“Uncle Sam is Shaking Me Down” – Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail

As we expected, more articles ( here and here ) are appearing as FATCA nears, a mere week from today. By passing the IGA in time for FATCA’s debut, the Canadian government not only managed to cow-tow just in time, it managed to screw it’s duals/Accidentals a little tighter as the span to comply shortened. The IRS did its part beautifully, announcing relaxed opportunities to comply June 18, just two weeks before the deadline. The condor compliance industry must be licking its chops as feeding time begins and now will last and last and last.

Margaret Wente lived in the US until she was 14 so guess what? Tainted with US citizenship and by God, now it’s time to pay!

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Welcome to the nightmare of U.S. citizens abroad. There are hundreds of thousands of us in Canada, and millions more worldwide. Most of us are law-abiding people. But the U.S. government is treating us like tax cheats. It also says that any “U.S. person” (meaning anyone born in the United States, or even anyone with American parents) must keep filing U.S. tax returns, forever – or else.

This news has come as a nasty shock. Take the case of Carol Tapanila, a former American who lives in Calgary. Her developmentally disabled son, now an adult, is also deemed to be American, even though he was born in Canada. As she put it in an interview with the CBC, “he’s entrapped.” Trying to figure out how to comply with U.S. tax laws has already cost her tens of thousands of dollars, and she’s had to pay taxes on her son’s disability savings plan, which the U.S. government has called an “offshore trust.”

When I first heard about this stuff a couple of years ago, I thought it was a paranoid fantasy. But it was for real. When I wrote about my own dilemma about whether to comply, I was inundated with e-mails from terrified little old ladies who were afraid they’d be arrested at the border on their way to Florida. They won’t be. But the truth is bad enough. Even though the IRS has now promised not to treat them like criminals, simply complying with the law can cost thousands of dollars. On top of that, some people have been on the hook for taxes on assets that are tax-free in Canada. Plus, all the assets you hold jointly with your spouse have to be reported as if you owned them all.

The only way out is to formally renounce your U.S. citizenship – a serious and expensive business. “People really need to extricate themselves,” John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer who’s an expert on citizenship and taxation, told me in an interview.

The entire article is here.

8 thoughts on ““Uncle Sam is Shaking Me Down” – Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail

  1. One would think that the “lost email fiasco” the the IRS is being quizzed on now cannot hurt our situation. To say the emails have been “lost”, is, of course, insulting to our intelligence. With RAID backup systems, it would be pretty much impossible to lose that stuff accidentally, to say nothing of the fact that there is always another computer at the other end of the email that would have it on his/her computer (as would the NSA). The political motives behind the IRS machinations are obvious to anybody. Obviously they are running for cover.

    They claim they cannot live up to the same standard of record keeping that they demand from their filers. If they tried to reach abroad now, the host country press would laugh them out of the country.

    I would be embarrassed to call myself an IRS agent. I wouldn’t want to have them on my resume as part of my employment history if I were looking for a job.

  2. Looks like M. Wente got bad advice like so many others. She was 29 when she became Canadian so could easily have asserted that she relinquished. Instead she appears to have become compliant.

    Maybe now she will be upset enough to give a much needed boost to our efforts.

  3. @Dar:  Margaret Wente has known about this and how she is affected for three years.

    She wrote an article Help!  IRS is After Me in 2011 (I can’t locate it now). In that article, she did not believe she was a US citizen.

    She has been silent since then, but based on this latest column, it looks like she became compliant with the IRS.

    I hope John Richardson encouraged her to donate to ADCS and write about our efforts.

    I’m glad she wrote about it again. However, we could have really used her public voice when we were trying to prevent FATCA from being passed. Several people contacted her.

    I personally sent her all the news releases we sent out. She did not pick up on one of them.

  4. So the word is getting out, a bit too late. But there is always the Charter Challenge. I have my CLN but I am still in this fight for our privacy and rights. Canada should not have to have 2nd class citizens which is what FATCA has made of a million Canadians.

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