I’ve been intending to submit my story but have not gotten to it yet. It’s a simple story but for what it’s worth, here it is. I am the daughter of an American father and Canadian mother. My parents began their life together in the US. I am the oldest, born in Portland, OR when my father was in school. I have 3 siblings, all born in the US. My youngest brother was the victim of medical malpractice that affected him very shortly after his birth and followed him throughout his life until his death 2 1/2 years ago. All of my father’s family—my aunts, uncles and cousins—live in the US.
In 1962 our family moved to Canada because of employment opportunities for my father and the support of my mother’s family in caring for a child with a disability. I was 8 years of age when I moved here and have lived in Canada almost 50 years. I didn’t become a Canadian citizen until 1995. I delayed the decision as I did not want to lose my American citizenship (I’d sure like to lose it now!) and then when it became possible to have dual citizenship, I simply put it off. It was because I wanted to be able to vote that I became a Canadian citizen. I am Canadian through and through. I am married to a naturalized Canadian citizen, born in Germany—not a dual citizen.
I have been using a Canadian passport to travel to the US and I cross the border up to 3-4 times in a year. My American birthplace has never been an issue at the border. The only issue I’ve ever had was once when a military wannabe agent gave me flack for having only my first initial on my passport and not my full first name (I go by my second name and detest my first name). I had an American passport prior to becoming a Canadian citizen but didn’t renew it. I do not have a SSN.
I found out about this mess on the evening of September 8th listening to the evening edition of The Current on CBC. We had just returned from the US that very day. I was stunned and over the next several weeks began to gather information and watch to see how this was all going to unfold. It had not occurred to me that I needed to file income tax with the IRS. I was vaguely aware of a tax treaty between Canada and the US but didn’t think anything of it. Recently I looked at my old US passport and did read the very fine print informing me but this is the only way the US has made any attempt to inform me of my responsibility to file. None of my siblings, Canadian or American family and friends here or in the US had heard of FATCA, FBARs and the requirement of non-resident US citizens to file with the IRS until recently. My husband has a head-in-the-sand attitude. To him, it is so preposterous that it can’t possibly come to pass. He hates it when I talk about it and is refusing to allow me to put his name on any forms related to our joint accounts. I brought it up at our last meeting with our financial adviser. He had heard about FATCA but knew very little. I asked if they will have to give me up to the IRS and, after checking with his higher ups, he told me they have been directed that they will need to identify their US persons. We have put our RRSPs in Canadian investments but that is no protection as our economies are so interwoven. I understand my TFSA is not protected. I also have concerns about the joint bank accounts I hold with my mother who is not able to manage her finances. The money from my father and brothers’ estates went into her accounts and if they per chance follow up, they could find that much of the money in her account came from two Americans, my father and my brother, neither of whom ever filed with the IRS. What are the implications for the estates of dead US persons? Ironically, my Canadian mother has a US SSN and receives a Social Security benefit as a widow of a US citizen and my Canadian husband has a SSN from many years ago when he was a student in the US.
I have a week of vacation coming up in February. Instead of going to a nice warm place somewhere, my sister and I are driving down to Great Falls, Montana to obtain Social Security numbers in order to file. The funny thing is that my sister will probably get money back as she has been working on a Masters’ degree for the past few years and will have tax deductible student expenses. I plan to file 3 years of returns and FBARS with an accountant who has experience with cross border taxes. I may try to do my 2011 return myself with Turbo Tax. I have used the Canadian version for many years to do our CDN returns.
My husband has 3 nieces and nephews who were born in the US when their father was attending school but returned to Canada as babies and small children. It galls me that they, too, are caught up in this nonsense and now, as young adults in school and just starting in their careers, will have to deal with hassle and expense of American citizenship! Up to this point, I have written letters to my Canadian politicians and have talked it up with family and friends. I have recommended Isaac Brock to many folks! I haven’t completely decided if I will renounce or not but I am leaning toward renouncing. Thanks for all of your contributions and hard work on this forum. You are indeed a mighty force and leaders in a gathering momentum of protest from this side of the border. Keep it up!
Very interesting (but I suspect in many ways typical) story.
Your story is an example of so many ways that U.S. citizenship is impacting those who reside outside the U.S.
– FATCA and your husband not wanting your name on accounts
– 1040s and FBAR
– the possible issue of estate planning
You mention that you got started on this after hearing the show on the current. I actually used this as the basis for blog post.
Question: When you became a Canadian citizen did you swear an affidavit indicating you wanted to retain U.S. citizenship?
Maybe something to think about. Also, you might consider getting some good professional advice before proceeding with anything definitive.
Anyway, thanks for joining the blog – really enjoyed reading this.
Thanks for sharing your story, Karcan and for joining us at Isaac Brock Society. Please continue to refer people here for some answers to their questions and to see what others like them are deciding. The support information and support I’ve received here is invaluable.
Karcan, I’m in a similar situation. I went through days of trying to convince my husband to let me list our joint accounts on the FBAR’s. I went down and talked to the bank by myself which actually turned out to be a good thing since our account rep is a really wonderful guy and he’s been very helpful. The tax returns are basically my problem and while he was worried for me when I was under enormous stress, he remained distantly sympathetic. 🙂
And now his reaction to FATCA and the possibility that we may have some problems with our accounts, not to mention the “death tax” he will have to pay if I die, seems to have finally got his attention.
I don’t mean to make my husband out to be a jerk. It’s more that he thinks “well, that’s American stuff and doesn’t really apply to me,” the EU/French part of this partnership.
Hang in there….