Where do we go from here? Is it time for an organization?

Since their origins, both the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox have been invaluable sources of information and a productive forum for intelligent discussion. These discussions have matured to a point where we have a much greater understanding of the overreach of the United States government into the lives of those who choose to permanently live outside of the United States or are ‘Accidental Americans’. This summer, we have seen contributors to Brock and Sandbox quoted in various publications and even have articles published in The Hill.
However, in Canada, the issues discussed here, primarily Citizen Based Taxation and FATCA, are virtually invisible to our elected representatives, the media and the general public (with the exception of the Green Party of Canada).
Living in an advanced Western democracy, with a modern and model Constitution, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can and should expect our government to protect us in many ways. We expect police and fire services, safety regulations, affordable and accessible health care,protection of our land, our borders, our resources, and our economy. And when some of those protections fail or are inadequate, we expect public debate and action by our government.
Can anyone honestly say that the Canadian government has protected U.S. persons in Canada from CBT?
We do know that Canada has limited influence over U.S. tax policies. However, except for RRSPs, why haven’t TFSAs, RESPs and RDSPs been included in any of our treaties or other agreements with the U.S.? Instead, they are treated as taxable foreign trusts, with compliance difficulties and penalties.
Why are our mutual funds and ETSs classified as Passive Foreign Investment Corporations, thereby making them subject to discriminatory taxation, complicated forms and penalties for honest mistakes?
As far as FATCA is concerned, the jury is still out. We simply don’t know the shape of a Canada-U.S. FATCA IGA and how it will compromise our Charter rights and freedoms and our privacy rights.
In spite of all the wonderful discussions we have been having, I feel we are hampered by the lack of a legally registered organization with a spokesperson the media can turn to. Instead, on those rare occasions when FATCA or other issues affecting U.S.  persons in Canada is mentioned, reporters usually turn to professionals with a vested interest in promoting compliance and fear.
This proposed organization would be one of Canadians defending Canadian interests, values and laws from the intrusion of U.S. extra-territorial taxation.
The organization could begin with just a few core members to get things started and look after the not very difficult or costly task of provincial registration. Then it would recruit members. Both the Maple Sandbox and Isaac Brock Society can be used to promote membership. There would be a small membership fee to defray expenses.
It is my opinion that the organization would be more effective if the core group was located in Ottawa or Toronto. There appears to be a more concentrated population of duals and former Americans in those cities. The location would also be closer to political and media centres, and thus possibly have more legitimacy in the eyes of the media and the powers that be.
The organization itself might not launch any lawsuits over FATCA, but would assist anyone or any other group, such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, with both financial and research assistance.
So, the question is, where do we go from here? Is just discussing the problems of CBT and FATCA enough or do we need boots on the ground, so to speak?  Please share your ideas.

11 thoughts on “Where do we go from here? Is it time for an organization?

  1. I don’t have a dog in this fight any more (I have a CLN instead) but probably the simplest option is to just liven up American Citizens Abroad in Canada. ACA has been on these issues intelligently for years, but they’re based in Europe – actually, it’s unfortunate that an organization that opposes measures that are meant to curb international tax evasion (whatever their destructive side effects) is based in Geneva.
    There are lots of Americans-abroad organizations – no point reinventing the wheel with another one.

  2. I like the idea. I am in Ontario, but not in Ottawa or Toronto and travelling there is a challenge for me for medical reasons.
    I think ACA does excellent work, but I personally would not become a member or align with them officially on this issue. That is because my position is I relinquished U.S. citizenship “permanently and irrevocably” 40 years ago, just as US Consulate said I was when I became a Canadian citizen.
    Officially being associated with ACA would give a very different message.
    Plus, I think a Canadian organization would be better focused on how this affects Canadian citizens and residents. It would also focus on Canadian laws and not on American ones as ACA does.
    Finally, I think a Canadian organization would have more clout (as small as that may be) with the media and with the Canadian government than an American one would.

  3. I think if the main goal is to end US citizenship-based-taxation or any such US policy, a person would join American Citizens Abroad (I personally wouldn’t as I’m not a US citizen and I don’t participate in US political activity).
    But if the main goal is to influence Canadian policy and get the Canadian government to protect Canadians (“US persons” and the other 97% of Canadians) from US policies, I would join a Canadian organisation.
    There’s common interests between ACA and the people of Canada in fighting FATCA and related issues. But I don’t see lobbying the Canadian government as being within ACA’s mandate.
    I see ACA as an American organisation, an ally in the battle. But I don’t see ACA as a group to lead Canadians working to influence Canadian policy and ensure Canadian law is enforced on behalf of Canadians.

  4. I think that many who no longer have a dog in the fight anymore still wish to stay in the fight for others. That being said, I am still hesitant to fully “come out” if it might identify my son and affect his Canadian banking rights. I’m not that brave — or stupid — until I know that my son will not bear the brunt of my being born in the US.
    I don’t think the Canadian media has paid much attention to the good work of American Citizens Abroad, so I think for us in Canada, a strong Canadian group (extension of what we have) would be best and likely, as suggested, best located around Toronto / Ottawa. I will be with an organization that will effectively be able to fight the waiving of our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, allowing discrimination by nationality and our personal financial information and that of our spouses/partners turned over to the US IRS.
    With my son’s and other like him situation, I am not for the part of ACA that upholds the “gifting” of automatic US citizenship to children born abroad. I believe it should, justly, be a right to claim US citizenship by all the US definitions of parent(s), grandparent(s) who are, or were former, US citizens.
    PS: Check the Isaac Brock site for more good discussion on this: http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2013/08/28/where-do-we-go-from-here-is-it-time-for-an-organization/

  5. I am not a US citizen, abroad or otherwise, so I’m not interested in the ACA, except as a valued ally in the fight against US extra-territorial overreach.
    I’m also far from the political centre of Canada, and, until all of this crap was dumped on my head, I wasn’t much interested in politics, either. However, I have to say that this has politicized me to an extent I never thought possible.
    I would join and pay dues to a Canadian organization, but to be completely honest, I don’t have a lot of time to spare. However, I’d be there for support & dues, and if a legal class action suit gets filed, I will definitely be available for that.

  6. As someone who is deeply affected by FATCA and CBT, and who reads IBS Maple Sandbox, and news relating to FATCA everyday, I would encourage the IBS and MS to form an entity in Canada and to become active as an organized group. Regrettably, I am not a Canadian/US dual citizen but rather a dual of another country. Having watched this FATCA drama unfold now since 2010, it is clear that Canada is a key country, and dual Canadian/US Persons resident in Canada have a unique opportunity to force these issues to be brought out and litigated in the Canadian courts and the debated in the legislature. An organization modeled perhaps on ACA (but not ACA) focussed on FATCA, with a lobbying arm, a media arm, and a litigation support arm (working with for example, the Canadian Civil Liberties Union and legal experts) may make the most sense.
    In terms of funding, I would certainly join as a non Canadian member, but the larger picture needs to attract supporters who will be named plaintiffs in class action suits in Canada and provide donations to support litigation and lobbying efforts. Frankly, with ‘secret’ negotiations going on for an IGA for some time, we can’t wait any longer.
    To be honest, I have only been to Canada a few times in my life for brief trips, and I have lived outside the US for many years now, but I have developed a huge amount of respect for Canada and Canadians as a result of my experience with IBS and MS and the quality of its members. If I could magically turn that toxic blue passport into a Canadian passport, I would be pleased and honored to call myself a Canadian. Canada is key in this fight, the UK rolled over like a puppy to the US on FATCA, Canada has the legal structure and basis to resist this horrible law that is creating horror in US Persons lives worldwide.

    1. Unfortunately, I think it is very difficult to reach a consensus.. I don’t see one forming on either site. There’s too much fear out there. If it wasn’t for that fear, something would have come together a long time ago.
      What I think needs to happen is for a small group to act on their own to get things going. Then they can reach out to others who might be willing to join an organization as long as the member list is kept confidential
      But no one appears willing to step out of the shadows. I still hope that at least a few people with CLNs, and no need to worry about other family members, will come forward.Or it could be individuals and family members who are fully compliant with U.S.taxes but find their situation quite distasteful and unfair. Or it could be others who are braver than the most of us.
      At least the discussions have been interesting and thoughtful so far.
      It may take an unfavorable Canada-U.S. IGA to really get things going.
      We’ll keep on truckin’

  7. I agree. We need an org that is more “US Person” centered. One that would advocate for ALL those impacted by citizenship-based taxation (US citizens and their families, accidental Americans and immigrants).
    Count me in.

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