All posts by Lynne Swanson

Republicans Overseas File FATCA & FBAR Lawsuit

Republicans Overseas Action today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Lawsuit Court in Ohio.
You can read:
ROA Press Release

ROA Ten Detailed Points

and ROA Description of Each Plaintiff
In addition to Senator Rand Paul, you will note some familiar names of plaintiffs–including Dr. Stephen Kish and Daniel Kuettel.
It’s been a long time coming, but finally someone is challenging FATCA, FBARs and the IGAs in U.S. Courts–including requesting an injunction.
UPDATE JULY 15, 2015: You can read actual Complaint

No Crisis? "See You In Court."

Tricia Moon has responded on Jack Townsend’s blog where he suggested U.S. Senate did not listen to submissions on citizenship-based taxation because they “are not yet willing to say there is a crisis.
Tricia’s words are powerful. I post them here with her permission.

I came to know of the situation involving expats in late 2011. At that time, this blog was one of the only places to come for reliable information. I was much too frightened to be anything more than a lurker. I had never been one to participate online or engage in any sort of “cause.”
I renounced in 2012. The only way for many of us to deal with the anger and feeling of betrayal was to fight back. A completely American trait. I have lived in Canada more than 33 years and came due to marriage. I am an original “Brocker” and am the
Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty.
ADCS-ADSC put together a massive submission to the Senate Finance Committee; a total of 7 separate parts. See: (https://app.box.com/s/yn25x1gk….
The comments and stories of American expatriates is nearly 200 pages, demonstrating real-life circumstances of people affected by the U.S. hunt for ”tax cheats.” See:
(https://app.box.com/s/yn25x1gk…
& videos: https://vimeo.com/citizenshipt… ).
Needless to say, the lack of any real, substantial indication of change for American expatriates is deeply disturbing. As I understand it, there was a total of 347 submissions to the International Working Group. Seventy-five percent of the submissions are from individuals. On top of the dismay created by the SFC’s insignificant “nod” to the plight of expats, now we hear that those 260 submissions (compared to the estimated 7.6 million expats abroad), indicate this is not a crisis and therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable for the U.S. government to sit on this until they recognize one.
Surely, one can understand that this is much more than a “numbers” game. Not all of those 7.6 million are adults. Not all of those people speak/write English well enough to feel comfortable making a submission. Not all of those 7.6 million know they are about to be
exposed by FATCA. And many are probably still too frightened to say anything with their name attached to it. It must be understood that the number of submissions speak for thousands more. In no way can the number of submissions be a sole factor in determining the depth of the problem.
As to whether there is a “crisis”, I ask that the following be considered:
Ø more bank accounts being closed; France is now the focal point
Ø cancellation of mortgages continues
Ø U.S. taxation of tax-deferred accounts (in countries of residence)
(in Canada two types of accounts are matching grants by the Canadian government; this amounts to a tax directly on the Canadian people)
Ø capital gains taxation on principal residences in countries where no capital gains tax is imposed (and no interest for mortgages is deductible as it is in the U.S.)
Ø unwarranted insistence that accidental Americans with no meaningful ties to the U.S. other than birth are liable for exactly the same tax and information reporting requirements as Americans who lived in the U.S. for decades
Ø inability of parents/guardians/trustees to renounce for those unable to form intent
Ø disproportionate cost involved in tax compliance (compared to Homeland Americans)
Ø disproportionate information reporting requirements (compared to Homeland Americans)
Ø the undeniable psychological effects including:
§ destroyed marriages
§ people with serious stress, anger and depression, some are suicidal
§ people terrified they will never be able to cross the border to care for elderly parents, etc.
§ people humiliated by the requirement to report their legitimate financial accounts to FIN CEN
§ people labeled as “traitors” etc for trying to protect their “alien” families by renouncing/ relinquishing
I would like these committees to ask the people who HAVE been affected, “Was this a crisis for you and your family?” Or would they say to such people, “I’m sorry but unless there are thousands upon thousands of you writing to the Committee, your misery doesn’t matter.”
They have, in fact, just said exactly that.
There have been endless letters, emails, visits to Washington, forums, information sessions, media coverage, a large presence in cyberspace etc etc etc. It is abundantly clear:
The US government could care less about the American Diaspora and as far as they are concerned, it is perfectly acceptable to simply let this continue.
This situation is incomprehensible. The long, long history of no enforcement of these requirements, nor due diligence of any kind.
The misapplication of FBAR, designed to be applied to resident Americans with foreign accounts. The hideous situation of OVDP 2009 and FAQ#35.The horrible penalties that were inflicted on those who tried to come forward and “do the right thing.” Ratio of penalty for tax owed: 10th percentile (“minnows”) -129%;
90th percentile (“whales”)- 4.17%.
Douglas Shulman’s endless threats and humiliating manner. Douglas Shulman’s arrogant attitude that he need not respond to a TAD.
The outrageous extra-territorial behavior of the US requiring all other countries of the world to pass laws to break their own privacy laws or else a 30% sanction applied.
The absolute myth that expats have any real representation in Congress with the reality that this is indeed “taxation without representation.”
And then there is Mr. Schumer: “Nearly 10,000 people in the last 10 years have renounced their citizenship. Not a single one has been penalized. They will be.”
It must be remembered (and matters very much), that the majority of expats are law-abiding and tax-compliant where they live. Where is the need for all this demeaning treatment? Did it ever occur to someone in Treasury, the IRS, anywhere, that they might just let us
know and ask first? There would always have been time later for all the punishing.
This seems endless and is nearly the last nail in the coffin. For those retired or close to it, there is virtually no chance of change in their lifetime. Wait another 30 years? Even 20 will not cover it.
And many more will look at this and say “It’s time to get out.” There really are no options for these people.
In Cook v Tait, the standard (and very tired) justification for citizenship-based taxation, Justice McKenna writes:
“In other words, the principle was declared that the government, by its very nature, benefits the citizen and his property wherever found and, therefore, has the power to make the benefit complete.”
I don’t see it. I just don’t see it.
And our answer to the U.S. Government, as stated many times after the release of this report is:
“See you in court.”

Coming: CBT Lawsuit Against US Government

There is a post at ADCS that a U.S. lawsuit against citizenshhip-based taxation is coming in the United States.
The following is a cross-post from ADCS.
#CBTLawsuit – First report of Senate Finance Committee brings citizenship taxation lawsuit one step closer
Posted on July 8, 2015 by adcsovereignty
As reported at the Isaac Brock Society, the “International Taxation Committee” has released it’s report on tax reform. In spite of the fact that more than 3/4 of the submissions were from Overseas Americans, the committee, acknowledged, but failed to address the intolerable treatment of Americans abroad.
As barely, a footnote, the Committee ended with:
F. Overseas Americans
According to working group submissions, there are currently 7.6 million American citizens living outside of the United States. Of the 347 submissions made to the international working group, nearly three-quarters dealt with the international taxation of individuals, mainly focusing on citizenship-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
While the co-chairs were not able to produce a comprehensive plan to overhaul the taxation of individual Americans living overseas within the time-constraints placed on the working group, the co-chairs urge the Chairman and Ranking Member to carefully consider the concerns articulated in the submissions moving forward.
What does this mean?
At a bare minimum it means that:
1. The “International Committee” views its purpose as dealing with “corporate interests” and not “individual interests”.
2. The “International Committee” views DNA Americans as less important than “Corporate Americans”.
3. The “International Committee” has acknowledged the urgency of the situation “for the international taxation of individuals, mainly focusing on citizenship-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).”
Remember that many of the same submissions that were sent to the “International Committee” were also sent to the committee focusing on “Taxation of Individuals“. It’s difficult to see how the issues of individual Americans abroad could not have been addressed further by that Committee. Yet, it appears that the issues of Americans were not even mentioned.
In other words, the only mention of the taxation of Americans abroad appears in the above excerpt from the “International Group”.
In terms of where to go from here …
1. There will (in the very near future) be a lawsuit launched in the United States against the most egregious aspects of U.S. TAX policy, as they relate to ALL PEOPLE deemed to be “U.S. persons” who reside outside the United States.
2. The lawsuit is likely to, in addition to issues of taxation, include issues related to the “forced imposition of U.S. citizenship” on people who do NOT regard themselves as U.S. citizens or “U.S. persons”. Can the United States deem people to be “U.S. persons” when they believe that they are not?
3. The lawsuit will NOT be run by or through the “Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty” (which will “stay at home” dealing with our FATCA lawsuit). It will be run by and funded by a different organization.
4. We hope for the support of all the various groups deemed by the U.S. Government to be “Americans abroad”. “If Americans abroad do NOT hang together, they will hang separately“.
Evaluating your personal situations …
It’s obvious that “U.S. citizenship abroad” lies somewhere between “difficult and impossible” (depending on your personal circumstances). The report from the “International Committee” suggests that the “plight of Americans abroad” is NOT likely to get better soon. This reality raises the obvious question of whether it’s safe to retain U.S. citizenship in a FATCA and FBAR world.
Stay tuned.
John Richardson
P.S. Here are the report from the International Committee and all the other committees.
The International Tax Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
The reports from all the Committees are here.
Specifically:
The Individual Tax Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
The Business Income Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
The Community Development & Infrastructure Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
The Savings & Investment Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
The International Tax Bipartisan Tax Working Group Report
It is very clear that the collectively the Committee does not understand the urgency of tax reform in general. As goes taxation, so go civilizations. The greatest threat to the survival of America is NOT external. It’s the Internal Revenue Code of the United States.
I do not personally have any additional information about this lawsuit.
You can see access John’s links by going to the ADCS site.

Accidental American Writes to Obama

An Accidental American in France has written a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama lawyer to lawyer pleading for Accidentals to be freed from unwanted U.S. citizenship.
His letter was posted (with personal identifying information removed) by Keith Redmond on Facebook.
The story is all to familiar to us. It continues to boggle my mind how U.S. legislators can read these and continue to FATCA the world.

Help Make Canada Strong and Free Again

Canada Day is just a few days away. It marks the first anniversary of the day we officially became second class Canadian citizens.
Strong and Free
We need to help make Canada Strong and Free again.
As EmBee has said, the best thing we can do for Canada Day is to donate. I just sent a donation for $148 to honour Canada’s 148th birthday.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Please give Ginny and Gwen the best Canada Day birthday gift. Donate to ADCS now.
Stand on guard to keep our land glorious and free. Help make Canada strong and Free again.

Harper's C51 Mission: Destruction of Charter

I debated whether to post this article by Michael Harris here. I decided there is a disturbing similarity to what we have been through and the horrific implications of C51.
In C51 will remake Canada in Stephen Harper’s Image, Michael Harris writes:

After ten years of governing by stealth and lies, Stephen Harper has finally laid his vision for Canada on the line. It’s Bill C-51.
This is Harper’s “War is Peace” moment. If anything can bring his decade of division, deception and deconstruction to a merciful end, it will be this piece of democracy-killing legislation.

Harris also says:

How can there be unfettered sharing of information between departments of government without massive and illegal privacy violations? With foreign governments involved, how in the world do we avoid another Maher Arar? If Harper is returned to government armed with C-51, his security, police and intelligence apparatus will be virtually above the law.

Harper already thinks he is above the law. He just changes it when it does not suit him–sacrificing the constitution, Charter, rights and democracy
Harris calls C51 “a manifesto for a police state”
Here’s what Harris says about C51 and the Charter:

Lurking behind this monstrous bill is Stephen Harper’s broader mission: the destruction by other means of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The question needs to be asked. How did a piece of legislation that has raised the ire of four prime ministers, five former Supreme Court justices, First Nations Chiefs, the 36,000 lawyers of the Canadian Bar Association, 51,000 members of the Postal Union and even former CSIS agents ever make it out of the Department of Justice, let alone through the House of Commons?
The answer is simple. It emerged for the same reason that half a dozen other bills that were struck down by the Supreme Court did: federal lawyers in Justice didn’t care whether the bills were consistent with the charter.

This my friends is what Stephen Harper meant in 2006 when he said “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it.”
He kept that promise. Which is why we have FATCA and C51.

Ginny's Message For Congress

ADCS plaintiff Ginny Hillis has a message for Congress.

“They have no rights over me. None.”

In FATCA is an attack on Canadian sovereignty by Lynne Swanson published in The Hill, Ginny asserts:

“I am not an American. I am a Canadian. Therefore I do not believe they have any business in my financial affairs.T
They can get their nose out of my life.”

Ginny detests the “arrogance” of U.S. Congress for “imposing their laws on a sovereign nation with the complicity of that sovereign nation’s government.”
ADCS Chair Dr. Stephen Kish agrees:

He calls FATCA “an attack on a country’s sovereignty…A country can’t submit to a bad law just because another country is bigger than you and threatens you.

Dr. Kish says the goal of the lawsuit is to kill the IGA. He says the Canadian government submitted to the FATCA IGA under “pain and suffering” of American threats to Canadian financial institutions.

C51 Gives CRA Right to Share Tax Info

Here we go again.
Under C51, (the Anti-Terrorism Act passed by the Cons and Libs), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been given permission to share your income tax filings with 13 additional government agencies.
Money Sense reports Your tax info at heightened risk.
Money Sense is not exactly what one could call left wing civil liberties fanatics. Yet they report:

The CRA can now share not only your home address, but all of your financial information within the government, without any form of consent or a warrant.

All the CRA needs is to believe “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the information would be relevant to an investigation of whether the activity of any person may constitute threats to the security of Canada.”
What’s more, the CRA can distribute these private details “on its own initiative,” possibly spurring…a “wide-scale fishing expedition.”

A Ryerson University professor says the more people that have access to taxpayer information under Bill C-51, the higher the risk of leaks, hacks and other foul play. He also says:

The change in legislation is “unprecedented. It’s snooping and meddling of the worst kind.”

Of course, CRA will have far more information about U.S. persons than they will about other Canadians because of FATCA. So the snooping and risk to us is mammoth.
Are we suspects of a “threat to the security of Canada?” Who knows?
I think we are defenders of Canada. But, I think it’s safe to assume the government is following Sandbox and Brock and that they consider us threats.
This is one more huge reason why we must persevere in our fight for our rights. Please keep those donations to ADCS coming.
Hmmm. Do they consider ADCS a “threat to the security of Canada” for standing up for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Criminals Use IRS Website to Steal Personal Data

Well, this certainly does not instil confidence that the IRS will handle FATCA data safely.
Criminals use IRS website to steal data on 104,000 people.
Yesterday, CNN reported:

A “sophisticated” organized crime syndicate used the IRS website to steal tax forms full of personal financial information on 104,000 taxpayers, the agency said Tuesday.

IRS TheftThe crooks weren’t as successful as they wanted to be. They only got about half of the 200,000 accounts they targeted. They used about 15,000 of them to claim tax refunds in other people’s names.

But the potential damage is worse. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said he believes the criminals’ true mission was to gather vast amounts of personal information. Armed with that info, fraudsters can open bank accounts, credit lines and steal tax refunds in the future.
“This is just the latest manifestation of people getting enough data to masquerade as a taxpayer,” Koskinen said.

Now today CNN reports IRS believes the massive data theft originated in Russia.
This is exactly what we have been setting off alarm bells about. Why won’t Finance Canada or governments around the world listen?!? These thefts are with far less information than what will be provided with FATCA.
FBI is investigating.
“Congress must act,” says Senator Orrin Hatch. so, Congress will review how data was stolen. (but not till next week).
Here’s a better solution. Hire Edward Snowden to investigate. He’s hanging out in Russia now. Snowden cares far more about protecting private information than the IRS, US Treasury, US government or any other government around the world.
And what happens when the next data theft comes from Yemen, Syria or Iraq?

Canadians' Choice Party Gets FATCA Implications

These are words we want to hear from a political party hoping to be elected:

The Canadian’s Choice Party (CCP) pledges to “rip up” Canada’s FATCA IGA and return Canada to Canadians. The FATCA IGA is immoral and undemocratic. It’s not in the interests of Canada and individual Canadians.

CCPUnfortunately, those words are not from the Cons, Libs, NDP or Greens. They are from Canadians’ Choice Party.
CCP is an Ontario provincial party that is hoping to register as a federal party.
I spoke with Bahman Yazdanfar, CCP’s founder and leader today. It was refreshing. He gets what FATCA means for us and for all of Canada.
Mr. Yazdanfar is not a “U.S. person.” He was born in Iran. He worries that what the “government is doing to our brothers and sisters from south of the border” has implications for all Canadians.
CCP asks:

“Which group of Canadians will be next?”

And what will the government do to them and their rights?
Mr. Yazdanfar told me when he attended FATCA meetings and saw “grown men and women in their 50s and 60s in tears,” he was reminded of time he spent in Afghanistan and what governments did there to citizens. He recognizes FATCA is not the government coming to people’s homes like in Afghanistan, but he fears FATCA and other government policies could be the tip of the iceberg.
About CCP, he says:

We don’t dictate policies.

Instead, Mr. Yazdanfar insists democracy should belong to the people–and not to political parties. So, he says CCP’s goal is elect “representatives of the people” who will listen to the people.
First, CCP must be registered as a federal political party. One of the things they need to do is have 250 eligible voters join the party and complete a declaration to Elections Canada. If you want the Canadians’ Choice Partyto become a Federally Registered Party, you can be one of the 250 original signers. Check it out at CCP.
John Richardson was a candidate for CCP in a provincial election but has no other formal involvement in the party.