Notice to Readers: Irrelevant and Political or Anti-IRS Comments Will Not Be Approved

[To be cross-posted on Brock when it arises from the dead]

Recently Canada’s National Post said: “Dissent serves a valuable social function: it moderates, brings internal accountability and leads to better decisions because of the value of diversity and the contest of ideas.”

“The dissenter is the one who speaks to the future with a voice pitched to a key that will carry through the years.” and Freedom of Speech is “…the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom” says Benjamin Cardozo.

Melvin Urofsky: ”…the dissent may strengthen the limits of the majority, preventing it from sweeping too broadly — a form of damage control.”

Yesterday Jack Townsend at the “Federal Tax Crimes” blog proclaimed a new policy restricting the types of comments permitted to be posted on his site:

“Notice to Readers: Irrelevant and Political or Anti-IRS Comments Will Not Be Approved (1/22/16)

I have in the past routinely approved most irrelevant and political and anti-IRS comments to blog entries.

Today, I received another and my tolerance for such comments has worn thin. I post below the comment that has provoked my reaction.

I remind readers that this is a federal tax crimes blog. It is not a political blog or tax policy blog or any other kind of blog except federal tax crimes. Hence, I will no longer approve comments that are not relevant to the blog entry and that present more political argument or anti-IRS argument than analysis of the law relevant to federal tax crimes issues.

For those of you who want to make political comments or anti-IRS, I recommend that you find another blog which welcomes those comments. For example, you might try the Tax Prof Blog, where Professor Paul Caron posts each day one entry labeled The IRS Scandal, Day xxx (the entry today is The IRS Scandal, Day 988). Each day you will find a posting and, so long as you want to make political or anti IRS comments, he seems more than willing to post such comments on his blog.

Thus, for readers who may be inclined to want to make these comments, please note that henceforth they will not be approved for publication on the Federal Tax Crimes Blog…”

9 thoughts on “Notice to Readers: Irrelevant and Political or Anti-IRS Comments Will Not Be Approved

  1. ERIC WITHERS

    SIR,

    AFTER READING YOUR WEB PAGE ON IRS FORM 8854 A PARTICULAR QUESTION HAS COME INTO RECENT SCRUTINY.
    THE 2017 IRS FORM 8854 PUBLISHED IN NOVEMBER 2017 LINE 7 b. IS:
    “DATE YOU BECAME A CITIZEN OF EACH COUNTRY LISTED IN LINE 7 a”
    FOR A COUNTRY WITH DUAL NATIONALITY YOU APPLY TAKE OATH AND RECEIVE A NATIONALITY CERTIFICATE (CANADA FOR EXAMPLE) AS YOU EXPATRIATE WHAT DATE YOU BECAME CANADIAN NATIONAL IS VERY EASY.

    FOR A COUNTRY WITH NO DUAL NATIONALITY SAY INDIA:

    1. TAKE OATH
    2. MAKE CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION
    3. UPON APPROVAL BY GOVERNMENT YOU ARE ISSUED A “ACKNOWLEDGEMENT” FORMALLY PROMISING YOU CITIZENSHIP AFTER, YES “AFTER” YOU APPROACH YOUR EMBASSY AND GET THE “CLN” CERTIFICATE OF LOSS OF NATIONALITY
    4. YOU THEN GET THE CLN
    5. YOU THEN GIVE THE CLN TO THE GOVERNMENT WHO ARE HOLDING YOUR NATIONALITY APPLICATION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IN SUSPENSE UNTIL YOU SUCCESSFULLY PROVIDE THE CLN
    6. YOU ARE THEN ISSUED A NATIONALITY CERTIFICATE

    ALL THIS BECAUSE THE ONE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT GIVE NATIONALITY TO ANY PERSON WHO HAS NOT RENUNCIATED FIRST
    THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO SERVE AS A “ALTERNATIVE PASSPORT”
    THIS VERIFIED FIRST WITH THE LEGAL STAFF OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT LEGAL ADVISORY STAFF OCS/L.

    NOW THE 8854 Q. 7b DATE ?

    IS THIS DATE 1. OR 3. OR 6. THE CORRECT “DATE”
    AS THE 8854 MAY NEED TO BE FILED ONE YEAR EARLIER IF 1. ABOVE VERSUS 6. CAN BE AS MUCH AS 2 YEARS.

    YOURS, TRUELY E.W.

    this one was particularly perplexing

    Reply
    1. nobledreamer-Tricia

      @Eric

      It is not true that one cannot renounce U.S. citizenship without having a second citizenship. The State Department does not like to do it but there is no law that says you cannot choose to be stateless. There are individuals who have done this and write about it:

      the late Garry Davis
      Mike Gogulski
      list of stateless people

      As to to date problem, I would imagine there would be various opinions. Generally, one files the 8854 along with their final tax return. Are you trying to follow something you have read that says you have to file the 8854 right after renouncing?

    2. Pacifica777

      @ Eric,

      1. Date of relinquishment for IRS purposes

      Line 7 (b) of the 8854 is for informational purposes, not for determination of date of relinquishment for tax purposes. This line is for all persons filing the 8854, regardless of whether they have relinquished by naturalising in another country.

      For date of relinquishment for IRS purposes see 8854 Instructions, page 1, bottom of column 1, “Date of relinquishment of US citizenship.” The text there reflects the text of 26 US Code 877A, quoted two paragraphs below.

      If the relinquishing act was performed after 3 June 2004, when 26 US Code 877A(g)(4) came into effect, the relinquishment date, for IRS purposes, is “the date the individual furnishes to the US DoS a signed statement of voluntary relinquishment . . . . ” (26 US Code 877A (g)(4)(B)). That is the date the person signs the DS-4079 at the US embassy/consulate.

      26 US Code 877A(g)(4) Relinquishment of citizenship:

      “A citizen shall be treated as relinquishing his United States citizenship on the earliest of:

      (A) the date the individual renounces his United States nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States pursuant to paragraph (5) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5)),

      (B) the date the individual furnishes to the United States Department of State a signed statement of voluntary relinquishment of United States nationality confirming the performance of an act of expatriation specified in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(1)–(4)),”

      [Note: Naturalisation falls under paragraph (1) of section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act]

      “(C) the date the United States Department of State issues to the individual a certificate of loss of nationality, or

      (D) the date a court of the United States cancels a naturalized citizen’s certificate of naturalization.”

      8854 Instructions: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8854.pdf
      26 US Code 877A(g)(4)(B): https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/877A
      Immigration and Nationality Act s. 349(a): https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1481

      2. Statelessness

      I echo Tricia’s comment (Feb 12, 9:09 pm). In addition, here are links to the Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual on the procedure for handling renunciation of US citizenship for persons who will become stateless by doing so. These passages also mention that “In making all these points clear to potentially stateless renunciants, the Department of State will, nevertheless, afford them their right to expatriate. We will accept and approve renunciations of persons who do not already possess another nationality.” and “If the individual abroad still desires to proceed with the renunciation, you may proceed”

      Foreign Affairs Manual: Loss and Restoration of US Citzenship: 7 FAM 1215
      https://fam.state.gov/fam/07fam/07fam1210.html#M1215
      Foreign Affairs Manual: Renunciation of US Citizenship Abroad: 7 FAM 1261(g):
      https://fam.state.gov/fam/07fam/07fam1260.html

  2. badger

    Funny and ironic since Jack makes his own comments that take what is ultimately or very immediately a political / ideological stance. He routinely makes value judgements that depart from a strict discussion of the law.

    And since when is it irrelevant to identify inconsistencies, injustices and maltreatment at the hands of those making and interpreting and applying “the law” as it stands? IRS policy and practice are not necessarily “the law”. That became obvious when they herded ALL including minnows into the “one size fits all” OVD programs as the only acceptable fix for prior noncompliance when prospective compliance ‘going forward’ and ‘quiet’ disclosures were not unlawful. Benefiting the US tax law industrial complex and pillaging the lawful local post-tax savings of those outside the US.

    Taxation isn’t a science. It isn’t physics. It is inherently political and subjective. The US tax system routinely benefits those who can dedicate huge sums to influence lawmakers and politicians. And that is the game being played in the US and around the globe (ex. http://taxpol.blogspot.ca/2016/01/apples-private-meeting-to-lobby.html http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/ge-healthcare-us-healthcare-giant-makes-fortune-from-nhs-but-pays-hardly-a-penny-in-tax-a6828446.html ).

    I’ve noticed that many of the articles about US extraterritorial CBT make statements which reflect the bias of the author – without any robust references or basis in fact.

    Take FATCA for instance. NO cost-benefit analysis has ever been undertaken. The majority of those living outside the US with no economic connection pay taxes in full to the country in which they live and receive ACTUAL benefits. Yet FATCA is declared a ‘remedy’ for tax ‘evasion’ and a success, among other specious claims without foundation. There is also no proof or cause to treat all those subject to FBAR as guilty before the fact – and answerable to a Financial Crimes Enforcement entity FINCEN. And of course, it is not moneylaunderingdruglordtaxevadingterrorfundingfraudsters who are registering all their personal and family and employer and community organization and estate account information online, but it will be those who will be laid open for hacking and identity theft.

    ‘Fair’ as in ‘paying your fair share’ is never quantified and sometimes not even defined. Neither is ‘benefit’.

    Reading authors like Kirsch who defend US extraterritorial CBT, and statements issued by the US Treasury, the IRS, and others like the Mythster Robert Stack remind me of exchanges from Alice in Wonderland such as this one:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.”
    So many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice began to think that very few things indeed were really impossible”
    http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/apr/04/off-with-their-heads-the-10-greatest-quotes-from-alice-in-wonderland
    http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/chapters-script/alice-in-wonderland-quotes/

    Consider the IRS refusal to define; “reasonable cause” and for so long refused even to hint at what might delineate “wilful” from “nonwilful” in terms of the FBAR ……

    And the instructions and demands that make up the burden imposed on those living outside the US remind me of this:
    https://www.cs.indiana.edu/metastuff/wonder/ch7.html

    US Extraterritorial Birthplace/Parentage/Status based taxation is absurd. So seems much of the writing which seeks to defend the absurd and indefensible.

    Even when people are trying to comply as best they can, finding out where and how and when one must send IRS forms such as the 8854 hit the snag of vagueness and lack of information – and sometimes ultimately, a commonsense method to do what they demand and be able to verify that one has done so does not exist because the IRS has made it actually impossible: ( ex. http://hodgen.com/you-cant-file-form-8854-via-fedex-or-ups/ http://hodgen.com/filing-form-8854-by-fedex-a-success-story/ notwithstanding ) . Add that to the innate incoherence and incomprehensibility of the plethora of forms and rules and instructions.

    Why would one not throw up ones hands and either refuse to enter the MInotaur’s labyrinth – which is what ‘compliance’ represents for those living outside the US, or excise or deny US status if and when possible?

    The IRS OVDI program that they tried to entice/threaten/extort all of us into starting from 2009, 2011, etc. is/was like Jarndyce and Jarndyce https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarndyce_and_Jarndyce

    Reply
    1. badger

      @Embee, thanks for digging up that prescient and now vintage but still invaluable Just Me gem. Shows that much of what we’re talking about is inherently political. And that Jack’s blog still fulfills a valuable function – often the gold is amongst the comments, and often from commenters as well as Jack himself.

      Just have to sift through and look for the gold amongst the rest.

      There are I’m sure, still people caught up in the OVDI, and its successors. It took efforts by the Taxpayer Advocate demands for information, and a FOIA request to pry anything out of the IRS. Without them, the maltreatment of minnows – and even their existence would have been even more invisible than it is.
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/2013/01/ta-report-identifies-irs-ovdp-ovdi-as.html
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/2013/06/new-taxpayer-advocate-discussion-of.html

      The documents from the FOIA request are here:
      https://www.bragertaxlaw.com/previously-unreleased-irs-guidelines-for-fbar-audits.html

      Well worth a look at the extensive documents there. I had forgotten how valuable.

      Note, this is NOT an endorsement of the site or practitioners above.

  3. maz57

    The biggest Federal Tax Crime of all is US citizenship based taxation coupled with FATCA. Obviously Jack Townsend doesn’t want to hear discussion about that because he is basically an apologist for their totally flawed system. I won’t miss his blog because I haven’t bothered with it for years.

    Phil Hodgen at Hodgen law is far more informative, useful, and sympathetic for researching expat issues.

    Reply
    1. badger

      Yes I think that Hodgen demonstrates more empathy and understanding of the plight of those living outside the US.

      But, I would still recommend reading Jack’s blog because;

      Though I have increasingly been alienated by what seemed in more recent times like subjective bias in the non-legal aspects of his commentary, Jack’s blog did (and still does) provide some of the only real clues and hints to what was and is happening with and in the OVDI and Streamlined programs:
      ex.
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/2013/06/an-ovdi-odyssey-opt-out-success-story.html
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/2012/04/experiences-inside-ovdp-ovdi-2-4412.html
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/2014/11/irs-documents-on-ovdip-from-foia.html
      http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.ca/search/label/Offshore%20Streamlined%20Filing%20Procedure

      He still does list a link to IBS on his webpage, and highlighted the Taxpayer Advocate in several posts.

      He did seem to have some empathy initially for minnows, and it was via comments on his site that some of us connected with or became aware of the options of being compliant “going forward” or “quiet” backfiling, before Streamlined even existed. I know that Just Me and ij and others who successfully opted out commented regularly on some of his entries.

      He also provided some clues and a forum for asking questions re opting out of the OVD programs.

      Unfortunately, his experiences with minnows and the vagaries of the IRS did not seem to make a lasting impression. He seemed increasingly to choose to downplay the injustices and lack of recourse and instances of tax treaty gaps and double taxation and jeopardy under US extraterritorial taxation. Despite the balance of the evidence continuing to demonstrate the cost, complexity, jeopardy and basic unfairness and injustice of US Extraterritorial birthplace/parentage/status based taxation, and the growing cost of expatriation as the only real and lasting remedy for the malady, Jack seems to have taken the path of denial and rationalization in the face of what we know is overwhelming evidence that we were penalized and threatened and disadvantaged for no real gain for the US.

      At its root, the choice of the US to continue with FATCA, FBAR, AND extraterritorial CBT is a political and ideologic one. Expediency and Might Makes Right is what lies beneath the bs about ‘fair shares’ and ‘benefits’, etc.

      We just have to extract the useful bits from amongst the US Homelander bias since it continues to be one of the only resources we have access to which address what might actually be happening vs. IRS directives. Too bad that other members of the US Tax Law and Accounting brotherhood in Canada (one of whom is on Jack’s recommended list of OVDI/OVDP attorneys) turned out to be even more of a FATCAnatic – actively appearing before our Canadian parliament in aid of US subjugation of Canada via the FATCA IGA – after having courted clients via participation at IBS shortly after being exported to Canada from the US.

      And unlike several blogs of other US tax lawyers (especially the really obvious compliance condor types – in Canada as well as the US), Federal Tax Crimes doesn’t read to me as primarily meant as a lure to fish for clients – though I’m sure some come to him that way.

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