I grew up in a very average family in Ohio. My great love and passion in life has been the piano (well, there was also ballet many, many pounds ago). I studied as an undergraduate in Cincinnati and a few other places; competed at the national level and my MM is in progress (well, forever now, ha ha ). I am not currently playing (nearly 5 years now), due to injury. I did an ARCT at the RCM in Toronto and I choose not to teach. Just don’t have the patience for it.
I met my Canadian husband while studying at the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1980. Less than 2 years later, I came to Toronto and have been here ever since. I am a dual citizen – became a Canadian in 2008.
So, like many others, I came as a matter of family. Around the middle of September, I heard that there was an article in the Globe and Mail that I should look into. I read it and couldn’t believe it, was certain I must be misunderstanding something. How could this be happening? I was absolutely terrifed, imagining we could lose our retirement savings. I also felt horrid that I had registered our son, when he was 2 years old, as a USC. I figured what a maximum penalty could have been (filing for 8 years, to mirror requirements of OVDI), and was looking at $455k, only because we happened to have at least 5 accounts every year and I had received an inheritance. I was not able to keep the money in the States because I could not open an American bank account. And if I had not had to include my husband’s accounts, I would not have had to file a single FBAR. It was all his hard-earned money, and he was not happy about the idea of giving his information to the IRS. I had to get old records from the bank, drive to Ottawa to take our son to the States so he could get a SSN just so he could file. It took hours and hours to put together the records at home. I became more frightened, especially since there were stories of people being stopped at the border and I was to go back at Thanksgiving for my niece’s wedding. I got an EDL because I couldn’t use my Canadian passport with a US birthplace and I didn’t want to use my American one. I was confused, angry, sad and worried. Fortunately, family and friends in the States were supportive and said “Do what you have to do, family has to come first.” I intended to renounce immediately, assume I would have huge penalties which I would refuse to pay and be prepared to never be able to go back.
I went to my first renounciation meeting the day after I returned. The vice consul was not overbearing and more or less, rather non-chalant about the whole thing. I made an appointment for my second meeting for the next week, December 8. Lots of people said I should not do it, that I was giving away something that thousands and thousands of people wanted. The fact that I really did not want to renounce came into play and I cancelled that appointment. I decided I needed to at least make sure I had my facts straight about the things which bothered me most; could I find a way to protect my husband’s accounts without leaving me a pauper, could I manage somehow, to leave what I have to my husband without penalizing our son? The intangibles are unanswerable. What is the IRS going to do with all that information from the FBARS? What if our son (who does not want to renounce) moves to the US to work? Am I going to be hassled at the border for the rest of my life?
I decided to file 4 years of 1040′s (owe no tax) and FBARs. I know both sets have arrived and am feeling reasonably sure I am not going to receive any penalties. However, there is just too much confusion, stress, fear and rebellion against the US forcing it’s weight down on Americans abroad. I resent being treated as if I were guilty of something I am not. I am angry that my own government would allow this situation to go on, without offering reasonable concessions to those of us who are supposedly “not the target.” Not to mention the fact that my husband’s financial information is compromised. I worry about my bank accounts being cancelled if I don’t renounce. I am mad as hell that FATCA was sponsored by a tax cheat. The Democrats proposed this bill, what on earth is going on down south? IOW, I want out of this mess.
I have learned a lot and am very grateful to be Canadian and to have connected with people who give so generously of their time and energy to help others get through this. I have never been a part of anything political in my life. However, I do feel that contributing, in whatever way I can, may help others to become familiar with what is going on and getting the information they need to make the decision – comply and remain or renounce.
New Year’s Resolution #1 – renounce ASAP! I want my life back!