Opinion Piece from Canadian Bankers Association to Washington Post (Not Published)

On another thread last week, Badger wondered what happened to the opinion piece that Maura Drew Lytle of CBA had advised Brock had been submitted to Washington Post.
I sent an e-mail to Maura on Friday.  This morning, I received this reply from her.

Hello (Blaze),
Yes, we did submit an opinion piece to the Washington Post about FATCA to try to get the attention of U.S. policymakers as part of our strategy to fight for changes to FATCA.  They are the ones who have the ability to make changes.  Unfortunately, the newspaper did not publish the piece but I have attached it here for your information.  Advertising in major U.S. newspapers is prohibitively expensive: this is one of many issues that we work on and we don’t think that it would be the best use of resources.  Instead, we are focusing on discussions with the Canadian government and U.S. authorities for a solution that will be more palatable for the situation in Canada.  As you’ve seen in my post on the Isaac Brock Society forum, our president also talked about FATCA in speeches this spring and we will continue to look for other opportunities to raise our concerns.
I reiterate again that Canadian banks are opposed to FATCA and are well-aware that FATCA, as it is currently written, may contradict Canadian legislation. Discussions are on-going so it is too early to jump to conclusions about what Canadian banks may or may not be required to do to comply with FATCA.  We continue to work hard behind the scenes to find a solution to this issue.
Best regards, Maura
Maura Drew-Lytle | Director, Media Relations and Communications | Directrice, Relations avec les médias et Communications
Maura attached a copy of the opinion piece by CBA President Terry Campbell.


31 thoughts on “Opinion Piece from Canadian Bankers Association to Washington Post (Not Published)

  1. Thanks for posting this. It’s a shame the Washington Post wouldn’t run it; it’s an excellent article. I especially appreciate the spear-fishing versus net-trawling analogy. While I’m skeptical that CBA’s efforts are going to have meaningful impact on the IRS (and that’s not because of suspicions about CBA, it’s all about huge suspicions of the motives and intellect, or what passes for that, in the IRS and the US Congress), I’m glad to see that CBA “gets it” or at least part of it, and also that they’re saying Canada isn’t the only country in which US expats are being unfairly targetted and affected.

  2. This CBA letter not being published reminds me of the non-publication of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s letter last year to three major US papers, NYT, WSJ and Wash Post, I think. None of them printed it, which was very disappointing. I just assumed they’d print it, as it’s very rare for a Cabinet Minister to write a letter to the editor and Canada is their largest trading partner, too. I wondered if the papers were practicing some form of self-censorship because a minister of a foreign government was critical of a US govt policy that would have negative effects on his country. (Minister Flaherty’s letter was picked up about three weeks later by two smaller US papers, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and one of the Detroit papers. As far as I know, that’s all the coverage it got in the US press.)

  3. Thank you Blaze, for contacting the CBA and following up about the letter they had mentioned months ago. Am skeptical about the cost-to-benefit ratio they cite for their decision not to pay for a page in the US media. Compared to the figures being spent on FATCA experts, conferences and compliance, I’m sure it pales in comparison. What is the obstacle for placing such a letter in the Globe or Star – which would have a good chance of being at least mentioned in a news piece in the US eventually? The letter could also be mounted in its entirety on the CBA website, and then linked to in a shorter paid advert, or letter to the editor.
    Still skeptical I am.

    1. Right you are, badger.
      If, indeed, the CBA wants to make sure that the stance they wanted communicated in the Washington Post is at all communicated, the letter to the Washington Post should be front and center on the CBA site, along with their statement that the Washington Post declined to publish it.
      I don’t get it.

  4. @Badger: I sent a link to this thread to Maura Drew-Lytle and invited her or other CBA officials to follow or join the discussion here. I also advised we can arrange for her to post her own threads.
    You make good points. I hope Maura may read them and respond.
    I told Maura many of us want to work with–not against–our banks to resolve this issue.

  5. If the proposal had been published and followed, it would have helped US persons in Canada or Germany. US persons in Switzerland trying to deal with their mortgage issues would still be in trouble.
    Well the USA most emphatically does not want us to remain citizens. Glad I’m out, well almost out anyway.

  6. @Blaze
    Thanks for following through with Maura. Let’s hope she reads the comments here and perhaps gets the letter published in another paper. Perhaps getting it published here in Canada would at the very least help to bring the issue to the attention of the Canadian public. I am actually amazed at how many unaffected Canadians are still so unaware.

    1. @tiger “I am actually amazed at how many unaffected Canadians are still so unaware.”
      They won’t be unaffected or unaware after they find they’re being required to provide place of birth when signing up for new accounts and after their banking fees go way up so the banks can cover the enormous expense of complying with FATCA. Then, they will be asking, “Why weren’t the banks and government proactive in dealing with FATCA when it was feasible to do so?” By then they will be aware and it will be too late – unless the financial institutions and government take a stand NOW to protect the sovereignty of our country.
      The CBA has an excellent opportunity to publicize the implications of FATCA compliance by publishing this well written opinion piece wherever they can in Canada (and keep trying in the US – perhaps in newspapers in places like Miami where politicians are beginning to understand the implications of potential legislated reporting requirements for their own banks). Who knows, it might encourage financial organizations in other countries to speak up for their citizens as well.
      The CBA has a platform to inform the public and urge the Canadian government to explain what is being done to support its citizens who are dealing with this problem. Give it a try, CBA, before the window of opportunity closes.

    2. Tiger, not so surprising that most Canadians are unaware. There is actually very little information out there. There have been no attempts by our government to alert the majority to the problem – though it involves a million or more Canadians and their households. I see no paid adverts to provide that information. I see few or no articles on FATCA other than some US pieces, mostly online, on business or specialty websites. Most are so arcane they won’t mean anything unless you’re either in the business, or have been following discussions like those on IBS. The whole FATCA, FBAR, citizenship-taxation thing, and all of it’s contradictions is so insane that whenever I try explaining it, my audience just says – but that’s crazy – how can that be?
      I’ve seen whole page adverts by industry and government when they deem it necessary. Obviously the parties in the know don’t deem it necessary to explain it or alert the general Canadian public – there has obviously been a decision not to make it better known or understood.

      1. Someone here might know, or be able to comment on these aprox. costs – only figures I found quoted online were from 2007 – and I haven’t verified their accuracy:
        “one full page ad in Metro Toronto will cost you about $6,000~8,000
        one full page ad in Toronto Star is about $13,000~$16,000
        one full page ad in Globe and Mail is about $12,000~15,000”
        Are those figures near to the accurate cost in 2012 to buy a fullpage ad in Canada?
        Here is a page that might describe specific costs for the Washington Post.

  7. @Blaze, thanks for posting this and re-contacting CBA. I do like Tiger’s idea of publishing it in Canada to make others more aware of the issue. I wonder if CBA would consider that?

  8. @All: Maura Drew-Lytle has advised me she is following the conversation here, so she is aware of your suggestions. I have encouraged her to join in the discussions.

  9. @ Blaze: Have you considered contacting US Television media (i.e 20/20 or evening news shows), or even small to mid-size markets that may get picked up by mainstream media, or considered contacting Time/Newsweek/US News & World Report?

  10. @Badger
    I have found this ‘fight’ a lonely one. On the one hand, my US family and friends think I am either nuts to worry about all this or their belief is that whatever their government deems necessary to do, it must be done. On the other hand, my Canadian family and friends believe I must be exaggerating because after all they really haven’t heard much if anything about FATCA and the IRS going after ‘U.S. persons’ living abroad.

    1. @Tiger. I know exactly what you mean. A co-workers father dropped by the other day, and he works in the US and has been very interested and supportive about all of this. His son, my co-worker, said, ‘no, don’t go there – don’t get her all riled up about this again’. So, I’ve learned to keep it to a minimum, even passing up opportunities to inform people because I don’t want to be seen as obsessive or a pest.
      The most common comment I hear, is why don’t you just file your taxes and then renounce? Easy, right? Only we, on these sites, understand that it’s not just the money, it’s way, way more than that. If I didn’t have this outlet, I’d probably be in an institution by now!

      1. @Outraged,
        ‘no, don’t go there – don’t get her all riled up about all this again’. Wow, did that hit home. I have one friend in particular that has said that so many times whenever she hears another person ask me about the issue. I know my friend thinks she is being funny, but it actually hurts.
        Like you, other friends have suggested I just go ahead, file and put it all behind myself. One friend, works for a well-known Vancouver cross border tax attorney. She has offered to do the tax returns free of charge for me. It is most definitely not the money, it is the principle for me. Yes, as a retired person, the money would in fact matter. But I will go to my grave believing that in no way do I owe the IRS any tax forms. I exited their system in 1964 when I landed in Canada. Between 1964 and 1989 I did not have to file a Canadian tax return. I was a ‘stay-at-home’ mom, looking after my children. I consider myself lucky that I was able to do that. By the time I went to work, in 1989, I had not lived in the U.S. for 25 years and certainly had not been a U.S. citizen since 1972. Why on earth should I file forms today. Even my American relatives have trouble understanding that.

    2. @tiger, it is the same for me. If not for IBS (and a few other sites, including now MapleSandbox,) and listening to the entirely logical and reasonable words of cafreeb on her radio show, I would have thought I was hallucinating all of this.

  11. This is a well-written opinion letter that many regional newspapers would be honored to receive and publish. As a strategy, it might be worth contacting the large newspapers in the US states that border Canada. Following is a short-list of many of these important state/ regional newspapers:
    Buffalo News
    Cleveland Plain-Dealer
    Detroit Free Press
    Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
    Minneapolis Startribune
    St. Paul Pioneer-Press
    Seattle Times
    For possible consideration:
    Bismarck Tribune (ND)
    Burlington Free Press (VT)
    Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID)
    Portland Press-Herald (ME)
    Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)

  12. @Innocente, Others: Excellent suggestions. I hope CBA may follow up with other sources and also post the Opinion Piece on their own website.
    @Chark: Welcome to Maple Sandbox. I personally do not want to appear publicly in the media as I am trying to stay out of the sightlines of IRS and DOS. I wonder if CBA would consider that approach.
    I seem to recall someone at Brock had contacted one of the American newsshows like 20/20 or Dateline, but didn’t get a response. Does anyone else remember anything about that
    As horrific as this is for those of us in Canada, it is far worse in Europe, Asia and South America where banks are already closing accounts of people born in US or refusing to open new accounts for those individuals. Switzerland is even refusing to renew some mortgages of some long-term Swiss “US persons.” I wonder if Jefferson or anyone who has been affected that severely is willing to go public with their story.
    In Canada, we still have Canadian laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms working to our benefit. In fact, Maura acknowledges FATCA “may contradict Canadian legislation.”
    I certainly hope this can be resolved without lawsuits in Canada. But, I know we will pursue that avenue if we have to in order to protect fundamental rights of Canadian citizens and residents to banking and privacy without discrimination in Canada.

  13. Has anyone contacted Credit Union Central of Canada about their recent activities re FATCA? I seem to recall that they had sent a comment letter to the IRS and were represented by the World Council of Credit Unions at the May hearing in D.C.
    Also, would anyone know the contact info for the person at CU Central who is in charge of dealing with FATCA?

  14. @Hazy2: I just sent an e-mail to Inquiries at Credit Union Central of Canada. Like you, I seem to remember reading a letter they had sent earlier, but I have not been able to locate it.

    1. @ Blaze
      I also sent an email today to Credit Union Central. The reply received was that the person dealing with FATCA is away at the moment and that my email was forwarded to that person.
      There’s enough confusion over FATCA. I think it’s even worse for the Credit Unions.

  15. British Bankers Association has announced they support the IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) model for FATCA.
    I wonder what our friends in Britain think.
    Before CBA or the Canadian government get any ideas, an IGA model for Canada would still contravene Canadian laws. No Canadian citizens or residents in Canada are required to have a report on all of their assets reported to Canadian government for either domestic or foreign purposes. (Only income must be reported to CRA).
    To single out Canadians based on national origin or place of birth is discrimination.
    Canada has a long-standing effective tax treaty with US to report on income on each other’s residents. That should suffice.

  16. @Blaze
    Although Canadian citizens and residents need not report to CRA all of their assets, they are required to report any ‘foreign’ assets with a cost basis greater than $100,000 on the front page of the tax return (Form 1135). On that form they must also report any income/earnings that result from those assets. It actually does not take alot to exceed the $100,000 threshold if someone were to have expensive real estate abroad.

  17. @Tiger: Thanks for that clarification.
    The important point is no Canadians have to report on their total assets within Canada. Canadians and our banks are only required to report income from those assets to CRA.
    An IGA where banks report to Canadian government to report to a foreign government would single out one group of people based on place of birth (or even worse based on place of birth of one parent!).

  18. @CanuckDoc: Thanks. Outraged and I are trying to stay on top of the Spam. but it keeps sneaking in–especially in the wee hours of the morning.

  19. @all
    I’ve been away for a couple of weeks backpacking in the Rockies — no wireless, no newspapers, no email, no cell phones — heaven.
    Many of you are asking about credit unions. I have written a 2000-wd magazine piece on how credit unions in BC (and nationally) are dealing with FATCA. I can’t share details with you now, but the piece will be published in BC Business magazine on Oct. 1. The magazine is hoping this will spark significant reader comment, and everyone at IBS is welcome to go online and submit a letter to the editor. Here’s what the BCB Editor said in a post
    I got this morning:
    “You can just let them know to look for your story in our October issue, which will be out first week of October. It should be online by Monday, Oct. 8. If they want to send a letter to the editor, they can address it to:
    and put “letter to the editor” in the subject line.
    Thanks — Here’s hoping for a lively discussion!”
    So — go for it Brockers. And don’t hesitate to take a shot at the piece if it doesn’t meet your expectations. After 40 years of doing this, I’ve got a very thick hide. My one almost-daily panic is that magazine deadlines are such that the story must be submitted at least two months before publication — and a lot can change on a file like this in a couple of months. I’m praying the whole thing isn’t irrelevant by the time it sees the light of day.
    BTW — on our backpacking trip, met a couple from Virginia. They were astounded when we filled them in on FATCA, FBARS, citizenship-based taxation etc. — they knew NOTHING about this issue and were horrified that their governmet is inflicting this kind of pain on expats.

    1. @Arrow
      Really look forward to the piece and the discussion that follows. I doubt it will be irrelevant by early October – Flaherty and others in Ottawa are completely silent on the whole thing.

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