A summary and a thank you…
A summary of what appears to be a breaking of the log jam we’ve seen for at least one of the US Consulates in Canada — Vancouver.
A thank you to one who took the time to listen — the Consul General of Canada, Sylvia D. Johnson.
Conversations took place. We’re seeing change. Communication works.
pacifica777 and calgary411 have had several discussions with Ms. Johnson — through email and a couple of lengthy phone calls, taking time from what we can only imagine to be her very busy schedule.
Earlier this month, Ms. Johnson asked in an email for my phone number and if I were available to talk with her. She listened to my personal concerns and then to what I said regarding reports of discrepancies of experiences at US Consulates in Canada for those who had made personal decisions for renunciation or relinquishment of US citizenship. Ms. Johnson assured me they knew of this issue and were taking steps to remedy the problems. Direction had gone to all Canadian Consulates to follow the same procedures, requiring one appointment for US renunciation or relinquishment vs two appointments. She asked me to give it until December to see if we were seeing a difference; if not, please contact her again. (During our phone call, I informed her of my November 14th renunciation, so had reservations whether or not I had compromised my own renunciation. As I’ve earlier commented, the appointments for myself and my husband at the Calgary US Consulate were straight-forward, efficient and non-judgemental.)
Today Isaac Brock received word from Cir regarding his communications with Ms. Johnson that resulted with her assistance to him in getting his required second appointment date (he’s one caught in between the old process and the new for Vancouver). Yesterday we had comments from Angela Kirk and DavidM re his wife — their final steps, having received the first, reported to us, CLNs resulting from their Vancouver appointments. Hopefully, the excessive amount of detail required for important supporting documentation in Vancouver will loosen as well.
A big difference! What were seemingly one after another bogged-down experiences for Vancouver relinquishers and renunciants now may have turned a corner. Numbers of those applying there are high and it seems the Vancouver Consulate seems swamped. We hope to soon see a continuing more efficient process there.
I want the renunciation appointment experiences that my husband, my daughter and I had at the Calgary US Consulate to be the same for all in Canada who decide the only way to get on with their lives is to take steps to either renounce US citizenship or to declare acts of relinquishment. To have their decisions respected and the process they go through respectful will be a win-win situation.
As editor of the Consulate Report Directory, I’ve been aware from procedural/scheduling/etc changes at various consulates in Canada, that they’ve been adapting, and positively so, to this unprecedented tidal wave of expatriations. And, despite their increased workload, I’ve sensed a serious commitment to providing good, even excellent, customer service almost everywhere. But, still, I was floored when Calgary411 told me she’d just gotten a phone call from the Consul General for all of Canada!
I have also spoken with Ms. Johnson. Ms. Johnson asked Calgary411 to put me in touch with her so that I could provide her with information about problems that have been experienced. And I too thank her for taking the time to listen.
While I was happy to be able to tell her that most of our consulate reports are excellent, she was interested in what we felt wasn’t going well. It was a very comfortable conversation. She pointed out changes that have recently been made, and are being made, to improve several things that have concerned us, and took a great interest in hearing of a couple of other matters we’ve encountered, with a view to addressing them as well.
From compiling the directory, it was obvious to me that various consuls have been implementing changes to deal more effectively with this overload of CLN applications. But it was absolutely terrific to realise that someone, the Consul General for Canada, no less, was very interested in our experiences and feedback!
I have been concerned about problems renunciants and relinquishers have had at certain consulates. After speaking with Ms. Johnson, I think we’re heading towards having expatriation go efficiently, smoothly, and respectfully for every CLN applicant at every consulate across Canada.
I agree with Calgary. That’s a win-win situation, for the person expatriating and for the US!
I hear what you’re saying and agree totally.
1. This is a PR effort and the US win of that will be “happier” clients;
2. This is an effort to obtain a like experience for everyone ready to go through this part of their process to get closer to “seeing the door” and back to a more normal life. It has not been fair the obstruction some have received at some Consulates. If this is corrected, it is a win that those of us having made our decision to renounce or relinquish can do so without the fears and stresses we’ve seen for some.
My husband and I had an renunciation experience that should be the model, nothing less. I can’t tell you how much better I feel having completed that part of my process without the drama that some have had to contend with — as if they don’t have the right to renounce “You are US citizens until we say you are not” etc.
I know that I still have a ways to go — successfully receiving my CLN, completing the last year of my US returns (2012) and my FBARs (2012). With a lesser assessment of the value of my home (in my name) this past year, so lesser capital gain, and money subtracted from my net worth gone for the administration of all required, renunciation fees for my husband and myself, advice from a citizenshhip / nationality lawyer in Washington, DC regarding my son’s status and non-likelihood of “compelling reason” to unlock the US chains he has, I will come in well below anything required for Exit Tax. It’s been a long and expensive process, this intrusion into my Canadian life, when I thought I had relinquished my US citizenship in 1975 when I became a Canadian citizen. We all know the stupid mistakes that I made and that those will put anyone right back into the bowels of the USA. I contend it was entrapment, but I was an naive and willing victim to it. That others here read of my mistakes and learn from them, not make the same, will please me no end.
I absolutely agree we may all be railroaded, thrown under the bus, unintended?? consequences of the US jihad to find tax evaders. It doesn’t appear that our Canadian Government will say NO — we’ll see what their negotiations do reap for us, if any more than we already have. We had counted on Canada to be a leader since there are so many affected here in Canada. One by one countries are now lining up to be in the favour of the US. In my paranoia (just because you’re not paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you), I feel we are being hushed — and, yes, a better experience in getting through our renunciation and relinquishment appointments is part of it.
Why oh why isn’t this a bigger story — countries of the world handing the US the key to their doors; their privacy laws meaning nothing???
You boiled down my comment just under yours to one word — disheartening.
@monalisa, we have no crystal ball, and so must decide based on what we know to date and what we individually feel we can tolerate, and other details specific to our own situtaitons. I don’t feel that I can continue living with US citizenship – because every moment I have it makes me feel like I am very close to suffocating. I am an unwilling US person – eand even if they announced a true amnesty tomorrow, I would never consider changing my mind – they have caused me and my family too much harm, and slandered all of us. No-one in my life has caused me the size of harm that the US has done so carelessly and with so much arrogance. I will never forgive also, that those attempting to come forward have been punished by the cost and length of theprocess – even before any examination of the true facts. Those attempting to ‘comply’ suffered merely for trying to do so – without any criminality or tax loss to the US. And the fact that the whole thing is absurd and eaningliess makes the harm even more egregious, and unforgivable.
I think the media is certainly choosing not to write about this either – whether they can’t be bothered because it is complex, or because they’ve been urged not to. Do a search for FATCA on the CBC site – absolutely nothing – and that from the voice of our nation. After the tiny notice in the Globe Business pages – and nothing. Nothing in the Toronto Star, or the Sun, or even the Winnipeg Free Press and Victoria Times. There are definitely choices being made.
You’d think that the Telegraph Journal paper http://www.telegraphjournal.com/csp/cms/sites/TJOnline/Main/login.csp?LastURL=/csp/cms/sites/TJOnline/GreaterSJ/index.csp in the Maritimes that broke the story on Premier Alward would eagerly follow up, but nothing http://hodgen.com/new-brunswick-premier-is-in-the-ovdi/
And where is the quoted ……”Keith Ashfield, Canada’s former revenue minister and the senior cabinet
minister for New Brunswick, said Ottawa is taking a tough stance with
Washington over the new tax regulations, but he’s not sure much can be
Why are we forced to get Canadian relevant news on a critical issue of Canadian sovereignty from US sources?
I reread this NYTimes Oped, and still wonder about the question the lawyer author posed – is what the US doing illegal under international law?…”Yet in one aspect the United States has expanded the power far beyond
limits fixed by other nations, and the question of whether it has
violated international law in doing so should be raised. “… http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/07iht-edsokol07.html?_r=0
That Op-ed also notes the significant barriers to renunciation, and so I am wondering if the Consul General in Canada is cognizant that since those in Canada have been so vocal with their complaints and resistance, it may be likely to spawn some kind of legal challenge.
Just now getting to reading this post and all the comments. Calgary and Pacifica, you are both amazing in all that you do. Wish I had half your zeal and energy. Thank you so much!
Anyone who thinks that any of us would want to come back would be seriously deluding themselves. For one’s home country to put them through the fear, anxiety, dread, terror, via the punitive measures involved, with not so much as a notice as to what was required? To know that they could have stopped this at any time and chose not to do so? To know the harm caused to the non-US family members by threatening their financial security? To be so inhumane as to not allow a disabled person with no ties to the US, to renounce their so called “citizenship?” To purport to be providing an amnesty via OVDP, OVDI? To display such disregard as the bait-and-switch regarding FAQ 35? To see the IRS simply refuse to respond to the TAD, when it is required? To see that Secy of Treasury is a tax cheat as are at least 2 of the authors of FATCA? To wonder about the administrative nightmares and consequences of FATCA sharing? To listen to the biased, hateful comments of homelanders when information about this is offered? To wonder if one would be denied the right to visit family during emergency situations? To constantly be referred to as a “tax cheat” and a “traitor” when no crime has been committed? Presumed guilty until proven innocent? To not provide USCs abroad an equal right to vote?
Please, do tell me, why on earth would I want my US citizenship back?
The US can pat themselves on the back for they have created a new class of anti-Americans. It will be a very long time before I will be able to forgive and forget.
“Imagine if you were both an Eritrean, USP and lived outside both countries? I’d blow my head off!”
My stomach hurts from laughing so much at this one. Thanks for cheering me up!
*@Nobledreamer, I have also been embittered by all this. Up till my OMG moment, I’d always beelieved that America was a benign force for good. Naively hadn’t realized all the entrapments and convolutions.
One thing that scares me is that if there is even more of a surge of renunciations, Congress may pass a stealthy law that would still allow for renunciation but nevertheless force permanent ‘US Personhood’ status on the former U.S. citizen so that they’d still be tied to the IRS for life. This would be an admittedly sneakily clever way to put people off renouncing because it would no longer offer any escape route from U.S. personhood. Renunciants could be forced to continue filing for life to the IRS if they changed such a law. I wouldn’t put it past them! They could even make it retroactive so that someone like Nobledreamer, Petros, or Calgary could wind up all tangled up with the IRS again.
I have a meeting with my tax advisor/accountant later this week and am going to tell her that I’m seriously considering renouncing but that I don’t want to raise any risks of nasty audits or harassment from the IRS over the late FBARs, for instance, if they wanted to be spiteful. I wonder if I should wait the three and half years I’ll need before my statutes of limitation have run.
But I’m worried that by 2016, they may have introduced new rules like what I’ve mentioned above in this post. And assuming FATCA goes full-steam ahead, Imagine that in three or four years time when everything’s more efficient that they will do a lot more audits with expats and probably enforce lots of fines through incorrect filing of 8938 form, for instance, which is similar to the FBAR but directly attached to the 1040.
With their increased efficiency, they could easily conduct thorough investigations on anyone trying to renounce. So their tax situation would have to be realistically fully compliant and without mistakes. They would thus need a professional.
What I can’t determine though is if they’ll make renouncing easier just to get it out of the way or if they’re going to make it more difficult and expensive, as Phil Hodgens as predicted…Perhaps I’d be better to go ahead and try to get out now before everything’s fully implemented.
It’s a heartbreaking decision though because part of me will always have an affection for the American spirit (think ‘Rocky’, etc.) But I agree how rankling it is that they’re so convoluted and how we’re merely collateral damage who they frankly don’t give a damn about.
*@Monalisa1776, It is such a hard decision anyway you look at it. None of us know what is really going to happen. We have to just hope for the best. Damned if you and Damned if don’t. I know exactly how you feel.
“I’d always believed that America was a benign force for good. Naively hadn’t realized all the entrapments and convolutions.”
You are not alone.
I was pretty serious when I wrote that, but now that I look back on it, it made me laugh too. As bad as things are, they could always be worse. You could be an Eritrean American living in Canada without Canadian citizenship. Poor Eritreans. At least their government doesn’t pretend to be the world’s beacon of freedom.
I just lost my reply to you (on top of this bloody laptop which suddenly skips lines while typing making it so irritating…). I will post it later but I always think of you when it comes to trying to make a decision that has a completely unpredictable outcome.
Good luck at the meeting with your tax advisor / accountant. I sense a bit of change in your thinking and your being a little bit open to that word you abhorred — renunciation. You can still have your affection for the American spirit (if it still exists in abundance).
It seems to me there are more down-trodden “homelander” people in the past few years, feeling as disillusioned as many of us here as they try to find meaningful work to feed their families, pay for health care insurance, on and on. It looks like many of the younger. wiser ones are catching on — there is a big old world out there and they can look for opportunities elsewhere if they are open to it. Somehow, they need to be informed about all of their US tax requirements in another country before they venture out — most have likely no idea there is such a thing as citizenship-based taxation.
And the saga will continue.
I have a question. Haven’t you already filed your taxes and FUBARs to date and paid penalties, interest, etc? I know technically there is the SOL but I don’t see any reason for them to re-investigate you. Is your thinking that once they see a CLN they will look at your old filings? It sounds like they are rather short on manpower and being in England, unless you have tons of US holdings, how on earth could they enforce it? Or is it just that none of this is worth the risk of not being able to enter to see your parents? I know I should remember but am not sure.
I always, always remember you when thinking about the complexity of renouncing – not the technical crap but “pulling at the heartstrings.” Good luck on your meeting-hope it is fruitful.
I watched small segment of Piers Morgan interview with Sen Sontorini, who will oppose the US ratification of the UN protocol on the rights of diasbled persons.
Sen Santorini is opposing the protocol on the grounds that it will require that the state disallow parents the right to decide what is in the best interest of their children.
He obviously does not know or possibly care US position regarding renunciation by/for the developmentally challenged of US citizenship
Thanks for this, Patricia. Senator Sntorini (where is he from – can’t find him?) sure doesn’t know that we (Parents, Guardians, Trustees) are disallowed the right to decide what is in the best interest of their children in the matter of an extraneous US citizenship when we feel renunciation of that citizenship is in the best interest of our children that the US Consulate says we do not have that right (except for a “compelling reason” such as life or death). Completely circular.
More on this and the arguments for and against:
The US is “protecting my son’s rights as a US citizen” by not letting me (or any other Parent, Guardian and Trustee) to renounce US citizenship on behalf of our children (whatever age) when we deem it in their best interest. This certainly is a barrier.
Another EXCELLENT radio interview with ACA, this time with ACA FINANCE DIRECTOR Anne Hornung-Soukup. This lady does not mince words about FATCA:
Thanks for the above link. She sure does not mince words – one of the best explanations of the consequences of citizenship based taxation, FATCA and as she said ‘american imperialism’ that I have read.
You can feel her seething anger and doesn’t sound hyperbolic when she describes how those effected speak of suicide and divorce due to the actions of their own government. Shame, shame, shame America! Suicide and divorce are perhaps the puppies and kittens we have been looking for to reframe our argument? We can reference ACA on that.
And @bubblebustin, the IRS Taxpayers Advocate certainly can back that up with the numerous reports and complaints they have taken from distressed US person ‘abroad’. They have received those types of SAMS and other reports on the effects of the IRS threats and refusal to provide a reasonable and affordable way forward for those they have been publicly bludgeoning and slandering in order to try and corral people into the OVD programs, as well as stories of the family savings lost to the mere process of compliance, and the detrimental effects on marriages to non-US spouses, and significant mental and physical health outcomes. The IRS and Treasury and the State Department know all of this. There can be no doubt that Obama does too. References to the effects in Canada have been made in the TAS last report to Congress, as well as a recent reference in an international tax conference this month.
This has been documented in Switzerland, and no doubt is happening in many other places as well – we just don’t hear about it.
And, it is even more difficult to deal with and contain the anger when you read an article like this: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/2825138-74/tax-united-states-secrecy-money-countries-havens-accounts-foreigners-haven#axzz2DSLVojUJ that amply demonstrates that the IRS and Treasury and several prominent US politicians are liars and hypocrites on FATCA – FATCA for our tiny local accounts, and big fat US profits for them. Compliance for us, and big fat US banking secrecy benefits for them.
I got curious and I googled and found an article in the Washington Post,”Senator Santorum’s New Cause: Opposing the Disabled”
Oh, that Rick Santorum guy! Thanks, Pacifica.
*@Nobledreamer, I have done everything and paid off all the extra taxes with interest and penalties, with an official letter begging a waiver of fines for the past FBARs. I agree that they probably won’t audit my amended returns since I approached the IRS and DOJ first as soon as I realized. I no longer have any assets in the U.S. either.
But I am concerned that if I renounced, it could raise the risk of the IRS scrutinizing everything. I am also concerned that the Reed Act could start being enforced or that Expatriate Act may be eventually passed; I’m guessing they could even pass laws that could restore my U.S. Personhood retroactively if I renounced, thus placing me back again with the IRS. When amending, everything was so complicated so I have no idea how the accountant came up with the figures they did but will have to trust their expertise. It was my intention to have everything done completely honestly and legally correctly in spite of it being an unfair system in my view.
Still not sure what I’m going to do; am going to be getting some more professional advice shortly.