UPDATE February 14, 2016
This post is now continued here .
UPDATE February 9, 2016
There has been some confusion about authorship of the letter/comment below. J did not say he (himself) wrote it and J’s father presented it as being from him. The comment on the site is anonymous. Clearly J sent it to his father and identified with it. For that reason, I am leaving it up as there is no way I can determine for certain, that he did not write it.
UPDATE February 8, 2016
I have not decided what is the best way to pass on more information about J’s situation and am afraid adding it to the bottom of this post means you will be less likely to see it. So for now, I will simply add it to the top and bring it to your attention by the “Update” heading. I am not adding anything without talking to J’s Dad first.
I want to pass on now, some things about J himself, what he did and so on, so you can see what kind of person he was. I know a few facts, such as he was born in February, 1969 in California, he went to university at Cal Poly and went to Sweden to do his Ph.D (roughly, around 1990 – 1991). He passed away on June 10, 2015.
J worked at the Karolinska Institutet, at the Centre for Genomics and Bioinformatics in Stockholm, Sweden. Founded in 1810, it is one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world. J’s fields were Genetics & Genealogy, Neuroscience, Psychiatry & Psychology and some of his later articles refer to Alzheimer’s. He published at least 64 major articles, collaborated with 212 co-authors from 1994-2010, and was cited by 3857 authors. I am not an academic but for someone to publish 64 pieces by the time he was 41 (already having two children) suggests to me this was a highly motivated person who was more than competent and clearly engaged and focused.
Here is a letter that J’s Dad provided which J had sent him.
I have a dream, an American dream.
I live in Sweden, which is hardly a tax haven. I am a citizen of that country as well as a US citizen. I have lived outside of the US for close to 25 years and thought I led a normal law abiding life. Unfortunately, the overzealous and poorly thought out attempts to catch US resident tax evaders have cast me and other overseas residents as criminals.
I am one of the few overseas residents who actually knew that I had to file taxes and did so. Last year, I needed to amend my US taxes due to a reporting error made by my overseas employer and I learned that as I had failed to file a form reporting my overseas bank accounts (the FBAR), the only option I had was to enter a so-called amnesty program, in which I have been told for this omission, I need to pay the US government 25% of my life savings, retirement plans, house, and car, all of which have been earned by legitimate employment overseas.
The “bank accounts” that I must report to the US government include life insurance policies, telephone prepaid cards, my customer card at the supermarket and my lunch card at work. The latter three must be reported, along with their highest balance (try to calculate that on a supermarket rebate card) all because they fit the definition of a debit card. All of this under threat of a penalty of USD 10,000 per account if I make a mistake in reporting. I think the most my lunch card has ever had on it was USD 60.
To add insult to the injury I described above, during 2011, FATCA began to be implemented in Sweden and my Swedish bank informed me that I would no longer be allowed to have any investment accounts because of my American citizenship.
FATCA also requires that for my 2011 taxes, I will need to file another form that repeats a lot of the information on the FBAR form and will cost me at least another three hours of accountant time. The much loved number of USD 10,000 in penalties is again threatened if I make a mistake on this form.
American information reporting requirements have become so demanding that I have made all kinds of new friends in my Swedish bank and tax authority. I get to challenge them to provide documentation that makes no sense in Sweden, but helps me to meet the US requirements. Without these wonderful FATCA requirements, I might have just led an unobtrusive life and like most other residents here, had very little to do with these people. Now I stick out like a sore thumb. FATCA has afforded me with the opportunity to prove to Swedes that Americans are different, demanding and difficult.
I have spent less than a year in the US in the last 25 years. Where you spend your childhood stays with you and I have a strong emotional tie to the US. So even though indications are that it would be in my best interest to renounce my citizenship, I plod stubbornly along in the face of all the abuse and try to believe in the American “truth and justice” I was taught about as a child.
That is why I appreciate your article. It will help to make public the unfortunate consequences of the poorly conceived FATCA legislation. Maybe it will help me and other overseas US citizens to be able to return to leading a normal life. That is all I desire in my American dream.
(Written a year ago in response to an article in a local paper)
“(Written a year ago* in response to an article in a local paper)”
*this comment plus the following 2 facts suggest this letter was written sometime in the first half 2012. I have not been able to locate the article it refers to. The date on the Word file is 20 October 2013-I cannot be sure who saved this Word File (i.e., J or his Dad)but given his comments about the 2011 taxes and form 8938, I believe this letter was written in the first half 2012, prior to the June 30 deadline for the filing of taxes.
(It is very clear J is aware of the 2011 OVDI program.)
Obviously, he did not suffer from a major psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, dissociative personality disorder or any psychopathic or sociopathic diseases. There is nothing to suggest he suffers from bi-polar disorder. It can be noticed that he stopped publishing in 2010 and can be demonstrated that he knew of FATCA in 2011. If he suffered a major depressive issue, it might be possible to say it coincided with his awareness of FATCA, FBAR, etc. And I will relate freely that I have been diagnosed with major depressive disease, many years ago. And have been most fortunate to have received the appropriate medication to deal with it. I do not consider my diagnosis to be indicative of the stigma of “mental illness.” (i.e., it is not a psychological issue but a biological one.)
This next item is a letter J’s Dad wrote to Rep. Eshoo, 2 weeks before J passed away.
28th May 2015
Dear Ms. Eshoo,
This morning my son called me almost in tears in an anxiety of which I thought him incapable.
When I picked up the receiver I did not think it was him. I had to ask several times who it was.
My son is a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, working in biochemistry and genetics.
He is hard working, utterly conscientious, and has published many, many papers in his field.
He has a beautiful family. His wife works for the Nobel Foundation. The Karolinska Institute
in Sweden is from whence Nobel prizes originate – I’m sure you know this.
I was (am) deeply concerned. I listened carefully. I felt he sounded suicidal. As a dedicated researcher,
honest and thorough, he is used to delving into complex issues and writing his conclusions. So what
complex problem could possibly be driving a deeply thoughtful person into such a level of anxiety?
My son was born into your constituency in the United States. After graduating from Cal Poly he
went to finish his PhD in brain chemistry in Sweden. He has worked hard (and successfully)
for twenty years to turn his small research salary into some savings. And that is the problem.
Banks everywhere in the world now (including Russia) want nothing to do with a depositor
who is American. So what is one of the seven to ten million Americans working permanently or occasionally abroad supposed to do?
My son a year ago started conscientiously reading all the US laws pertaining to “foreign” earnings.
These are very complicated documents. The more he read the more complex they seemed. He tried
(and is trying) his best to comply with all the requirements, Including finding a CPA in New York and
several in Sweden.
My son has already paid every tax he owes – in Sweden they are, bar none, the highest in the world.
But here are these US requirements requiring him to declare all foreign earnings, pensions, savings,
passive investments, etc. and to pay a tax on top of what he has already paid to Sweden simply
because he was here at birth.
Trying to figure out these requirements and to comply has driven him to desperation. He sees terrifying scenarios in which he is asking, for what? The US is the only country (besides Eritrea) demanding this.
There are seven to ten million honest Americans living abroad. FATCA is being used as a sledgehammer
(of IRS abuse?) to catch a fly or two – inconsequential financially – of those who abuse our system.
Ms. Eshoo – Rescind FATCA! The blood will be upon your heads – congress and yours! if my son is driven
to suicide after a year of dealing with the consequences of this horrible, unjust, draconian, and miserably self-defeating law. Is it worth losing a just citizen just for this?
As matters unfold he may not, I’m afraid, be the only one of millions.
xxxx (J’s Dad)
This is the end of what I am adding for today. I am sure many of you will have something to say about all this………..
This concerns absolutely the worst news I have ever come across in the 4+ years I have been immersed in this situation. I am not going to even try and address anything beyond this simple explanation so you have some context.
A couple of days ago, a comment that somehow was never seen/approved became visible on the renounceuscitizenship wordpress blog. The comment consisted of two letters. Given the fact this was written last July as well as the serious nature of what it concerns, it was decided to keep it in pending until we had made contact with the author, to make sure he still intended for it to remain public. I have spoken with him and he does want it to be seen. However, nobody is likely to see the comment on that particular post since it is 7 months old. So the two letters are being posted here now. Ms. Eshoo, to whom the letters are addressed, is the Congresswoman (D) from the 18th Congressional District of California. She also spent 20 years (1993-2013) as the Congresswoman for the 14th District. She voted “Aye” for the H.I.R.E. Act. There has been no response from Ms. Eshoo.
One thought on “Statement from @AARO (unlike @DEMSabroad) supports Bopp #FATCA lawsuit”
July 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm
25th June 2015
When you and your fellow co-conspirators in congress voted on FATCA you murdered my son
This beautiful person who wanted to live out his dream in peace in another land was destroyed by you.
You and your fellow co-conspirators, with your unattainable requirements,
boxed him into a mental dilemma from which he could not escape.
As a just person he found your injustice in FATCA incomprehensible.
After a year of intensely trying to figure out what to do
he committed suicide.
There are families in grief in your constituency.
There are families in mourning on both sides of the Atlantic.
You have destroyed a decent person worth a thousand Obamas.
You have ruined the happiness of dozens of friends and family members
through your cruelty revealed within this monstrous law.
You have utterly destroyed our faith in government with the
incomprehensibility, inhumanity and malice of this law.
Your only hope of atonement?
Repeal FATCA NOW
Sincerely in grief,
14th July 2015
Dear Ms. Eshoo,
Re: Death of J., a citizen of Sweden
Thus is clearly an over-reach by an agency of the US government of the grossest magnitude. FATCA affects eight-and-a-half million Americans occupying themselves honorably abroad. This is IRS abuse on a scale far vaster than the diminutive insults inflicted by Lois Lerner’s 501(c)(3) scandal. FATCA is an act of IRS persecution, with a far greater ill effect on American lives than Lois Lerner’s pinpricks. It cannot be dismissed in a form letter.
I have filed the cause of his death as: “Persecution by an Agency of the Government of the United States.”
It is clear that the United States is in full violation of its Principles on U.S. foreign policy and most Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights. (For reference you may see both Principles and Articles appended below.)
FATCA, signed into law by Mr. Obama on the 18th of March 2010, can be shown to violate these Principles and Articles with the uttermost disregard possible.
Here is a preamble to this law:
“The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a United States federal law requiring United States persons (including those living outside the U.S.) to have yearly reported themselves and their non-U.S. financial accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), and requires all non-US (Foreign) Financial Institutions (FFI’s) to search their records for suspected US persons for reporting their assets and identities to the US Treasury. Congress enacted FATCA to make it more difficult for (resident and non-resident) U.S. persons to have financial assets which are not located in the United States, by adding further asset-reporting law with consequences, and thus to enable further federal tax revenues and penalties from a wider global population of newly discovered US persons and their partners, at the expense of non-US banks.”
Just looking at Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one already sees that the IRS is over-reaching by its criminalization of every American living abroad, and in making them report to the “Financial Crimes Enforcement Network”, as if it’s already proven that every American living abroad is abroad with criminal intent.
In Article 1 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” is clearly not true when FINCEN
Is searching “the… records of suspected US persons for reporting their assets and identities” – is it enough to be suspected that allows the IRS to take way a person’s dignity and rights? And what right does the IRS have to do this to anyone anywhere outside the US, let alone to a Swedish citizen?
In Article 2 “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration” with “no distinction … on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs.” So the rights and freedoms are universal but the IRS is allowed to go far beyond its domestic charter in going after anyone anywhere, even against the laws of another country?
In Article 3 is the most fundamental of all “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Clearly the authors of FATCA thought the rights of anyone irrelevant to the needs of the US government.
One may look at Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and one sees that
(i) “No-one shall be held in slavery or servitude”, (ii) “No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, nhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and (iii) “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”. Except, of course, when it’s a US law which utterly disregards the laws of every other country in the world, including Sweden. And except when that slavery is due to an agency of the US government, namely the IRS, which is trying desperately to keep Americans abroad in servitude, and except where that torture is the daily threat to appropriate a part or all of every asset a person has acquired abroad by honest labor, and which has already been taxed at the highest rate in the world, as in Sweden.
That is just touching the surface of the malfeasance of this run-amok agency of the US government. The true magnitude of what FATCA has perpetrated and achieved is utterly appalling. No other country in the world has ever persecuted its citizens like this for migrating abroad. EVER.
To look a little further into this “Reign of Terror” of a US agency, one may see its truly malign influence on individuals, commerce and foreign relations. Everyone knows that no bank abroad wants anything to do with an individual born in America or bearing an American passport: this makes travel and commerce impossible.
But that is beside the point: it’s the US law and must prevail globally. That FATCA has poisoned international relations, has made the US a demi-pariah, and is even being copied by neo-soviet states like Russia, is beside the point: it’s the US law and must prevail globally. This is clearly nonsense, but it is the law, indiscriminate and vicious.
It is particularly where FATCA preys on individuals that the damage to human rights is most gross. In my son’s case it was first, the closing down of his Swedish bank account. It was then his realization that the government of the United States was after a complete accounting of every asset he had earned in Sweden with hard, honest labor over a period of twenty years. As a Swedish citizen, he had already been taxed at the highest rate in the world bar none. This sense of persecution and injustice by an alien agent was continuously and overwhelmingly felt by him.
From Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (in the Declaration of Independence “ … the pursuit of happiness”), J. experienced the “loss of happiness” as a result of losing his bank account, and gradually, as he realized the full magnitude of the requirements of FATCA, in the torture of its implications. J. lost his liberty when finding out, just before his death, that his communications with his bank (and only those communications) had been compromised. He knew then that he had no liberty, as guaranteed by Article 3, at all.
Hemmed in by the egregious requirements of an incomprehensible and unjust alien law, J. saw his life as being made increasingly worthless. He was isolated within Sweden, among Swedish friends, as a pariah. His protection under the laws of Sweden, where he was a deeply law-abiding citizen, he witnessed evaporating. Anguished by the dilemmas of FATCA – he would not pay an unjust tax for owning property in Sweden nor would he pay the tax for giving up his U.S. citizenship – why should he? – he went out and hanged himself. His daughter went outside and found him hanging by his neck in the morning.
So J. lost his happiness, he lost his liberty (and “security of person”) and thrust into isolation utterly by a country he loved (but, in keeping his passport, he wished to return to one day) he went out and killed himself. In a mockery by FATCA’s blind injustice this proved to invert “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” into the opposite, completely miss-stating the order of these words in the Declaration of Independence.
Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.” The “State” to which this refers is the United States; the “activity” or “act” being performed to which this refers is the activity of FATCA; the “destruction” to which this refers is the deliberate destruction by an agency of the US government of all of J’s rights and freedoms as set forth above.
I have therefore listed, as I must in honesty, the cause of J’s death as “Persecution by an Agency of the Government of the United States”. More simply “Persecution by the government” of which you are a part.
I believe the United States under Mr. Obama is wholly and uniquely responsible for this most diabolical law.
FATCA violates fully half of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore FATCA will be,
as it must be, abolished by the United States, else the Universal Declaration of Human Rights means nothing.
FATCA is also totally against the Principles appended below, that “Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy”. My son’s human rights, as a decent, honorable citizen of Sweden, were stripped from him mercilessly by FATCA, making a mockery of
Which part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that do you do not understand, Ms. Eshoo? That somehow being enthralled by Mr. Obama’s oratory, in a congress filled with Democrats, you could go ahead and pass any law Mr. Obama wanted, Human Rights be damned? This congress, known as “The Brutal One-Eleventh” for the laws you whipped through, undertook the passage of these laws in utter disregard for the rights of American citizens at home or anywhere.
J. leaves behind a Swedish wife and two beautiful Swedish children. It leaves behind individuals all over the United States and Europe grieving for a beautiful person essentially murdered by an act ill-considered by congress and signed into law by a feckless Obama. The stigma of FATCA is one which you and your fellow Democrats – Pelosi, Reid and Obama – will bear forever.
Millions of people around the globe are regretting that Mr. Obama ever came into office. The world burns while feckless Obama dithers. I am regretting this monster infinitely more than anyone with the loss of my son.
Sincerely, and in immense grief,
xxxxxxx, father to J
A. Principles. Under the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor it says the following:
“Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy. The values captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other global and regional commitments are consistent with the values upon which the United States was founded centuries ago. The United States supports those persons who long to live in freedom and under democratic governments that protect universally accepted human rights. The United States uses a wide range of tools to advance a freedom agenda, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral engagement, foreign assistance, reporting and public outreach, and economic sanctions. The United States is committed to working with democratic partners, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and engaged citizens to support those seeking freedom.”