As I was reading Peter Spiro’s excellent article this morning (many thanks to Just Me for this one) and after I had written my own post on recent Dutch efforts to restrict dual citizenship, I had a new (for me anyway) insight into this debate we are having with the home country.
Some of the arguments of the U.S. government (and some of the citizenry) seem to link our filing and reporting (FATCA and FBAR) and paying taxes, to loyalty to the American nation. They seem to be saying, “Prove to us that you are loyal Americans by filling out those forms, paying your “fair share,” and sacrificing for the good of the country.”
Now this argument gets a fair amount of traction in the U.S. because it seems so reasonable. A kind of “shouldn’t we all be in this together?” The fact that overseas Americans have real issues with this is sometimes taken as proof that we are disloyal and trying to get away with something.
My humble answer to this is, quite simply: are you folks sure you want to go there? Are you absolutely sure that you want to link filling out forms and paying taxes to the Federal government to loyalty to the United States of America?
Because that really would put the cat among the pigeons, wouldn’t it? Many Americans living in the U.S. do not have to file and, as I understand it, many of those who do file do not pay any taxes at all to the federal government. Not a dime. So, are these people disloyal? Are they second-class citizens? Are they undeserving of representation?
Or, to put in a way that I am sure some folks would find quite offensive, is the fact that I, an overseas citizen, filed and paid taxes to the Federal Government of the United States of America last year (and will pay again this year) make me morally superior and a far better and more loyal United States citizen than over 50% of my compatriots on American soil?
Frankly I would agree that the above is an asinine argument and if I dared to make it in a public forum I think I would deserve all the outrage directed at me. Believe me, I recognize this as the utter rubbish it so clearly is.
So, may I gently suggest that home country Americans stop tying FATCA, FBAR and the tax system to overseas Americans’ loyalty. Not only is this an argument that does not stand up under scrutiny, it is deadly for home country Americans because the logical conclusion to this is quite horrendous: that those who do not file or pay federal taxes to the U.S. government are “inferior” and “disloyal” citizens.