First of all, an incredibly important and successful day with regard to the video submission to be made to the Senate Finance Committee. I heard every single moment and the effect of each of the speakers was amazingly powerful. Each participant had a different and substantive angle that addressed the issues expats face. What was so marvelous about it was that it all balanced beautifully without any conscious effort to make it do so.
We cannot wait for this to be compiled and distributed. Stay tuned!
The written testimonies and harvested comments are coming along.
The focus of all this is to demonstrate the harm done to #Americansabroad by the U.S. Government. On June 15, 2013, a meeting was held in Toronto which was designed to allow those affected to speak freely, to express the harm they felt from the actions of the US, without any fear of being recorded, photographed etc. The shared and dominant reaction that day was fear and terror. What is interesting now, is to read the comment of a non-US person, completely unconnected to the issue had to say about it. See below. The contrast today? Anger and defiance!
June 2013 – Obama’s IRS and the effect on U.S. citizens abroad
What follows are the observations of a non-U.S. citizen of a meeting of U.S. citizens abroad who have been traumatized by the IRS. This is simply incredible. It explains why many U.S. citizens abroad live in a state of terror, trauma and fear. What do they fear? They fear the government of that “great citadel of freedom and justice” – the United States of America.
I have always been under the impression that many people sacrifice their lives, families, etc. in order to get into the USA and become American citizens; and I never imagined that anyone who has this “privilege” is willing to do anything and everything to renounce their U.S. citizenship.
Recently, I met a group of people in Toronto who were claiming that they have been traumatized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its rules. My understanding from this rule, The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), is IRS requires US persons to report their financial accounts outside of USA.
At first glance this issue didn’t seem to be a problem with this issue, and the first question that popped up in my mind was, why are these so called “US citizens” having problems complying with their civic duties; after all, Canadian citizens are also required to report their income, gains, losses, and assets to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Then, I realized that the IRS and some US officials are working with foreign governments and financial institutions to become a vehicle to disclose private and confidential financial information of their American citizens and clients to the IRS. Now, I am thinking, why should Canadian tax money subsidize collection costs of a foreign agency? Don’t we have enough challenges in Canada that need immediate attention?
However, the momentum of this meeting changed drastically after just a couple of minutes, when the first attendee stood up to introduce herself, giving her reasons to be there, instead of enjoying the beautiful and pleasant weather, that Saturday morning.
A mature lady from the front row stood up, and said that she left US in the sixties, and has been in Canada, her new home, ever since, and she obtained her Canadian citizenship in the early nineties. She and her husband, who passed away a couple of years ago, considered themselves as good citizens, who paid their taxes, obeyed the law of the land, and raised their children with the same values.
She seemed to be very upset, apprehensive, and afraid of her future in her retirement years.Apparently, she has been notified, some time within the last three years, that she must comply with the new US rules, and is about to lose her life savings, which by the way were earned in Canada, by her and her late Canadian husband over the last forty years to IRS, because she was born in United States of America.
The second lady introduced herself and said that she came to Canada about 35 years ago, worked here and raised her family. She emphasized that all these years, she has been in compliance with IRS and its rules and regulations. She and her Canadian husband invested in a mutual fund over years in Canada. She broke down in tears just after a minute, as she described that recently she also has learned about rather confusing FATCA rules that could drastically affect her family in her retirement years.
The rest of the attendees followed suit and one by one described their circumstances and expressed their emotions in different ways, a few cried heavily, some were very angry, and many were extremely attentive and laser focussed, grasping as much information as they could that could help their situations.
These strangers, who have never met each other in the past, started to bond with each other, engaging, sharing their experiences, describing the circumstances they were in, offering the knowledge they have obtained in the last few short years, etc. for 6 continued hours under one roof.
In my short life I witnessed many people from many walks of life who cried in public for different reasons: loss of health, loved one, home, asset, career, passion, etc. However, it was painful to observe experienced grown men and women succumb to the pressure of “what if IRS does…., what will happen to me and my family.”
Probably FATCA was originally designed for those are involved with offshore tax evasion, and recover unpaid federal taxes, however, watching these people and their suffering tells me that there has not been sufficient consideration in recognizing different scenarios, or communicating with the public. I guess when there is a fire, wet and dry burn together.
We live in a violent world, and violence manifests itself into a variety of shapes and forms. Some of us are born to survive and some are here to fight with those who abuse their power. Either way there is a hefty toll has to be paid: financially, emotionally, and socially. Those who have the privilege of designing and deciding on policies that affect a significant portion of population should consider how their actions contribute to human progress.
Then there is the question of how much value a government allocates to patriotism. All these attendees expressed their genuine devotion to the idea of America and being American patriots, However many of them seriously consider the option of renouncing their citizenship, mainly because of the shortcomings of the present US administration. Neither money, nor force can replace the value of loyalty of citizens to their land and identity.Can a government afford to lose its most valuable assets – Its citizens!
On a different note, Tim has provided the link to the hearing yesterday in Washington DC, with Jim Butera representing the Florida Bankers Assn against the Treasury Department.