A Tenth Anniversary
People often overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years!
From @HelenBurggraf 2016: Isaac Brock Society: Blog of Canadian 'Accidental Americans' becomes global info resource https://t.co/ZZMQObwGmX
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 18, 2021
The Isaac Brock Society was launched in December of 20211 on wordpress.com. In early December 2011 I received an invitation from Petros (one of the original founders of Brock) to participate as an author. My first post was on December 12, 2011. That first post was the first in more than 500 more original posts and (I am guessing) thousands of comments. Brock was formed after the summer of 2011 which was a particularly significant period of US hostilities toward Americans abroad. This hostility was facilitated in equal parts by:
– the media (delivering messages from the IRS and compliance industry)
– the IRS (conflating resident Americans with Americans abroad)
– the cross border compliance industry (pressuring long term Americans abroad to enter the OVDI/OVDP programs)
The Summer of 2011 And The World Which Spawned Brock
It’s important to understand the historical context (listen to these Blogtalk Radio episodes) which gave rise to the Isaac Brock Society. It started with the events – documented in this brilliant post by Patricia Moon – which describes the pressure to enter the OVDI program. Those who did not live through it, will never understand what was going on. Sure, people can read about it. But, there is no substitute for having actually experienced that summer. I encourage you to read Patricia’s post and the comments (which will introduce you to some of the early and more frequent commenters (including Heidi, Barbara, Native Canadian, MonaLisa1776, “Bubblebustin“,” USXCanada, JC“,”Badger” and “Just Me“) on Brock.* I would also like to acknowledge and pay tribute to frequent Brock contributors who have died since 2011.**
Patricia’s post included:
This post was written approximately 3 months after the mass hysteria (there simply is no other word for it) of late Fall 2011. Brock was less than a month old. We had only just started to gather information, starting at the ExpatForum. Renunciation was a very scary topic only slightly less than the terror of imagining losing everything due to FBAR penalties. IMHO, FBAR will prove to be the number one issue that fueled the expat movement, hands-down.
In a nutshell:
People with a US place of birth (many of who had long since relinquished US citizenship) were being told that they were US citizens for tax purposes. They were being pressured to file US tax returns. They were being threatened with massive penalties. They were being pressured to enter (what was then called) the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program”. It was a truly terrifying time to be an American (or former American) living outside the United States. Note that this was well before the advent of the FATCA IGAs and the banks hunting the world for US citizens. Those who believe that the problems experienced by Americans abroad are because and only because of FATCA should keep this in mind. FBAR existed long before FATCA. The summer of 2011 should be thought of as the “Obama FBAR Fundraiser“. In 2021 there is Streamlined Compliance but NO OVDI. In 2011 there was OVDI but NO Streamlined. The events of 2011 are a clear indicator that the United States had become country that was no longer based on “rule of law” but was based on “rule by law”. Law had become a substitute for morality.
The Original Six Founders
When I was growing up the NHL (National Hockey League) had six original teams (Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago and Detroit). Over the years, those original six teams grew into a League with many more teams.
Similarly, the Isaac Brock Society was formed by (I believe) an original six people. These individuals who are deserving of special thanks included: Petros, Calgary411, Deckard1138, Schubert, Noble Dreamer and Pacifica777. If you look at the bottom of the site you will see a number of the authors from the early years. In the same way the “Original Six” NHL teams led to a large number of NHL teams, the six founders of Brock recruited the authors. Gradually Brock grew and has provided education and support and a beacon of hope for tens of thousands of distressed people. People who were persecuted because and only because they were born in the United States.
International Investment recognizes the Isaac Brock Society as global info resource on US Expat Issues https://t.co/8lt9i2blao via @@IsaacBrockSoc
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 18, 2021
The Expansion Of Team Brock
The creation and growth of Brock led to the formation of Lynne Swanson’s Maple Sandbox Blog and finally to the Creation for the ADCS (“Alliance For the Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty”) which crowd funded and launched the FATCA lawsuit against the Government of Canada (currently waiting to be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal). The point is that Brock has accomplished a lot. It has made a difference in the lives of many people. It has always been (and continues to be) a volunteer organization. The authors have volunteered through researching and writing posts. The commenters (you can meet them by reading the posts) have volunteered by providing support and conversation for those in distress. But the glue that has held Brock together through all years, for all seasons and through “thick and thin” has been the moderator(s).
Some special initiatives coming from Brock contributors
Brock (led by MuzzledNoMore) was the foundation for both a submission to the United Nations and numerous submissions to the US Congress and others. A perusal of the sidebar of Brock will reveal a large number of initiatives. Many have originated within the Brock community.
The point is that Brock was the vehicle that brought specific individuals together in pursuit of a broader purpose. That broader purpose ultimately grew into a blog with approximately 4000 posts, millions of views and tens of thousands of comments (many of which were the equivalent of posts). To date there is no social media site which is even close!
The Alliance For The Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty And The FATCA Lawsuit
Although not part of the Isaac Brock Society the ADCS Lawsuit was conceived, funded and filed through the Brock Community. Brock founding member Carol Tapanila (along with Patricia Moon) was also on on the ADCS Board. Special thanks goes to the Plaintiffs: Kasia, Gwen and Ginny who agreed to become the public face of millions of US persons around the world. Thanks also to ADCS Chair Stephen Kish for his relentless devotion to keeping the ADCS FATCA lawsuit, alive focussed and in the media..
A Special Shout Out To Patricia Moon
This is a short post of thanks, recognition and acknowledgement. When looking back through the ten years of Brock one sees the enormous contributions of Patricia Moon. She contributed as an author, commenter and moderator. She also founded the Citizenship Taxation blog. For many years she was the most visible face of Brock. Sometimes writing posts, sometimes adding comments but always contributing to the purpose and spirit of Brock. She was a founding member of ADCS. Those who take the time to study Brock through the years will see her contributions everywhere. She was there at the beginning and was the true spirit and generosity – the “Mother Teresa” – of Brock. In fact in 2014 she wrote a history of Brock as it was at the time …
From Patricia Moon 2014: Happy Birthday Isaac Brock Society (which turned three)! https://t.co/IwLoEBTwuO
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 18, 2021
It’s The Moderators That Have Held Brock Together
The moderation of Brock has been necessary, relentless and thankless. Time and time again, through thick and thin the moderation is the glue that has held Brock together. I have seen people thanked for comments. I have seen people thanked for posts. But, I have never seen the moderators thanked for and only for their moderation. This is why, as we celebrate ten years of Brock, it’s time to give a special thanks to the moderator(s). On this note I hope that you will join me in offering …
A Special Tribute To Pacifica777
As we acknowledge and celebrate ten years of the Isaac Brock Society I would like to thank and pay special tribute to Pacifica777 for her extraordinary moderation of Brock. She has been there every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month of every year since December of 2011. Think of it! She has always been there and has always been the glue that has held Brock together!
To put it simply, Pacifica777’s moderation has been the foundation upon which Brock was built, the glue that has held Brock together and lighthouse that has guided Americans in distress toward a calm and familiar shore!
Pacifica777, Best wishes and thank you! You are a true hero!
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 22, 2021
*Brock has had many more commenters through the years. Those interested, can meet many more commenters by looking at some of the earlier posts. An example of an early post that attracted a large number of early commenters is a post about “What Facts Will Constitute Reasonable Cause For FBAR” (This post attracted comments from both early Brockers and from two tax lawyers.)
** “Time waits for no one.” People are born and eventually die. Yet, since the beginnings in 2011, Brock has lost some of its most important and visible supporters. These include (but are not limited to):
Thank you for a great overview of Brock’s history. I too thank Pacifica777 for her moderation of the site.. I have referred many friends and colleagues to it. On a personal level Pacifica 777 was a wonderful resource as I prepared for my relinquishment. Her knowledge and support meant so much to me. Kudos.
Thank you Pacifica777, for hanging in there for the marathon that this race to justice has become. Your moderation skills are very much appreciated and I’m particularly in awe of how quick you always are to provide helpful information to those who seek it here at Brock. Best wishes to you and everyone who put the backbone in Brock. Surgite!
Thank you, Pacifica, for you have solely kept this once so vital blog alive in recent times. The resources you have documented and provided here have been a life-line to so many.
Thanks! Have made Donation$ to the cause for Justice. Do US does not seem to be interested in resolving this and I think the correct action at this point is to hold those accountable in the government of Canada, members of parliament, Minister of finance, and attorneys which advised and changed the laws which go against the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms! Their actions have placed Canadiens in peril and also diminished their rights under the charter with these “expunged provisions” of the Charter to accommodate the “Tax Treaty with the USA” rendering those affected with lower “Charter Rights” than other Canadians.
Many thanks to all of you. Though I now drop by rarely I have spent many hours here and it has been informative, therapeutic, and even fun. Keep up the good work.
I will be eternally grateful to you Pacifica777, and to the other people who helped me through a very dark time of my life. Please know that you are very much appreciated, and your work is invaluable. Thank you.
I would like to echo USCitizenAbroad’s tribute to Pacifica. She has steered Brock through the long ten years, some of it quite difficult as the expat movement branched out. I also want to thank USCitizenAbroad for the many, many informative posts; especially those in more recent times, when he was really, the only active author.
Pacifica was so concerned in the very beginning, that the spam filter would delete someone just coming forward to comment (in that very scary time, something that felt incredibly risky), that the spam folder was checked, each comment and restored in the event it had been ousted by Askimet.
She and Calgary411 were devoted to this and by the time I joined them (a year later), we even had shifts; as the traffic grew and there were more and more comments. The beginning of a very bad habit I have yet to conquer as I was the all-nighter.
Without Pacifica, Brock well might not have survived the growing pains that naturally grew out of Brockers branching out as inevitably, conflicts arose. She alone shouldered the load of that with the vision needed to keep Brock as a blog. Hats off Pacifica!
I need to correct the Birthday post because it omits a major point with regard to the formation of Brock. It is true that Peter reached out to me and we wondered what might work better than our participation on expatforum, in terms of spreading much needed information. At the same time, Pacifica, Schubert, Deckard and Cafreeb were figuring the same thing. It was when that group reached out to Peter, that Brock was formed. I will try to go in and edit that post (if I can even remember how to do that) later today. The need to shovel way-too-much-snow beckons.
Happy 10 years Brock!
Thank you very much, US Citizen Abroad, and Commenters for your kind words.
Thanks to All who’ve contributed personal experiences, research and peer support over these ten years, ranging from a lot to a little. Even if you’ve only added a tidbit, that tidbit probably helped somebody and possibly many.
Nice to hear from you and thank you. And it was great seeing USCitizenAbroad write of your work in the post — you’ve done so much organisation and research that people continually rely on!
Time flies when you’re having fun. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years. We were on the cusp of submitting to the original amnesty programme. The deadline was extended due to Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately we came to our senses and didn’t file. Those who did in the early dayswere in a world of hurt because they were all treated as criminals.
Thanks largely to IBS many of us were able to come to our senses and avoid a huge mistake.
IBS seems less relevant or maybe less known today. It sure was an invaluable resource up until recently. Kudos and many thanks to the early stalwarts.
Blessings upon all who have kept this site running. You saved my sanity, and that is no exaggeration.
I would also echo my thanks to all those who have strived here to make sense of the senseless laws of FATCA and citizens based taxation. You have been a voice in the wilderness. A special thanks to Pacifica who tirelessly keeps track of all the information and also keeps all our comments focused on the relevant .
Happy Birthday Brock, you are a success!
I second all the thanks. Over the years this site has been a great help to those who might otherwise have fallen into the clutches of the compliance-industrial complex.
While I’m sure that the unwary still step into the trap of needless compliance, I do sense that the years of panic are behind us. Anyone in Canada who wishes to avoid FATCA or US tax obligations can easily do so.
My own US citizenship will disappear in the new year, to facilitate estate planning and ease (unfounded) parental fears. Were it up to me I would simply continue ignoring everything south of the border.
Special thanks to Pacifica, and also thanks to Patricia,Heidi,and others who contributed help and common sense,when it was most needed,instead of panic . IBS was and still is a rare beacon of light.
Thank you to all involved in this site and to Peter himself. It has been an educating 10 years that even myself would have never thought possible. I have made new friends here, been able to speak my mind and contribute to our fight for justice. I have learned the dirty side of politicians, the liars from basic politicians to our prime minister. The dirty tactics used to turn our justice system into nothing more than a legal system that can easily be manipulated to go against justice for innocent people. This site and the people involved saved so many people from utter frustration. We have learned that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is nothing more than a pacifier to shut people up. This charter is not enforceable therefore, it is useless. I also have learned that there are two classes of Canadians and tell every person in Canada that I know that was not born in Canada that Canada considers them dollars and cents only. This has been an experience that shows what people really mean to Canada. To my dear friend Lynne, may you rest in heaven my lady and I hope I can be as courageous, and a fighter like you. Thank you everyone and I will be here always.
I will always be thankful for Isaacbrock and how people listened and gave helpful suggestions. Especially appreciate Pacifica, Patricia, and John.
To be honest, IBS helped gave me the courage to renounce. A heartbreaking but wise decision with hindsight.
These past ten years have been a real eye opener.
I echo the thankful sentiments for all this site has meant to me! Without the valuable information received, I would have floundered and spent needless money and experienced a lot of frustration and sleepless nights. I was able to relinquish for no cost back in 2012, other than a flight to Calgary, although it took another 18 months to receive my CLN. But, by sticking to my research from IBS, I avoided entering the IRS system or filing FBARs. I could not have done this alone! Congratulations on 10 years of service to so many like me!
I wanted to express my own thanks. I stumbled across this site when I was in the throes of losing sleep and preparing to file US tax returns out of panic. Due to people pouring common sense upon my worried posts, I decided not to file anything and renounced in 2018. Of course I haven’t heard anything from the IRS! Thank you all for helping me face down the fear mongering by the compliance conures.
I strongly agree with everyone’s thanks to the founders and contributors to this website.
For me, the site has been a source of sound, balanced information about what was happening. The personal experiences and the supportive replies helped me feel less alone. They help me realize that I was not a paranoid person, but one among many reasonable and law-abiding people who have similar feelings of fear, confusion, incredulity and outrage. These are people who have experienced the same emotions, and they understand and sympathize with mine! That is incredibly supportive.
I check the site often to keep a watch on what is happening but seldom write a reply, mainly because the site has helped me to put a distance between myself and the mess, for which I am thankful. I want to keep that distance, so have little to contribute. But I am very supportive and have contributed to the Canadian legal challenge as a demonstration of solidarity.
The Canadian government, and other world governments, regardless of what party is in power, seem more interested in appeasing the US than caring for their own people. If this dereliction of duty could be more clearly exposed, it might help these governments get the backbone to stand up for their own sovereignty.
Many people who hear of our plight understand it as a few wealthy people whining about a little taxation that they won’t even miss. The world has large numbers of really oppressed, destitute people. Our situation is negligible compared to them.This comparison does not justify our own bad treatment but it is an important reason why people don’t support us more.
It seems to me that this will not come to an end until people carrying it out get tired of it. If they could be inspired to sincerely ask themselves the question “Why am I doing this?” an informed, sincere answer should be obvious. All governments and financial institutions involved are gaining badwill and spending money and effort on something that gains them nothing.
Until US extraterritorial taxation is ended, I beleive that continuing this site is crucial. Good information, personal experiences and mutual support will be needed until then. Carry on, with great appreciation!
Adding my thanks for years of your work and guidance, Pacifica. As tough as 2021 has been, 2015 was worse, as I tried to find a modus vivendi re my dual-citizen problem. Here, I found specific advice, but also varying points of view. Sometimes these were opposing views, but also valuable because they represented the range of options. I was a reluctant and but ultimately willing renunciant and now, three years after, much healthier without the stress.
I must add my deep gratitude to Pacifica, Petros, Patricia and to everyone else who participated in initiating this gathering place. I was lucky enough to discover it within a few days of its existence six hellish months after I first heard of FATCA. It has provided a measure of hope ever since. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’ d like to give big thanks to Calgary411 for her massive contributions to the Brock community over the years through her research, site management/moderation work, and peer support (to me and to many others)!
@Pacifica, yes indeed.
I also would like to express my sincere gratitude to Pacifica and all the other Issac Brock moderators and founders, and everyone involved with the ADCS and its ongoing legal action.
Without Isaac Brock (and Maple Sandbox including Lynne Swanson), I would likely have fallen down the rabbit hole of filing US tax returns. This site has helped so many people – an impressive achievement!
Thank you, all Brockers!
Still lurking Xpatriot,