The Officiant asked:
Petros, will you take [future Mrs. Petros] to be your wife?
Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her,
and, forsaking all others,
be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
I will. …
I, Petros, take you, [future Mrs. Petros],
to be my wife, to have and to hold
from this day foward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love, cherish, and worship,
till death us do part,
according to God’s holy law;
and this is my solemn vow.
I relinquished my US citizenship on February 28, 2011. But in my heart, I really relinquished my US citizenship over 20 years earlier in a Vancouver church. The United States requires ultimate allegiance and total loyalty. It is not willing to take second place. But I was unfaithful to this birth obligation and aspired to another calling, that of husband. So I took this solemn pledge and agreed to forsake all others and to marry my wife.
I admit being a relic of the traditional past. In today’s post-Christian culture, the American government begrudges other loyalties. A man or woman born an American citizen is first and foremost a taxpayer, and all other loyalties and ties be damned. As governments grow in power they demand more and more of the citizen’s allegiance to the point of first choking and then destroying all other institutions, especially its main rivals, family and religion. The United States has become a jealous god. Only two generations ago, a woman who married a foreign national and lived abroad lost her US citizenship–as is the case of Mrs. Petros’ grandmother, who lived out her retirement years as a Green Card holder in the USA despite having been born a US citizen in US territory. Her marriage to a British national and her residence in Canada disqualified her as a loyal citizen until 1986, but she did not seek to regain her US citizenship and was content to pass away a Green Card holder. Twenty-two years ago I too agreed to forsake other allegiances and married a Canadian and took up permanent residence in Canada seven years later.
People say often that they could never give up their US citizenship. But for me it was an easy thing to do. The basis of the Judeo-Christian ethic and of much law, historically, in the Western world, is the Decalogue, which is silent regarding loyalty towards the state. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Ultimate allegiance belongs to God not the state. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” The family has the next call to obedience in the Decalogue. The Torah also requires the succession of a man’s loyalty to his wife from his parents as a foundation of the Creation (Gen 2.24): “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The authority of the state has no foundation in the Ten Commandments. Rather, the tyrannical power of the state rests in its ability to terrorize its citizens.
On the American Expatriates group on Facebook, one contributor said that if he were the Canadian and his wife the American, and she insisted upon reporting their bank accounts to the IRS, he would divorce her. In effect he is interpreting FBAR as a violation of the marriage vows, or at least the concept of marriage as an institution of faithfulness. To report a spouse’s private bank accounts in Canada to a foreign and hostile government is not consistent with the institution of marriage in which ultimate loyalty is to one another. I have said the following many times to the media: The IRS has no right to my Canadian spouse’s account information. The FBAR requirement and FATCA put me in a Catch-22. Either I remain loyal to my birth country that I hadn’t lived in for 25 years, or I remain faithful to my spouse. Thus, I relinquished my US citizenship for love. And I do not give a damn about all the self-righteous American Homelanders who think I am a traitor to the USA. In my opinion, such people are idolators, worshiping their god, these United States of America.
Thanks MuzzledNoMore. It’s just that I loved this scene from Back to the Future so much that substituting “density” for “destiny” kind of stuck with me. George McFly proclaims to the future Mrs McFly that he is her “density”.
Although it’s been excrutiating, it would be kind of cool if we each played a part in a significant change in tax policy affection the destiny of all non-resident Americans. It might make all the loss we’ve endured somehow worthwhile.
Bubblebustin: I’d completely forgotten that scene from Back to the Future! Thanks for the reminder and a fun start to my day! Here’s to our “density” and turning our losses into something meaningful. 🙂
Very timely post. After a weekend when my family was annoyed at me doing my taxes, I thought I was done, but unfortunately not. Try as I might, I could not convince my husband to remove his name from one of our joint checking accounts. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell his family. Various members deposited sums into the account for different reasons near the end of the British tax year, including the repayment of a large business loan that my entirely British husband had made out of his savings. So now instead of being done with my taxes, I have to fill in the dreaded 8938 because of money that isn’t even mine. For a while I was angry at my husband, but it is really the U.S. government with all of its fiddly rules that is at fault.
In U.S. tax law regarding citizens abroad, one prominent example seems to be enough to justify new legislation.
So sorry to hear. That’s the worst thing I’ve heard in days………….
@publius so your spouse is first class british
Are you second class British or 100% apple pie
Hi…just curious if someone knows the answer. When I had my OMG moment I rushed to the bank where I had a joint checking account with my non US spouse. They listened to my sad, scary USness story and heartlessly said “Ok…could you sign these papers for us” and of course I couldn’t since I haven’t filed taxes in 35 years! Soooo….I said “I want my name off of this account!” Of course all done for love so as not to endanger my spouse”s hard earned money in Fbar penalties. The problem is…there was quite a bit of money in that account since it acted as a business account for work. When I signed off is that considered giving money as a gift? Will I have to fill out gift tax forms next year???? If it was over (don’t think it was) 147,000 will I have to pay taxes on the money???? Help!!!
Sadly- I think that the taxes go back for years- so eliminating your name from the account wont get you off the hook. If you have enough resources, maybe you should find a good lawyer to help you- especially to advise you. Perhaps streamlined would be a good fit for you?
2T2S, Pay no attention to Polly. The worst mistake you could make would be to jump into the net. Remember, this whole mess was created to find Americans, living in the US, who deliberately hid assets ‘offshore’.
The dreaded 3 letter agency hasn’t the resources to attack you unless you volunteer to be a victim. You will be less and less terrified and will be able to sleep easy.
Your information is already going to be sent to the three letter word by your bank. Thats what FATCA is about- with or without your consent. Because they now know you are american and they are saving their own skin ( 30% withholding). Depending on your situation, you can hide in Canada, as Canada has sworn not to collect taxes for America from Canadian citizens. You can of course also wait for the outcome of the legal action both in Canada and America. One just doesn’t know how long that will take. Other than that – not everybody is in the same situation and everybody has to figure this out for themselves. Talking to a lawyer for an hour or two to be advised doesn’t cost a fortune and one can then weigh one`s options- but always bear in mind there are those who are honest and those who want to make money off of you. But like I said – everyone`s situation is different. I don`t think that one can speak for all. For example – it appears that England and Germany WILL cooperate with America. So I think this question should be left open and for each to decide for themselves.
Polly, you seemquite all-knowing about what the bank will do.
Portland PLc is right. The IRS needs Canadian lambs to volunteer for the slaughter. I would stay off the radar if I were you.
Most lawyers will not advise Canadians living in Canada with US taint, to NOT be compliant with US laws, despite that this is a valid option worth serious consideration (in my opinion, for many this is the most logical choice). To make matters worse, some lawyers will just assume you must be a ‘US person’ if you seem to think you are, and will focus on the route to becoming compliant rather than backing up a step and trying to determine if you actually even are a ‘US person’. Keep this in mind when you spend money to get advice from a lawyer regarding your particular situation, and your personal risk tolerance level. Attending one of John Richardson’s $20 sessions if possible, is a much better investment than seeing a $400/hour(or thereabouts) lawyer imho.
John Richardson is always a good idea. But even he cannot tell you to pay no attention to US law. Whatever one decides to do, never ever rush into it. Haste is of the devil.
One advantage of Isaac Brock Society is that you do here have a lot of people who have done nothing, for 4 years now some of them, and I can tell you one thing for sure: Those who have done nothing are immensely better of than those who have consulted a cross border specialist, whether accountant or lawyer.
Re: “Your information is already going to be sent to the three letter word by your bank. Thats what FATCA is about- with or without your consent. ”
Not necessarily, depending on how you arrange your finances and what you reveal to your financial institution(s). In Canada, we can lie and not tell our banks where we were born or what our US status is – banks are not asking for proof of birthplace/non-US citizenship yet I don’t think unless they already have a suspicion – in which case, go to another financial institution. Other methods of avoiding detection include: having less than 50K in unregistered accounts in any one financial institution, dealing with small FATCAless credit unions, avoiding joint accounts with your non-US person spouse(i.e. non-US spouse has the account), buying real estate, etc.
At the very least, these methods of avoiding detection, buy time. Hopefully we won’t be stuck in hide mode forever.
But you didn’t hear any of this from me 😉 (and you sure as shit won’t hear it from most lawyers).
@Petros, right, even JR is not going to advise non-compliancy I don’t think – at least not on the record.
Before we all get on Polly, we should realize that 2terrified2sleep already DID LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG with her bank, so the lying/hiding option has become a bit trickier for her. However, I still don’t think she should necessarily think that now she has no choice but to comply with US tax laws.
If I was in her shoes (assuming compliance was a huge headache/expense/affront to my moral dignities) and I could not claim past relinquishment (i.e. was a US taxpayer facing past compliance issues) I would seriously consider lying to the current bank and telling them she was mistaken – i.e that she relinquished US citizenship in the past and made a mistake freaking out about being US’s person, as she has discovered from talking to a high priced lawyer that she is in fact NOT a US person, and therefore refuses to fill out the W-whatever form. Then make plans to move banks!
Alternatively, if her acting skills are not up to par (and/or she has an issue with such story-telling to protect herself from grievous harm), perhaps 2T2Sleep could consider ending ties with her bank completely, and let them send whatever they are going to send to the CRA – but not sign any W-whatever forms for the old bank. And she should NOT tell the new bank anything about her US status.
In either scenario(story for old bank or not), she MIGHT receive an IRS letter down the road, but she can do what Mettleman (I think it was him) plans to do – i.e. line his bird’s cage with it – or if no bird, she can line her cat’s litter box with it or frame it for entertainment purposes or some other creative use could be found.
As far as I have understood 2t2t, the information that she is American is already with the bank?
@Polly, yup…see my prior comment.
Did the bank not take her name off the account? and if now it decides it must report it, it would be reporting the account of a Canadian only. So I would assume that they will not be reporting this account. And there is no reporting of RRSPs or other registered accounts.
@Petros, I don’t think the banks can just take your name off an account. I have tried this before at one particular bank, and was told that the only thing I could do was to close the joint account, and then open a new one in one person’s name.
However, 2T2 wrote: ” When I signed off is that considered giving money as a gift?”, so maybe her bank did allow her to convert a joint account to a single account rather than force her to close old/open new.
Unfortunately I live in Europe and when I opened my account they asked for a document that does have my birthplace on it. Then when I ran in the bank, like a chicken with it’s head cut off, (fear is very bad and dangerous) they absolutely knew I was because ….I told them I was a US citizen!! Crazy, huh?!? I have been living here my entire adult life but have used my US passport to go visit my family in the US, so renouncing is out of the question. I am planning on renouncing once I’m 5 years compliant so the first opportunity for me is 2017. I have filed streamlined (cost lots…3,500 euros) plus this year too, so I have spent more than 4,000 in 4 months to tell them that I owe nothing! I am just worried about first having money in a bank account that I put on an Fbar and now not having a dime since I am now off of all bank accounts. I just wonder if they will consider this legal…giving the money away (so to speak) since it is not in my name anymore….hmm….Anyways, I want to thank all the Brockers for hours and hours of good reading EVERY NIGHT for 5 months. I feel like I know all of you personally!! (friends through suffering) I have donated and will donate again tomorrow because even if I’m not Canadian I know that you are all working for all of us all over the world for rbt and and fairness for expats. I also want to encourage all non Canadian US persons to donate because even if the Canadian sovereignty issue isn’t something that you are personally interested in, these people are giving their time, energy, money and incredible motivation to fight for a better future for ALL U.S. PERSONS!! And that, my friends, is worth 100 euros/dollars in my opinion!! So open your wallets and purses and help the cause…join the fight…and stay motivated!!
@T2T, re: ” When I signed off is that considered giving money as a gift? Will I have to fill out gift tax forms next year???? ”
Are you asking this question from a CRA perspective rather than an IRS perspective? My understanding (not an accountant, just a google geek) is that if the money was in a joint account and is now in a single account, the only issue you will have is with properly reporting any investment income earned in the account on your tax return. Regardless WHO’s name is on the account, you will want to ensure your properly attribute the earnings to reflect who the money actually belonged to. In other words, if for example you believe that the money is 100% his (and this can be true whether the account is joint or not), then he should claim 100% of the investment earnings on his tax return; if you feel that it belongs to both of you 50/50, then you split the claimable earnings 50/50 (even if the account is totally in his name).
Thanks for the clarifications 2T2S.
In any case, your info basically supports the principle that doing nothing is cheaper than coming into compliance. I hope this has not been too much hardship on your marriage.
Europe is a different story from Canada because of account closures. Also, the Canadian government has said it will provide some limited protections to its citizens.
SORRY..I meant relinquishing is out of the question. Yes, the bank let me take my name off of the account and it is now solely in my husband’s name. And…unfortunately I had never heard about fatca until February 2015 so…2014 will be reported and so will 2015. I really make very little money so the only scary thing is the huge Fbar penalties (that’s where the sleepless nights come from) because I would be hit with penalties for money that essentially is my husband’s!! Money that he has paid 50% tax on here!!! No….I just can’t stand the thought of the Fbar penalties. It’s too crazy to even contemplate. I will keep everyone posted on the outcome.
2T2S: I give you permission to sleep at night. The IRS is a bogeyman to be sure, but it seems to me unlikely in the extreme that they will have the stupidity to go after you. So please, enjoy your life.