The blog post on ex post facto stirred up a flurry of e-mails between members of the society. It switched on a light bulb for some that the State Department and the IRS were trying to pull a fast one, and that those who were following rules at the time of their relinquishment were not required to follow the new rules.
According to the instructions for 8854, and USC 26 section 877, the date of expatriation is as follows (US Code at Cornell University):
(4)Relinquishment of citizenship
A citizen shall be treated as relinquishing his United States citizenship on the earliest of—
(A) the date the individual renounces his United States nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States pursuant to paragraph (5) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5)),
(B) the date the individual furnishes to the United States Department of State a signed statement of voluntary relinquishment of United States nationality confirming the performance of an act of expatriation specified in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.1481(a)(1)–(4)),
(C) the date the United States Department of State issues to the individual a certificate of loss of nationality, or
(D) the date a court of the United States cancels a naturalized citizen’s certificate of naturalization.
Subparagraph (A) or (B) shall not apply to any individual unless the renunciation or voluntary relinquishment is subsequently approved by the issuance to the individual of a certificate of loss of nationality by the United States Department of State.
Now this is all well and good, namely with regard to item (B) above, which states that the expatriation date is the day that a person informs the State Department. But the question remains when did this law actually come into effect; for it cannot be applied ex post facto to those who committed an expatriating act before that date. One of the members of the Isaac Brock Society tracked it down: The answer is that if you relinquished your US citizenship before February 6, 1995, you were not required to have informed the State Department. My correspondent thus wrote to me (reproduced with permission):
As it turns out, the timeline of important amendments and changes to Section 877 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 USC) dealing with Loss of Nationality begins much earlier than the June 2, 2004 amendment which introduced the infamous IRS Form 8854. For our purposes (meaning those who committed relinquishing acts in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s), the truly significant date vis-a-vis the IRS is actually February 6, 1994, as referenced in the 1996 Amendment – the most important one for us to understand, I believe. In a nutshell, those of us who committed qualifying relinquishing acts before February 6, 1994 are absolutely NOT subject to amendments made after this date under the terms of a “special rule”. As a result, it appears that we have no requirement to provide any IRS-specific forms or statements to the IRS, including form 8854! It would appear that a simple notification letter from us (notarized and duplicated, I would suggest) indicating that the Department of State has processed and issued a CLN showing a relinquishment date prior to February 6, 1994 should suffice. This seems to be the means by which a back-dated CLN issued by State could be used to provide sufficient information to the IRS to not require any further action. Of course, while State eventually provides its own direct notification to the IRS, I think it is important that we provide a “good faith” letter as well.
I have found some important references to this date, within FindLaw notes and in the official IRS Code. I am providing links and screen shots to relevant portions of these references, as follows:
1. FindLaw notes for 1996 Amendment:
[I have bolded the most relevant text]
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1996 AMENDMENT
Section 511(g) of Pub. L. 104-191 provided that:
“(1) In general. – The amendments made by this section [amending this section and sections 2107 and 2501 of this title] shall apply to –
“(A) individuals losing United States citizenship (within the meaning of section 877 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) on or after February 6, 1995, and “(B) long-term residents of the United States with respect to whom an event described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 877(e)(1) of such Code occurs on or after February 6, 1995. “(2) Ruling requests. – In no event shall the 1-year period referred to in section 877(c)(1)(B) of such Code, as amended by this section, expire before the date which is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 21, 1996].
“(3) Special rule. –
“(A) In general. – In the case of an individual who performed an act of expatriation specified in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(1)-(4)) before February 6, 1995, but who did not, on or before such date, furnish to the United States Department of State a signed statement of voluntary relinquishment of United States nationality confirming the performance of such act, the amendments made by this section and section 512 [enacting section 6039F of this title] shall apply to such individual except that the 10-year period described in section 877(a) of such Code shall not expire before the end of the 10-year period beginning on the date such statement is so furnished.
“(B) Exception. – Subparagraph (A) shall not apply if the individual establishes to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury that such loss of United States citizenship occurred before February 6, 1994.”
Amendment by Pub. L. 104-188 applicable to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 1999, with retention of certain transition rules, see section 1401(c) of Pub. L. 104-188, set out as a note under section 402 of this title.
2. Another FindLaw reference:
The FindLaw reference is here (though the majority of the article is out-of-date as it was written in 1999):
QUOTE: A special transition rule applies to any U.S. citizen who committed an expatriation act before February 6, 1995 and who did not submit such a statement.
3. Extracts from IRS Code Title 26, Section 6039G – Information on individuals losing United States citizenship: