Monthly Archives: March 2015

Reminder: “Have You Received a #FATCA Letter?” Hamilton ON March 26


HAMILTON Thursday, March 26, 2015

6:30 – 8:30 pm – $20.00

McMaster Innovation Park Room 1A, 175 Longwood Road S.,
Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1 MAP

Why am I getting letters from my bank all of a sudden?

What individuals are U.S. taxpayers? Who is a U.S. citizen?

I have never heard of these requirements! What determines the income that must be reported to the IRS? What “Information Returns” are required to be reported to the IRS?

I am only a snowbird! Why does this affect me?

What are the ways I can become compliant?

What costs are involved in renouncing U.S. citizenship?

WHO: John Richardson, B.A., L.L.B., J.D., is a Toronto lawyer and a member of the Ontario Bar.

Hope to see you, your families and friends! Spread the word!

Information presented is NOT intended or offered as legal or accounting advice specific to your situation.

Next Information Session:
LONDON Thursday, April 23, 2015
6:00 – 8:00 pm – $20.00
London ON N6C 3P6 MAP

(location is the **Landon (not a typo) Branch of the London Public Library)

Update from CCLA on FATCA Lawsuit

I have again been in contact with Abby Deshman at Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Abby has advised they are currently researching whether they will be involved in our FATCA lawsuit.

Here is the content of an e-mail I just received from Abby. I am posting it here with her consent.

Dear Lynne,

Thank you very much for getting in touch with us regarding the ongoing litigation over FATCA and the implications of the recent legislation and inter-governmental agreement.

You have asked for more information about CCLA’s process for deciding whether or not to intervene in a particular case, as well as an update on whether we intend to intervene in the Hillis v. Canada case. The CCLA prioritizes its research and intervention decisions to match litigation deadlines. In every case that is brought to our attention, we conduct background legal and policy research to help assess whether we want to intervene, and if so what position the organization will take. All intervention decisions are approved by our General Counsel, and in some cases our Board of Directors as well. We generally focus cases that raise public interest and systemic issues, and frequently direct our resources towards the cases that have will set binding legal precedent (for example, appellate cases).

While CCLA is not able to get involved in every case that is brought to our attention, this is an issue we have spoken out on before, and that we are actively looking at for a possible intervention when the time comes. We are currently in the legal and policy research phase, and hope to complete that work in the near future. We will definitely let you know as soon as we can when we decide whether we are intervening in the case.

I hope this information helps, please feel free to get in touch with Laura Berger if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Best regards,


Goodbye Uncle Sam. FATCA Causing Renunciations

Goodbye Uncle Sam in the Houston Law Review is about how FATCA is causing Americans to renounce citizenship in record numbers.

I have not yet read it in detail, but it appears to be a very comprehensive document.

I especially like this statement on page 3:

in order to slow down the rate of Americans renouncing their citizenship as well as to make life better for U.S. persons living abroad, FATCA needs to be repealed or, at a minimum, drastically amended.

Plus, the author also references our lawsuit on page 29, reporting that:

A group of Canadian citizens has sued the Canadian government challenging its FATCA agreement with the United States. The plaintiffs are angered that the deal requires Canadian financial institutions to give the IRS private information regarding the bank accounts of Americans and their family members living in Canada regardless of wether those family members are American or Canadian nationals…

Thanks to Badger for this great find and for pointing out that articles written by Victoria Ferauge and Lynne Swanson are referenced in the article.

A Young #Americanabroad Has a Fantastic Reply to the Young Turks

I am sure a lot of Sandboxers will remember how horrifying it was to listen to this video referred to in this post. I remember thinking it couldn’t possibly be real and assumed at first, that it was a spoof. It was really that bad.

The above tweet links to a video made by a young man studying in Germany who apparently has heard the Turks and this is his response. He obviously has a much better grip on the facts. Interesting to see a young person’s reaction to this dilemma. Worth a listen.

John Richardson, Co-Chair and Legal Counsel of ADCS-ADSC, introduces Professor Daniel Shaviro by saying “It is encouraging to see that “citizenship taxation” is being considered in law school classes.”

I am happy this morning to cross-post today’s ADCS-ADSC blog entry…

“Repealing “Citizenship Taxation”: The difficult we do today, the impossible takes a little longer”.


which starts out with:

The Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty is prosecuting a lawsuit against the Government of Canada. The lawsuit is for the purpose of “striking down Canada’s FATCA IGA”. The Canada FATCA IGA lawsuit is providing citizenship leadership and FATCA education for the world.

The primary purpose of FATCA is to enforce U.S. “citizenship taxation”. In reality, U.S. “citizenship taxation” is taxation based on the immutable characteristic of “place of birth”.

Although “citizenship taxation” may have always been U.S. law it has NOT always been U.S. practice. In fact, the U.S. made no attempt to enforce “citizenship taxation” until sometime after the 2008 financial crisis. The reasons for the enforcement are not entirely clear, but the enforcement of “citizenship taxation” has been a “life altering” event for Americans abroad. For Americans abroad, “citizenship taxation” is NOT a theoretical concept.  It is a reality that impacts on virtually every aspect of their lives. It directly affects their career opportunities, their retirement planning and (for those Americans with an “alien spouse”) their marriages. This has led to cries of anguish and pleas for change. It has led to a huge surge in the “relinquishments” of U.S. citizenship. On March 2, 2015 I participated in a session for U.S. citizens in London. A comment about the about the session and the recent enforcement of U.S. citizenship taxation included…

I would add that it was evident that some people at the meeting have suffered significant mental anguish, either now or in the past. These are good people, who had tried as US citizens to do the right thing, but who have been stymied by rules and complexities of the IRS code which, to paraphrase John, “no rational person would ever have suspected or guessed would remotely be true”.

I find the damage to mind and body to be one of the most heart-rending things about this whole mess. Someone wrote to me recently, “So I’m not alone in my panic!! Yeah, there’s been plenty of sleepless nights. Just can’t get it out of my head.” Many reading have had that experience.

I am waiting for the day that someone in government finally notices and apologies, perhaps admitting, “We tortured some folks.”

In the short term, the implementation of FATCA will exacerbate the “pain”. On the other hand, the “pain” may be the necessary impetus for change. In order for there to be “change”, there must be some discussion and analysis of the issue. In order for there to be analysis, there must be awareness of the problems of “citizenship taxation”. That’s the reality of what has been unleashed by FBAR, FATCA, PFIC, CFC and the whole “Alphabet Soup” list of provisions which have changed the lives of Americans abroad.

The good news is that awareness of “citizenship taxation” is growing. The awareness is “growing” largely because of the efforts of Americans abroad (including those who identify as Americans abroad and  “accidentals” who simply do NOT regard themselves as Americans). The following groups (working independently) have been responsible for this awareness:

John Richardson also introduces a new voice in commentary by Professor Daniel Shaviro:

9. It is encouraging to see that “citizenship taxation” is being considered in law school classes. Two recent examples include:

A. The tax policy and law workshops at the Peter A. Allard School of Law – University of  British Columbia. On Friday February 27, 2015, Professor Ruth Mason discussed her recent paper on “citizenship taxation”.

B. The Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium and Seminar run by Professors Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard of NYU law school. On Tuesday March 3, 2015 Professor Ruth Mason was in attendance to discuss “citizenship taxation”.

Professor Daniel Shaviro commentary on the Ruth Mason presentation – March 4, 2015

Professor Shaviro’s perceptions of “citizenship taxation” (based largely on the Mason presentation) appear as a separate blog post here.

His post identifies (and categorizes) many of the “theoretical concerns” of “citizenship taxation”. He begins by saying:

Yesterday at the colloquium, Ruth Mason discussed her paper, Citizenship Taxation.  I enjoyed reading it enough to conclude that I may want to write about this topic as well.  (I generally agree with the paper, but it’s a rich topic and perhaps a fruitful area for me to deploy some of my interests and approaches.)

His post contains 10 interesting points. I would like to identify what I consider to be the most interesting and important two…

The John Richardson, ADCS-ADSC Co-Chair and Legal Counsel, ADCS-ADCS entry ends by saying:

U.S. “citizenship taxation” is a problem for:

1. The individuals affected by it.

2. The countries where U.S. citizens reside which are required to accept the capital outflows inflicted by “citizenship taxation”.

In 2009 few would have imagined that the problems of “citizenship taxation” would be given the attention that they are today.

As they say in the Marines:

“The difficult we do today. The impossible takes a bit longer.”

Keep up the great work! Keep the faith!

John Richardson