to then based on the fact that when you became Canadians, you intended to relinquish. Therefore you did relinquish and as of then you were no longer US citizens.
Entering OVDI was in error but doesn’t negate the fact that you were not Americans when you did.
The department of state is supposed to use a balance of probabilities test as to whether or not you relinquished back then. The most important issue is intent. Clearly you did relinquish. The fact that you were tricked into OVDI and streamlined doesn’t change that.
On the other hand, I suppose it COULD be simpler to renounce altho. it costs $450 each and then you would be admitting to them that you are dual citizens and you would be supposed to file the exit tax forms.
Would you care to give more detail about the tax preparer who made this egregious error?
Good points KalC.
We intend to assert that we relinquished our US citizenship in 1974 and that we should not have to pay the $450 fee.
The tax preparer was a personal friend who only does Canadian taxes. He heard about the issue in the media. He alerted me to it but could not give me advice. My lawyer said he was not qualified to give me advice and warned only big firms would have that competency but it would be extremely expensive and I would not get an appointment before the deadline. H&R Block could not help me. So I did my own research and decided to go the OVDI route.
I found a tax preparer qualified to do US taxes. I used him even though he was 5 hours away by car. He completed our tax forms (we owed nothing) and FBARS. He said he knew nothing about the details of the OVDI so could not help me with the application or give me advice.
The only real support I (and people in my situation) got was in the from of a letter from the Canadian Minister of Finance and the Canadian Ambassador to the US.
The IRS agents I dealt with were very helpful to me. (One was most unhelpful to a member of my family.)
@Kingston: I agree with Cal. You have every reason to be able to relinquish rather than renounce. You, like many of us, became Canadian citizens at a time when that was considered to be “permanently and irrevocably” relinquishing U.S. citizenship.
I have been in contact with someone who does not participate at either Brock or Maple Sandbox. His situation was very similar to yours. He and his wife became Canadian citizens in 1986, with the clear understanding they were relinquishing U.S. citizenship,
When all the fear-mongering articles hit the Canadian press two years ago, they consulted a lawyer and ended up going into OVDI. Like you, it was expensive, but they have heard little since from IRS, despite follow-ups from them.
This year, they informed a Consulate of their 1986 relinquishment and received a backdated CLN, despite having filed through OVDI.
If you and your wife take the relinquishment route, it may be important to tell them that you only filed with IRS through OVDI due to misinformation you had received, including misinformation in Canadian media and from professionals.
You may want to read the comments of Johnnb in January, 2012. Several of us who participated in that thread at that time had situations similar to you and him. Johnnb and his wife were among the first brave souls of long-ago relinquishments to go forward and apply for a back-dated CLN. Several months later, they received theirs.
Many more have applied for CLNs since then. I personally am not prepared to go anywhere near a U.S. Consulate or IRS. However, on the advice of Schubert, I received information from my Canadian citizenship file which includes a copy of my signed oath renouncing U.S. citizenship in April 1973. I don’t see how any Canadian bank could refuse to accept that as proof I am not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. person. I am also in contact with a constitutional lawyer and CCLA. If they are needed, many of us will join together in fighting this in Canadian courts.
Your citizenship file would not have that same renunciation oath as it was not required by 1974. Even Johnnb not sign it in late 1973.
Check out comments of Johnnb and others in this thread. It was a sanity and life saver for many of us.
You may also want to read the Renunciation and Relinquishment of US Citizenship thread here:
Or the Renunciation and Relinquishment: What’s The Difference thread at Maple Sandbox
If you post your questions in one of those threads, they may get more attention and answers as they are closely followed (as you will see from the huge number of posts on all of them!)
It’s not just a matter of saving the $450 fee. The route to relinquishing is cleaner as well and you certainly seem to meet all the criteria, despite having entered the nightmare of OVDI.
It was good to hear there is at least one ethical and responsible IRS agent who contacted you about the Streamlined process and arranged for a refund of the penalty you first paid.