Monthly Archives: September 2012

Canada, Australia and Switzerland–Who Will Hold Out?

Here are some interesting pieces from the news and from personal perspectives.
First is a CTV interview with Queen’s University law professor, Art Cockfield, who has spoken out before against FATCA.   He makes the point that the Canadian government needs to be doing more “sabre rattling” over FATCA.
He also makes a point I don’t think I have heard before that he thinks FATCA is illegal under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement.).  So, we already know FATCA violates Canada’s banking, privacy and human rights laws and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Now a law professor says it also is illegal under NAFTA.  Why are we still having this conversation?  Why doesn’t the Canadian government Just Say No?
Cockfield stresses, like others, that IRS is not going to find much revenue going after Americans in Canada and points to our 70 year effective tax treaty.  Our friends is Switzerland will not like the comment he makes about Americans living in a tax haven like Switzerland.
Thanks Saddened for sending me the link to the CTV interview with Professor Cockfield.
Investment Europe is reporting FATCA Rules Could Cause Banks To Cut Back On External Asset Managers.  Asset management is the main focus of the article.  But, there is an interesting comment at the very end about the situation in Switzerland.

FATCA is already law in the US but negotiations are under way to enshrine it in national law of countries around the world. Jaeger was hopeful that some ‘carve-outs’, or exemptions, could be negotiated for pension funds and custodial banks in Switzerland. However, he thought the possibility of getting a foreign law accepted in a Swiss referendum was ‘unlikely’

I think getting a foreign law accepted in a referendum in any country would be unlikely.  However, is a referendum planned for Switzerland?
iExpats is reporting Australia Is Ready to Join FATCA Tax Alliance.  This seems to be a model similar to the Europe Five.  However, the Europe Five model is dependent on “reciprocity,” which is still far from a done deal because US Bankers Are Fighting The IRS on “reciprocity.”
On a personal level, Victoria tells How I Really Feel About Citizenship Based Taxation. Actually, I suspect Victoria is being quite tactful and holding back from how she “really” feels.
And, here is an Israeli-American Couple’s Letter To IRS TAS.  It continues to boggle my mind how people whose lives have been turned upside down continue to be so reserved and polite in their comments.
 
 

 

Americans in Switzerland Letter to Congress

Americans living in Switzerland seem to have been hit the hardest of any with reports of banks there closing accounts of US-born Swiss residents and even refusing to renew mortgages because of IRS efforts.
An Americans in Switzerland Letter has been sent to Congress.   Will it make a difference?  It doesn’t seem much will budge Congress or IRS, especially when you consider Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said in July:

“You either get a Swiss bank account to conceal what you’re doing, or you believe the Swiss franc is stronger than the American dollar.”

Then, of course, Obama’s former press secretary Robert Gibbs said;

“I pick a bank because there’s an ATM near my home. Romney had a bank account in Switzerland.”

Well, guess what?  People living in Switzerland get bank accounts with ATMs near their homes too.  It’s not convenient to get on a plane, fly across the ocean, use an ATM in Washington (which IRS considers the official residence of Americans living outside US), take out US dollars, fly home to Switzerland and convert the money into Swiss francs to spend where you live.
And, Senator Durbin, there is a third reason for Swiss bank accounts.  People living in Switzerland need them for normal everyday banking–like deposits of employment income, payment of bills and mortgages and saving for children’s education and retirement.
Those are also the reasons people living in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere have bank accounts in the countries where they live (and where many of us are citizens).
Go after the real tax cheats.  Certainly find out why Romney and others living in US have Swiss or Cayman Island accounts. Make them file FBARs.   Leave the rest of us alone to pursue our normal, honest, law-abiding tax-paying lives in other countries.
Democratic Swissophobia is hurting “US persons” throughout the world.  The witch hunt is causing Amerophobia around the globe.  .
 
 
 

Will the Harper Government sell us out?

There have been very few comments from Jim Flaherty or the Canadian Government, in general, for many months regarding FATCA or the situation of so called USPs in Canada.
Mr Flaherty’s comments last Fall were quite strong. As you all likely know, he made it clear that FBAR penalties would not be collected in Canada and that Canada was not a tax haven. He seemed to be strongly backing USPs in Canada. His comments were very reassuring.
There have been some hints that an IGA ( Intergovernmental Agreement) over FATCA is being negotiated, but nothing concrete has been said, to my knowledge.
Often, the Canadian government gives in to the elephant  next door. Just look at what has been done to satisfy the U. S.over border security issues. However, there have been other issues such as softwood lumber where Canada has stood its ground.
My question is- will the Harper government  give in to the Americans or will it vigorously protect the rights of its citizens?
 

Stay Out Of IRS Quicksand

On the IRS Targets Yanks on Canada thread, Hazy 2 compares IRS efforts to suck us into their quicksand to old adventure movies where unsuspecting folks get pulled into quicksand and disappear.
It does seem that’s what IRS is trying to do.  But, we need to understand how quicksand really works.  The following information is from  Science: How Stuff Works:

With quicksand, the more you struggle in it the faster you will sink. If you just relax, your body will float in it because your body is less dense than the quicksand.
How many times have you watched a movie where the hero is sucked down into a pit of quicksand, only to be saved at the last minute by grabbing a nearby tree branch and pulling himself out?
If you believed what you saw in movies, you might think that quicksand is a living creature that can suck you down into a bottomless pit, never to be heard from again. But no — the actual properties of quicksand are not quite those portrayed in the movies.
Quicksand is not quite the fearsome force of nature that you sometimes see on the big screen. In fact, the treacherous grit is rarely deeper than a few feet.
It can occur almost anywhere if the right conditions are present. Quicksand is basically just ordinary sand that has been so saturated with water that the  friction between sand particles is reduced. The resulting sand is a mushy mixture of sand and water that can no longer support any weight.
If you step into quicksand, it won’t suck you down. However, your movements will cause you to dig yourself deeper into it.

So, the lesson for us is: Relax.  Stay away from the quicksand.  If you stumble across it, don’t step in it.  If you do fall into IRS quicksand, don’t struggle. Don’t dig yourself deeper.  Float.
Don’t let IRS suck you in.  If you do, once you are in their bottomless pit, IRS will  try to grab your money which was earned, saved, invested and taxed outside United States of Arrogance.