On February 28, 2011, I stood up with dozens of other people and made an oath of fealty to the Queen of Canada. At that moment I ceased being a US citizen because I made my oath with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship. As of yesterday, it has been five years. Rejoice with me. It is a cause of celebration.
It was in February, 2010, that I made the decision to seek Canadian citizenship. I had been eligible to apply for it for years, but it was upon learning about the exit tax on those who renounce US citizenship that I felt compelled. If the USA was going to tax me for exiting with more than 2 million in assets, I’d better quit now before I get that wealthy. I needed the protection of the Canadian government that citizenship could provide–and I did not want to become stateless because of renouncing US citizenship. While I am happy to have become a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government has disappointed through refusal to protect so many citizens whose clinging attachment to the USA remains an impediment to their true happiness. Hence, the fight continues, even if for me it is mostly solved. So my joy in February 28 as special day is really and truly in my having on that date cast away the attachment to the USA. I consider my CLN a Certificate of Manumission. But as can be seen by the timeline, I have to wait until 2018 before I will be free from FBAR.
- September, 1986-Moved to Canada to study theology at graduate level
- May, 1989-Married a Canadian
- August, 1991-Moved to Cambridge to do PhD
- December, 1994-Returned to Canada (spouse works while I finish PhD)
- September, 1996-Become a landed immigrant in Canada
- February 25, 2010-Sent application for Canadian Citizenship
- February 28, 2011-Swore an oath to Queen Elisabeth II and relinquished US citizenship
- April 7, 2011-Visited the US Consulate in Toronto to inform them of my relinquishment
- December 10, 2011-Launched the Isaac Brock Society website with five other concerned Canadians
- April 16, 2012-CLN arrived in the mail
- June 15, 2012-Filed 8854 (invoking 5th Amendment) and 2011 taxes (using TaxAct) to complete filing obligations
- July 29, 2013-An urgent return to Alaska from exile to search for Wally Dunn
- June 15, 2015-Statute of limitation on 1040 (normal audit not counting fraud)
- June 30, 2018-Satute of limitation on FBAR filing requirements
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même merde
Many have testified that their visit to the US Consulate to obtain a CLN was a very difficult time. For me it was not so difficult to give up US citizenship, since I do not see my primary or even my secondary identity as being a US national. For me, the United States of America is like a crazy uncle (the Prodigal Uncle Sam); or citizenship is like that embarrassing tattoo that you never let anyone see. Thus, for me, relinquishing US citizenship was the best decision I could have made. While I am angry that the US government has deprived me of my fundamental right to return to the native country and the home of my childhood, I have realized that there is still a big world out there and lots of amazing places to visit and to live. The USA has become fly-over country on my way to a nicer sun location in the Caribbean.
I have seen others who are long term residents of Canada who have decided not to do anything about their clinging US nationality. They refuse to hand themselves over to the mercy of the IRS or submit their case to a compliance carpetbagger. This has been for them a really good choice. I have seen no severe consequences visited upon anyone who did not hand themselves over to the compliance industry and to the IRS. This has remained the same for the last six years. Yet the complicity of the Harper government with the USA’s hunt for expats and the Younger Trudeau’s refusal to greet President Obama with his family’s famous one-finger salute, the ability to navigate FATCA/CBT has become a bit more precarious. C’est la même merde.
What has changed is that I have become increasingly pessimistic about human nature. I remain a victim of iatrogenesis (ill-health caused by medical science) in that Cipro has done serious damage to my tendons–so that I see American capitalism as essentially cronyism because of agency capture. I no longer believe that the USA’s main export is freedom. It is instead corruption of a very sophisticated sort. FATCA is front and centre. US compliance firms are raking in billions from banks around the world, so that US-made banking regulations have become the major export industry of the USA. It gives new meaning to the term “Made in the USA”. But no it is no longer high quality products that are now mostly made in the Far East. It is now bullshit banking rules which make corrupt compliance companies filthy rich. I now find the essence of American Exceptionalism in FATCA. It is quintessential. It is overt. It is the sign of a takeover by well-organized criminals.
What the world needs now is a country which will displace the USA as the leader. But on the horizon there is no such beacon on a hill.
Does anyone really think that this FATCA/USA problem is going to improve? The USA shows no signs of sanity. In the perpetual US presidential campaign, the Republican front runner is a narcissist. The Democrat front runners are a socialist and a kleptocrat. Our best hope rests in the lawsuits. There is no political solution. The medium is the message. USA politics will always lead to the oppression of the expat no matter which of the various sociopaths becomes president. US politics has become a comedy show.
The right thing to do
I can testify that relinquishing USA citizenship has greatly helped my peace of mind. My feeling of well-being may be precarious–because the USA remains dangerous and powerful. But one can only make choices based on the information that is available. Five years later, and I can say it was the right thing to do–especially since I was able escape relatively unscathed.