Monthly Archives: September 2012

Are we talking to ourselves? Who's listening?

I was struck by comments made by Allan Gregg in early September at Carleton University. His comments were shared via email with many Canadians mainly because of his attack on the governing Conservative Party of Canada. Mr. Gregg was a Conservative pollster and is a frequent political commentator.  I ‘m not sure if his remarks will resonate much with non-Canadians, but it you want to read them in full they can be found at
Among the many things I noticed was his comments about the internet. The remarks below are somewhat taken out of context:
If I believe the world is flat, the internet now puts me in touch with legions of fellow flat earthers and reams of pseudo science to support that belief. As importantly, if I am so inclined, I never have to be exposed to any contrary views and can find total refuge in my community of flat earthers. The Internet therefore, offers me the opportunity to have a completely closed mind and at one in the same time, fill it full of nonsense disguised as fact. In a brand new way therefore, the internet democratizes not just individual opinion but legitimizes collective ignorance and spreads a bizzaro world of alternative reason. When this occurs, prejudice and bias is reinforced and the authority of real science and evidence is undermined or even more likely, never presented.
Although both the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox provide useful and practical advice on relinquishment and renounciation and a forum for discussion of the problems of U.S. citizenship based taxation and FATCA, I do sometimes wonder if we are all just talking to ourselves.  There has been only a scattering of media reports in Canada and the rest of the world on these subjects in the past year. Most of the articles linked to have a small audience.
I don’t mean to imply that the posters to both sites have a bizzaro world of alternative reason or are ignorant.. On the contrary, almost all posts have been intelligent and thoughtful. It’s just that the issues have not been getting much traction.
From the Canadian point of view there has been an almost complete lack of comment by all political leaders and the MSM for a very long time.  We have seen excellent papers written by the likes of Andrew Bonham and Allison Christians, but these papers have a limited circulation.
So I have a few questions—are we just talking to ourselves and to what extent do policy makers in Canada (or any other country) rely on papers in academic or professional journals for guidance in deciding public policy?

Spreading the Fear

Maybe we’ll get a lot more people joining our cause. If this article I ran across is any indication, some of these consultants must be scaring the pants off of the US mainlanders. “Failing to file the right documents could have dire consequences.” I’m not sure if it’s the writer of the article or if it’s the tax attorney who set out to scare them, but I bet it’s working. Continue reading Spreading the Fear

FATCA Refocusing On Country Partnerships (Reuters)

Reuters is reporting Overseas Tax Dragnet (FATCA) Is Refocusing On Country Partnerships.
According to this,US Department of Treasury is now negotiating with 40 countries.  It sounds like each could have it’s own specific agreement. What a bureaucratic nightmare for IRS, which can’t even deal with its own bureaucracy now.
Bilateral agreements to implement FATCA are “a workaround,” said Mark Matthews, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale and former head of the criminal investigation division at the Internal Revenue Service.
“It is clearly less airtight and bulletproof. But the (FATCA) statute as written was wholly unachievable,” he said.
I would say “unachievable” is a bit of an understatement.
I personally don’t care whether it’s direct reporting to IRS or an IGA.  My private financial information is not going to be reported to a foreign government by either my bank or my government.  They are not even going to be given information on my place of birth.

IJ's Opt Out Resolution

Some of you will remember IJ from Brock.   IJ has had a good “Opt Out” resolution with IRS.
IJ is a Canadian who moved to US and was not aware of his requirement to file FBAR for his Canadian RRSP and other Canadian assets.  IJ’s Great Opt Out Result is posted at Jack Townsend’s blog.
Could it be there really are some “good willed” folks at IRS, as Steven Mopsick likes claims?

Informants Wanted–$104 Million Bounty

If anyone is looking for a new career, how about IRS Informant–$104 Million Bounty.
This new opportunity results from IRS Awards $104 million to the Swiss banker whom US just released from jail.  Bradley Berkenfeld has turned whistleblower after helping wealthy Americans evade paying income taxes.
I guess we can take some consolation in the fact New York Times reports Birkenfeld must pay tax on his windfall.   I wonder what his tax rate will be and how long it will be before it is stashed in Cayman Islands.
As I suggested on another tread, perhaps Birkenfeld should be appointed to replace Douglas Shulman as IRS Commissioner.

Will Russia Be The Next To Fall?

I truly thought Russia would be a FATCA hold out.  Not if this article is correct:  Russian Banks May Soon Be Subject to US Monitoring Regulations (picked up from Noble Dreamer and Just Me on Twitter)
Especially scary is this statement:  Banks “have no choice, though, since they will otherwise become outcasts: compliance with FATCA has been virtually accepted by the global community.”
If Russia caves, who will be next?

Is Globe and Mail Recycling Old News? Why?

U.S. Delay in Tax-Evasion Crackdown Heartens Ottawa said a headline in last week’s Globe and Mail.
Tiger forwarded me the link to the article in the Globe’s mobile edition which gave September 6, 2012 as the publication date. But, when I accessed on the Globe’s regular website, it gave a publication date of July 14, 2011 with an Update of September 6, 2012.
Most of the comments on the G & M website are from July, 2011.  I think most of us were still blissfully unaware of this issue then.
The information in the article says Flaherty is “glad” the reporting date for FATCA has been delayed until 2014.  However, I don’t think that had occurred yet in July, 2011.  I think this information was several months old by September 6. 2012.
Are Tiger and I missing something?  Is there any new news in this story?  Has anything happened relating to FATCA in the past week to cause Globe and Mail to publish this September 6–and for Mr. Flaherty to be “glad?”  Tim, do you have any information about any new updates or delays?  Does anyone else?
In any case, Mr. Flaherty sure seems to be a jolly fellow these days.  He was “happy” about the streamlined regulations and is “glad” about the reporting delay for FATCA.
Well, I won’t be either “happy” or “glad” until Mr. Flaherty once and for all says Canadian banks must adhere to Canadian law and Canadian law will not be changed to accommodate a foreign government.  Mr. Flaherty’s silence is just making me mad.

Is FATCA the new Franklin expedition?

There has been quite a bit of publicity in Canada in the past few weeks regarding a new high tech search for the ships of the doomed Franklin expedition. The location of the  HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror has been described as Canada’s greatest historical mystery.
I’m sure most of you know that Sir John Franklin set out in the mid 1840’s to find the elusive Northwest Passage. He and his crew all perished. Since then there have been many attempts to find the ships or relics of the crew and their equipment.
So, what does this have to do with FATCA? Well, one thing most researchers agree on is that Arctic explorers of the day, especially from England, totally dismissed the collective wisdom of the Inuit .Of course the Inuit had learned over many generations how to survive in the most severe conditions. But  the English saw the Inuit as primitive savages from whom nothing could be learned.
As Victoria and Christophe point out in another thread, cultural differences may have some part in the lack of flexibility of the IRS as they continue to develop FATCA regulations. Are the lawyers at the IRS frozen in time like the body of one of the  Franklin crew members, John Torrington?

FATCA has been described using several metaphors, most commonly as a train. Perhaps it should be referred to as a ship sailing in foreign waters. One of its few success stories (if you can call it that and I know many American-Swiss would not describe it that way) has been in Switzerland, a landlocked country.
Is the USS FATCA also doomed?

The Economic Impact of FATCA and FBAR Terrorization

Why aren’t our governments more concerned about what the US is doing? Ignoring, for the moment, the legality, or lack thereof, why don’t the governments of our countries recognize that the terrorization of their citizens by the US has a far greater effect than just the immediate financial impact on an individual? Continue reading The Economic Impact of FATCA and FBAR Terrorization