The Supreme Court decision in Afroyim v. Rusk was a key decision in the evolution of US citizenship law, leading to the current policy that, in order to lose one’s citizenship when performing a potentially relinquishing act, one must have the intent to lose it when so doing. Previously, a person performing such an act could lose their citizenship regardless of intent. In this decision, the Court refers to depriving a person of their US citizenship involuntarily as “forcible destruction of citizenship.” John Richardson discusses the Afroyim decision and questions whether the punitive taxation of US citizens abroad also results in the “forcible destruction of citizenship.” (posted with permission)
The United States of America is the ONLY country in the world that both:
1. Confers citizenship by birth inside the country; AND
2. Imposes worldwide taxation and regulation based on citizenship.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that:
US citizenship is the world’s only true “taxation-based citizenship”.
Afroyim – Should extending constitutional status to US citizenship be understood as a new gift or exacerbating an old curse?
US Citizenship Stripping Before 1967 – The Significance Of Afroyim
The US government was stripping US citizens of their citizenship if they committed various “expatriating” acts. This was codified in statutes that mandated that certain kinds of conduct would result in the loss of US citizenship. At various times the expatriating conduct included (but was not limited to): naturalizing as a citizen of another country, voting in a foreign election, serving in the armed forces of a foreign country and even marrying a non-citizen.
US Citizenship Stripping After 1967 – Afroyim
The 1967 US Supreme Court decision in Afroyim clarified that Congress lacked the power to strip US citizens (who were born or naturalized in the United States) of their citizenship. The Afroyim ruling clarified that:
1. US citizenship belonged to the citizen and could be lost by the citizen only if the citizen voluntarily relinquished US citizenship by voluntarily committing an expatriating act with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship; and
2. Congress cannot enact laws or engage in practices that result in the forcible destruction of citizenship.
How this happened
1967 – Beys Afroyim Visits The Supreme Court Of The United States
On May 29, 1967 the Supreme Court of the United States delivered its judgment in Afroyim v. Rusk. It is inconceivable that Mr. Afroyim, his lawyers, the Supreme Court justices or the public could have foreseen the monumental consequences of the decision. Although citizenship taxation was never mentioned in the ruling, the truth is that Justice Black’s majority decision in Afroyim planted the seed which grew into the FATCA and citizenship taxation problems leading to the renunciations of today.
We are all well aware that 99 percent of those lining up to renounced at embassies all over the world are doing so because of US tax code and associated laws. Of course there will be fools claiming that they are there by choice, but those fools never tried leading a normal, full, secure, law abiding life as a US citizen abroad.
It isn’t possible.
Of course no one would renounce if they could just live in peace. Think about it: every other country’s people can move elsewhere, get a job or start a business, and just get on with their life. They pay their taxes to the country hosting them. Then, later on they’re free to return “home” and resume their lives there. Not US citizens, though. No siree! You are chattel, a slave.
The knife-twist AFTER the extortionate fleecing of $2350USD is the part where you must swear, “I am exercising my right of renunciation/relinquishment freely and voluntarily without force, compulsion or undue influence placed upon me by any person” when they KNOW damn well it is US gov’t itself forcing everyone away! It’s so sick and twisted. I’m relieved to be out.
I received my CLN yesterday. I have not been this happy since before I heard of FATCA. Although I have been reading this site every day for over ten years I have been too discouraged to post anything here until now. Now I can’t stop smiling.
“Do the Specific Rules Of US Citizenship Taxation Result In The Forcible Destruction Of US citizenship?”
Short answer = YES!
If not for the unjust, deliberately punitive, incomprehensible and draconian provisions and layered penalty structures of the US CBT/FBAR/FATCA regime designed to punish those living outside the US, I would still have my birthright US citizenship.
I would still also have all the hard earned money spent on specialized US tax preparation and legal assistance once I became aware of the depths of the morass a simple accident of birth had mired me in. This even though my income was low or nearly non-existent, NO US tax was ever owed, and all my bank accounts were local, legal and properly registered with the CRA via my Canadian SIN # for taxation purposes, and all interest reported and taxed by Canada when applicable!).
If not for the twinning of US citizenship with the insane provisions of US extraterritorial CBT, my wholly Canadian family and I would not have endured 3-5 horrible years of US source stress and dread trying to make my way out of the dark morass that previously unbeknownst to me came inextricably tied to my US birthplace despite having lived in Canada for most of my over half century of life – having left the US as a toddler.
Excising the malignancy that US citizenship had become when inextricably tied with US extraterritorial taxation/FBAR/FATCA as applied to those of us ‘abroad’ was my only real and lasting recourse for regaining peace of mind and ensuring the wellbeing of my family.
Having to make difficult choices does not meet the legal standard of “force, compulsion or undue influence.” An (unlikely) example of that would be, someone threatening to kill you unless you renounce. So please don’t say you are being coerced at your renunciation hearing. If you do, the officer may grow alarmed and start making phone calls to security.
The oath of renunciation refers to “free of any duress or undue influence” for situations such as a family member influencing the person against their will; and compulsion, coercion or a threat to dissuade the person from renouncing does not have to be violent – more probably it would be a threat that the family would shun or disown the person if they don’t renounce. Likely to happen? It’s probably super-extremely rare. But they do seem to keep an eye out for duress and undue influence — I know a case where a person who, due to fraility, had to be accompanied to the consulate meeting by a family member, was questioned privately and asked if there was any pressure from family to do this.
I disagree, if my friends want financial security, equal opportunities and to save efficiently for retirement they are forced to renounce. You can call it a “difficult decision” if you like.
“Coercion -the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.”
The constant threat of a life altering penalty for making a mistake with a form, the constant threat of a change in the law that ruins you.
Good point. Quite a few people have expressed that they undertook renunciation only very reluctantly, having concluded that it was, for them, necessary, in order to live a normal life in their home country.
DoS mentions difficult choices and duress, in the Foreign Affairs Manual, 7 FAM 1221 (b), with a note added in, IIRC, 2015: (although probably more in the context of DoS initiating a loss-of-citizenship decision for a potentially relinquishing act, since a person is unlikely to show up for a renunciation and claim it’s invalid due to the pressure at the same time):
I sure don’t agree that being unable to bank is not duress; rather I see it as an insurmountable problem to making a living or simply living in society. Good luck living a normal life without a bank account — and it doesn’t even mention the difficulties/impossibilities of dealing with the conflicts of two tax systems, inability to save effectively for retirement due to it, etc.
CBT and FATCA have basically forced some people to renounce their US citizenship, as is evident from comments people have made here and elsewhere, expressing their extreme reluctance and sadness at so doing but feeling their hand was forced (ironically by US government policy which prevented them from living a normal life). In these cases, the US itself has destroyed their citizenship. Which would not have been the case, had they been a citizen of any other country.
Some of us made an $850 (US) profit on renunciation. The fee is still $2350, but you could pull in the $3200 stimulus benefit without filing tax returns if you had an SSN and submitted the “non-filer” form in 2020. No need to pay accountants or lawyers so much as a dime. Not the worst deal, as it turned out.
Congratulations! Keep on smiling. I still remember the smile of relief on my husband’s face when I brought his CLN home from the post office, back in 2014. Then Canada Day of that year the Canadian government enacted FATCA and what should have been a day of celebration for us was not so much.
@ badger and pacifica777
Yes, I’m still around but I only drop by Brock occasionally now. I’m still grateful for the support and information we got from this intrepid website.
Thanks, I am still smiling. I have enjoyed reading your posts for many years. Of course, you are one of many Brockers that provided hope for me during times when it felt as though there was no hope. Brock helped keep my sanity during the years of dealing with this insanity.
Glad you’re still dropping by the site. Very nice to read your comment, and thanks for the considerable support and information that you’ve contributed to Brock and Brockers.
Congrats from me too! Nice to see you commenting on-line (I know you’ve been reading the site regularly a very long time) – and thanks for all your off-line participation (there’s been lots) in Brock projects over the years.
Glad to see your moniker @embee!
Still remember with gratitude and admiration your creative ditties – they made me laugh even when I felt things were too dark to find the funny in.
This site, and those who created and supported it then and now were a godsend.