I though it would good as I am not sure everyone has seen it to repost Flaherty’s original letter on September 16th 2011 sent but unpublished, to several major American newspaper (i.e. NY Times, Washington Post, WSJ):
By Jim Flaherty
Canada and the United States are neighbours and have long been the closest of friends. We share a common border and we share many common values. One of those values is fighting tax evasion. We believe in fair tax systems where everybody pays their share. Many Canadians, however, have become concerned about the impact of a proposed piece of American tax legislation – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA. I share their concern. We appreciate efforts to combat tax evasion. In fact, our two jurisdictions co-operate to prevent it. But FATCA has far-reaching extraterritorial implications. It would turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians. To be clear, Canada respects the sovereign right of the United States to determine its own tax legislation and its efforts to combat tax evasion – the underlying objective of FATCA. But put frankly, Canada is not a tax haven. People do not flock to Canada to avoid paying taxes. In addition, we have existing ways of addressing these issues with the United States through our Bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreement. As I said, we share the same goal of fighting tax evasion and we already have a system that works. To rigidly impose FATCA on our citizens and financial institutions would not accomplish anything except waste resources on all sides. Another issue, this one affecting more directly the large numbers of dual U.S.- Canadian citizens and their relatives living in Canada, is the IRS’s Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) filing requirements. Most of these Canadian citizens, many with only distant links to the United States, have a very limited knowledge of their tax reporting obligations to the United States. These are honest and law-abiding people, including many senior citizens now caught in a nerve-wracking situation. Moreover, because they work and pay taxes in Canada, they generally do not owe any taxes in the United States in any event. Their only transgression is failing to file the IRS paperwork they were never aware they were required to file. These people are not the targets of a crackdown on tax evasion. These are not high rollers with offshore bank accounts. These are people who have made innocent errors of omission that deserve to be looked upon with leniency Rather, these people are typically hard-working citizens of our two great countries. Faced with the knowledge that they do have an obligation to file U.S. tax returns (even if they most often do not actually owe any taxes) they want to do the right thing. But the threat of prohibitive fines for simply failing to file a return they were unaware they had to file, is a frightening prospect that is causing unnecessary stress and fear among law abiding hardworking dual citizens. We support efforts to crack down on legitimate tax evasion. These measures, however, do not achieve that goal.
@Tim, I like the letter and applaud Mr. Flaherty for taking a firm stand. In my opinion it is going to take firm stands like this from responsible leaders in other countries to pry open the blind eyes of those on the southern side of this common border to the havoc and needless pain they are causing to the innocent. May his tribe increase and here’s hoping he will continue to stand firm.
@all I sure hope and pray he stands firm!! I wish the whole world would tell the US to back off and get their big nose out of others business. I think most countries are afraid of the US.
Hooray Canada. This letter makes our country look like its led by adults while the Ambassador Jacobson’s speech makes the US look like its run by juvenile delinquents.
I don’t think it was a coincidence this letter was never published. I am not sure who was responsible in the US but someone was.
There may be up to a million Canadian-US dual citizens living here. That works out to about 3000 votes per federal riding. We are a large voting block, and if not protected by our government could make a difference in the next federal election. When talking to your member of parliament don’t forget to remind them how many of us that there are. It does not matter what side of the house your member is sitting on, they all want your vote. Make sure all the political parties understand how many potential votes are connected to this issue.
I remember seeing this letter being reported back in September here but never saw it in the NYTs, WSJ or WaPo. Maybe I missed it. I seem to recall seeing it in some paper like Detroit? Can’t remember where…
Just Me – The only publishing of the letter that I know of:
@tim, Now everybody knows that there is no other country in world that practices Freedom of the Press like the USA. But what people fail to mention that the press also exercises its freedom to not publish what it decides not to publish.
I remember so well when US Ambassador Charles Elbrick was kidnapped in Brazil in 1969 and held by terrorists for 78 hours until the Brazilian Government ceeded to their demands. When he was released Wakter Cronkite and other members of the US media flocked to Brazil to interview him. The interview took place in the studios of TV Globo, Brazil’s largest TV network, which were made available for this purpose and which at that time was the 8th largest TV Network in the World. I later was employed by TV Globo and my boss, a VP, recounted for me what happened. I arrived in Brazil just a few months after this incident, but was well aware of it because it news was widely disseminated about it around the world.
Brazil had a military government at the time, and it refused to allow the tape of the interview to be taken out of the country because of one statement that Ambassador Elbrick had made that was critical of that government. But good old Walter apparently beat his chest and made such a scene about Freedom of the Press that the Brazilian authorities relented, and allowed Walter and the other US reporters to depart from Roi de Janeiro with the taped interview in their hands.
But when it was broadcast on TV in the US, the only portion of that interview that was aired for the US TV viewers to see and hear was that one statement which the Brazilain Government had found obectionable. Everything else had been censored out by the US media.
Let me add that Dijilma, the current freely-elected President of Brazil, was a member of that same “terrorist” group that kidnapped the US Ambassador. She was not personally involved in this act, but she did spend some time in confinement when the military was running that country. Her views have, in many respects, become more moderate since those days, but that is clearly part of her background.
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”
– Gerald Seymour
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