Since their origins, both the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox have been invaluable sources of information and a productive forum for intelligent discussion. These discussions have matured to a point where we have a much greater understanding of the overreach of the United States government into the lives of those who choose to permanently live outside of the United States or are ‘Accidental Americans’. This summer, we have seen contributors to Brock and Sandbox quoted in various publications and even have articles published in The Hill.
However, in Canada, the issues discussed here, primarily Citizen Based Taxation and FATCA, are virtually invisible to our elected representatives, the media and the general public (with the exception of the Green Party of Canada).
Living in an advanced Western democracy, with a modern and model Constitution, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can and should expect our government to protect us in many ways. We expect police and fire services, safety regulations, affordable and accessible health care,protection of our land, our borders, our resources, and our economy. And when some of those protections fail or are inadequate, we expect public debate and action by our government.
Can anyone honestly say that the Canadian government has protected U.S. persons in Canada from CBT?
We do know that Canada has limited influence over U.S. tax policies. However, except for RRSPs, why haven’t TFSAs, RESPs and RDSPs been included in any of our treaties or other agreements with the U.S.? Instead, they are treated as taxable foreign trusts, with compliance difficulties and penalties.
Why are our mutual funds and ETSs classified as Passive Foreign Investment Corporations, thereby making them subject to discriminatory taxation, complicated forms and penalties for honest mistakes?
As far as FATCA is concerned, the jury is still out. We simply don’t know the shape of a Canada-U.S. FATCA IGA and how it will compromise our Charter rights and freedoms and our privacy rights.
In spite of all the wonderful discussions we have been having, I feel we are hampered by the lack of a legally registered organization with a spokesperson the media can turn to. Instead, on those rare occasions when FATCA or other issues affecting U.S. persons in Canada is mentioned, reporters usually turn to professionals with a vested interest in promoting compliance and fear.
This proposed organization would be one of Canadians defending Canadian interests, values and laws from the intrusion of U.S. extra-territorial taxation.
The organization could begin with just a few core members to get things started and look after the not very difficult or costly task of provincial registration. Then it would recruit members. Both the Maple Sandbox and Isaac Brock Society can be used to promote membership. There would be a small membership fee to defray expenses.
It is my opinion that the organization would be more effective if the core group was located in Ottawa or Toronto. There appears to be a more concentrated population of duals and former Americans in those cities. The location would also be closer to political and media centres, and thus possibly have more legitimacy in the eyes of the media and the powers that be.
The organization itself might not launch any lawsuits over FATCA, but would assist anyone or any other group, such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, with both financial and research assistance.
So, the question is, where do we go from here? Is just discussing the problems of CBT and FATCA enough or do we need boots on the ground, so to speak? Please share your ideas.