The American Diaspora Tax War of 2012-2014
The fight against FATCA and citizenship-based taxation
Non-Willful Non-Compliance: How We Got Here (June 30, 2014) 7 million Americans abroad and only a few are even quasi-compliant with the American tax system. That's changing but I think it's useful to explain how this situation arose in the first place. "They should have known" just isn't helpful here and in many cases it is just outright ridiculous. Why? Because before there was a compliance gap, there was a communication gap.
Transnational Politics: Fighting on the FATCA Front (June 23, 2014) Transnational political activity on the part of developed country migrants in North America, Europe and Asia has not been the subject of much interest by academics working on international migration. It's not even on the radar in the local or international media. And yet, in the case of US migrants, it's been going on pretty continuously since the 1950's.
About Those Renunciations... (May 9, 2014) Congratulations America. Exports really took off last quarter. Not only did the U.S. Commerce Department report that sales of American products abroad rose but the U.S. Treasury Department/IRS announced that over 1,000 Americans citizens exported themselves in the first quarter of 2014.
Two Faces of American Emigration/Expatriation (April 27, 2014) Two expatriate Americans: Eduardo Saverin and Tina Turner. Very similar situations but a very different reaction to each one by homelanders. Why?
The Lay of the (Home)land (March 29, 2014): Some conclusions I came to after participating in Overseas Americans week in Washington, D.C.
FATCA: La chasse aux coupables (March 18, 2014) My remarks on the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on Offshore Tax Evasion.
Axa Banque - U.S. Person Account Closures in France and the French Finance Commission Talks FATCA (February 2014) The results of the signing of the French IGA. FATCA comes to France and what do we see? A hunt for US persons and account closures. The FATCA rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.
FATCA: The American Diaspora and Homeland Politics and The American Diaspora Meets a Polarized America (January 23/24, 2014) It shouldn't surprise anyone that diasporas are political. There is the relationship between different elements of the diaspora itself (old and new actors) and the relationship with the country of origin. The good news is that our FATCA/CBT woes finally make the agenda in the homeland political scene but what a scene it is. Say "polarized politics" three times very fast...
The FATCA of the Matter (December 6, 2013). An interview Lynne and I gave to Testiphi.com.
A Review of the Japan/US FATCA IGA (December 5, 2013) A guest post from a Flophouse reader in Japan with his take on this Model I agreement.
A Funny about FATCA (November 26, 2013). A really good satire (video) and so fun to watch.
A Review of the France/US FATCA IGA (November 18, 2013). What's in it, what's exempt and much more.
Four Ways to Get FATCAed (October 8, 2013) Some signs that your local (foreign to the US) bank is getting ready to go hunting.
Meet the EU's Accidental Americans: Boris Johnson, Anne Sinclair, and Franz-Olivier Giesbert (October 3, 2013). A few names you might recognize here. Were you aware that these people are American citizens? Are they filing U.S. tax returns and FBAR's? Inquiring minds want to know.
The Empire Speaks, the Myth Replies (September 29, 2013). A response to Robert Stack and Treasury's press release which basically says that all the renunciations and problems Americans are having living abroad these days are simply "myths." And here is a follow-up post proposing a better strategy: The Empire Speaks, the Myth Replies: the Communication Gap.
The BBC: Why Americans are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship (September 27, 2013). An interview I and others gave to the BBC News Magazine. In the post I talk a little about why I am in this fight and I quote a beautiful anonymous letter I received which ended with this: If I had to renounce my American citizenship, I would flood the consulate with my tears."
A Global Social Network of Outrage and Action (September 13, 2013) On September 9, 2013 two "Moms in Tennis Shoes" led a FATCA protest in front of a press conference held by the Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
FATCA Losing Its Way (September 11. 2013) Article Lynne and I wrote that was published in Accounting Today.
The Basis for a Great Conversation (September 6, 2013) A post about an article written by Professor Richard Harvey of the Villanova School of Law and Graduate Tax Program called World Wide Taxation of U.S. Citizens Living Abroad – Impact of FATCA and Two Proposals.
Citizenship-based Taxation: Repression, Resistance and Democratization (August 26, 2013) Reading Charles Tilly’s essay “Extraction and Democracy” gave me another way to look at tax systems in general and citizenship-based taxation in particular. This post is a modest attempt to apply Tilly’s argument to the citizenship-based taxation controversy.
FATCA: Not so Simple After All (July 28, 2013) An article on FATCA that Lynne Swanson and I wrote that was published in The Hill, a Washington, D.C. publication written for and about the U.S. Congress.
On Being an American (July 26, 2013) Why I will always be an American even if I am no longer a US citizen.
FATCA: a Project Audit (July 15, 2013) Whatever the merits or demerits of FATCA the law, it's worth looking at FATCA/GATCA as a project. If this were an IT or engineering project and a consultant was asked to do an audit, what might he or she say about it?
Exile from the 'Land of the Free' (June 26, 2013) The Reed Schumer Amendment. Another nasty bit of legislation to punish those who leave America.
Americans Abroad Anonymous (June 13, 2013) Lightening up a bit and finding the humor and some of the good in an otherwise horrible situation.
FATCA: an Incomplete Map (June 11, 2013) How did a law designed to catch homeland Americans who transfer their money out of the U.S. to avoid taxes go so wrong? This is not about tax evasion, it is about something else entirely: policy laundering, discrimination on the basis of national origin, and the creation of an automatic information exchange system that makes the 99% suffer while doing next to nothing to catch the small percentage of the 1% trying to evade their responsibilities.
Public Hearing on FATCA at the European Parliament in Brussels (May 30, 2013): The Flophouse goes to the heart of the EU for a public forum on FATCA. What an adventure.
A Few Ideas for Resolving the American Diaspora Tax War (May 11): Suggestions for how we might resolve this on bonne intelligence.
Settlers, Sojourners and Tax Evaders (April 2, 2013) The battle over perceptions and terminology. One country's "tax evader" is another country's "immigrant investor." Commentary on the article by Allison Christians of the McGill University Faculty of Law here.
The American Diaspora: Lobbying versus Protest (March 15, 2013) What are the options for those seeking to fight FATCA or mitigate its impact?
OECD Public Briefing on FATCA (February 16, 2013) Direct report (I attended on behalf of ACA) from the meeting on FATCA held at the OECD in Paris.
FATCA Comes Home (February 5, 2013): Reciprocity or in the words of Just Me "an ill wind that is blowing onshore." About damn time.
Three Cheers for the Taxpayer Advocacy Service (January 10, 2013): And the American Taxpayer Advocate Service, our voice at the U.S. IRS, has done it again - come out swinging on behalf of Americans abroad. Their 2012 report is a must read.
An American Abroad Pays Her Annual Tribute to the U.S. (November 28, 2012): Not too long ago this American abroad, with the help of her accountant, finally filed her U.S. taxes for 2011. It wasn't easy and for someone who earns no income and has no assets (and I mean zero) in the United States, the bill was rather steep.
The TAS: Your Voice at the IRS (November 20, 2012) TAS stands for Taxpayer Advocate Service and they are the U.S. government agency with a mandate to keep an eye on the American "fisc."
Perspectives on Compliance with Citizenship-based Taxation (October 22, 2012) Many Americans abroad live in high tax countries and seem perfectly happy with that choice. So given that we don't object to being taxed in our host countries, nor do we have a problem with government, why then do Americans abroad have a problem with U.S. citizenship-based taxation?
How I Really Feel about Citizenship-based Taxation (September 6, 2012) Citizenship is never a "free lunch." All countries require certain things of their citizens and where there are rights, there are also duties and responsibilities. American citizenship is turning to be a very expensive lunch indeed (a four course meal with wine AND cheese AND dessert)....
Flophouse Series: Taxing the Diaspora (August 2012): Citizenship-based Taxation, Exit Taxes and Inheritance Taxes.
FATCA: Backpedaling on Reciprocity (July 31, 2012): The U.S. government wants information about U.S. account holders banking abroad. Foreign governments want information about their citizens banking in the U.S. in exchange. It's called "reciprocity." The U.S. Treasury Department issued new rules that would require U.S. banks to give those foreign governments what they want. Sounds simple enough but, alas, is anything in U.S. domestic politics "simple" these days?
Feeling Better about the FBAR (June 20, 2012) There is an important deadline coming up. June 30th is the due date for those ugly FBARs (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) to be turned into the U.S. Treasury Department in Detroit, Michigan.
American Citizenship - a Cost Benefit Analysis (May 9, 2012): Some reasons why the U.S. has a new export that is really taking off: Americans. A personal cost-benefit analysis of U.S. citizenship by a long-term American expatriate (yours truly).
Perceptions of an Overseas Voter (February 25, 2012): A view of American domestic politics from abroad. Are the differences between Homelanders and Americans Abroad "irreconcilable?" Or can we come to terms that we can all live with?
Impact on U.S. Spouses of Foreign Nationals (January 16, 2012): I thought I would take a few moments and talk about how all these issues impact U.S. spouses of foreign nationals living outside the U.S. I’ve seen this addressed in other places but from the comments I see it’s usually about how the foreign spouse will suffer because he/she married an American. Believe me, it isn’t fun for the Americans (very often women) either.
Tax Time for U.S. Persons: Impact of U.S. citizenship-based taxation on people like me and some suggestions for those of you who are just waking up to the nightmare.
The Diaspora Tax War of 2012: Stakeholder Analysis: Who benefits and who loses because of FATCA and citizenship-based taxation. Part one talks about the winners...
The Diaspora Tax War of 2012: Stakeholder Analysis Part II: The losers (people like me).
Why You Should Care About FATCA (January 26, 2012) All the reasons that EVERYONE should be concerned about this piece of American extra-territorial legislation.
Myths About Americans Abroad (January 21, 2012) Stereotypes about Americans abroad that have nothing to do with the reality.
Citizenship-based Tax Systems (January 20, 2012) The perfect analogy that explains how citizenship-based taxation really works.
Why Hiding is No Longer a Viable Option (January 20, 2012) Over 56% of U.S. citizens, when asked what they were going to do in response to the 2012 Diaspora Tax Wars, replied, “Nothing, how will they find me?” My answer to this is, “Oh, my fellow Americans, let me count the ways.”
The Consequences of Being a U.S. Person (January 10, 2012) Was horrified to discover what having a U.S. Green Card would mean for my foreign spouse.
Foreigners Rights When Traveling Abroad (January 6, 2012) Some startling information about the "protection" your passport offers you in a foreign land.
The 2012 Diaspora Tax Wars (January 5, 2012) Discovered that the FATCA issue was doing something quite astonishing - uniting the American Diaspora in a way that I had never imagined.
Hard Times for the American Diaspora (December 12, 2011) A discussion about the relationship of the American Diaspora to the homeland and some suggestions for improving it.
Renouncing Citizenship (October 17, 2011) Was curious about how different countries allowed citizens to renounce their citizenship. Examples from Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the U.S.
The US/Canada Tax War (October 14, 2011): I first became aware of FATCA by reading the Canadian newspapers. This post was written in response to an article by Arthur Cockfield.
You can also consult these great sites for more information:
Isaac Brock Society: Leading the fight with members (U.S. Citizens and other U.S. Persons including American immigrants) from all over the world. Great discussions and you can ask questions about how citizenship-based taxation, FATCA and FBAR affect you.
Maple Sandbox: A gathering place for people fighting FATCA, FBAR and US citizenship-based taxation. Nice folks. More great discussions.
Phil Hodgen's Blog: The go to guy for information on the tax implications of renouncing American citizenship.
Tax, Society and Culture: Professor Allison Christian's blog. She is the H. Heward Stikeman Chair in the Law of Taxation at the McGill University Faculty of Law in Montreal. An expert in international tax law and policy who can actually explain things in a way us mere humans can understand.
American Citizens Abroad: These folks have been in the fight for awhile. They lobby Congress and are leading a write-in campaign to representatives in the U.S.
Association of American Residents Abroad: Another great citizens' advocacy group. Based in Paris, France.
Repeal Fatca: James Jatras' site "dedicated to getting rid of the worst law most Americans have never heard of."
FATCA Fallout: Twitter feed of one American abroad, Marvin Van Horn, caught up in the OVDI program. He posts a constant stream of links to articles about FATCA, FBAR and what the American IRS/Gov is up to.