Mr Lewis’s assertion that all American’s who renounce are rich fatca-ts has got me wondering just how many non-resident US persons who neglect file do so because they can’t afford to pay an accountant to do it. Those of us required to file include seniors on fixed incomes, young people just starting out in life, the disabled, single parents, etc. I would think that the numbers could be as high as the hundreds of thousands if you consider everyone who should be filing. There was a time in my life as a single parent even if I had known about my obligation to file US income tax I would have been hard pressed to spend my Canadian child tax credit on filing US taxes.
I’ve investigated whether there are any services that provide free income tax preparation for low income Americans. According to The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, you may be eligible for assistance in tax preparation if you earn $49,000 or less. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is available free to taxpayers “with low and moderate income.” Both are partially funded by the IRS.
Of notable interest is the statement at the end of IRS form “Intake/Interview Quality Review Form”, Form 13614-C:
“Your civil rights are protected: It is the Internal Revenue Service’s mission to provide America’s taxpayer’s top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all. Under no circumstances will the Internal Revenue Service tolerate discrimination by its employees, grantees, contractors, and/or subcontractors. NO ONE shall be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination because of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, reprisal, or age in programs or activities funded by the Department of Treasury-Internal Revenue Service. Any person who believes that he/she has been discriminated against on the basis or race, color, sex, national origin, disability, reprisal or age in programs or activities receiving financial assistance (eg Low-Income Tax Clinics, Tax Counseling for the Elderly) from the Department of Treasury IRS, may submit a written complaint to…”
No mention of discrimination based on geographical location. No surprise that there isn’t one tax clinic outside the US. This is just one more discriminatory obstacle to compliance for Nina Olsen to be informed of. I’ve got a list going.
Free Tax Preparation and Tax Problem Resolution Services
“The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) is a group of 101 citizen volunteers who listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers’ issues, and make suggestions for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction.”
“The panel is demographically and geographically diverse, with at least one member from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.”
US having it’s cake and eating it too – reserving the right to help itself to the legally earned fruits of our labours globally, (fruits that are already taxed income – in the country of our permanent residence – and for many – the country of birth – ex. Canada) and grab the fruits of our non-US family and spouses by association, absolutely demands to root around in our legal assets – ‘just in case’, while refusing to hear what we have to say, and only acknowledging we exist when inventing absurd, draconian, and extortionate regulations and penalties.
Link is here
funny, me, I would have thought that the definition of: “demographically and geographically diverse” would have to include all those OUTSIDE the US. but again, we’re to be penalized to death, but not listened to.
There are also none of these:
Low-Income Tax Clinics, and Tax Counseling for the Elderly outside the US either.
For Canada non-service:
@badger thanks I’ll add this to my list.
Thanks, bubblebustin and badger.
Also: TAS Systemic Advocacy
To access SAMS, click below:
SAMS – Systemic Advocacy Management System
Submission From: Taxpayer
Email Address*: calgary411
Issue Summary: More International Taxpayer Discrimination
Issue Detail Description:
Canadians and international taxpayers around the world are discriminated against, especially those without sufficient funds, disabled, seniors. We are not provided services. When we call a phone number or ask a question online we are told to seek the services of an US Tax Lawyer / Tax Accountant, out of the reach of many financial situations. For example:
I have also sent this information to Joe Green (Canada) Chair / Your DPCA FBAR/FATCA Task Force (firstname.lastname@example.org) (BUT WE STILL NEED YOU!)
and also sent to:
and, I am now going to send to:
Please everyone let me know what you know to be obstacles to compliance. Personal stories are welcome! Keep those letters going @Calgary411.
great @calgary411 !
For those of us that hate how FATCA is being pushed down the world’s throat by the US, an interesting podcast on the BBC may be of interest for some. It’s about how the developing world’s GDP is forecast to overtake the developed world’s very soon and how it’s effect is being felt on India’s and China’s middle classes today. And the US still believes that laws like FATCA will stick in the long-term with its shrinking share of GDP. These developing countries will not stand for a US acting like it still commands 50% share as it did 1950. This is pure math, recessions, or governmental actions will not change this, only slow it if the Americans are lucky.
Interesting, when I told the IRS through my House Representative about my hardships filling my return, they responded through the Representatve suggesting that I should renounce and file form X. I was startled. I can ‘t renounce, I have family and deposits / pension in the USA. Besides I love the Country.
@markpinetree Interesting that the IRS is actually promoting renouncing. Renunciants would no longer be subject to IRS arbitrary fishing and money-grabbing initiatives.
Yes, I thought it was strange too. Ad to be truthful I was a little hurt. But in the letter to the Representative they advised me to fill a frorm (I forgot the number) that seemed impossiboe for me to do. I am not going to do it.
It’s a win-win. All your expensive tax paperwork filed from abroad has to be expensively processed in Austin, and something like one overseas taxpayer in 20 actually owes any tax (and if the ’90s studies are anything to go by, even they may not owe all that much tax.) I’m surprised they don’t suggest it more often.
I realize that the IRS can’t abandon citizenship-based taxation on its own authority, but you’d think it would be in their interests to promote a radically simplified tax reporting system for taxpayers abroad.
so when they do collect, it goes to pay a lot of their overhead in treated tons of forms that won’t yield any revenue. Great! Wonderful management.
Another big obstacle is first language ( and functional literacy/numeracy levels) – not necessarily English for those inheriting US citizenship, or for immigrants to the US, or for tax/legal professionals in a country outside the US. I was reading a post about someone in Greece paying a lot to have their documents translated into English, and that any tax/law professional they used had to understand both the US law, and the very unique banking and tax systems where they lived or were born. Not all duals or accidentals will be native English speakers, or have access to English language services where they are located. That is in addition to those who are US immigrants dealing with assets in their countries of origin. If the IRS refuses to understand or exempt common savings and banking in systems very similar to the US (ex. Canada), they will be even more obtuse regarding other systems. Just having some IRS materials and notices in other languages does not address the problem. And English proficiency levels demanded are very high – I am a native speaker, yet I cannot understand some of the materials re forms and requirements despite my proficiency. There are also differences based on income and age.
Likewise for reading and numeracy levels – the skill level required to interpret and apply to tax forms and returns are far beyond that of high school. http://www10.hrsdc.gc.ca/es/english/ShowProfile.aspx?v=325 . There really is no robust basis for the IRS and the US to assume that US ‘persons’ outside the US have any higher levels of literacy and numeracy than those inside. http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-01-08-adult-literacy_N.htm http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/education/adult-literacy-rate-low-skills.aspx#countries .
As we know, the picture of the rich and educated ‘expatriate’ corporate executive or government official, is false, and is used to massively skew any assumptions as to the actual characteristics of the majority – ex. accidentals, duals, etc.
If both Geithner and Shulman find their taxes and the IRS code too complex to do themselves (which they both have said publicly http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/75119-irs-commissioner-doesnt-file-his-own-taxes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKVxGlkPRlo&feature=player_embedded ) – given their levels of financial and associated education and numeracy, plus English language proficiency and familiarity with US culture and banking, there is absolutely no reason to expect that of ANY other US taxpayers – wherever they are located. As we know, the asset and return reporting is exponentially more complex, burdensome, and fraught with penalty pitfalls. Not only are the demands on us re financial literacy and numeracy comprehension much higher, but so too are the stakes – a mistake can wipe out any savings we have, AND beyond.
@broken, my husband will meet age and income qualifications for assistance next next filing season…we’re going to give it a shot. If every US person living outside the US took advantage of tax preparation assistance, imagine the contribution we would make to bankrupting the US government!
@bubblebustin, wonder whether they would help with Form 8894 Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/article/0,,id=243109,00.htmlhttp://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8854/ch01.html ??
@all, sorry, that last comment of mine sounded subversive 🙂
@badger, I posted this earlier re TAS’s pilot project using video conferencing to better communicate with taxpayers with literacy and geographical barriers to compliance. I sent TAS an email via Fb (as that’s where I saw the announcement) asking whether this service would be considered being used internationally. The response what the standard privacy concern and suggested I call them. I haven’t done so yet as I would like to have a compilation of obstacles to compliance to send to them instead.
@badger, hmmmm, probably outside their mandate, just as assisting those outside the country probably is.