Marcio de Vasconcellos Pinheiro was a long-time Brocker, known primarily as “markpinetree” and also as “ThatIsMe” and “Still American.” He died on Friday night after a long struggle with cardiac disease. He was 82 years old.
He was a very kind and gentle man who suffered greatly from a feeling of betrayal from a country he chose to embrace and become a citizen of. He was a medical doctor by profession having come to the US from Brazil in 1958 for his internship and residency in psychiatry. He chose to become a dual citizen in 1967. He was very proud of his two daughters, son and granddaughter living in the US. He worried about his health and what would happen to his wife should he continue to become worse. He also was afraid to even consider renouncing, in spite of the ill effects this situation had on him, because he feared it could affect the situation of his family in the US.
Clearly at the mercy of tax professionals, (or IOW, clearly mislead into entering OVDI), he mentioned $300 per hour lawyer fees and he ended up paying 27.5% of his life savings. Unbelievably, he had a letter from the IRS indicating that his best course of action would be to renounce his US citizenship.
This was what he emailed to me to include as his personal submission to the SFC:
“I became a dual citizen in 1967. I loved the USA. Lives and worked there for thirty years. I am grateful for the way they received end treated me. I came back to my country of origin and continue to pay my income tax to the IRS. Since a few years ago I don´t believe what I am going through, I feel that I am treated very unfairly by the USA for the first time in my life. I am in failing health and I am spending sleepless nights afraid of losing my small life savings. I have to comply now with so many forms and information that it is always difficult to know if I am doing it right. I can not prove this but I suspect that my health is deteriorating because of this. I never expected one day to me in this predictament, of the USA being unfair to me.
Please so no publish my name.”
He seemed to enjoy and respect Robert Woods’ columns on Forbes and put many comments over the years. Here are a few of them, all of which demonstrate how proud he was to be American, how he valued what the US stood for and yet, how horrid the effects of being so were on his last years of life. I have a lot of his comments as a result of including them in the Senate Finance Committee submission since his were expressed so simply and with such heartache.
Mr. Wood, again thank you. I lived and worked in the USA for thirty years. In 1967 I was proud to become an US citizen. I am now back in my original country, with a failing health afraid to lose my small life savings in sleepless nights for the past many years. I never thought that this would be happening to me in my very old age. I cannot believe that this is happening in a Country supposed to be fair where there is no taxation without representation. Too late!
Mr. Wood. I don´t miss one of your articles. For the simple reason that they make sense. This is what the USA Government should be doing insofar as Americans, Dual Citizens and Green Carders living abroad. How come you can see things so clearly and the USA insists in going after innocent American citizens living and working abroad. Do they think that these Americans, who have no representation or even a voice, com be trapped and milked to help pay for the American debt? Let me confess that I have been a democrat all my life and up to recently I have supported in many ways President Obama. But against my best wishes I will no longer do it because I can´t believe what is being done to us. Is this the America that I was so proud of becoming a citizen?
Mr. Wood. Again, congratulations and thank you. What you describe is the truth. The great majority of us Americans living and working abroad are not renouncing in order to avoid paying taxes. I am beginning to explore this possibility because I cannot spend six months filing my Income Tax return to two countries, besides being double taxed. Not to speak of the enormous fear of doing something wrong and losing my life savings. Do I like this? No! But I feel I have no choice.
Once again Mr. Wood. I am beginning to give up. In my thirty years in America I used to hear: “you can´t fight city hall”. Never quite understood it. Now I do. In my situation I believe the best I can do is to shut up and every year go from January to September or October collecting data, filling forms and send them to a CPA in NYC to do my IRS Return, FBARS and all. In a way I am glad that I will not have much long to go in this world. And I regret having one day, many, many years ago going to an US Court and become an US Citizen. Thank you for all your help.
Thank you very much. I trust you and above all your expertise and judgement. After living and working 30 years in the USA I came back to my country of origin about 10 years ago. I have nobody here who is a US CPA and understands about IRS Returns from Americans Abroad. I have one telephone number to call in Philadelphia (paid), I do not have representation (the congressmen from the last State I lived on do not accept e-mails from outside the USA. I have spent an enormous amount of time and money trying to do the right thing. I only learned about FBARS in 2009 when visiting my “children” in the USA. This was too late, I was already considered a criminal for not filing it before and the penalties were stiff and included 27.5% of my small life savings. There are so many things. For instance Americans in France do not pay US Income Tax on their French pensions. I do. If filling as a Self Employed I have to pay Self Employment Tax to two countries, 16% to each, having no return. I live in fear, the advices I get do not always coincide. I am slepless and in bad health. I don´t want to become a “victim”. I will listen attentivelly to your thoughts. Many thanks and regards.