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.
I haven’t quoted the entire article here, but a few of the salient parts.
“Tax Attorney Offers Free Webinar to Explain IRS’ New FATCA Law and Help Overseas Investors Understand Their Legal Rights
Tens of thousands of US citizens and permanent residents who for years have been enjoying the advantages of off-shore bank accounts without the tax ramifications are now being squeezed out of anonymity and into the spotlight, thanks to the IRS’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
The Amnesty Program offers affected taxpayers a way to fix their situation while avoiding potentially worse financial exposure and even possible jail time. The program includes five important components:
1. The taxpayer must file up to 8 years of amended tax returns on the overseas account
2. The taxpayer must pay taxes on the omitted income
3. The taxpayer must pay a 20% “accuracy penalty” on the taxes due
4. The taxpayer must pay interest on the unpaid taxes
5. The taxpayer must pay a penalty equal to 27.5% of the highest bank account balance and other asset values
This is my personal favourite, quoting the tax attorney Lehman. “Thankfully, congress has been intelligent enough to make sure we do not have thousands of tax criminals by providing a path to cleansing the tax past via the tax Amnesty Program.” 
Tax Attorney Offers Free Webinar
Lehman Tax Law
I hope they find us and join us, after all, misery does love company, and I’m pretty darn miserable about it, so I’m looking for company.

7 thoughts on “Spreading the Fear

  1. Such threats are so childish and stupid. The only purpose that they serve is to encourage Americans to renounce their US citizenship. We just don’t need this. We just want to live normal lives as legal, law-abiding citizens in our locality without being threatened by some stupid country far away.

  2. @blaze
    There’s a new post on Brock that made me think about a hilariously brilliant comment that someone had made there some time ago. Renouncecitizenship remembers it as yours. It was about how Voluntary Disclosure is a disease and how ‘VD’ will make USP’s pariahs in the world. I think it would be really pertinent in response to a post on Brock, if you can find it (I can’t) and repost it here:
    European banks shut Americans out over U.S. FATCA tax rules

    1. Just Me
      February 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm(Edit)
      @Stephen, with all due respect, I think you are in denial that this is a bad faith expression by the IRS…. You are no longer there. You have no further responsibility to defend bad policy and actions. We don’t hold you personally accountable for it. We are just looking for a little honest acknowledgement, please!
      The threats in the FAQs are crystal clear. There is no fudging or mealy mouth qualifications either expressed or implied.
      The threats from the FAQ permeated throughout the entire process into the Examiner group. Mate, I felt it, lived it, for 2 years. Can you not acknowledge that? I should have called BS much sooner and with stronger conviction, but frankly your profession was much help either. They were also frustrated with it, and the lack of ability to effect some change.
      I repeat to you what I said to you over on the 2% thread as maybe it did not sink in…
      Quote “When I asked the Examiner about what the Opt Out might mean and how it would work, (if and when the IRS came up with a process) you want to guess what guidance I was given?
      I was to assume the maximum willful penalty in the Opt Out, on each and every CD type account number, and assume that they would double count funds transferred between accounts for figuring the highest aggregate!!! Now, I could quote the IRM to her all I wanted, and say, that’s absolutely absurd, however, both her and her technical adviser insisted that is what I had to do in weighing my decision on Opting Out. Of course, she could not give me advice on what to do and suggested I seek out legal council. I did! Spent more money, but in the end I took my own council and appealed to the TAS.
      So…. do you understand the implied threat there? IE, “maybe you better just stay in the program and take your VD penalty, as outside it could be much worse.” I bet a lot of Minnows have done just that. Well, I have learned, to call bullshit on that now, but at the time, it was a frightening prospect. It seemed that in spite of the novelettes I had written to her and God, no one at the IRS was going to listen to reason from me or a “30 year IRS vet”, for that matter.”
      It is very frustrating that you seem incapable of understanding that. Surely that is not the case. Have been on the handle side of the hammer for so many years, that you have forgotten what the metal head looks and feels like as it is raised over you!
      …but in a gesture of genuine good faith, no personal attack on you is implied or intended.
      I am just asking..
      What I have found out my dealings with the individuals within the system, humanity, compassion and empathy exists (with some exceptions of course), but once that humanity comes up against in incomprehensible complexity of the rules, regs, statutes and IRM, something happens, snaps, and all common sense sanity seems to fly out the window. Why is that?
      I have talked about some of the signs of individual IRS humanity here, so I am not engaging in just in a hyperbolic IRS rant, as easy as that would be to do..
      The collective rigidity in the group think is the problem. I can not imagine what it must be like to be inside the belly of the beast, but it has to have an affect on one’s emotions and thought processes. I suppose if you see so much egregious tax cheating, evasion and some of the worst aspects of human nature, that it has to impact ones perspectives. I think I get that. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I don’t think I would survive within the organization. I would be too disruptive and challenging of the stupid policies I was supposed to apply without discretion. I told my examiner I don’t know how she could do her job, given how limited her options were. I couldn’t live like that. I did not do well as a Union member either when I was supposed to tote to the Shop Stewards commands to slow down, not work so hard, as we had to be sure we demonstrated that we needed another person for the job. I said BS to that too. I moved on to more productive employment where I could effect the outcomes, not just be directed to follow the stupid policies.
      Enough of this. I need to get a life!
      Again… thanks for your continued engagement. I hope you don’t feel too bruised by this. You do give some of us release, so that is good, eh?
      Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 8:32 pm
      @JustMe: I love your use of VD.
      VD is just like the other VD. It’s Risky, Bad For Your Health and Highly Contagious. For some VDs, there Is no cure. TAS may provide some symptom relief, but VD is insidious and will recur. The standard IRS prescription, (written in illegible handwriting–but finally interpreted) is “Give Us Your Money!”
      Anyone with VD is treated like they are dirty. They are told to “Come Clean.” They are told by the stalking spouse they divorced long ago “It’s Your Fault.” They are accused of “Cheating” when it’s Congress and it’s IRS illicit lover who are the Real Cheats–in bed together behind your back, refusing to communicate with you and spreading VD without no discretion or scruples.
      Claiming “I Didn’t Cheat” or “It Didn’t Mean Anything” won’t help you. After you get VD, you will not be able to plead “Not Guilty. Anyone who enters VD will be tortured until they pay up. Anyone considering VD should be notified they will be reported to the proper authorities for further persecution.
      Explaining “But the US Consulate told me I was renouncing my US citizenship” won’t work in VD. The Consulate has the constitutional right to lie. You were dumb to believe them. You are the sinner because you trusted and believed the Consulate’s deceit all these years. Don’t get trapped again. Don’t get infected with US VD! .
      Protect Yourself. Know The Risks. Take Precautions. Stay As Far Away From VD and the US as You Possibly Can. Keep Your Money In The Country Where You Live. Always Use A Safe (for your money, of course!).
      Be Responsible. Warn Potential Partners. Avoid Passing VD Onto Your Children Born Outside US.
      Today, the question isn’t “Do You Have an STD?” It’s “Where Were You Born? If the answer is anywhere in US, knowledgeable potential partners will turn and run for fear of catching your VD There is no possibility of marriage. Possible mates fear having their lives and finances ruined by your VD. No one wants to come near you. You are destined for a life alone.
      The only one who wants to screw anyone with VD is IRS. When IRS finishes with you, they toss you aside. IRS rapidly moves on to their next conquest. They gleefully spread VD that originated with them onto others. Instead of preventing greater spread of VD, elected officials in Congress get their kicks as a voyeur cheering IRS on.
      Can I say all of that here?!? What would Isaac Brock think?!?
      Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 8:59 pm
      I also would love to know the outcome of this. And the US dares to label us “cheats” and “criminals.”
      Steven, these ladies aren’t 92 and in a nursing home. But Ambassador Jacobsen did say US was not after Canadian grandmas. It seems someone forgot to tell IRS! These women could use the pro bono service you offered to Arrow’s mother.
      I have made some comments about VD (voluntary disclosure), comparing it to another form of VD in another post: http://isaacbrocksociety.com/2012/02/22/irs-is-bluffing-bad-faith-negotiations-in-the-ovdi/#comments
      I understand seniors have a rapidly growing rate of the other type of VDs. IRS seems to be happily passing it on to these two Canadian grandmas, whom Ambassador Jacobsen thought would or should be immune.
      Maybe the Ambassador lied–just like US Consulate did to many of us decades ago when they told us we were permanently renouncing. Our only crime is we believed them!
      I’m also not sure if I would believe a tax lawyer, immigration lawyer or accountant either. No one seems to know what the truth is. It all seems to depend on what the meaning of is is.
      Does anyone remember that old game Truth or Dare? (Maybe I’m showing my age). That’s what this feels like–it feels like we’re in a Truth or Dare challenge with IRS. If don’t believe them, we’re in trouble. If we do believe them, we could be in even more trouble.
      Best thing to do is what we tell our kids: Stay Out of Trouble! That should be so easy, but it’s not!

  3. Just for fun a quick note from the streets of Paris. I have a friend who is visiting and we talked today. He’s been reading my posts on citizenship-based taxation and reported that he visited an accounting firm here in Paris and he asked them about some of what I wrote. Does the US really tax based on citizenship and so on. The answer he got was interesting. The American Paris-based accountants assured him that it was just like moving from one state in the US to another and that basically one only paid taxes to one entity, i.e. the state or country) where the income was actually generated. They informed him that it was simply not the case that U.S. citizens could owe taxes to (for example) France AND the U.S. Now I don’t know who these folks are (my friend did ask if they did personal tax returns for US citizens abroad and his contact replied that he had only done it once and didn’t really want to ever do it again). Now this contradicted everything I’ve ever written on my website so my friend is seriously confused right now. I was appalled at the disinformation. My friend is a visitor from the US. He is open to new information, is curious and genuinely wants answers. But between what he reads on my blog and what he just heard from the pros he doesn’t know what the hell is going on. We are going to talk again over coffee but our conversation today really sent a chill down my spine. Even the “pros” don’t seem to be able to convey accurate information.

  4. @Victoria: That’s the problem. Talk to five different lawyers and five different accountants and you will get ten different answers. Even ones who specialize often disagree.
    Despite that, it is terrifying that a “professional” would not know the basics of citizenship-based taxation which US inflicts on the world. I wonder what he knows about FATCA.

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