I was born in the States, living half of my growing-up years (with many good memories) on each of the East and West coasts. The present U.S. is not the country I grew up in however. I am now retired from the work force at 68 years old, wanting to live a simple life without the stress the issue of U.S. citizenship has brought.
My then-husband and I moved to Canada in 1969 and both became Canadian citizens in March 1975, completely believing (as we were warned of it at the time) that we relinquished our U.S. citizenship by taking the Oath of Allegiance for our Canadian citizenship. We chose to live and work in Canada, pay our taxes in Canada and, especially, raise our children (born in Calgary) in Canada.
In 2008 I was made aware that the rules had changed (without anyone from the U.S. giving me any notification or a choice to opt in or opt out) — I was still a U.S. citizen and was not in compliance with filing U.S. tax returns. The Canadian accountant that I had used for so many years and who knew that I was born in the States referred me to a Calgary cross-border accounting firm as he was not trained or licensed to deal with doing my back U.S. returns. It was confirmed by that respected cross-border accounting firm that I was required to back file and so at that time they helped me make a ‘quiet disclosure’ for three years of returns and FBARs. I am presently six years compliant.
Earlier this year I talked with an immigration lawyer who confirmed that I had absolutely relinquished my U.S. citizenship when I became a Canadian citizen. But, this was negated by my filing of back U.S. tax returns and FBARs. To add another layer, I had taken to heart a conversation with a U.S. Border Guard who told me during a crossing that the next time I entered the States from Canada I was to use only a U.S. passport – so I applied for and received my first U.S. passport in January of 2009.
My biggest concern is for my adult son who is developmentally delayed. I opened, with him as the beneficiary able to start payments when he is 60 years old, a Registered Disability Savings Account (RDSP). Since the U.S., presently, considers the RDSP a foreign trust as they do the Canadian Registered Education Savings Plan and Tax Free Savings Account, gains are subject to tax and this negates for him the same benefit that other Canadian citizens with a disability receive under these same plans. His RDSP account, identified on my FBARs, is now worth about $30,000 so he, as a U.S. citizen by birth in Canada to U.S. citizens, should be filing FBARs. Neither of my children (born in 1972 and 1974 before my Canadian citizenship) were ever registered by their parents as U.S. citizens at a U.S. Consulate. I am now starting a process of assessment and court proceedings to, hopefully, get Guardianship for legal matters / Trusteeship for my son so I can, again hopefully, be able to make the decision for him to renounce his citizenship. (He would actually think it pretty cool to be a U.S. citizen since all of his cousins live in the U.S., but he can’t perceive the injustice this does for him.) There is absolutely no benefit for my son to be anything other than the Canadian he was raised as. I do not want to leave the administration and expense of this to anyone in my family or to a paid executor when I am gone. I also do not want the IRS to have one penny of my kids’ inheritance that I have worked and saved so hard for – in Canada.
My first appointment for renunciation is scheduled for late January 2012 in Calgary.
I have sent several emails to my Member of Parliament, Michelle Rempel; to Finance Minister Flaherty and to the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Jacobson. It is very disappointing that none of my emails have been answered, therefore I am not, as are many of you, part of this important conversation.
Intelligent forum conversations with other U.S. citizens in Canada have helped me retain some degree of sanity in all of this. I am grateful for the perspectives of others in similar situations in helping me make my necessary decisions to lead me back to a more normal life – one where I can again be a contributing member of Canadian society.