We have all had our OMG Moment. Now that the FATCA rollout has begun, there will be many more “OMG Moments”. This past weekend, I heard about a particularly egregious, frightening and unfair situation (yes, some are worse than others). In response to this, John Richardson suggested that I post the following:
If you are newly in your OMG Moment, we hope this will help.You are among friends here. Thanks John!
You are experiencing one of the most terrifying, confusing and disorienting moments that you will ever have in your life. The range of emotions you are feeling are so difficult to manage that you are having difficulty responding.
1. You are NOT in a position to make any quick “commitments” which are NOT REASONED decisions but are REACTIONS to a frightening and confusing situation.
2. Only “U.S. persons” are required to file U.S. tax returns. You may NOT be one. Your first step is to take steps to determine your citizenship status.
A. Being born in the U.S. is NOT conclusive proof of U.S. citizenship. You may have relinquished it along the way.
B.There is NO presumption whatsoever that somebody born outside the U.S. is a U.S. citizen.
3. Since you have not been in the U.S. tax system you do NOT have a tax problem. Therefore you do NOT begin by calling an accountant/tax preparer/tax lawyer. (Once you are in the U.S. tax system you will be rewarded with “tax problems”. At the moment you have a “possible compliance” problem (if it determined that you are a U.S. person).
Accountants, tax preparers, your bank and the vast majority of lawyers are NOT qualified to advise you on the starting question:
“Are you in fact a U.S. person?”
4. The advice “What To Do Before Contacting A Lawyer” is important and applies to to contacting accountants as well.
5. You are NOT alone. Estimates are that there are at least one million Canadian citizens affected by this injustice and unfairness. Remember that you are NOT alone.
6. You have done NOTHING WRONG. The U.S. has never made any effort to educate Canadians of U.S. origin that their laws levy taxes on the basis of citizenship and those born in the U.S. begin life as U.S. citizens.
You did NOT choose where you were born.
7. Information sessions are available to you that you can attend anonymously at a very small fee.