I hope that they don’t fear us at Isaac Brock Society and put us in a parallel category with the “Sovereign Citizen” and “Freeman” movements because the only thing we want is to pay our taxes in, and only in, the countries where we live. We don’t claim to be immune from the law (our local laws in the countries where we live apply to us) we just claim that US jurisdiction does not apply to us abroad! Most of us live in sovereign nations that are independant from the US.
Here is a 60 Minutes show about Sovereign Citizens. They say the Feds consider them domestic terror threats. Again, I would hope they realize that minnows, ostriches and other of us abroad at are not the same. We are sensible people who obey the laws where we live, pay taxes where we live, vote, etc.
@All – I, also, very much appreciate both sides, Petros’ and Mr. Mopsick’s, although I often don’t agree completely with either one of them. However, I firmly believe in their right to express themselves and I appreciate that both are willing to do so here, so that I can take advantage of both points of view. It’s a little ironic, actually, I have never been political, paid very little attention except for the issues locally to me, and I have never been one to jump into the fray. And here I am. This issue has certainly radicalized me to some extent. I have been a proud Canadian since 1976, but now I am a vigorously proud Canadian, and that’s a good portion of where my outrage comes from. It’s not just the taxes and fbars and fatca, in an odd way, I feel the US is trying to steal my identity from me. At any rate, in the past I have always been a letter of the law follower, and yet I’ve finally, I guess, hit my limit. In a round about way I think I’m trying to say I am trying to understand where both are coming from, and to say that I hope both continue to post as whether I agree or not, I’m almost always given new food for thought, from both of them.
You said ‘ I feel the US is trying to steal my identity from me’. You must have been reading my mind. Today while I was out, running my errands, thinking about all these things – I had the same feelings I had while I was going through the grief of my husband’s death. Something had been stolen from me then and you are correct, something is being stolen from us now. Some huge part of who I am ie an American – born, proud Canadian has been damaged by all of this. It has even affected the way I feel about my U.S. relatives and that is terrible. I know this is not their fault and yet part of me blames them. I know that is silly but it adds to my ‘grief’ that I even feel that way.
@tiger, I call it post traumatic stress disorder.
@Outragec and @tiger,
I identify what I feel as a lack of trust that I once had in the land where I was born and raised — its ideals; its fairness. It started with the Vietnam war and relatives and classmates senselessly lost, with the brother that disappeared from the face of the earth after his four years of military service in those days (he tried to commit suicide and I’m sure he has succeeded along the way). And, the wars continue; and we don’t learn from history. My trust has been completely shattered with this latest round of absurdity. What had been a given for me, that I was a Canadian and had free access to crossing the southern border to visit family, is gone — I am now a second-class Canadian by virtue of having been born in the US. Until there is resolution of this for my family, there is no closure for me. It’s hard to move on until that time, a total waste of my precious energy and someone else’s benefit of the use my time.
@calgary411 and outragec
Thank you both. I believe you know exactly how I am feeling. I know my friends don’t – they try to be kind and commiserate but it is alot like when you lose someone near and dear to you (like a spouse, a child, a brother), your friends can sympathize but they can’t empathize.So many here do ‘walk in the same shoes’ and thus can empathize.Even my own children, they are trying to understand my anguish, but I know they really wish mom would stop ‘going on and on about all this stuff!’
It is nice to have a place to vent but even better to have a place of empathy.
Yes, this place is a sanity saver for me. I’ve expressed that sentiment to others, but I can tell from their reactions that they don’t quite understand. You guys do, and I treasure that. We’re not all the same, not all the same story, but we’re all going through a horrible time and can empathize with one another, with true understanding. And that,as the cliche goes, … is priceless.
on seeing the above posted, it appears that I’m being lighthearted about this – I’m not, actually. I’m not in that kind of place in my mind, I meant every word of what I wrote above here. I truly truly do not know what I would have done if Calgary411 hadn’t pointed me in this direction. I was absolutely panic stricken and now have some semblance of sanity back, and it’s thanks to the good folks on this blog!
@ all, this group cannot be any farther away from these radical “sovereign citizens”, the subject of the original post. As I said in my introduction to Brock, it is like going through the five stages of grief, they aren’t always done in succession, but eventually we must find a place where we find sanity. I have moments of complete rage (my own Tourette’s syndrome) then I find joy in life. Persecution will do this to people and it is definitely helpful having common ground with others, but still the future is extremely uncertain for us and I think that a great source of anxiety for all. We look for signs of sanity in the direction things are going, and rejoice in them, but then news comes along that sends us into the abyss again. I am way more affected than my husband, who became an American through his father and never lived in the US. Not having any attachment to the USA whatsoever, he can’t wait for the moment he can get out of Dodge.
On the road now, so expect my postings to be less regular.
I read Steven’s chilling warnings to me with a deep dread. He only confirms what I believed was probably the case, that the IRS is watching this site and is not happy.
I did indeed make an appeal to natural law: but to see that the IRS keeps people who make such arguments on their radar shows how far from the founding of the country, with its defiant declaration of Independence based upon an appeal to natural law–how far from that founding that the IRS has fallen. Do they really have time to follow the musings of a former citizen?
I am a Canadian, Steven, sworn to serve my Queen and her realm. So I want to make sure that Canadians know that when the United States invades our tax base and impoverishes our people, that it is indeed an casus belli. Now I don’t believe it will lead to hostilities, for now–but I’m just saying, Steven, that it is really not the best way for the US to make friends and influence other nations, and that Canada and the other nations of the world have to nip this extra-territorialism in the bud. This is not an over the top statement. We just disagree. But you talk about how I’m in oh so much trouble–this is truly chilling, and I actually feel twinge of pity for the people that still live under the tyranny of the United States Federal government. It has truly become an evil beast–investigating a little fish like me because I believe that there is something called natural law; and they fund the whales, like the banksters, with bailouts. I am truly sorry about how corrupt the United States has become. It is really sad to see.
But the worst thing about the United States Government is that so many people, Americans, Canadians and other people around the world, fear it. So much so that few people here at Isaac Brock, except me, will write in their real name (Peter W. Dunn–well, there’s also Roger and Marvin, and few others). Most of the others are truly worried about having trouble with the IRS. We live today in a climate of anxiety and fear of what the US government will do to us. The United States is intentionally holding access to family members hostage (taxes must be paid to renew passport; covered expatriates pay extra taxes on bequests to US residents; one can be banned from the United States for expatriating for tax purposes, etc.). This is truly frightening.
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny” -attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
Seriously, if any government wants to get past a pen name they could. There are no martyrs here, just those who seek “liberty and justice for all US persons”. Period.
I am not proud to admit it but am even more scared now that I have so openly discussed my situation on here, especially after the chilling words recently written by 30 yrs IRS Vet towards Petros. I used to be more optimistic that more and more people would respond to Petros’ point of view but the fact is, we’re terrified of what could happen. I no longer believe that anything will be reformed in the near future and that people are just going to have to acknowledge that we’re in a brave new world.
All we can pray for is that the IRS will be merciful with those of us who meekly came forward with good faith disclosures…but I do honestly fear that rather than appreciating Petros’ intelligence and ideals, that he will be deemed a threat to US security and face major reprisals. But I for one do not want want to sink with the ship. Very very sad times we live in but if I can survive relatively intact than I will be grateful.
I almost feel that there isn’t much point in me writing any more in the meantime, though will continue to follow the blog…however, if anything really scary happens to me like FBAR fines or a major audit, I will of course write about it. But for now feel it’s safer just live one day at a time during this drawn out period they could investigate me.
I am deeply grateful though how I’ve been able to vent on here and express all my fears because, like so many others on here, I find that the people in my life sympathize but don’t fully empathize. It’s in many ways similar to having a cancer diagnosis and not having any idea what the longterm prognosis is going to be. People care but you’re going through it alone. I wish everyone the very best and my prayers go out to you all but for now, going to give it a little rest…
@Mr Tomas, I was right. You contaminated Brock by drawing parallels to a group of lunatics when none existed. Everyone should just chill out.
Two comments, second may be without respect for thread. (1) Mona, as long as you and others say if anything really scary happens to me … I will of course write about it we are strong. The fear that paralyzes individuals into silence is the scariest thing of all. I’m thinking specifically of what so many knew and what so few would say in public in late 1930s Germany. (2) Good work with the privacy commissioner office. Consider following up with a written communication based on your notes and/or recollections addressed to Commissioner and cc’d to whoever else seems relevant. Phone calls evaporate, writing is documentation. Always good to get the name of whoever is talking on the other end of the line and document that as well. One technique is to say that you will assume that your written account is an accurate record of what you understood you were told unless you receive contrary response in writing.
@Petros: come on Old Pal! I rather think you are enjoying this. I have no idea what your personal tax situation is.
If you think you owe the the IRS money for whatever reason, the worst thing that could happen is they send you a bill from Detriot..do ya think their gonna wanna come over and have a chat with you about the terms of an installment agreement?
What exactly would you be terrified about?
@all Actually, I think that the debate on this thread has served to clarify again what we are all about, and demonstrates that we should not be put on a black list. I don’t feel it is contamination. We should be considered by the US government as a group of people who have legitimate complaints about US policy, and who feel that the protections of the constitutions, UDHR, and democratic values have been compromised by US policy.
I personally have been threatened by an IRS agent that I came across in Europe with consequences from DHS, or the “spooks”. The agent seemed incorrectly to put us recalcitrant minnows abroad in the same category as domestic tax protesters (there is certainly at least some crossover between some domestic tax protesters with some members of the “Sovereign Citizen” movement). It was a thinly veiled threat and it may not have been heartfelt (only knee-jerk) but it frightened me and that is why it is important that we continuously make it clear what we are about. With NDAA and other suspensions of constitutional due-process rights there is always a risk that somebody in the US government will try to come after our members in a draconian way. They need to understand that our position is completely different than that of domestic tax protesters.
One of the key points that someone brought up above is the uncertainty. I don’t think it is post traumatic stress, it is traumatic stress in the present tense. Until we get more clear cases of the IRS trying to collect from a recalcitrant person abroad (especially minnow who is tax compliant where he lives) who refuses to pay up, we will remain in the dark. Personally, I would like to see more foreign court cases about our issues, and more resistance on the part of foreign governments.
I don’t agree with the “the law is the law” argument. If we don’t stand up for our values like Rosa Parks did, nothing will change.
Most of us are citizens/residents of sovereign nations outside of the US, and the US must recognize this sovereignty.
“whereas I am a dual citizen living in the UK so have loyalties to both countries. I suppose I feel almost like I have two spouses and thus have obligations to both.”
I, too, am a dual citizen. I grew up as a Navy brat. I served in the US Navy for six years. I am intensely patriotic as an American, but am having problems with my citizenship of the United States. I am now able to separate “being an American” from “being a United States citizen.” Because the government that defaults to treating me as a criminal is not the same government I grew up pledging allegiance to or serving (and that’s a philosophical statement, not a political statement.)
The fact that the IRS would come onto this site to see if anyone is fomenting revolution is a good symptom of the changes in the country I had my first allegiance to. It used to be in the US that the State existed with the consent of the governed; it now seems to be the other way around. If you had nothing to worry about, then you weren’t watched.
I get the spouse analogy, but I feel as if one of my wives has become a shrew who accuses me of cheating on her every time I see her, and, by contrast, the other one is just so nice and understanding and patient.
I got the paperwork that I need to fill in from the London Renunciation unit yesterday. It’s beginning to add a bit of finality to my decision. And although, intellectually, it is the right thing to do, emotionally, it’s a struggle. And I am not doing it to “avoid paying my fair share” as politicians from both sides of the aisle describe it. I’m doing it for peace of mind. My life is over here, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change. And the only way I could ever think about going back is if I had a lucrative job waiting for me or if I had a lot of money in my pocket, both of which are sufficient reasons for acquiring a visa to stay.
And if it ever got to a point that the US was blocking UK citizens from coming, then I couldn’t come back anyway, as my English wife was never allowed a green card, anyway – apparently they thought that she would move to the states without me (after 9 years of marriage at the time) to take advantage of their “generous” welfare provisions. So between taxes (which I have yet to ever owe) and immigration policy, I have effectively been exiled.
Yes, this is enjoyable. Rather like lancing a boil.
I have always maintained publicly that my tax returns are unnecessary paperwork. But I see from Bubblebustin’s case, that it is good thing I never sold my house.
Don’t you realize how chilling it is what you are saying? I’ve maintained here that FBAR is unconstitutional on several grounds, and it is exactly what the IRS fears on Eighth amendment grounds, and even what a federal judge has determined on Fifth Amendment grounds. Steven, even you have tacitly admitted that FBAR and FATCA are violations of the Fourth Amendment. This means to me that the people at the IRS, the brightest and best lawyers from the most elite schools, are trying to run roughshod our constitutional rights and they are doing so with mens rea. I have therefore said continually that Canadians must avail themselves of the protections of our government and refuse to comply with FBAR–but not only so, that compliance with FBAR is a voluntary relinquishment of constitutional rights, which I think we should not simply cede without a battle. For this reason, and because of my appeal to natural rights, you have suggested that I am probably on an IRS watchlist. Chilling my friend. Chilling.
But I am not so much afraid for my own situation as I am for the meaning that this attitude of the government will have when things get really bad in the United States because of the debauched currency and people in the US won’t be able to afford the basic necessities of life with their welfare cheques, their food stamps, and their government pensions (like retired IRS employees). The US is getting closer to civil war, between those who feed at the government trough and those who resent paying into it and getting almost nothing in return. The next demagogue will not be promising “hope and change” but a “solution” (Or perhaps even an “Endloesung”). In an Endloesung, the demagogue finds someone to blame and to punish for allegedly causing the problems that the suffering people are facing. What will be the US “solution”? Will it be invasion of Canada, to make us pay for overcharging you for $200 per gallon gasoline? I mean, we have up here a million people who haven’t paid their taxes or reported their banks accounts. What better scapegoat for the insolvency of America?
Most in the IBS want to do the right thing and obey the law, even though they don’t agree or like the law. For example, many complied with FBAR, even though they believed that it is unconstitutional. When they commit a genuine mistake like FBAR, many expats ended up spending many months of sleepless nights and loosing tens of thousand of dollars to rectify innocent mistake by entering OVDI as soon as they were aware of their innocent mistake (even if many don’t owe any taxes). I am sure this torture must have severely impacted many expats performance at jobs.
I am sure many dual-citizens just ignoring IRS, since they believe IRS can’t come after them in a foreign nation. So none of them are bothering to visiting sites like IBS to learn how to safely become compliant. People visiting sites like IBS to educate themselves to find out a safest way to become compliant and stay compliant by relinquishing the US citizenship.
The IRS must be crazy, if they confuse and mistook our frustration and angry expressions due to lack of proper guidance for allowing many of us become compliant, as tax revolt. If a dual-citizen doesn’t want to pay taxes, IRS can do very little in the nation he has been living. In many developing nations, unless he volunteers there is no evidence that he is a US citizen. In many developing nations, over 70% of the populations have no birth certificates or have no proof of birth. It is quite easy for even illegal immigrants to get passports.
@ A Gentleman’s Rapier
Thank you for your comment: “I am now able to separate ‘being an American’ from ‘being a U.S. citizen’. I hope I will be able to also come to that place. It will help with the ‘grief’ I feel about my country of birth.
@Surya. That is a pretty good look at the current situation. I think that many others who are eager to learn more about their options will be visiting sites like Brock. Any speculation that we are being surveilled for potential terrorists is only going to scare away good potential participants. That being said, anything is possible. As long as Chris Hedges and those like him remain free men, I don’t worry too much 🙂
@A Gentleman’s Rapier, it’s their implying I’m a criminal that insults me too, that if we were left to our own devices we would cheat them of their tax revenue. Meanwhile it seems to be perfectly ok with them make little effort to make us aware of our tax filing and FBAR reporting obligations. I’ve learned more about US taxes from the international media and places like Brock in the last year than from the US government in the entire 44 years I’ve lived outside its borders!
@Bubblebustin: I agree, it is insulting to call expats criminals or tax cheats, since IRS in mid 90s actively discouraged filing taxes, when there is no tax due. That was what my CPA told me and confirmed by IRS, when I called 1-800 helpline. Why any one needs to hide money to evade taxes, when there is no tax due. In fact, recently I learned I could get few thousand dollar refund due to child tax credit, making work pay credit and tuition credit etc. Do I get tax rebate for 2008? May be there are more credits that I don’t even know yet. I qualify for all those, since my income is modest but that provides a decent living in India as cost of living is very low (and have no house payments, if one inherits couples of houses to live from his grandparents). My reasons to moving back to India is, I need to look after my aging parents, I missed my family, friend, simple/contended living in India and it needs juts few hundred dollars to live comfortable, so I can spend more time on what I want to do.
I don’t owe any taxes to IRS due to high tax rates in India. I hate learning and doing taxes, so I always relied on accountant to file taxes. But now I am forced to learn about taxes to become compliant, since I can’t afford expensive CPA. It is impossible to find a US tax expert where I am living in India. Also I was about to enter OVDI, but thanks to visiting IBS I learned that it is not for me (since I don’t owe any taxes). I can’t afford expensive lawyer, so I am trying to educate as much as possible before approaching a CPA on internet to file back taxes and FBAR.
@Petros: You can be sure there is an actual case or controversy making its way through the IRS audit, appeal, Tax Court, appeal yet again process, where an argument is being crafted that FBARs and 8938s violate the Fourth Amendment. In the end, there will be a case where a taxpayer will make a business decision that it is cheaper to litigate the issue than to pay the government what it is trying to get from an FBAR penalty case. That will be a few years from now. In the meantime, people are left struggling with how to, or whether to comply at all.
The Isaac Brock Society does well to sound the alarm about the potential for government abuse of the tools of FBARs and FATCA. With all due respect, the jury hasn’t even been charged yet if the IRS were ever to be put on trial for plain and simple stupidity by going after Canadians who have little or no business or connection to the US.
I read a lot of good stuff here about extraterritoriality, bad decisions over OVDI, and the problems associated with citizenship based taxation, but the actual reported cases of IRS overreaching are few and far between.
As far as us being on the verge of civil war down here in the US right now, actually, we are getting ready for the baseball season to start.
Talk about “chilling,”..wow! Your Endloesung prophesy is chilling. A demagogue rising up and getting elected, I guess, by stupid Americans who woud flock to him, –making his “Solution” the invasion, rape, and pillage of Canada, (I am guessing your not so subtle innuendo about “the final solution”was to make us think of Adolf Hitler). Well OK. If you say so.
BTW, running the Jeremiah Wright tape right in the middle of the O’Keefe flap was really below the belt wasn’t it?
@Steven The United States is currently running a 1.5 trillion dollar budget deficit. That is, the US Federal government is borrowing roughly 40 cents for every dollar. This is a debt death spiral, in my opinion, that will ultimately result in the total devaluation of a currency that has already been under serious pressure for over a decade (not for the first time), if the price of gold and oil is any measure. When that final devaluation occurs and the rest of the world utterly rejects the dollar as a world’s reserve currency, you can be sure that your politicians will be scrambling for a solution. This bodes ill. For what does history teach us? It teaches us that when a great military power experiences severe economic conditions at home, the all too common solution is to go to war and annex the resources of other countries. Is that not what the Soviet Union did not more than forty years after the Bolshevik Revolution?
I credit the United States for being, at one time, the most generous nation in the world. The Marshall Plan showed that the USA did not want to make the same mistake twice (i.e., the mistake of the treaty of Versailles), and Germany and Japan have been consistent allies for 50 years. The USA decided to rebuild these countries and help them back on their feet. But that was then and this is now. Going after expatriates in the world bodes ill for what the USA is becoming. Portraying anyone who lives in another country, who happens to have a US citizenship (or could eventually claim US citizenship) as tax cheats, is greedy. You now begrudge the prosperity of other nations and you demagogue in your media sources about evil people with foreign bank accounts who refuse to pay their fair share. This makes the nations, the banks, and the people of these nations to be complicit with the alleged greed of these people.
Yes, the US is going down a road which bodes ill for the future. The current crisis is the beginning of the woes. What will the American people do? The next demagogue will bring a “solution”. Make no mistake; economic meltdowns often lead to the rise of a demagogue. We saw that in Weimar Germany. Hitler rose to power promising to solve their problems.
My reference to the report concerning Rev. Wright was far from below the belt. Demagogues come to power sometimes by hiding their true agenda. How could Obama have listened to that man for 20 years and never be offended? Tell me why it is below the belt? Is it because I suggested you may have voted for Obama, knowing that he had this 20 year association with this hater? But let’s just consider this from a demographic standpoint: you are a career Washington bureaucrat and a trial lawyer, both of which groups vote overwhelmingly democrat. Chance are pretty high that you voted for Obama. So you holding us (Isaac Brock) to a higher standard than the man for whom you voted for the POTUS?
So my concern is that you think its so important that the Isaac Brock Society guard its image. We are at this point just a little website that is gathering useful information about US expat tax issues. Just because we put an article or video up as a source of information doesn’t imply a relationship with the source. That is ridiculous. If media sources had to stand up to that kind of scrutiny, 90% of the news would never see the light of day. So you are trying to portray me and hence Isaac Brock Society as potentially nutty, whacky and criminal. That is in my opinion below the belt.
My criticism of Obama was perfectly fair. Did you refuse to vote for that man who sat under the teaching of Jew hater for 20 years? Presuming he went to church regularly and he would have heard as many as 1000 sermons by Wright. (Or perhaps Obama stepped out for a smoke during the sermons?). I am a theologian and have been involved in the training of pastors: I can tell you this: I probably wouldn’t have been able to listen through even a single one of that man’s hate-filled sermons, much less 1000 of them. Yes, I would have stood up and walked out–I’ve done it before. I listened to my own pastor’s sermons for 8 years until the day he took a job at a seminary. During that time, he never once said anything like “God DAMN America! It says it in the Bible”. So sir, I did not vote for Obama, because I concluded that he was either a bigot himself or that he lacked the critical faculties to be able to discern when he was associating with bigots. Evil or stupid, take your pick. But not suitable for the presidency. And now, we expats suffer under his administration. Go figure.
95% of the immigrants (indians or otherwise) are impacted by this one way or other. I hear especially those who lived and worked in the US for the past 20 to 30 years and returned back to India for retirement got impacted the most.
@Arrow, so I’d never heard of this Helms-Burton Act and Canada’s strong response to it. I have to say I’m a little ashamed of my lack of knowledge about my own country, I am certainly getting an education from this site that I never expected when I joined. (Thank you!) At any rate, the kind of response from Canada to this is the what I’m looking for from our gov’t, particularly on FATCA. Bill C-54, – The Canadian courts may restrict the production of records and other information sought to enforce the Helms-Burton Act.
– The plaintiffs may recover the amounts of foreign judgments and additional damages in Canadian courts.
– Canadian courts will not recognize foreign judgments based on the Helms-Burton Act or may reduce the amount of the judgments.
(I find the last one a bit odd, it’s a ‘no’, but a maybe? will not recognize, but may reduce, that doesn’t make sense to me…)
So what is the difference this time? Is it because most of Canadians that are affected by this are minnows and therefore do not have the financial power base of big business? It surely can’t be numbers – were there really a million people affected in Canada by the Helms-Burton Act, like there are with FATCA?