Monthly Archives: August 2015

Disappointing Response from Privacy Commissioner

In my letter to the Privacy Commissioner on FATCA, I outlined issues and asked:

I am writing to ask what is your position on FATCA IGA and the enabling act. Do privacy laws prevail over this or does the enabling act supercede over PIPEDA and the Privacy Act? Is there any basis for a complaint to be made?

I also said:

I hope you will be as disturbed at the signing away the privacy rights of one million Canadians to a foreign government as I am. I hope you will be willing to work with me and others to provide redress.

The Privacy Commissioner did not respond himself. But the response from the Information Centre was very disappointing.

“In the interest of all parties, our office strongly encourages individuals to try to resolve concerns directly wtih organizations before filing a complaint with us…We would note that PIPEDA permits organizations to disclose individuals’ personal information required by law.”

In other words, this non-response says:

“Don’t bug us.”

UPDATE August 23: My reply to Privacy commissioner:

YOU are the Privacy Officer at the organization I am concerned about—the Government of Canada. Aren’t you?…

I am stunned the Privacy Commissioner of Canada who is “the person in charge of privacy” for the Government of Canada is not as alarmed as I am at the signing over the privacy of one million Canadians, their spouses and business partners to a foreign government.

I hope you will stand up for privacy rights of all Canadians as “the person in charge of privacy” for Canada.

USA World’s Largest Tax Haven Growing

The World’s Largest Tax Haven Is About to Get Bigger.

As the US is FATCAing the rest of the world, they themselves are growing as the world’s largest tax haven.

Mark Nestmann writes:

Here’s an “inconvenient truth” for President Obama and those in Congress who want to shut down what they call “offshore tax havens.” It’s this: The US is by far the world’s largest tax haven…

no one is surprised when you tell them that the world’s single largest tax haven is an island. But they are often shocked when you tell them the name of the island is Manhattan.

But Manhattan offers only the same tax advantages the entire US offers foreign investors. Now Congress wants to sweeten the deal.

It seems Boris Johnson should have invested in real estate in the US instead of in his home in Great Britain where he lives.

I don’t know why they can still boggle my mind. I should be used to it by now.

With such an amazing group, it’s simply NOT possible to NOT succeed! Thanks from @ADCSovereignty

cross posted from ADCSovereignty WordPress Blog

 

This afternoon I received news that the Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty had  met its $500,000 funding goal. I had two simultaneous/thoughts or reactions.

My first thought was that I was always completely confident that we would achieve our funding goals. You would never allow us to fail. (Ask Stephen. I have never for a moment doubted the funding!)

My second thought was a feeling of amazement. Did we really do this? It’s simply amazing!

Q. How could I both be so confident of our success and amazed by that very success?

A. These seemingly irreconcilable thoughts are easily reconciled because:

It’s obvious that we would achieve our funding goals because we were working with  such an amazing group of people!

It’s also important to recognize the important role played by both the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox for allowing us to publicize our FATCA lawsuit on their respective blogs. I offer a special thanks to Peter Dunn of the Isaac Brock Society and Lynne Swanson of the Maple Sandbox blogs. Without their generosity and support it would have much much harder to have reached this milestone.

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Another Brock Warrior Down – In Memory of Marcio V Pinheiro


 
Marcio-head-only-212x300Marcio 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.
 

ThatIsMe
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!

 

ThatIsMe
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?

 

ThatIsMe
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.

 

Thatisme

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.

 

StillAmerican
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.

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Life in the Penalty Box

John Richardson has written Life in the Penalty Box for Tax Connections.

John highlights the rather cunning comments made by then U.S. Ambassador to Canada Jacobsen. (who is now Vice-Chairman of Canadian bank BMO in Chicago.)

John also highlights part of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Penalty Box

If you read the “Internal Revenue Code” you will see that:

If the word “foreign” appears, the word “penalty” is sure to follow.

To put it simple, those U.S. citizens (and this includes Green Card holders too) who live outside the United States live life in the “penalty box”.

I look forward to sharing these issues and concerns with you at the “Internet Tax Summit” on September 21 2015.

This has been Part 1 – “Life In The Penalty Box”. I will continue this series of posts in the days leading up to the “Internet Tax Summit“.

I will update further posts here as they appear.