Are you a US citizen living outside the USA? There are some states where you can vote and some you cannot. https://t.co/2B3IZDOSd1
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 14, 2015
Today I found myself in a lengthy telephone conversation with a former (she renounced) U.S. citizen abroad. She was describing her difficulties in attempting to vote in the 2008 election. The United States thinks of itself as a democracy. But then again any country that allows a citizen to cast a ballot considers itself to be a democracy. The former East Germany even named it self the: “Deutsche Demokratische Rupublik“.
This got me thinking about the characteristics that a country must have to be entitled to call itself a “democracy”. It strikes me that for a country to call itself a “democracy” it must have at least the following characteristics:
1. It must allow it’s citizens to vote. The denial of the right to vote cannot be arbitrary and cannot be based on characteristics that are irrelevant to voting. For example: age may be a relevant criterion but face may not be a relevant criterion.
2. The “opportunity to vote” must be realistic. Voting must be logistically possible. For example, one must be able to vote without traveling thousands of miles. There must be sufficient time to vote.
3. The system must encourage candidates who are interested and capable of representing the votors.
4. The system must encourage and allow citizens to actually run for public office.
I was recently discussing “citizenship taxation” with a member of a prominent political organization. He suggested that as long as overseas Americans have the right to vote, citizenship taxation must be retained. Is there any basis for linking the right to vote (if there is one) to citizenship taxation.
From a U.S. perspective the “right to vote” in a strong indicator of U.S. citizenship. Those who have completed DS 4079 know that one of the questions asks about your voting habits in the U.S.A.
Those Americans abroad who have voted in U.S. election, it would be interesting to hear about your experiences in attempting to vote. Were you successful?
Those Americans abroad who have NOT voted. What is that makes you reluctant to vote?
Should the right to vote be linked to citizenship taxation?
How long does anyone think it will be before the US government prevents you from renouncing your citizenship without the approval of the IRS?
@Bubblebustin wrote: “How long does anyone think it will be before the US government prevents you from renouncing your citizenship without the approval of the IRS”
That is almost certainly unconstitutional, given the history of “perpetual allegiance”. You can be left with a tax debt, not an unwanted citizenship.
The more interesting question is this: To the degree that the USG makes it practically (administratively, monetarily) impossible for a citizen to divest him/herself of citizenship, can another country accept a (former) US citizen’s argument that human rights law supports his/her claim to be no longer a US citizen? At least if that person already holds an alternative nationality.
The more immediate result might be administrative decisions abroad to assert the right to treat a dual national as if s/he held only the nationality of the other country. But in the context of EU/EEA/Swiss treaties, can a person be treated throughout that region in that way? How about for bilateral tax treaties with the USA? ECJ/CJEU decisions would override treaties just as Congressional law overrides them. Think: Micheletti case.
@Andy…right on!! Lets look at the UN Decleration;
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
I have the right to A nationaility. (single not plural)
IMO the USA has now denied the right of persons to change his nationality because of expense and administration.
Just as the USA in the early 19th century unilaterally allowed former British Citizens to become American I think that pattern needs to come alive again. You should be able to go into by way of example a Court in Canada and swear that you are solely Canadian for all purposes public or private.
@George: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has not been taken into domestic American law. For the USA it is a matter of pious hope, like much of international law and doctrine.
@Andy, I do not care about US domestic law…I raise it because I want my government to adhere to it.
The USA is a foreign government, nothing more nothing less.
Using both the Micheletti and the recent Facebook decisions as legal precedents, FATCA should be deemed illegal with ease in Strasbourg. However, we are still waiting for the white knight to arrive…
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has not been taken into domestic American law. For the USA it is a matter of pious hope, like much of international law and doctrine.”
America is a failed state for having lost the plot.
@George: The point is that “international law” is not part of enforceable domestic law except insofar as it has been assimilated as such: ratified by a “monist” State or ratified and legislated by a “dualist” one. The USG tends to try to finesse this with executive agreements (even the latest one on climate change apparently), opening it up to judicial review. Given that every state is free to determine (within a few limits) who are its citizens, the question is whether a particular other state will acknowledge that determination. Or protest it, as has been the case historically with ethnicity-based grants of nationality in border areas.
@Bubblebustin: It occurs to me this morning that whereas for most purposes a US citizen ceases to be such upon renunciation, etc. for some (read: tax) purposes s/he may continue to be treated as such. And recent tax treaties provide that the USG may do this. Ironic, isn’t it, that (as the NY Times has been pointing out as recently as yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/us/shell-company-bel-air-mansion.html?_r=0 (shell corporations and LLCs used to evade foreign taxes and hide purloined assets).
It’s all the matter of the bully on the block controlling the world’s monetary and banking system through the dollar as reserve currency and using that to dictate terms, notably for taxes and “US Person” status.
@Duality: You write: “Using both the Micheletti and the recent Facebook decisions as legal precedents, FATCA should be deemed illegal with ease in Strasbourg”. If you mean last year’s “Europe v Facebook” reference by the Irish High Court, that went to the CJEU in Luxembourg. Whether the ECtHR in Strasbourg could hear a FATCA case is problematic. The tax cases that come to mind from there relate to disproportionate or unfair penalties (thus: the Swiss cases to penalties imposed on heirs for the tax evasion of a parent). If you are thinking of FATCA as a privacy human rights violation: only courts and governments (and EU employees, etc.) can refer to Luxembourg so you must mean the ECtHR: I think such a case would be far-fetched, and Luxembourg decisions are not precedent for Strasbourg.
Wishful thinking in litigation only makes the lawyers wealthy. And the problem about objections to FATCA is that it’s not so very different from the EU-Swiss agreement, in line with the new OECD/G20 global standard for the automatic exchange of information. The USA gets away with coddling tax cheats because of the Constitution’s Art. 10 reservation of powers to the states. The coddling is by ignoring norms of money-laundering and know-your-customer, as seen in the series of NY Times articles on mis-use of LLCs.
Whatever the rules, the super-wealthy get special treatment. A Russian trader I had known elsewhere in Europe asked my help in opening a company, obtaining a visa and opening a bank account in the UK. He eventually had to hire an immigration lawyer (cost: £10,000) and I had to introduce him to a bank via the Russian specialist at the Private Banking department of one of the major London clearing banks. I don’t recall how I had met the specialist, but she took the trouble to call at a branch and introduce him (despite never having met him before) and the bank then opened accounts for him and his business. (In the end the UK proved unprofitable for him and I understand he is in Dubai making a lot of money. And as a non-American, having no FATCA, OVDP or any other troubles with money and tax.)
According to the older of the two Kirsch articles on CBT, states are not supposed to impose tax liabilities on individuals for voting in federal elections under the UOCAVA. Does the Cook v. Tait argument hold here? It is really hard to see what benefits D.C. would provide to citizens abroad: U.D.C. isn’t great and its not like the D.C. police department could come to anyone’s rescue.
I probably would have stopped voting if it hadn’t been for FATCA, since I was increasingly feeling like I didn’t want to mess with domestic politics, but then I got the feeling that domestic politics was going to mess with me and I still need to be able to see my parents. I never voted in the midterms and the primaries before FATCA, but now I vote out the incumbents who ignore the needs of citizens abroad.
When it comes to American taxpayers, being at the table still won’t prevent you from being on the menu.
FATCA compels a segment of the European population to be discriminated against on grounds of their American birth, to have a competitive disadvantage in the European marketplace, and to be subjected to ongoing violations of their data privacy as well as double taxation… et al. I am by no means an expert of European institutions and judicial procedures, but (at least to my logic) there appears to be a human rights case here.
It is so hopeless trying to spend so much energy to persuade the Capitol Hillbillies to switch to a practical, sensible and fair tax regime based on residence. Europeans affected by this madness need to set up legal precedents to mitigate the effects of Fatca as much as possible.
Above comment to andygr05.