Over the past half-year, tens of thousands of words have swirled around the current situation of extraterritorial citizens of the United States.
In all that flood of comment, one piece stands out for treatment of an important but little-considered facet. Early on, financial planner (fee-for-service) David Christianson squarely addressed the topic of personality in Long arm of American tax law. It is good to see that his perceptive take at Winnipeg Free Press still remains available, just a click away.
A column that Christianson had written the previous week attracted “more emails and phone calls … than any in the last 16 years” of publishing his column. He found it “fascinating to observe the incredible range of reactions.”
Christianson encountered types ranging from rampant deniers to angry defiers to “borderline pathological rule followers … prone to panic.”
At the end the columnist offers a final counsel: “Try to objectively evaluate your reaction to all of this and what it reveals about your money personality.”
Those words resonate. Back in 1988 Katherine Gurney published a memorable book titled with that same phrase: Your Money Personality.
Commonalities can be perceived among the individual personalities that have gravitated into the orbit of Isaac Brock Society. Those commonalities also coalesce to produce a Brocker group personality.
At the same time, we can see big differences among Petros and Blaze and geeez and Mona and Tim and Victoria and Arrow and tiger and Eric and nobledreamer and schubert1975 and Calgary411 and ij and rivka88 and the rest of the numerous crew. Almost 200 of us have names now. (Lots of lurkers out there wondering if/how to transition past pure denial?)
This mess is not just about money. It is about fairness and honesty and justice and freedom. And lots of other things too.
Your Citizenship Personality. Isn’t criticizing and countering and vanquishing the hubris and insensitivity and overreach of United States authorities the most American thing you can do?
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I don’t quite understand what your question is regarding “ex post facto application by people who could be disadvantaged….”
I had previously posted that a University friend, who became naturalized in Canada in 1974, sometime in the early 1990’s applied to reclaim her U.S. citizenship. She did this using a lawyer, who claimed she had only become a Canadian to support her two sons (she was a single parent), with an Ontario government job that required Cdn. citizenship. He request was granted and she was issued a U.S. passport.
I believe they started to allow this in the early 90’s because that was at the same time that DOS issued a policy statement to their worldwide embassies and consulates, that when an individual became a citizen of another country, it was to be presumed that they wished to retain U.S. citizenship. I guess they felt that because their stance on expatriating acts had changed, they had to “offer” those persons who had previously expatriated the right to claim citizenship back. In other words, the early 90’s became the time that “burden of proof” of relinquishment started to fall on the shoulders of the individual instead of the DOS.
I’ve been a lurker on this site for over a month. I’ve never “blogged” before today. I am not a writer, nor as eloquent as most you and am woefully ignorant of all this tax and legal stuff. In these 30+ days, I have read every single thread on this site and have visited every link offered. I have read the entire “OVDI Drudgery for Minnows”, all of the personal stories, and have even printed out pages & pages of suggestions and opinions (thank you so much, JustMe!). But I can’t take it anymore… this being silent and feeling so estranged and “criminalized”. The only place I feel connected anymore is while I’m reading postings from all of you.
After reading zucchero81’s comments on this thread (“…this whole FATCA issue has been more like going through the 5 stages of grief…”) I feel compelled to peek out of my seemingly safe lurker shadows. You have it right, usxcanada… I am one of those lurkers wondering if/how to transition past pure denial. I have yet to make a real decision (which would require real action) on what the heck to do. My gut reaction is to run fast, run far, hide deep. But the more I read, the more that is sounding impossible to accomplish. I have chosen “fullTurtle” as my alias because doing a “full ostrich” would leave far too much exposed at the surface.
Since becoming aware just 6 weeks ago (and purely by accident) of my requirement for filing US taxes… then FATCA and all the rest, my whole life has turned upside down. I can think of little else. I’ve attended a free seminar on the subject of cross-border taxation given by a high-end legal accounting firm in town (can you say ca-CHING?) and have spent the vast majority of my waking hours researching the subject. All I seem to have done is become almost catatonic with dread. I swing wildly between the extremes of near homicidal rage and suicidal depression.
Okay, I’m more in the homicidal phase today. To get back to the topic of this thread, I want to renounce my citizenship so bad I can taste it. And thanks renounceuscitizenship; I agree 100% with pretty much everything you’ve posted, and I visit your site regularly too. It would be so worth the $450 USD just to fling my passport & birth certificate down at the US Consolate and tell them exactly where to shove it. When the day comes that I can renounce (my Canadian citizenship application was mailed Feb.6th so it will be 18 mo’s to 2 years), I will write that cheque on a shirt, duly certified by the bank of course, and explain it to them thusly: “Seeing as the US Gov’t is taking the shirt off my back, I thought you might like to keep the shirt.”
In ending this tirade, I am so grateful to ALL of you regular posters who have unknowingly kept me from jumping from a tall building (so far). And especially you, Petros, for creating this web site. You have no idea the number of people you are helping give voice. I hope someday to add my story to those of you who have survived this holocaust.
Okay whew, if I can do this… the rest of you lurkers out there can do it too!
@fullturtle. Welcome. Who says you aren’t eloquent? You have to start sometime, and this was a GREAT post! I know your feelings, and have tons of empathy for you.
I loved this comment! “I have chosen “fullTurtle” as my alias because doing a “full ostrich” would leave far too much exposed at the surface.” I might tweet that if you don’t mind. Brilliant!
Hang in there, and you will come to the right decision for you!
Petros has done us all a GREAT favor!
FullTurtle: Welcome! Thanks for popping your head out of your shell and joining us here. You’re among friends.
The more the merrier–and the more we can influence change. Please see my post earlier today and think about writing to the Privacy Commissioner and politicians:
Even though you are not yet a Canadian citizen, remember you still have rights in Canada as a Canadian resident.
Just like the most of us, you don’t seem to be criminal in any way. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are!
I’m hoping you are just joking in your comment about wanting to jump from a tall building, but I fear you may be serious. Another person has expressed similar disturbing thoughts. Many of us have had sleepless nights, health challenges, strained marriages and personal relationships, expensive accountants and lawyers who are draining retirement savings, difficulties at work, worry about Canadian born children, etc.
I will soon send an e-mail to Jim Flaherty about the toll this issue is taking on Canadian citizens and residents.
Please hang in there–and keep popping your head out of your shell!
I think I read somewhere on a Canadian government site that they can somtimes expedite Citizenship but you have to ask. They should definitely consider doing this for all Americans who have recently applied for Canadian citizenship.
@omg, that is an excellent thought, one of your many — it would be wonderful if these citizenships could be fast-tracked!!
Welcome from all of us. We were all in your place at one time, finding out about all this — how do you think OMG got that name?
You will find continuing support here. From the free seminar that you mention, you may live in the same vicinity as me??
If you are in Canada just remember the number 1,000,000. There is STRENGTH in numbers and this includes Elizabeth May, Margaret Wente and an incredible amount of other “prominent” Canadians.
@Joe: Does anyone know why Margaret Wente has been so silent since her original article? I certainly understand if she just wants to stay off IRS radar (I thought it was brave of her to even write one article!). But, it would be great if she could and would more publicly join the fight.
I hope she’s at least telling her journalism colleagues to stop calling us “tax cheats” or “evaders” who need to “come clean.”
You expressed so much that I feel.
Since I’ve been dealing with this for about 8 months, I wanted to comment on one statement you made, as perhaps I can share some hope, based on my experience over time.
You wrote: “All I seem to have done is become almost catatonic with dread. I swing wildly between the extremes of near homicidal rage and suicidal depression.”
Yup, sounds very familiar.
This horrible gamut of emotions and mood swings seems to be universal, and statistically, I would guess that few of us have ever had to deal with such extreme feelings before, so it’s so unfamiliar that it’s scary. I have never felt such intensity of emotions and such a bizarre range of them, nothing close to it, ever. This US mess just takes over one’s life, feeling like caught in a complex trap, that it will never end.
Though it’s not over yet, I have found as time went on, while I still feel an amazing range of emotions, they don’t seem to be so intense and overpowering. For a couple of months, it overtook all of my life — with such an overpowering complex confusing situation, it was hard to focus on anything else. Eight months on, it is still, unfortunately, a big part of my life, but slowly I’ve found more and more of my normal life, and my normal personality, returning. It’s still a big problem but not overwhelming everything else.
I’ve just finished balling my eyes out in relief after reading all of your kind responses to my first ever blog. I can’t tell you what this has meant to me.
@JustMe: Of COURSE you can use the fullTurtle quip! It took me literally days to come up with the alias, along with the courage to write, and I’m honoured you’d think it’s good enough to reuse.
@Blaze: I had already read the thread on contacting the Privacy Commission, but didn’t think I could add any “clout” because of my US citizen status, even though I have been a permanent resident of Canada since 1968. YOU BET I’ll write them, if you think it might help. And no worries… the real suicidal depression phase was a couple weeks ago. I’m getting my “Ugly American” face on now.
@omg: Expediate my citizenship?!!? I had no idea…that would be AWEsome. I’ll see what I can find out about that immediately.
@calgary411: There’s no fool’n you. Yup, I live in Calgary too. Nice weather we’re having today, eh? (love your graphic, btw)
@Joe: Now wouldn’t it be great if all 1 million of us scaredy cat expats would join the IsaacBrock’ers and get in on these writing campaigns to reporters and politicians? Has anybody suggested contacting “60 Minutes”? (or is that on a different thread?)
@pacifica777: Thanks SO much for your understanding of my current insanity. Good to know it will subside somewhat given time, and I might be able to go out in public without fear of either bursting into tears or taking a swing at some poor unsuspecting innocent soul who accidentally mentions the words “coming clean” in my presence.
Again, thank you all. You’ve helped me feel like I’ve finally “come home”.
Welcome to the IBS world. And you are most definitely eloquent.
@FullTurtle: Welcome Home. Stay Out of that Shell! (well, except to sleep–and I hope you get lots more of that now that you’ve found folks who understand.)
Anyone else crawling around and hiding out of sight, please come in from the cold and join us in this warmer place!
Take a look at this link regarding expedited Canadian citizenship. Given some of the examples of cases considered for fast tracking, I would think yours might be pretty good.
FullTurtle – welcome, I’m glad you found your voice. This is the one place where I can be honest about what I’m feeling and how I’m feeling because I know there are many sympathetics people. Those not in this situation don’t understand, and, I guess, how could they? So, please keep coming back!
Sometimes it’s hard to talk even to family members because they react to things differently from the way you do. My husband, who actually is the American not me, is cool as a cucumber.
I’m the one who does all the obsessing. I’m glad this site is here too because it prevents me from driving him bonkers!
Welcome and please remember that you are not alone in this.
I too went through exactly what you are going through right now some 6 months ago.
This site will empower you and give you the correct information you need in order to formulate a decision that best fits your needs.
to quote a line from Terminator….”if you are reading this you ARE the resistance”.
Also remember that the December IRS fact sheet states in no uncertain terms that “they realize they have an obligation to inform” and it continues to state “one can normally come into compliance by filing 6 years of back returns”.
Also remember that you have the Canadian Government on your side (I am assuming you are in Canada). Although you might not be a citizen as of yet, you are most likely a permanent resident and therefore and potential FBAR penalties WILL NOT be collected by CRA. (Tax liability might be another issue if you are not a citizen).
I am in the process of getting my citizenship as well, it takes about 13 months…not 18, and there is no mechanism to speed up the process.
You need also to add to our fight and start a letter campaign to local and Federal politicians…we need all the PUSH we can get.
We will all get through this together.
@FullTurtle: Mach is absolutely correct. CRA will not collect FBAR penalties for any Canadian citizen or legal residents. Both CRA and Finance Minister Flaherty have been consistently and repeatedly clear about that (another good Canadian trait–the answer to the question you didn’t need to know you needed to ask doesn’t keep changing!)
In terms of back filling six years of returns, do you earn under $92,000 per year. If so, I think that amount is currently exempt from tax if earned outside of US. (Anyone else, is that correct?). Also, you should get a credit for any tax you have paid in Canada.
Do you have a need to travel to US? Some feel all of us should simply stop doing that to protect ourselves. For me, that is not an option because I have an 89 year old mother who is no longer able to travel here. Not seeing her in her final years is more than I or she could bear. Others have other reasons–as diverse as we are–so only you can make the decision which is right for you on that point.
@All — I am cross-posting this here as my comment has already been lost in an older thread and I thought many of you might be interested in this:
@ renouncecitizenship, @All,
I just got this email re http://business.financialpost.com/2011/09/24/u-s-campaign-to-catch-tax-cheats-snaring-canadians/
I just read your letter to Christine D at the National Post. She forwarded the info to me. I would be interested to converse with you by phone when we get back from our stay in AZ and NV which will be early April. Our daughter lives in OKOTOKS so I can call you from there. My phone and WIFI services are both limited here.
Its been a stressful experience, esp for my sister. She has not heard back from the IRS about her ‘penalty’ – I am relieved of mine as far as I know. Our costs were much more than we expected; mine was $9000. + to the Accountant and the Attorney wanted only $5000. We were angry about it and I wished that I had filled out my own forms even if they were all wrong.
Now we are facing the next tax report (2011) My sister was charged double of my costs as hers is more complicated.
I have not heard of the isaac brock society.
More later. Esther
It is wonderful to hear from you. You’re sending an email, so you will have access to the internet. Please check out the site http://isaacbrocksociety.com/ . There is a lot of information and support there. Many of us there wondered how you and your sister were doing.
I will look forward to hearing from you. My phone number in Calgary is 403-XXX-XXXX. I would even come see you in Okotoks when you are at your daughter’s place.
Blaze. Not quite. The exemption is for ‘earned income’ Income from investments is not excluded from the calculations but there is a credit for taxes paid to Canada.
Turtle. Welcome. You have lots of options. Avoid the OVDI It is not for you. One option is to stay out of sight.
@FullTurtle-WELCOME WELCOME!! You have come to the right place for sure. I know only too well what you are going through. I am still going through it. Just let me tell you the people on this site are the most wonderful group you will ever want to meet. They are so understanding and will help you in every way they can..each and everyone of them.
If it had not been for this site, I would have been 6 feet under by now and believe me I still have bad days. I am also waiting for my Canadian Citizenship, my application was sent in Nov. so I am just alittle but not much ahead of you.. It just takes too long. I have never wanted anything so bad in my life.
I hate, hate what the US has done to us all, it is a real shame..
FullTurtle, Love that name!! Hang in there we are all here for you!! And most of us here like me on a 24 hours basis. NO Sleep!!
Petros, is the best for starting this site..what a great job he has done..
Into metaphors, I can’t help but ask if the ostrich is not safer than the turtle because at least the head portion is underground? This weird speculation probably traces back to those old fallout shelter days …
And welcome, fullTurtle. The last two turtles I’ve met, real turtles, were snapping turtles, the first ones ever encountered — not like the terrapins you seem to have in mind, which was all of my previous direct experience with turtles.
Even turtles have a wide range of personalities.
I see that I was referenced in this post. I haven’t been posting very much here lately, because I’ve basically just given up and faced the facts:
1) I like my life here. Returning to the US is out of the question.
2) I have to renounce. Hopefully this can be achieved in the next couple of months.
The US is such a weird country.
@Calgary: Is Esther one of the two Saskatchewan Canadian grandmas who was featured in National Post a few months ago? Great work locating her. I hope she joins us here.
@Turtle: I love usxcanada’s story about the snapping kind of turtles. Now that you’re out of your shell, Get Snapping!
@saddened: Great to see you posting with such a different tone than just a few days ago. I know it’s still hard, but you’re strong.
@All: We’ve developed quite a menagerie: Tiger, Ladybug, Ostrich, Brock the Badger, Moby the Minnow, Turtle. Did I miss anyone? Any other creatures out there, please join our international safari. Kangaroos from Australia, Lions from Africa, Koalas from New Zealand, Reindeer from Scandinavia, Pandas from China, Llamas from Peru and all others are welcome on our world wide ark which is setting sail to battle the Great White Shark that the IRS has become.
Thanks for taking up my question. Under the old rule a U.S. citizen who became a Canadian citizen lost his U.S. citizenship. Under the new rule a U.S. citizen who becomes a Canadian citizen retains his U.S. citizenship. Does the law allow the U.S. to apply the new rule to those processed under the old one, in particular to those who are glad they were processed under the old rule and absolutely do not want to be reprocessed under the new one.