Following a suggestion made by Bubblebustin at the Media and Blog Articles thread today, here are some links to an excellent series of personal blog posts by a 23 year old woman who calls herself The Dualist:
As Bubblebustin describes, “A young woman discovers her US tax and filing obligations and realizes she’s damned no matter what she does. She speaks for many of us when describing her OMG moment to the current struggle whether to renounce a citizenship she still identifies with.”
The Dualist was born in the UK, moved to the US as a toddler and lived there until the age of thirteen, then moved back to the UK. Here are some excerpts from her vividly-told story:
I have introduced myself to people as half-English and half-American ever since I was old enough to respond to the question, “where are you from?”. It is almost always the first thing I say when asked to tell somebody about myself. I never reflected too deeply on what being half-English and half-American actually meant. It has just been the simplest, shortest way of alluding to certain personal circumstances, like having an American father and an English mother; as well as experiences, like moving between England and the States growing up, that have contributed to who I am.
It all began during a client dinner in the City in London one evening. I was sitting at a large table with around a dozen people. Half of them were our firms’ clients, and the other half were my colleagues. The most senior employee of the client firm present, an American, noticed my accent and asked me where I was from. I explained that I was a dual citizen, and that I had grown up in the US. After a few polite questions about where I had grown up, and when I had left the country, he abruptly asked:
“So, do you file your US taxes?”
In the period after the initial “oh my god” moment I felt seriously paranoid, scared and confused about what I should do. The whole concept of citizenship-based taxation was so bizarre to me, and its enforcement rules so disproportionate, that trying to come to terms with it all could be best described as disorienting. ‘Surely this is all just a big misunderstanding,’ I often thought, ‘or a bad dream!’
Why does the US government want to make our lives so difficult when we have done nothing wrong? Why are they burdening us to continually prove that we are innocent, and invading our privacy using third parties and foreign governments to make sure that we’re telling the IRS the truth? Why are they terrorizing us with threats of bankrupting penalties, incarceration and (very recently) passport revocation? What exactly are they hoping to achieve, when the vast majority of us do not even make enough money to owe taxes to the US?
Can they talk about the ‘land of the free’, or being ‘leaders of the free world’ with a straight face anymore?