Lagoon, a pre-1995 relinquisher, recently sought the opinion of three lawyers in the expatriation field, all of whom felt that it is not necessary for relinquishers of that era to file with IRS. Lagoon’s account first appeared as a comment on the Did you relinquish before February 6, 1995 thread, but due to its detail is worthy of a post of its own.
More information about my consult with three lawyers. I am not comfortable posting their names without their permission. I can tell you how I found them though.
One lawyer is quoted on this site. I contacted him for a personal consultation and gave him the details of my case. The lawyer is very conversant with the issues related to relinquishment vs renunciation and the changes in tax law over time. We spoke about risk, and that the issues for relinquishers are like a double low probability combination. If I wanted certainty, the lawyer could, if I wanted to spend between $5-10,000 go forward to get an opinion letter from IRS. If I did that the first consult they would have with IRS would be on a no names basis, to ask questions about whether or not IRS would issue an opinion letter (or something to that effect, they are my lay person words). While I would like to do this, so that there could be something in writing from IRS on this matter, I really don’t have that kind of money to spend. However, going this route would give the ‘certainty’ that we are all seeking about the issues of concern related to the need to contact IRS after relinquishing.
The second lawyer was referred to me by an accounting firm here in Victoria BC where I live. When I took my elderly mom, who is a US citizen and landed immigrant to the accountant, they asked me about my own status. I later had a consult with them about my own affairs, no notes taken during the meeting. They will not take on clients in situations like mine unless the client has consulted with a tax lawyer. The law firm they recommended is in Seattle. The lawyer I spoke with in Seattle is one of the owners of the firm and she is dealing with people from all sorts of nationalities around the world on the issues discussed on this forum. She is the one who said the changes and differences between the state department and IRS differences in the date of determination of reliquishment are a legal theory matter. She essentially said the same thing as the first lawyer – I have a good case for relinquishment, and there should be no need to contact IRS.
The third lawyer is someone in Calgary. I googled to find someone who had spoken about FATCA and was a tax lawyer. Their advice during my initial consult was that I did need to clear taxes, and needed to file for 5 years etc. Upon later reflection, I came to appreciate that their advice was based on a ‘literal’ interpretation of existing law/regulations as they are written. While they acknowledged the evolution of these laws, they did not support my arguement that I had no obligation to the US on tax matters after becoming a Canadian citizen in 1985. It was their office that called me yesterday to say they had done further investigation on the matter, and that all I needed to do was to file for a CLN. They also told me the appointment process I used to book my appointment in Calgary was the wrong process. (Calgary and Vancouver use different processes for booking for relinquishment appointments – I have posted elsewhere on this site about these differences). I did not take detailed notes during the conversation, but I recall them saying they had talked to someone at IRS about the matter. Given they they have changed their advice to me, I am quite happy to go back and to confirm whether this was based on a conversation with IRS or something else. This law firm has several people who for years had worked with IRS.
So…if one had the resources, it seems that getting a good lawyer to go the route suggested by the first lawyer, that is getting an opinion letter from IRS, or at least a consult on a no-names basis, might be the way to go. However, I am not sure you’d get IRS to put something in writing.
So, given the 3 + hours of conversations I have now had with 3 lawyers, I am very comfortable in understanding that the form for advising on the consequence of relinquishment/renunciation is something that did not take into account the fact that so many people technically relinquished long ago – and are now only realizing that documentation of this relinquishment is something that is needed.
Hope this helps.