A friend of mine runs a wonderful mailing list called “Citation du jour” (Quotation of the day). He gathers good quotations from French and English-speaking sources, translates them and sends them out once a day to anyone who is interested. Today’s quotation was:
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
“Concentrez toutes vos pensées sur le travail en cours. Les rayons du soleil ne brûlent que s’ils sont focalisés.”
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
This quotation made me reflect on a concern of mine about what we are trying accomplish here. More than one movement has fallen by the wayside because there was a lot of discontent but there was no clear message(s). This is not a call to create a “party line” – there is a lot of diversity of opinion here and that is what makes Isaac Brock special – lots of views expressed in a civil and thoughtful manner.
But let’s say that one day we actually have before us someone who has real power and who could make a real difference. And let’s say this person only has 5 minutes for us and he wants us to be short and sweet and to the point. “What do you want?” he/she asks. How would you answer that?
My answer would be:
ABOLISH citizenship based taxation!
simple, to the point and easy to undestand 🙂
Abolish citizenship based taxation, FATCA, FBAR, and pardon everyone overseas. Let us relinquish our citizenship if we want, and stop making us citizens ex post facto. Simple enough, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, as you say, the forest is lost for the trees, because so many different people have so many different situations that there is no one solution to the problem of toxic US citizenship.
I think the key things from a Canadian perspective is to hold the government’s feet to the fire that the will be no changes to the Access to Basic Bankings rules to accomodate the US and the will be no changes to PIPEDA to accomodate the US. If the banks have to pay a 30% withholding fine so be it. I would say the current Canadian government has much farther out on this than any other goverment in the world. I have a copy of letter from Flaherty on official goverment stationary indicating that won’t attempt to force collection on Canadian citizens under the terms of the double tax treaty something I can’t imagine the US appreciates.
From the US perspective there are a bunch of things that could desired with I think Petros comment being the most desirable.
While some consulates handle renunciation/relinquishment in a pleasant, professional manner, others do not and are making it difficult.
Many people are accidental Americans and/or were unaware they were Americans due to changes in US law/policy. Now they are trying to comply with US law and procedure, even filing with IRS, although they themselves have no connection to the United States. They are acting in good faith.
Many, probably most, have never had the slightest problem or beef with the United States and, as foreigners, looked favourably upon the United States. Having learned the US considers them citizens, they are trying to comply and expatriate.
If you consider a person to be a US citizen, they should be afforded the right of a US citizen to expatriate. Consulates around the world vary in their handling of this. Many are pleasant and professional but some are being difficult.
As I said, most of these people have never had a problem with the US and looked favourably upon it. A former citizen can be a good-will ambassador when they leave their former country on good terms. Setting up roadblocks to expatriation only causes ill feelings, which is not good for the US itself. You’re a free and democratic country, end the contract amicably, let your people go!
I would hand them the Position Paper of the Association of Americans Overseas. Here is a link: http://aaro.org/position-papers-2011?start=1
I would draw their attention to the excellent analysis in the chart about differential treatment of Americans in US and Americans outside US.
I would ask: “How is this fair? “How is this ethical? How is this legal? Did you vote for this?”
Then, I would say “This needs to change now. What are you going to do about it? When?”