As part of our FATCA IGA litigation in Canada’s Federal Court, Our three Plaintiffs previously provided financial information to the Government lawyers on their accounts. However, Government submitted a motion to compel Plaintiffs to provide additional very detailed financial information.
As many of you know, Lynne (Blaze) has been, from the very beginning, one of our strongest and tireless defenders of the Charter rights of Canadians opposed to our Government’s compliance with the foreign FATCA law. As part of our FATCA IGA litigation in Canada’s Federal Court Lynne acts as the Chair of the Litigation Committee of ADCS.
My sad news is that Lynne is now at the University Hospital in London Ontario. She was in the ICU but has now been transferred out of this unit.
From the hospital Lynne is already sending us emails about her thoughts on FATCA etc. and provided this update on Maple Sandbox:
“Thanks everyone for your positive thoughts. I was transferred last night from ICU to Neurology. Tonight a doc diagnosed me with epilepsy. I do not need that after all the challenges of 36 years of M.S.! She said I will probably lose my drivers’s license.
I was on a ventilator for a few days while I was in ICU–even though my Living Will clearly says no ventilator, dialysis, etc.
I didn’t check my e-mails for a few days and I am just working my way through 98. If you are one of them, I apologize for not responding to you.”
We all wish her a speedy recovery, and it might be nice if you could share your thoughts on this post.
[May 18 2017 update: I now include in this LINK the recommendations of Elise Bean, a long-time FATCA supporter and witness at the FATCA hearing.]
On April 26 2017 there was a Hearing at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Operations dealing with the harm caused by the U.S. FATCA law imposed on the world.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Meadows asked the Witnesses for “three recommendations on how to improve the legal framework set up by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act” (FATCA).
My personal-only interpretation of this request is that the Chair is saying something like: “If FATCA has to be replaced with something else, can you recommend three compromise laws/approaches that would achieve the “good” aims of FATCA but minimize the harm, and which would receive bipartisan support?”
— I enclose as a link the May 15, 2017 submitted personal recommendations of Jim Bopp, a witness and attorney for the U.S. FATCA/IGA/FBAR lawsuit currently pending in United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (I am one of the plaintiffs).
From the Bopp text:
“This letter provides three recommendations on how to improve the legal framework set up by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”).
First, we recommend that any taxation of overseas Americans comply with established United States constitutional principles and international legal norms.
Second, we recommend that the current laws be repealed in their entirety [Bopp goes on to include specifically FATCA, IGAs, FBAR, and citizenship-based taxation] and certain proposals rejected.
Third, we recommend that Congress enact a 1099 requirement on foreign banks, established by treaty, as long as this complies with established United States constitutional principles and international legal norms…”
—- Appended to the end of the Bopp recommendations are my personal thoughts as a separate submission: I support, as does Mr. Bopp, the repeal in entirety of FATCA, FBAR, IGAs, and citizenship-based taxation (the latter to be replaced with territorial/residence-based taxation), do not support any “watered-down” FATCA-replacement legislation whatsoever — which I believe will continue the harm, and offer suggestions on changing U.S. citizenship laws in the very limited context of FATCA harm. In hindsight, I now feel that I should have gone further in my recommendations for citizenship law changes.
—- When I receive the recommendations of strong FATCA supporter Elise Bean, a hearing witness, I will post.
— Ongoing developments: Republicans Overseas has initiated an intensive lobbying campaign with Congress to kill citizenship-based taxation and replace with territorial taxation. There can be no promise of success, but these people are trying. I am not aware of similar efforts on the Democrat side.
“…The government of Canada has a responsibility to stand up for its citizens when foreign governments are encroaching on their rights…We believe that the deal reached between Canada and the U.S. is insufficient to protect affected Canadians…” June 2015 Pre-Election statement of Mr. Justin Trudeau (now Prime Minister of the Government we are suing) to a constituent
May 13 2017 Canadian FATCA Litigation Update:
SUMMARY TRIAL MOTION has now been submitted on Constitutional/Charter issues. We are finally moving closer to trial and our Vancouver litigators have now served and filed in Canada’s Federal Court a “Notice of Motion for Summary Trial”.
As detailed in this brief motion (see link) this is a pleading to the Federal Court of Canada for a summary judgement we are seeking on the Constitutional-Charter issues.
We argue in the motion that the Canadian legislation enabling the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) violates Canada’s Constitution Act (by forfeiting Canada’s sovereignty and facilitating the extra-territorial enforcement of a foreign state’s taxation and tax compliance regime on Canadians) and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 7, 8, and 15).
Some of you do not consent to be “U.S. Persons”. There is this statement in the Motion:
“The contours of United States citizenship and the definition of US Person are matters of United States law and/or policy and are subject to be changed by the United States at any time.”
There is also this:
“It is a principle of international law that every sovereign state has the right to conduct its affairs without intervention by other states (the “Principle of Non-Intervention”). The Principle of Non-Intervention is at the core of the international legal order and is a corollary of every state’s right to sovereignty, territorial integrity and political Independence. The Principle of Non-Intervention is an element of the unwritten constitution.”
Will the Federal Court of Canada accept this Constitutional argument?
This motion is NOT the main, detailed legal submission (i.e., where all of the case law is discussed, etc.) which will be filed much closer to the hearing date (yet to be decided).
AFFIDAVITS. You will notice on pages 22-23 a long list of affidavit titles. Because of a technical issue related to the litigation, it is not possible to publish the text of these affidavits at the present time.
Some of the affidavits include those we previously submitted and those Government submitted – which we feel will help our case.
There are also expert reports from three witnesses (Ryan Liss, Roy Berg, Kevyn Nightingale) who were selected by our litigators to provide an expert opinion based on our litigators’ assessment of their expertise and experience.
In addition, there are affidavits listed from lay witnesses.
Our litigators made a strategic decision on the selection of specific lay witnesses for the trial from the larger group of volunteers. I thank the lay witnesses and all witness volunteers for their courage and commitment to push for return of Canada to Canadians.
LIKELY NEXT STEPS. On May 19, 2017 there will be a teleconference with Government, Case Management Judge, and our side to deal with the Government Motion to compel further documents from the three plaintiffs (we oppose the motion).
After the ruling, Examinations for Discovery of the three expert witnesses and the plaintiffs will be scheduled and conducted. Our lawyers will likewise examine the Attorney General’s witnesses. It is also possible that the Attorney General might examine our lay witnesses. We currently do not know if they will elect to do so.
Upon completion of the all examinations of the parties, and after filing all required submissions, we will await a trial date to be set by the court. Trial dates are dependent on the availability of Justices and court (backlog) schedules.
I know that the slow pace of our litigation is frustrating. Thank you for your continued support and kind thoughts.
Tim just provided to me these Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) documents (some last modified 3/22/2017) on implementation of the new Common Reporting Standard (CRS). You can imagine how the Government will use this in FATCA litigation.
Please look through these documents and their links. Anything unexpected?:
“…The automatic exchange of financial account information with the United States (U.S.) exists under the Canada-U.S. intergovernmental agreement for the Enhanced Exchange of Financial Account Information with respect to taxes signed on February 5, 2014.
Canada’s automatic exchange of financial account information arrangements with jurisdictions other than the U.S. has been implemented in accordance with the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). The implementation of the CRS legislation is effective July 1, 2017.” See link.
“…Under the CRS, financial institutions must take steps to identify certain accounts held by, or for the benefit of, non-residents and to report such accounts to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The information would then be available for sharing with the jurisdiction in which the account holder resides for tax purposes under the provisions and safeguards of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters or the relevant bilateral tax treaty.
On December 15, 2016, Part XIX was added to the Income Tax Act, implementing the CRS due diligence and reporting obligations in Canada. This legislation together with the administration by the CRA will allow the CRA to exchange financial account information with participating jurisdictions beginning in 2018…” Link
“Declaration of Tax Residence for Individuals – Part XVIII and Part XIX of the Income Tax Act If you are an individual and you are planning to open a financial account or if you already have a financial account with a Canadian financial institution, it may ask you to fill out this or a similar form.
Canadian financial institutions are required under Part XVIII and Part XIX of the Income Tax Act to collect the information you provide on this form to determine if they have to report your financial account to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA may share this information with the government of a foreign jurisdiction that you are resident of for tax purposes. In the case of the United States, the CRA may also share the information with that country’s government if you are a U.S. citizen…
Section 2 – Declaration of tax residence
Tick all of the options that apply to you.
— I am a tax resident of Canada. If you ticked this box, give your social insurance number.
— I am a tax resident or a citizen of the United States.
If you ticked this box, give your taxpayer identification number (TIN) from the United States. If you do not have a TIN from the United States, have you applied for one? Yes No
— I am a tax resident of a jurisdiction other than Canada or the United States.
If you ticked this box, give your jurisdictions of tax residence and taxpayer identification numbers…”
Karen, on her fixthetaxtreaty.org blog, just posted the sad stories of Australians Shaun and Mary, who did their best to be tax compliant with a foreign country (United States) and then ended the relationship by renunciation of U.S. tax citizenship.
The emotional and financial damage done to these Australians was a direct result of their decision to enter or maintain tax compliance, to the best of their ability, with a foreign state.
We have heard similar stories before, but are there any lessons to learned regarding, for example, whether citizens-permanent residents of countries outside the U.S should ever enter into “IRS tax compliance”?
If Shaun and Mary could go back in time, would they still have entered into the IRS tax system? Is $50k plus emotional distress (post-traumatic stress; stress exceeding that of chemotherapy) a reasonable tradeoff for the renunciation of, divorce from, US tax-citizenship?
What would they now recommend Australians to do in the same situation?
For those persons abroad who do want to become IRS compliant, how could they ever find a trustworthy tax compliance expert? Can tax compliance persons purporting to be cross-border experts be taken to task for their incorrect advice? Does this ever happen?
Is it really possible for any human living outside the U.S. to become IRS tax compliant?
Is it ever ethical (e.g., in this post) to advise the unknowing of their tax “obligations” to a foreign state and by doing so cause them harm?
USCitizenAbroad comments: “It is painfully obvious that Shaun would have been far better if he had NEVER entered the U.S. tax system. This is hindsight. He could never have understood where this was going…” and “…this story is a sad sad reminder that those who have been most hurt by the predatory and immoral practice of U.S. “place of birth taxation” are the ones who tried hardest to comply…”
Karen says: “…the majority of the people profiled on the Our Stories page have already renounced/relinquished. Those that haven’t yet renounced likely will, eventually.* From all the people I’ve spoken to here – including some who are not comfortable sharing their story (even anonymously) – the ones who suffered the most were the ones who tried hardest to comply…”
I have lived solely in Australia for 3 decades. I kept my US Citizenship thinking that there was no drawback from doing so. I was told I had to continue to file US Tax returns and I would just send the US based CPA my Australian Tax Return & they would send me a huge document saying “No Tax Due” & I would sign it. It was incomprehensible to me how the Australian Tax return was converted to the IRS Tax return. I just thought I would never owe anything due to the tax paid in Australia.
This went on for many years until one year the USA Accountant said I had a huge Tax bill. I couldn’t understand this as all of my US Returns never owed a cent, but it seems that they had been preparing my returns incorrectly and all my deductions in Australia were not deductions in the USA. This was the start of my long intense problem that lasted from for several years
I was never told by the USA CPA that my Self-Managed Superannuation account here in Australia was not considered by the IRS as SUPER, it was considered a Foreign Trust and hence had been reported incorrectly; so all of my Super Savings here & interest income in it was treated by the USA as STRAIGHT INCOME and taxed as such going back 8 years. I lost all the benefit of my Super Savings. Then because the US CPA didn’t fill out the single page Foreign Trust Form the IRS Penalised me 30% of the total amount of my Super Balance. I had hired very good tax lawyers in the USA to handle all my dealings with the IRS & instead of getting me a fair result they were predatory in their billing & let things drag on & on.
The other large issue was all of the money I gave to Charities in Australia over the 8 years were not allowed my US Tax returns because “They were not recognised as USA Approved Charities”. This is another issue that the US CPA never advised me about. So between losing my SUPER & my Charitable deductions I owed a huge sum to the IRS, then add on USA Tax Lawyers & Australian Tax Lawyers fees.
I was so distraught ( I was also being treated for a blood cancer at this time ) I decided to give up my USA Citizenship & all the hassles that entailed. The day I had to give that final statement I was in tears at the counter at the US consulate in Sydney, I felt I had been betrayed & abused by the US. Then I had to file the final IRS form 8854 which again looks at all your assets as Capital Gains at the value the day you gave up your citizenship.
This whole situation was like having a second full time job, the lawyers who were supposed to help & protect you become part of the problem. If I could have chosen between Chemotherapy & dealing with this legal situation, I would have chosen Chemotherapy because at least you would know when the end would happen & the worst thing would be that you could die. With the legal matters months turn to years & I felt totally helpless that it would be resolved before I died.
I made one mistake & was willing to take responsibility for that & I did but all the above things I mentioned were so unfair that I couldn’t cope with it.
So I feel a huge responsibility to help publicise this situation so that other people don’t suffer as I had to for nearly 5 years. Australia is supposed to be the USAs’ best friend; how can best friends treat each other like this?
Our lawsuit claims that the legislation that enables the FATCA IGA “agreement” between Canada and United States violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Constitution.
In this phase of the litigation, which little advances the lawsuit, the Canadian Government has asked, in a Motion, the Federal Court to compel the Plaintiffs to provide much additional private financial information. Our Vancouver litigators have had to spend time responding in a very lengthy document that such a request is unreasonable.
Personally, I am disappointed that our litigators have had to spend any time responding to the Government Motion.
Here is the “Overview” to the March 9, 2017 reply to the Government from Plaintiffs Ginny, Gwen, and Kazia:
“OVERVIEW [from pages 28 and 29 of Plaintiffs' reply to Government Motion]:
1. More than two years after this constitutional and Charter challenge was initiated and its basis made clear to the defendant federal government ministries, the government is now asserting that it requires vast and invasive disclosure of private financial information concerning the Canadian citizen plaintiffs who have taken on the task and public responsibility of challenging highly problematic legislation on constitutional grounds.
2. The government’s motion is more than a mere fishing expedition. The effect of its application for such vast disclosure, if successful, could be to discourage Canadians from advancing precisely the sort of constitutional challenge being advanced in this proceeding.
The plaintiffs respectfully submit that the Court should not permit the government to require private citizens to comprehensively disclose years of private financial information as a precondition to challenging legislation on constitutional and Charter grounds.
This is especially so in the circumstances of the government’s present motion which, as set out below, completely fails to advance any reasonable theory as to how the documents it seeks are relevant to the plaintiffs’ challenge.
3. The government misleadingly glosses over the extremely remote nature of its theory as to the relevance of the disclosure it seeks. Put simply, the defendants [Mr. Justin Trudeau's Attorney General and Minister of National Revenue] assert that, since Canadian financial institutions could be subjected to a 30% withholding tax on their operations in the United States if the impugned legislation is struck down as a result of the plaintiffs’ challenge, the plaintiffs must comprehensively disclose several years of their financial history on the tenuous and highly speculative theory that those financial institutions could pass on the costs of such a withholding tax to the plaintiffs in some unspecified and unquantified manner.
Among other things, this theory ignores the obvious fact that financial institutions – even when they face a new cost such as a foreign withholding tax – are obviously not automatically permitted to directly deduct amounts from their clients’ accounts in order to cover such costs.
4. As the government openly admits in, among other places, paragraph 16 of its Written Representations, its theory rests on the notion that debits in the plaintiffs’ bank accounts “may be increased” if the aforementioned withholding tax were imposed; while the plaintiffs’ financial holdings “could be devalued”. The who, what, where, and how of such speculative “increases” and “devaluations” are not explained. Suffice to say, these ideas require highly speculative and remote assumptions about how Canadian financial institutions and the U.S. government would react if the impugned legislation were struck down.
5. As for the government’s demand for particulars, the plaintiffs submit that this is simply a delay tactic as demonstrated by, among other things, the extreme lateness of the government’s motion. Not only is the government seeking particulars long after pleadings have closed (and indeed more than two years after receiving the plaintiffs’ original claim), but the particulars sought are, in substance and to the extent that have not already been provided by the plaintiffs, requests for evidence which the government will have the opportunity to request through discoveries.
It is trite that requests for particulars are an inappropriate means of seeking to obtain evidence from an opposing party. The pleadings are intended to illustrate the case to be met; not how it will be proven. In any event, it is extremely rare for particulars to be sought, let alone granted, where, as here, more than two years have passed since the relevant pleading was served and discoveries are contemplated to take place soon.
There are no exceptional circumstances that could justify the government’s delay.“
[The above is part of a 216 page document containing much legalese and private financial information of the Plaintiffs.]
This February 7 2017 American Citizens Abroad (ACA) document appears to supersede and replace previous ACA proposals to “replace” U.S. citizenship-based taxation.
It also includes a side by side comparison with the Republicans Overseas territorial tax proposal (I am unsure of the accuracy of the comparison). There is NO comparison of ACA plan with relative merits of renunciation or “doing nothing”.
ACA ASKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS, primarily on the mechanics of the departure tax provision.
You can send your comments
— to email@example.com
— and post on the ACA FB site (https://www.facebook.com/americancitizensabroad)
— and can copy your comment on this Brock website.
Here is the ACA departure tax component of the proposal:
“Departure Tax Provision
— General Rule. Individuals who obtain a Departure Certificate and meet the threshold test of current section 877 (Expatriation to Avoid Tax), would be subject to tax on income as if property was sold on the day before the date of the Departure Certificate. The concern is that if there is not some form of Departure Tax, individuals could accumulate wealth while being a US citizen living in the US, and then avoid any US tax by simply moving abroad. Not only might this be the wrong result from a tax policy standpoint, it would greatly increase the revenue costs of instituting RBT. [Comments on this subject would be appreciated.]
Threshold tests for application of the Departure Tax would be the same as those in section 877, except the $2 million or more figure in section 877(a)(2)(B) would be increased to $5 million and US real estate subject to FIRPTA rules would be excluded. Rules similar to those in sections 877 and 877A would apply to [e.g., CANADIAN, AUSTRALIAN, UK, FRANCE-sourced!] pensions and other forms of deferred compensation. [Comments on this subject would be appreciated.]
— Still expecting that the Constitutional-Charter trial will take place in 2017. Date however, still uncertain and will depend on how Motions are decided by the Court.
— The Government lawyers have now asked the Court, by way of a formal motion, to compel the Plaintiffs to provide certain additional documents and our lawyers will be resisting the motion.
One of our Plaintiffs, Ginny, comments on the Motion to compel more documents from Plaintiffs: “They are asking for more answers from the plaintiffs which we and our lawyers deem unnecessary and pedantic, let alone not legally relevant. For instance, here’s a little example. They really want to know my credits and debits from my chequing account? Sure, I could tell them the whole unabashed truth under oath… The debits are the usual household monthly expenses of the average family with one exception. Barclay,the greatest dog on earth eats a lot and is rather spoiled and gets more haircuts per year than I do. In the last few days of the month, we hold our breath and hope we make it to the end without going into overdraft. And so my question to them is: how is this relevant to your [Charter] section 1 argument?…Why can they not tell us whose banking account information has been turned over to the IRS via the CRA, whether over or under the >50K aggregate [see Plaintiffs' questions and Government "responses" below in link]. We’d like that on the record, whereas I can bet the farm that the average Canadian does not care what Barclay’s food costs are.”
Note the changes (underlined) from original response on page 137 (14) in which Government denies Constitutional violations and now argues that “To determine whether any Charter rights or constitutional principles, written or unwritten, have been infringed unjustifiably by such alleged enforcement requires a factual matrix where the US has actually attempted to recover, in Canada, taxes or charges against a particular individual residing in Canada.”
Note also that Government has now DELETED on page 139 (16) its previous statement: “Furthermore, the defendants deny that there exists a principle of fundamental justice that foreign tax debts are not enforceable in Canada.”
— See the many questions asked by Plaintiffs to Government detailing the type etc. of FATCA information provided by Canada to United States and by U.S. to Canada, response of Government, and Objections raised by Government to Plaintiffs’ question.
I was particularly interested in knowing details on the bank account information that flowed from Canadian accounts in U.S. to Canada as part of the so-called “reciprocal” FATCA agreement — a key justification, in addition to promise of economic sanction for non-compliance, for Canada to “agree” to the FATCA IGA.
Government response to the request for information on the reciprocal bank data are: “On the advice of counsel. I am unable to answer” with the attached objection: “The Defendants object to Q. #4 and refuse to answer it because doing so may require disclosing sensitive information or potentially injurious information as those terms are defined in s. 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5.”
[Also, I wanted to know: "...how many of the persons associated with those accounts had already been reported by the United States to Canada for tax purposes...? See the answer in link to this question...]
— Still seeking Exit tax witness. Supporter suggests (and I agree) that anyone who took measures to reduce asset worth to avoid exit tax would be considered…
There are a few people in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) who believe that compliance with the U.S. FATCA law will harm the citizens of T&T.
— If you can spare a few minutes of your time to send an email — and feel that sovereign countries should not comply with the U.S. FATCA (extortion) law, because that law is harmful, then EMAIL YOUR THOUGHTS BY THIS FRIDAY to The Secretary, Joint Select Committee on Tax Information Exchange Agreements Bill, 2016, Office of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago at firstname.lastname@example.org
Consider the text of the T&T Constitution where you will find the statement: “1. (1) The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago shall be a sovereign democratic State.”
Go to the link found by Badger where you will find: