I heard again from Honourable Mike Sullivan and responded:
“Thanks once again for getting back to me. …
We at the site, http://isaacbrocksociety.com/The Isaac Brock Society, LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL UNITED STATES PERSONS IN CANADA AND ABROAD, have been very pleased with your office’s and Mr. Sullivan’s immediate response to my original correspondence, as well as seeing the position that the NDP has stated on this important issue. I will be very pleased to hear from you further Mr. Sullivan, when you are back in Ottawa.
Many of us (US persons in Canada) would like to clarify — does an MP who was born in the US automatically lose his or her US citizenship when they accept employment with a foreign government and take a position in which they make policy issues http://www.travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_779.html?
Do MPs who happen to have been born in the US or have “accidental American citizenship” automatically get an important document from the US, the Certificate of Loss of Nationality, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/81609.pdf ? This important document most of us did not receive when we became US citizens so long ago.
For instance, I was warned when I took my Canadian Oath of Citizenship in March of 1975 that I would be relinquishing my US citizenship, with no mention of having to get a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. Over the years, I believed and lived my life as a Canadian citizen only until I was informed in 2008 that I was still a US citizen as the US had changed their laws (and that my children, born and raised in Canada, are “accidental US citizens” – do you, Mr. Sullivan have any of those in your family?). Personally, I have now complied with back tax returns and FBARs from 2005, although I am seeking legal advice right now on how to remedy the fact that I did not properly report to the US the RDSP that I hold for my adult son (so, as I read it, I will be taxable for the Canadian Disability Savings Bond and Canadian Disability Savings Grant portions of my son’s RDSP and also liable for penalty for not having reported it on my FBARs of 2008, 2009 – this account is identified on my FBAR or 2010).
The US did not do its job of effectively informing all of the US persons who had taken up residence or become citizens of other countries of their change in law or our responsibilities even though there were many avenues open for them to do so. Indeed, we would have had to have been very perceptive or consulting with cross-border professionals constantly for most of us to have known this. We went about our business in Canada, and elsewhere, earning our livings, raising our families, paying taxes, being good citizens of our chosen countries. The US let it all ride when they should have done a thorough job of informing. Now we are being labelled TAX EVADERS (and the media has people believing it, especially in the US but also in Canada and beyond) because of the overreach of the US in their citizenship-based taxation, rather than resident-based taxation as most of the rest of the world. It is causing untold emotional and financial grief for us and I am among many who are taking steps to properly renounce US citizenship. Many among us will go further underground, choosing never to cross the Canada / US border – they cannot afford the extra dollars required to comply so will hide in fear. Many, especially “accidental Americans” do not yet realize their responsibility to the US tax people.
We pay exorbitant amounts of our hard-earned, in my case Canadian, money to pay cross-border tax accountants and US tax lawyers to assure we are in compliance; we lose our Canadian privacy rights (and even more so when FATCA takes effect); and if we hold over $10,000 in foreign bank accounts and $50,000 in foreign assets, respectively, have to file yearly Foreign Bank Account Reports and now IRS Form 8938, with our 1040 tax returns, as well as other required forms to the US; to say nothing about double taxation when we draw on our RRSPs and other Canadian pensions. This makes us second-class Canadian citizens (i.e., with regard to our TFSAs, our RESPs, and for the disabled our RDSPs that we may hold for that disabled loved one in our family. Generally, we will owe very little or no tax to the US for this expensive undertaking. But the penalties for making a mistake or not knowing are staggering – and immoral, affecting non-US spouse’s financial privacy, further affecting marriages, good health, on and on.
We feel it is an important conversation we need to have with you and with all Members of Parliament that we have elected to represent us, the estimated one million US persons in Canada.
We hope that you, indeed all MPs and all government representatives that we have elected to represent us, including Prime Minister Harper, feel this as important as we do.
Thanks again for your attention to this important issue.
Just in from American Thinker, “U.S.-Citizenship Renunciations Soar Under Obama.”
Calgary111. You have stated it very clearly and thoroughly and I await great anticipation a reply to your letter.
The US is a very imperialistic nation when it comes to citizens and former citizens and their continued tax obligation to the US in rectroatively restoring US citizenship with neither the knowledge nor consent of those who, under prior laws had no clue nor reason believe that this would happen
It is my opinion that only strong action and threats of retalitory measures by Canada and other foreign governments can be effective in forcing the US to re-evaluate its citizenship-based taxation. US citizens abroad have absolutely no voice nor vote on this matter and their objections are simply brushed aside as irrelevant in Washington. Please Canada, stand up and take a firm position in opposition to this policy.
I so appreciate your reply, Mr. Conklin. Thank you.
We need to ask all of our elected government representatives to weigh in on this important issue.
What a great letter! I sure hope it gets some answers for all of us and they can see how so many of us are affected by these laws (and probably their own families). I am sure the number of “Accidental Americans” either born on US soil or born elsewhere must be enormous. Hopefully they know that number is only going to keep rising! HELP US CANADA!!!!
We all need to write letters to our government representatives — plaster them with letters so they know we want serious discussion on this issue. We put them in office — it is their duty to correspond with us, or at least that’s the way I see it.
What a great letter!! Good Job!!
Thanks Calgary. Your situation is appalling. I don’t understand how they can keep changing laws and practices on something as basic as citizenship. Here’s a letter I sent to Prime Minister Harper, with copies to three Cabinet Ministers, Don Davies of the NDP (who wrote to the Finance Minister about this), Bob Rae, Interim Leader of Liberal Party, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party (who is also caught up in this because she was born in U.S, but has been Canadian for almost 35 years) and my own MP.
Here’s my letter:
January 25, 2012
Right Hon. Steven Harper
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Dear Mr. Harper:
RE: IRS INTRUSION INTO CANADA
Let me be clear. Like you “I am a Canadian and only a Canadian.” Like you, I have only ever had a passport of one nation. That passport is Canadian.
You made those points recently concerning Thomas Mulcair’s dual citizenship.
I have been a proud Canadian since 1973. When I became a Canadian citizen almost four decades ago, I was told by American Consulate in Vancouver (where I was living) I was renouncing or relinquishing my American citizenship, I did not hesitate because I wanted to be a full participant in Canada–and not in the United States, where I was born.
Since then, I, my employers, colleagues, friends, neighbours, bank, accountant, lawyer, physician and even my American family have considered me–like you–to be “Canadian and only a Canadian.” I have lived, studied, worked, earned a living, owned a home, saved, invested, shopped, voted, volunteered and contributed here. I have diligently and faithfully paid taxes in Canada. Those taxes are higher than what I would have paid in the United States. I have happily done so, knowing quality of life in Canada is far superior to the United States.
Now, at age 61–and almost 40 years after I became a Canadian citizen–the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may try to reclaim me–and my money. This is particularly stressful because I am close to retirement age with significant health challenges.
I am very appreciative of the letter which Minister Flaherty sent to some U.S. publications. I also appreciate the fact he and Canada Revenue Agency have said they will not collect penalties imposed by the IRS under FBAR and that “CRA does not and will not collect the U.S. tax liability of a Canadian citizen if the individual was a Canadian citizen at the time the liability arose (whether or not the individual was also a U.S. citizen at that time.)”
However, I am asking you, and by way of copy of this letter, Minsters of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Citizenship and Immigration to follow the recommendations of Don Davies, MP
Vancouver-Kingsway and Official Opposition Critic for Citizenship and Immigration to take a firmer and stronger position with the US government to protect Canadian citizens, their security and their financial resources. If the U.S. succeeds in seizing assets of Canadian citizens or residents, this will have severe economic consequences not only for them and their families, but for the Canadian economy as a whole.
I, therefore, ask you to ensure that appropriate Canadian officials inform the American
government their demands under FATCA that Canadian financial institutions maintain and
provide information about accounts held by anyone born in US (or even just with a parent born in US) are a direct contravention of Canadian Human Rights laws prohibiting discrimination based on national origin. Further, I request you and your government make it clear to the United States that Canadian privacy laws prohibit Canadian financial institutions from releasing confidential information about clients to outside sources without the consent of the individual and that those institutions cannot violate that law to satisfy a foreign government’s laws and demands. .
In addition, I request you and your government ensure fundamental rights of Canadian citizens, residents and businesses are fully protected from this draconian and invasive extra-territorial reach of the United States into the lives of Canadian citizens and the operation of Canadian businesses. If current laws are not strong enough to protect Canadians, you need to immediately pass legislation which is. I believe all political parties would support this.
Finally, I request you ensure the Americans know their efforts are an affront to Canadian
sovereignty. I am certain if counties such as China, Russia, or Iran made such outrageous demands on Canadian citizens or Canadian businesses, you would quickly and firmly step up to protect Canadian interests and security. Canadians of American origin and heritage need and deserve your unqualified support.
We have been loyal to Canada. It is time for Canada to be loyal to us. .
(Signed with my “Real” Name–not with Blaze!)
cc: Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance
Hon. John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
MP Ed Holder, London West
MP Don Davies, NDP, Official Opposition Critic for Citizenship and Immigration
MP Bob Rae, Interim Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
MP Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada
Thanks for that important work – great letter!
In a related item – just received a first actual reply to my e-mails to Congressman Jim Himes (Dem) – Connecticut: “…this is something we think about often, and we have had several meetings in the last few months with groups like Americans Abroad and the Association of American Residents Overseas to discuss tax fairness….”
Up till now, had received only form or no responses. Got around local only postal code filter by entering local address used to register/vote from abroad (as per Connecticut rules) – and pointed out that US citizens and absentee voters abroad deserved to have effective political representation – as well as recognition of unjust burden imposed by FBAR and FATCA requirements/penalties. Haven’t been successful with (for a while, daily) series of e-mails to the WhiteHouse, http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments – only a few auto replies….
@calgary411 – Fantastic letter. Really well done.
I see that ACA has a sample letter here
and the contact info of the Americans Abroad Caucus members here
I will write tomorrow. Thank you, calgary411, (and Blaze too) for the inspiration to finally get off my behind and do this.
And once I get that done I will tackle the MEPs and Le Monde.
@Blaze — thank you for sending your excellent letter too! Yes, Mr. Harper, I am Canadian too (and only Canadian until I blew it for myself with the IRS and US Passport office). And, now I’m going to forward my response to Mr. Sullivan on to others, as you did, including the same ones as I have before (and US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, Canadian Ambassador to the US, Gary Doer)
And @Brock the Badger — that is an encouraging response from Congressman Himes. Great foot in the door!
Thanks, Victoria, for including the link to a sample letter and resource material from ACA that Inanightmare and saddened 123 (and others) can use as a base. I think any of our personal stories to go along with that make letters to our government representatives even stronger.
Thanks everyone for your kind words.
@Calgary411 – duplicate comment:
Thanks for making contact with these MPs (and the NDP in particular). Just a thought, as you know:
1. The NDP is having a leadership convention; and
2. There is a by-election going in the riding of Toronto Danforth (which if you believe the papers the NDP is likely to win – this is about a replacement for Jack Layton).
What about making contact with the various candidates and asking for their opinion on this. The NDP candidate in Toronto Danforth (Craig Scot) is (according to the news) a law professor who teaches human rights law. Now, I don’t know if he would have any interest in this or not, but it might be worth a try. I have been told that the NDP campaigns as a team in Toronto (and this would include Mike Sullivan). Hence, ….
Anyway, nothing ventured nothing gained. You seem to be very good at this thing (contacting politicians). This is not my forte, or I would …
Also, I would not rule out contacting the Liberal candidate. But, I the Liberals have been silent on this issue. Also, don’t forget the candidates for leadership. Mulclair is a dual citizen (France). So, he might have some sensitivity to this.
Thank you for your suggestion, I have sent my most recent correspondence on this subject to the NDP Office in Ottawa with separate correspondence to Craig Scott (NDP, Toronto Danforth), with copies to NDP MPs Mike Sullivan and Hoang Mai, with whom I’ve corresponded before…
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 3:36 PM
To: Craig Scott
Cc: Hoang.Mai@parl.gc.ca ; Mike.Sullivan@parl.gc.ca
Subject: Human Rights — US Persons in Canada, particularly the disabled population…
Dear Mr. Scott,
I am forwarding the following correspondence to you to get your views on the overreach of the US regarding US citizenship-based tax for dual citizens and other US persons in Canada. I would particularly be interested in your view on the human rights aspect of the rights of disabled ‘US persons’ in Canada. Many US persons in Canada will be interested in your views.
I have previously corresponded with Honourable Mike Sullivan and he took the time and consideration to reply although I am across Canada (in Alberta) from his constituency. I have also sent copies of correspondence to Hoang Mai.
I am doing this not for my son or me or our specific story – I want it to transfer to every affected disabled person in Canada (and, by extension, other countries). I know I am in deep financially and I won’t be going in any deeper with the Washington, DC attorney. He will determine if there is a case or if the mountain to climb is insurmountable, in which case I cannot forego more of my retirement income. In my gut I know there have to be many that don’t know this. Their day-to-day lives with disabled family members (in most cases) precludes their energies going to keeping up with US citizenship responsibilities if they have any clue that they have any.
As well, I see that my 37-year old son, besides negligent in registering with the US, getting a social security number, filing back tax returns and FBARs, should have (in their mind) registered with the Selective Service:
We can’t renounce on their behalf but we can help them to complete a form that means their enrolment in an organisation where their lives are at risk.
Who Must Register?
With few exceptions, all male United States citizens and male aliens residing in the United States and its territories must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.
Parolees, refugees, and applicants for asylum are considered to be residents of the United States and therefore must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.
Disabled men who are able to function in public, with or without assistance, must register. A friend or relative may help a disabled man complete the registration form if he is unable to do so himself.
The following correspondence was sent last week:
Honourable George VanderBurg (Note: this is the Alberta Minister over Assured Income for Severely Handicapped & Persons with Developmental Disability)
Office of the Minister
227 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Dear Honourable Minister VanderBurg,
I am forwarding the email below that I sent to Federal Canadian Government representatives and would ask if you can review this.
The question I would like answered specifically by you and others in your Ministry is this:
Is the cost of administration or compliance of my son’s US yearly income tax returns or yearly Department of Treasury Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) requirements as a US citizen an appropriate use of his AISH or PDD funding? (As an Alberta taxpayer, I would hope not!)
FBARs include all financial accounts (including his RDSP and TFSA which are taxable in the US as regarded as “foreign trusts” by the US, so benefit negated to him vs someone without a US citizenship) when the aggregate amount is over $10,000.
At this moment, he is not in compliance with his US tax obligations.
I met in Calgary yesterday with a US tax lawyer and a Washington, DC based Immigration and Nationality lawyer to find a way that my adult son’s supposed US citizenship can be renounced (even though he was born in Canada, raised in Canada, never registered in the US, never lived in the US, never received any benefit from the US). I have been told by the US Consulate in Calgary that even with a court order I cannot renounce on my son’s behalf (and he has to have the perceptual ability to understand what US citizenship is and why he would want to renounce it, without his decision being influenced by me or anyone else).
Your response to this will assist in building an argument for my son (and any other Canadian or Alberta developmentally delayed person in the same situation, and I’m sure my family cannot be the only one in Canada affected) having a “compelling need” for renunciation of his US citizenship.
(My MP’s constituency office tells me that there are an estimated 83,000 US citizens in Calgary alone!)
Thank you very much for your time and response.
Calgary, AB, Canada
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:46 AM
To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ; Minister James Flaherty ; Michelle.Rempel@parl.gc.ca ; Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the USA ; US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson
Cc: Mike.Sullivan@parl.gc.ca ; Hoang.Mai@parl.gc.ca
Subject: Discrimination of US Persons in Canada –Renunciation of “Accidental Americans” with Developmental Disability
Dear Government Representatives,
Yesterday I engaged a second US Immigration and Nationality lawyer from Washington, DC in my quest for my son to be able to renounce his US citizenship. This drains further funds from my Canadian retirement savings and its being spent in Canada.
As I have communicated to you before, my son (and I am sure the sons and daughters of many others in the same situation as my family) are told by the US Consulate that, even with a court order, trustees (as I am with Assured Income for Severely Handicapped in Alberta), or those granted Guardianship and/or Trusteeship through the Court of Queen’s Bench to represent the best interests of their family member (or the Public Guardian or Trustee) cannot renounce on the developmentally delayed person’s behalf.
I have given these reasons for it not being in my son’s best interest to have a US citizenship as well as the citizenship of the country where he resides, Canada.
Besides being born in Canada, raised in Canada, schooled in Canada, works in Canada, receives disability benefits from Canada, never registered with the US, never lived in the US, and never received any benefit from the US:
o my son cannot carry out the responsibility of administration of a US citizenship (lack of perceptual capacity to be able to complete US returns or to understand the consequences);
o nor should the benefits he receives from the Government of Alberta ever be used for tax compliance in a second country to the one he lives in and receives benefits from.
• Absurdly, for my son to have the RIGHT to renounce his US citizenship if he did indeed have the perceptual capacity to make that important decision or realize the actual consequences of renunciation of US citizenship, he would have to apply for a US social security number, back file at least five years of US returns (for which he would owe $0.00), file Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR) as his financial accounts are over $10,000 with Tax Free Savings Account and Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). There could also be resulting financial penalties. (As I understand it, I, as his mother and the Holder of his RDSP, am taxable to the US yearly for the Grants and Bonds that the Canadian Government has contributed to his RDSP since it was opened in February 2009.)
• My son is already discriminated against because his benefits to the Canadian Registered Disability Savings Plan are negated from that of a Canadian without a US connection.
• Because of health concerns (besides developmental disability, he has asthma, attention deficit disorder and hereditary hemochromatosis), it is makes no sense for my son to ever live in the US where he would not have the health care insurance or benefits he has in Canada.
• Who will administer my son’s US citizenship when I am either incapacitated or deceased? I do not want to leave this responsibility and expense to my husband (who is not his birth father) nor to my daughter nor to an executor who would have to be paid from my son’s disability benefits.
I have also asked the following questions:
o If the US Department of State will not let us relinquish or renounce on behalf of our disabled children when we have been granted trusteeship to look after / manage their finances by our province in the country where we live and have become citizens, will they also accept that we, their trustees, will not file our children’s US tax returns and FBARs?
o If this is the case, are these dependent individuals at risk of being arrested upon crossing the border into US territory because they have not filed US tax returns and FBARs?
o In order for our dependent children to be able to have the same benefit for their registered accounts (Registered Disability Savings Plan and Tax-Free Savings Account) as does a disabled person with only Canadian citizenship, will we have to adopt for them a “don’t ask / don’t tell” / fly under the radar policy?
o Should cost of the administration for compliance of US tax returns (with $0.00 owed) be borne by the agencies that serve the disabled in Canada (or any other country)?
o Should cost of the administration for compliance of US tax returns (with $0.00 owed) be borne by the estate of our disabled sons or daughters?
o Who in the States will look after the needs of my disabled son or daughter when I am incapacitated and not able to do so? Will the US move my son or daughter to the States for their care when I become incapacitated?
o What benefits are my disabled son or disabled daughter receiving from the US? Would it not make more sense for these dependent individuals to be cared for in the country of their birth? Is common sense used at all in determining the law for these individuals?
o How does the US determine that this is not discrimination on the basis of citizenship, i.e. our dependent children have additional compliance requirements, additional expense of administration, all for $0.00 owing to the US, because they are considered US citizens in addition to the citizenship of their birthplace, Canada? They are also denied assistance in choosing or renouncing US citizenship when they have assistance in decision-making of trustees and/or guardians where they live, Canada.
o As far as I can tell, they are denied any health care assistance from the US in the country of their residence. They are denied being able to access financial benefit of legal tax laws to save for their retirement in their resident country, in this case Canada, afforded to others who hold only Canadian citizenship. In addition to all of the expense we have incurred so far in defense of our dependent children, must we also incur expense of consulting with a Human Rights lawyer to determine our children’s human rights?
Canada Ratifies UN Convention on Rights of Disabled
OTTAWA, Ontario, March 16, 2010) – The Canadian government announced that they have ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Hon. Lawrence Cannon (CPC-Pontiac), Minister of Foreign Affairs, ratified the Convention at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday. “Canada is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and enabling their full participation in society,” he commented in a press release beforehand. “Ratification of this convention underscores the Government of Canada’s strong commitment to this goal.”
It is good to see you, Minister Flaherty, stand up for the rights and privacy of all Canadians in your dealings with the US. Please stand firm in representing us and all Canadians.
In the meantime can you also tell me so I can communicate it to other Canadian ‘US person’ taxpayers what you are doing to protect those most vulnerable from the overreach of the US, the disabled community of Canada?
I have just committed another amount of my retirement savings for 10 hours of time from a US Immigration and Nationality lawyer in trying to obtain my son’s renunciation. This is in addition to a considerable sum to have gotten into compliance with my US taxes for the years 2005 – 2010. I will pay an additional fee for my 2011 US taxes to be prepared by a cross-border CA. As well, I am obtaining services of a US tax attorney to make sure all of my filings and FBARs are correct (i.e., I failed to report my son’s RDSP to the US, thereby subject to potential penalty for not filing on US tax returns, as well as FBARs for my son (since his financial accounts now exceed $10,000) so that at least needs to be remedied. As soon as I am sure all is correct, I will make my appointment to renounce my US citizenship (which I was under the impression I had done when I became a Canadian citizen in 1975). Do you feel these sums of money to be taken from my and others’ Canadian retirement accounts or other Canadian savings, etc., are appropriate and just? There are so many other issues of discrimination for US persons in Canada, but the disabled population is what I want to address today and request answers from you.
I, and other families who do not have a voice (or indeed don’t even yet know this affects them), would like to know what steps you are taking on issues regarding US citizenship and the disabled population in Canada.
My appreciation for your attention to this.
Calgary, AB, Canada