Dear Ms. Swanson,
Thank you for your message regarding the US Foreign Account Tax Compliancy Act (FATCA) and what it means for Canadians. I share your concerns on this urgent matter, and I will continue to work to ensure that Canadians do not suffer financial penalties as a result of this legislation.
As you are likely aware, on February 5 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that an inter-governmental agreement with US officials to implement FATCA had been reached. Although Minister Flaherty claimed to have negotiated hard-won concessions from the US, the reality is that this agreement remains largely unchanged from when it was first announced.
Under FATCA, Canadian banks will soon be required to search their account records for the personal information of US citizens, their children, and all those who through some accident of family or work history acquired some characteristic of interest to the IRS, and report the findings to the Canada Revenue Agency, who will then provide the information to US officials.
This legislation is slated to come into effect globally on July 1, 2014, and thus it is imperative that Canadians with US citizenship or legal status take steps to educate themselves about what these changes mean for them.
More detailed information about the agreement is available in a recent column I wrote for a BC newspaper:
It is also important to bear in mind that although it may seem that FATCA is a done deal, it is possible that the agreement would not survive a constitutional challenge.
Peter Hogg, former Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and one of Canada’s foremost constitutional experts, has rightly pointed out that in addition to being a significant privacy concern, FATCA would likely be a violation of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which forbids discrimination based on “national or ethnic origin.”
I will do everything I can to ensure that Canadians remain up to date on any and all future developments in terms of legal challenges to FATCA. In the meantime, I urge you to write to your Member of Parliament, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, talk to your friends and neighbours, and continue to stay informed about this alarming change to our country’s financial landscape.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me, and for your engagement with this critically important issue.
Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada
The link she gave to her article does not take you directly to it, so here is What’s Up With FATCA? An Issue That Should concern more than those Canadians with ties to the U.S.