From the archives of the Righteous Investor, December 4, 2011. Petros dialogues with a right-winger; it seems that few US residents, whether on the left or on the right, are sympathetic with the plight of Americans abroad and the masses of expats renouncing their citizenship.
Brian Garst has written a fine article on how certain government policies, including FATCA, are driving foreign capital away. I responded with a comment. Garst had a very nice reply. But then, a certain Jim_in_Houston accused me of cowardice for relinquishing my US citizenship to escape the oppressive burden of IRS regulations. Since this is not an atypical response that those who are relinquishing their US citizenship will face, I decided to try to counter his bigotry with reasoned responses. But his recalcitrance in accepting that my response was anything but laziness and cowardice continued unabated. Normally, it is necessary to simply to walk away from people when they are this stubborn, but I found that it gave me an occasion to write more explicitly about American tyranny, not so much for brave Jim_in_Houstan’s benefit, but perhaps for the benefit some less stubborn readers who might occasion upon the correspondence. But not only so, but to buttress my fellow expatriates who are feeling very discouraged that the IRS is forcing them to renounce. Conversations like this do not shake our resolve but confirm the necessity of our decision. If even right-wingers like brave Jim_in_Houston are clueless, people who are opposed to the destructiveness of the Obama adminstration, then we have no hope whatsoever that a right-wing president or a right-wing Congress would bring us relief. The only choice is to leave this country and its arrogant people with as little regret as possible, knowing that the laws of economic reality, as explained by Mises and other true economists, will soon impoverish that entire nation.
I wrote (as P.W. Dunn):
Thanks Brian for this excellent article. Now I would like to point out a couple things from the stand point of those of us Americans (and former Americans who like myself have recently renounced or relinquished our citizenship). (1) You wrote: “Members were concerned about the human rights implications for foreigner depositors, particularly from Latin America, who face kidnapping and extortion threats back home, but most importantly the capital flight this concern would cause should the rule pass.” Now I want to point out that from our point of view, the reason why our countries should not become FATCA compliant is that we do not want to face “extortion” from the IRS, forcing us to face hefty FBAR fines. There is a very large expat community in the world, that is scared out of its wits now by what the United States is doing. (2) In my article at the American Thinker, “FATCA: a ticking time bomb for the economy” I bring out this human dimension of a very angry and scared expat community. You say nothing about it here. But I suggest you speak to people like me who have relinquished our American citizenship in the last year. We are very angry, angry, angry. I gave up my birthright this year, so I would not have to face the extortionate fines of FBAR. Some of us are the most anti-American folks out there now, telling all our friends to stop investing in the United States and to make this government pay for its arrogance. http://righteousinvestor.com/2011/11/28/fatca-a-t…
Brian Garst wrote:
Thank you P. W. With regard to (1), that statement was actually describing the non-resident alien deposit reporting regulation from the IRS. While the objections are similar as those to FATCA on principle, there are differences in the arguments against it.
But I’m glad you raised the issue of the impact FATCA has on the ex-pat community. I only chose not to bring it up here for the sake of brevity, but it is certainly one of the major problems the legislation. We’ve heard from a number of folks who already have been dropped from their institutions over this legislation. But I know groups like ACA are doing an excellent job of making the case for its impact on Americans living abroad.
P. W. Dunn wrote:
It’s very kind of you to respond. As I said, your article is excellent and I appreciate your willingness to respond to the issues facing American citizens abroad.
As for point (1), the differences are not that significant. I consider myself an economic refugee in Canada, since the United States has threatened me with imprisonment and substantial fines of up to 300% of my wealth if I do not comply with FBAR. But this is something that I refuse to do on many grounds: I will not expose my Canadian wife to this draconian law and the possibility that her wealth could be stolen by the IRS. I will not under any circumstances ever reveal any of my account information to the IRS, because it would expose her to the capricious confiscatory programs of the IRS. I will die first. Besides, it is a violation of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th amendments of the Constitution of the United States.
I wish to mention further that the Human Rights Code in Canada where I live does not permit discrimination on the basis of citizenship: so that the Canadian banks which are currently gearing up to implement FATCA will face human rights lawsuits. The expat community in Canada is currently in the process of organizing. We are not going to sit here and allow our rights under the Human Rights Code in Canada be stripped from us by a law that was made in the United States where we have no representation. The Canadian banks may think that they have the right to insist that people reveal their citizenship to them, but the fact is that the code does not even permit us to ask a legal Canadian resident where they were born, or what their citizenship is, in a job interview (unless the job requires Canadian citizenship–then “Are you Canadian?”, not –“What is your citizenship?”). So FATCA cannot be implemented in Canada under any circumstances, except if the Federal and each of the provincial governments severely curtail their Human Rights Codes to permit this kind of discrimination. Thus, I predict, that within a few months, the banks will tell the Yanks that there is no possibility of implementing FATCA.
Many other countries will do the same. And if the US doesn’t back down from FATCA, $14 trillion or more in foreign investment will leave the United States; then printed US dollars will start pouring back into the US and their will be the mother of all hyperinflations. The date is January 1, 2014. The hyperinflation will probably happen in any case, but now you have my prediction for when it will happen.
Sorry, but I think you took the cowards way out by giving up your citizenship and not joining the fight to shake off the yoke of oppression we are now under with this administration. I for one will stay here and fight them to my last breath.
P. W. Dunn wrote:
Mr. Jim in Houston:
Thanks for this suggestion. When I left the United States in 1986, Ronald Reagan was president. I wanted to study abroad. So first I studied in Vancouver Canada, then I moved to England and studied at Cambridge, then I went to Switzerland and studied there. Now when I was in Vancouver I met a Canadian girl, and I’ve been married to her ever since. When I finished my studies in Switzerland, her family took us in, she started working for them, and now, well, it just turned out that we’ve stayed here in Ontario. So I haven’t lived in the United States since 1986. Now, I relinquished my citizenship on February 28, 2011, because of the Obama administration’s application of the FBAR law made me into a criminal, because there is no way that I will waive my 4th and 5th amendment rights and hand over my bank account information to the United States treasury. I live in Canada–my normal accounts out of which I conduct my daily affairs have become a felony.
Instead of upbraiding me for cowardice, you should be ashamed that your country is making criminals out of law abiding citizens–about 5-6 million Americans live abroad. You should be apologizing to me that I had to give up my birthright.
Since you don’t seem to know much about the plight of American citizens abroad, I suggest you could start by reading the following article that I wrote (with Monty Pelerin) for the American Thinker:
If you have any wealth at all, I’m not sure you would be willing to put up with its confiscation either. A simple trip to the US Consulate in Toronto, and now I am relieved of future filing requirements to the IRS.
Sorry, but your explanation still doesn’t fly. I am ashamed of the current government and am doing everything I can to ensure it doesn’t get four more years; however, I will NEVER abandon my country, only fight all the harder to correct it.
P. W. Dunn wrote:
Mr. Jim in Houston:
I didn’t abandon my country. It criminalized me and therefore my country abandoned me.
I want you to know however that I am doing what I can to fight this injustice. I am writing polemical articles and I am now in the open, and for some that takes courage, for I am staring the IRS in the face and saying, go ahead, make an example of me. Meanwhile, you are some guy in Houston named Jim. That is really courageous. Tell me what your real name is then you can brag about how courageous you are.
See this post: http://righteousinvestor.com/2011/11/15/pillaging…
Also I should mention that I consider temporal political alliances such as the current nations of the world, e.g., USA or Canada, to be passing away like chaff in a fire. I am only a sojourner here:
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
I will do whatever is expedient in this earthly life so as to better prepare for that everlasting country of which I am a true citizen.
Sorry PW but you are still taking the lazy cowardly way out.
P. W. Dunn wrote:
And you still haven’t told me your name. Very brave.
As for your suggestion that I’m taking the lazy cowardly way out, I would argue that no, I’m being true to my American roots. I am standing up for my rights under the constitution. FBAR in the case of Americans abroad violates their 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th amendment rights. In this case, if you–who refuse to lose your citizenship–you have to submit to a government that continually violates your rights. What kind of pathetic American is that who is a slave of the government? Because I believe in freedom, I believe that as an American I have the right to go somewhere else and renounce my citizenship in order to escape an evil and oppressive government, just as our forefathers escaped and then fought against England and King George, expatriating en bloc. You can indeed fight for your rights within American, but that option is not available to me. Irwin Schiff fought for his rights and he rots now in a Federal Prison. I also have a wife to think about, and I therefore have expatriated in order to protect her and her assets, but you would just fight, and when the IRS has impoverished both you and your wife, you would laugh and say, “I will never abandon my country”. So if you want to fight for your country, then do this: fight for the US expatriates that have to renounce their citizenship because of FBAR. Many of the 6 million Americans overseas are contemplating it. And stop insulting them, because that is not helpful. They only want what every true American wants, freedom.
Furthermore, the persecution of expatriates by the IRS, will make it nigh on impossible for the US to carry out any business overseas–to sell our goods to other countries. Because if your people can’t go to another country and set up shop because of oppressive regulation of Americans abroad, then you will not be able to carry out business. Already Americans are shunned from certain jobs and from opening up bank accounts.
But if you continue in your current logic then you prove yourself to be the quintessential Ugly American–insulting what you don’t understand. I am now a proud Canadian, proud of our heritage. And I will defend her, just as you would defend your country. She has adopted me and it is my duty. After over 25 years of living in this country, growing to love my community here, it is only right that I should defend her. But dual citizenship is an absurdity. In my thinking, I had to give up my allegiance to the United States in order to make my oath to the Queen of Canada. Now I just want a government that, in its oppression of its expatriates, has become worse than King George ever was– I want that government to leave me alone. And I wish you well, you Americans, as your government, whether Republican or Democrat, takes you over the abyss of insolvency and financial meltdown. Good luck with that!
@petros, Thanks for standing tall on this matter. Regrettably the 99% of American citizens who have never lived outside of the US have absolutely no concept of the living Hell that US citizens who have very legitimate and laudable reasons for living abroad, are going through. I would be willing to bet, were I a betting person (which I am not) that probably 95% of US citizens here in the US are not even aware that US citizens continue to be subject to US income taxes when the live outside of the US.
I recall when I was first offered a job in Peru, I knew nothing about it either, but had enough sense to ask before I said “yes” and moved with my wife and our 4 small children to that far-off land that was our home for 4 years. The tax orientation I received was not that good, though, I was simply assured that they would reimburse me for any difference in taxes I had to pay on my salary as compared to what the US tax would be if I was in the US. What they did not tell me, and I did not know enough to ask, was that the reimbursement they provided was also considered taxable income by both Peru and the IRS, so every year the reimbursement kept going up, as did the tax on the reimbursement. But I learned a lot from that experience.
@ Roger : Thanks, it means a lot.
As for the tax issues, that’s one of the problems with grossing up someone’s salary. You need to do sophisticated calculus program to make it work.
@Roger and Petros: As I keep pointing out on Facebook and Twitter: regardless of one’s reason for living outside of the U.S. as an American (love, career, education, family, etc.), there is NO excuse for double taxation and taxation without representation. I used to be a staunch defender of the U.S., but now I am a vocal opponent of anything U.S. or American due to its tax policies towards expatriates. Thank you Isaac Brock society for being the voice of U.S. expats everywhere REGARDLESS of our situations!
I can’t open a new post but I wanted to report to the group that I successfully entered the US today from New Brunswick. I have never had a problem but didn’t know what to expect after the latest changes in US policies.
It was early so I was the only one in line. The agent was friendly, looked over my Canadian passport and asked, “Do you also have a US passport?” I said that I have never had one and have lived most of my life in Canada. After asking where I was going, etc. he wished me a nice day and that was it.
I just wanted to share this experience with you.
Well eloquently argued, Peter, we’re all proud of you!
I’m sad to say, however, that I suspect that the vast majority of Americans, of both parties, have little or no sympathy for the plight of Americans living overseas who are caught in this nightmare. But then, the majority of Americans I’ve met (not all by any means, but far too many) have no understanding of or sympathy with anything that happens outside their borders, unless it affects their own pocketbooks or their own lives very directly.
Which is why that, much as I respect and admire the tenacity of the good folks at American Citizens Abroad, I think they’re fighting a hopeless uphill battle. I wouldn’t join them anyway, because I’m NOT an American and don’t want to do anything, ever, that could even remotely be interpreted as an assertion of American nationality that I gave up happily 36 years ago. But I think my time and energy are going to be spent more productively lobbying with Canadian politicians to keep on protecting us and to do what they can to get FATCA off every Canadian’s back (the costs of implementation are going to be passed on to every Canadian account holder no matter his/her origins or citizenship). Not to mention the horrible precedent that Canadian compliance with FATCA sets for future dealing with ANY naturalized Canadian of ANY origin, in blatant contravention of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and of our history since Confederation and even before, back to 1812 and back further to the welcoming of the United Empire Loyalists who fled some pretty nasty things during the US declaration of independence, to people who didn’t agree.
As an aside: there’s a recent book waiting for me at the library that documents all of that, will maybe give a brief book report on it once I’ve read it. It’s my understanding that, contrary to American mythology, the rebellion against Britain wasn’t an overwhelming consensus, it was perhaps a majority view but not by a large margin. Lots of folks fled because of it and settled in what is now Canada as a result, and as we know Isaac Brock and his troops gave the American invaders a huge suprise when they wandered up here thinking they’d be welcomed as liberators, thanks in large part to the Loyalists and their descendants who’d settled here.
For me, lobbying US politicians would be an utter waste of my time and energy. Especially once they find out I’m not a US citizen and am a former draft dodger, that would not go down well I suspect.
I hope others succeed in turning things around in Congress and the IRS, but I’m not holding my breath or even taking the possibility remotely seriously, I’m sorry to say.