Monthly Archives: January 2013

Green Party of Canada Issues Statement On FATCA

Elizabeth May and Erich Jacoby-Hawkins have now issued a Green Party of Canada Statement on FATCA. (IRS Tax Collection: Evasion of the US or Invasion of Canada?)
Green Party Leader Ms. May says:

“Clearly, any person with earnings or part-time residence in the US should file tax returns and pay US taxes in keeping with current bilateral agreements. However, our government must stand up for Canadian citizens who are neither working under nor representing any burden to the US governmental system”

Green Party Revenue Critic Mr. Jacoby Hawkins (who was the only representative of any of the parties at FATCA Forum) says:

“It would be a clear violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms to have Canadian banks, under the direction of the IRS, violate the privacy rights of some Canadian citizens or residents based on their current or former ties to another country, namely the United States.”

I hope the government is prepared to listen to the Green Party’s position on this:

 We must not permit Canadian financial institutions to comply with FATCA in violation of our own privacy laws, and if the US attempts to enforce FATCA against them, we must vigorously respond and seek legal remedy as is our right.
If the US feels the existing Canada-United States Convention with Respect to Taxes is not working, they should provide specific details and suggestions on how to improve it through legislative amendment without sacrificing the rights of Canadians to foreign interests.

Of course, the Green Party only has one seat in Parliament.  That is Ms. May’s. She herself was born in US, moved to Canada (Nova Scotia) as a teen and has been a Canadian citizen since 1978.  Her seat is for a BC riding, Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Ms. May, like many of us, believed she relinquished her US citizenship permanently and irrevocably when she became a citizen as a young woman.  I believe she is also like most of us in that she does not have a CLN.
I hope this statement may result in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and other parties breaking their months-long silence on FATCA to assure Canadians that their fundamental rights will be protected.

Why Congress Doesn't Get It

If we had any question about why Congress and US media do not get the problems with FATCA, here it is.
In a bizarre Fox News Business interview, the conclusion is made that all the good Senators are dead.
We learn that the Senate is “full of millionaires with nothing else to do with their money.”  I wonder if they FATCA their offshore accounts.
Here’s what the panel had to say about some of the Senators:

Max Baucus is “a big cowboy.” (that was the only compliment!)
Eric Cantor is a “little weasel.”
Harry Reid is a “thieving skunk.”
Chuck Schumer is “dreadful, embarrassing.”

The interview veered off into some really weird on-air discussions of the personal lives of the panel members.
And, we want these folks to understand something as complex as FATCA?!?  We are doomed if we rely on them.
We have to keep the pressure up on our own politicians and media–who look fabulous in comparison!

Will FATCA Cause Some of the Headlines We Read in 2015?

The final regulations for FATCA were released yesterday by the US Department of Treasury, and the IRS. If you’re interested, you can read all 544 abstruse pages at the links below.
As far as I can tell there is nothing unexpected in there and no good news. The United States still expects all foreign banks to comply with their law, even when it violates that country’s law. The US still expects our banks to pay huge sums to implement a foreign law, to administer a foreign law, and to betray law-abiding Canadian citizens.
I haven’t found any response or updated information from our Canadian government. The release of the final regulations led me to think about the potential impact of FATCA on Canada if our government does not protect its citizens.
Could the following be some of the headlines we might see in early 2015?

Bankruptcies on the rise across Canada.
The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada has just released updated information. Bankruptcies in 2014 reached an all-time high of 117,258.  In 2011, only 81,636 bankruptcies were recorded. Continue reading Will FATCA Cause Some of the Headlines We Read in 2015?

Is This Fair? 3200% FBAR Penalty

“Does this seem fair?” asks tax attorney Anthony E. Parent.
In Another FBAR Penalty Victory for IRS and DOJ, Mr. Parent writes of the “shocking” case where “the Department of Justice strong-armed an elderly widow into accepting a plea deal that included an FBAR penalty equal to 3200% of the total tax evaded.”
Mr. Parent gives information from DOJ:

Mary Estelle Curran of Palm Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to filing false tax returns for tax years 2006 and 2007, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) announced….According to the plea agreement, Curran’s conduct caused a tax loss to the government of approximately $667,716…Curran has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of 50 percent of the high balance of the accounts, which is $21,666,929. Continue reading Is This Fair? 3200% FBAR Penalty

Toxic Tax Act (FATCA) Is In Trouble

Here might be a ray of hope for us.
Nigel Green says FATCA, America’s New Toxic Tax Act, Is In Trouble.
Mr. Green gives two reasons for believing FATCA is “running out of steam.”

Firstly, the US Treasury Department has again failed to meet its own end-of-year deadline to publish the FATCA rules, one of the key steps in its implementation.  This is the second time that the Treasury Department has missed such a deadline – the first one came and went in September 2012.
Secondly, to date, only the UK, Denmark, Ireland and Mexico, plus a handful of British Crown Dependencies, have signed FATCA’s required Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).  The Treasury Department had hoped to finalise IGAs with many others, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland before the end of 2012. It failed on that too.

Mr. Green does expect IGAs to be signed and regulations to be released.  Yet, he remains optimistic:

But there’s no getting away from the fact that the campaign to introduce FATCA appears to be floundering.

As most of you know, Mr. Green also had a thread last week, FATCA Good Or Bad: You Decide.  Some familiar names and a few new ones are in the comments.  All “decided” FATCA is bad.  If only these were the real decision-makers!
Let’s keep up the pressure as FATCA flounders.

Taxpayer Advocate Report Is Out

IRS 2012 Taxpayer Advocate Report is out.  It’s not flattering to IRS.
Perhaps the nicest thing Nina Olsen has to say is the most apparent:

The most serious problem facing taxpayers – and the IRS – is the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code (the “tax code”).

Mind you, she seems to be talking about taxpayers in US with that statement.  The report does not even touch on FATCA or citizenship-based taxation, which was disappointing.
The complexity of the IRS Tax Code within US is nothing compared to the complexity for those outside the US–including for those of us who don’t even consider ourselves to be “US persons.” Continue reading Taxpayer Advocate Report Is Out

Appeasement Doesn't Work

World War II showed us that a policy of appeasement simply encourages bullies to further excess. Why, then, are so many countries intent on a policy of appeasement regarding a foreign country’s laws, namely FATCA?
Canada didn’t pursue a policy of appeasement in 1812 – we just kicked the butt of the United States right out of our country. Perhaps the reason for that was territorial – the US was invading Canada’s physical territory, which alarmed and angered both the government and Canada’s citizens. If the US invaded Canada physically today, to gain access to our fresh water, our oil, our vast kilometres of forest and resources, not only would Canada fight back, but the US would be censured the world over. However, unfortunately for us, two hundred years later, the US has learned an important lesson – economic pressure can win where brute force cannot. Continue reading Appeasement Doesn't Work