Food for Thought

The paper by Andrew Bonham, cited elsewhere, gives much food for thought. Among the many things that caught my attention was his comment on page 344 regarding the $ 50,000 cap on FATCA penalties.

As he stated, ‘This amount, it is asserted, is just low enough to potentially deter individual challenges, owing to the legal costs that would be incurred in mounting a judicial review application’

He does later state that class actions may be possible.

This made me think of cases where people have gone to Court, putting themselves through a lot of trouble and possibly a great deal of expense over relatively minor amounts of money.

One case that comes to mind is Mullin v. the Queen 99 DTC 748 (T.C.C.) the results of which have had a great benefit for many rural Canadians. Reasonable transportation expenses for medical travel to obtain services not available locally have long been allowed as legitimate medical expenses. In the Mullin case http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/en/1999/1999tcc972815/1999tcc972815.html the issue was what reasonable expenses were if one had to travel using their own vehicle. The actual tax at issue was likely less than $ 300.

The result of this decision effectively increased the amount that could be claimed to the mileage rate allowed to Federal government employees (like tax auditors for example). This mileage rate includes not only gas and oil, but the full cost of car ownership including repairs and maintenance, insurance, loan interest and depreciation.

The overall effect is that much larger medical claims could be made than in the past if one’s health problems forced them to travel larger distances to see specialists or obtain the recommended treatment.

So, I think it is possible that someone, somewhere, on principles alone, might challenge a FATCA penalty even if it costs them more than the penalty. However, I would hope that others with an interest in the case would assist whomever it is with the costs of the case.

51 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. Whoa, that is not cool. Another situation where some basic cross-cultural training would be useful. Culture is a negative feedback system – sometimes the only way you know you’ve done something culturally wrong is because you get penalized for it or someone yells at you. In France generally you don’t tip because it’s included in the bill. You can do it if you want to (and I always do) but it’s not required. When my spouse came to the US he had to learn about tipping and was very happy to do so once he understood the system. And, yes, those waiters and waitresses in the US get paid squat. Waiters in France are not paid well but they do get health insurance and 5 weeks of paid vacation.

    That story reminded me of a trip to a US store I made with my French sister-in-law. In France the sales tax is included in the price on the sticker and is not calculated at the cash register. So when she paid for her purchases it was more than she expected and she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Are they charging me more because I’m French?”

  2. @OMG: I understand in some US states, the minimum wage for servers is less than for other workers because it is expected they will get tips. Not sure if that is the case in Canada or not.

    It seems Canadians are not as polite or popular in the US as we like to think. If some folks in the state of Washington have their way, we could be Banned in Bellingham.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/fed-up-with-canadian-shoppers-us-customers-want-their-own-shopping-hours/article4478423/

  3. @Blaze, I’m not one to defend people who don’t tip but discriminating against someone just because they sound French is an act of desperation on the part of the restaurant and it’s employees.

    They pay their servers $4.10 per hour??!! I heard a rumor slavery had been abolished in the US, guess it was just a rumor.

    If they’re so financially desperate, how good can the quality of their food be? I would think any restaurant that engages in discriminatory practices wherever they can get away with it probably also does other bad stuff. When it comes to food, I don’t even want to think about what bad stuff they’d do.

  4. Here’s more Food for Thought. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1247988—cheap-quebec-customers-hit-by-special-tax-in-burlington-vt-restaurants

    Some Vermont restaurants have added a special “Queeb tax” to bills for customers with a Quebec accent. One man, originally from France, but living in US had an 18% charge added to his bill after he spoke French at his table.

    I agree people should tip. But, taxing based on accent or language? These restaurants learned well from IRS.

    • I have often remarked that the UK seems to copy a lot of bad ideas that come from the US. I am amazed that the consumer credit in the UK appears to me (from advertising that I see on BBC) to be set up in much the way as the US and encourages people to overspend. I seem to remember that even Capital One (US bank specializing in issuing plastic money) had or even still has UK operations.

    • Couldn’t agree more. “Predatory lending” seems to be alive and well in the UK. I was amazed. Can’t do that in France. In fact since I’ve lived here (nearly 20 years) I’ve never had a US-style credit card. I don’t think they even exist. I’m also in the process of buying a house here in Versailles. Here’s some pictures (my own show and tell):
      http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.fr/2012/08/more-about-house.html
      It’s so cute. Really small but nice. In the post I wrote a bit about French inheritance laws and in a previous post here:
      http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.fr/2012/08/buying-house-in-france.html
      I talk about prices in the US versus France and how French mortgages work. Basically your monthly payments may not exceed 33% of your monthly income. Period. I’m sure some folks will consider this to be horribly paternalistic but it does mean that folks have a much harder time getting into trouble. I personally have no problem with it.

    • @Victoria, love your house (to be)! It’s the kind of place I love to live in. I don’t live in anything like that now, being in a relatively young mountain community, but I would if I could. I went to France as a teenager, a school project, where despite being told I had a ‘cheap Canadian accent’, I was treated wonderfully by the Parisians, who were very supportive of my poor french and attempts to improve it. It was my first trip anywhere (first plane ride, first time out of the province,first taste of red wine, etc) and made a lasting impression on me and I still find myself kindly inclined toward the French tourists, despite the decades that have gone by. I hope to one day visit there again as an adult as I don’t think I truly appreciated the history and beauty when I was 16!

    • … and a must for any parent to educate their child or children in an US citizenship affected family — information they can use to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.

      One of Renounce’s best posts in my opinion!

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