We Are Not Tax Cheats

Here is an article We Are Not Tax Cheats from the Financial Post by Lynne Swanson (aka Blaze). (The editor added Dual and American to the headline, but everything else seems to be exactly as I wrote it)
This article says:

If China, Russia, Mexico, Iran or Eritrea were demanding Canadian banks and other financial institutions submit private financial information on Canadian citizens and residents to those countries, there would be outrage.
If Canadian banks were spending millions of dollars preparing to develop systems to report information on Canadian citizens and residents to those countries, there would be outrage.
If the Canadian government were “actively seeking a solution that both countries will find agreeable,” there would be outrage.
If Canadian media were calling Canadian citizens and residents born in those countries “tax cheats,” and advising them to “come clean,” there would be outrage.
Yet, up to one million Canadians of American origin have lived that nightmare for two years with no resolution.

It also says:

The government refuses to tell us if it will sign away our rights.


We need Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to insist that Canadian banks follow Canadian laws. We need Minister Flaherty to reassure Canadian citizens and residents that Canadian laws will not be changed for a foreign nation.
Most importantly, we need our elected officials to tell the United States that Canadian laws are made in Ottawa, not in Washington. We must not allow the United States to FATCA Canada.
We deserve no less than Canadians born in China, Russia, Mexico, Iran, Eritrea or elsewhere.


27 thoughts on “We Are Not Tax Cheats

  1. Blaze—a heartfelt article that will keep the pressure on Flaherty. Congratulations!
    I forwarded the link to your opinion piece to Diane Francis, columnist at the Financial Post, for her enlightenment.

  2. This is a superb article, Lynne! Couldn’t be better! And getting it in Financial Post is a coup.
    Flaherty can’t ignore this column, and he will know about it, because Finance Canada (like all federal departments) has officials whose job it is to monitor media for articles relevant to the department and the minister, and Financial Post is one of the top two or three, maybe the top, one being monitored for Flaherty.
    If Flaherty does announce an IGA at some point, I wonder how he’ll be able to spin it, given this column. It certain fires a cannon-ball across the bows of those negotiating with the Americans; they will have to be very careful what they agree to and how it gets implemented, if at all.
    I hope my cannon-shots aimed at the Liberals and the NDP in the comments force some discussion of these issues in the Toronto Centre by-election, though I’m not holding my breath. Trudeau and Mulcair both have avoided making any comments on FATCA since becoming party leaders, unlike both Elizabeth May and Jim Flaherty (in his letter to US media nearly two years ago, which didn’t get published there but did get coverage in Canada). They can’t hide forever. I hope any readers in Toronto Centre get to an all-candidates debate at some point and ask where they stand on FATCA and an IGA. If it’s open-mike and the questions aren’t pre-moderated, go for it — they’ll be on the spot. If questions are moderated (which I don’t think in a democracy they should be, but I know that does happen) submit questions anyway and cross your fingers. Bring friends and have all of you stuff the question box or queue at the microphones! Flush them out of hiding.

  3. @Schubert: Thanks. You mention Flaherty’s letter. Actually, this article was published Two years and one day after Flaherty’s letter was published. When it did not appear earlier, I encouraged the editor to do it on or around the anniversary of that letter.
    For those who may not be aware of Flaherty’s letter, it is one he wrote to American media. They did not publish it, but Financial Post published it on September 16, 2011. Here it is.
    I have e-mailed and tweeted my article to Flaherty, Shoom, Mulcair, Trudeau, and CCLA. I will also send it to Joe Arvay.

  4. great article! I sent the link to Mr. Shoom and Mr. Flaherty in an e-mail thread that contains my other FATCA e–mails to Mr. Shoom. I fiure it can’t hurt to keep re-sending the entire message.

  5. In an above comment I suggested that Blaze receive first prize. I’d like to change that to Governor General’s award.
    As Schubert mentioned, articles on FATCA and the IGA are noticed by people in a position to influence things. I hope our esteemed author has success in getting more articles published,

  6. I forwarded a copy of this article yesterday to Maura Drew Lyttle at Canadian Bankers Association. Here is what I said:

    “If China, Russia, Mexico, Iran or Eritrea were demanding Canadian banks and other financial institutions submit private financial information on Canadian citizens and residents to those countries, there would be outrage.
    If Canadian banks were spending millions of dollars preparing to develop systems to report information on Canadian citizens and residents to those countries, there would be outrage.”
    Those are the first two paragraphs from this article which I wrote for Financial Post.
    I can assure you Canadian citizens and residents (whom a foreign government claims are “US persons” ) are outraged. We are outraged at our banks for doing little to stand up for long time customers, instead focusing on administrative and financial burdens to themselves. We are outraged at our government who will not reassure us our fundamental Canadian rights will not be violated.
    We are aware the government is negotiating an IGA with US which could have banks identify “US persons” and report them to CRA instead of to IRS. This does not resolve our outrage. Instead, it places us in a double jeopardy situation. No other Canadian residents must have such comprehensive information submitted to the federal government for transmission to a foreign government.
    Most of all, we are outraged Canadian banks and Canadian Bankers Association and the government have not involved those of us who are most directly affected by this draconian foreign law in any discussions or problem-solving.
    I recently sold my home, downsized to a condo and freed up some equity. That equity did not go to my bank, where I have been a customer for 32 years. I have lost faith that my bank has my best interests in mind. I will soon be transferring more of my assets elsewhere.

    Here is a reply I received today.

    Hi Lynne,
    Thanks for this. Yes, I saw your column on the Post website and I am the one responding to tweets from @CdnBankers. As you know we have been opposed to FATCA from the start because of the extraterritoriality of it and the potential conflict that it has with a number of Canadian laws. We share all the same concerns and objections that you have expressed so well. We have raised these concerns with a variety of US authorities and the Canadian government. Our president, Terry Campbell, raised this issue and our concerns in a few speeches last year as well.
    Now we are waiting for the IGA and hopefully it will be able to address at least some of the concerns. The final requirements for financial institutions will not be known until then.
    Best regards,

  7. Early today someone in passing brought up Flaherty’s announcement of a new Federal securities regulator. Interestingly enough Quebec’s Finance Minister has already announced that Quebec is going to sue the Federal Government over this issue AGAIN. I wonder if Professor Hogg will be representing Flaherty and the Department of Finance again like he did two years ago during the previous round of fighting in court.

  8. Lynne, You just continue to amaze me. You are working so hard for all of us. At the very least – as Hazy has suggested – the Governor General’s Award.

  9. @Tiger: Thanks. Good to see you here, but I’m glad you don’t feel the need to hang out in the Sandbox too much since you got your CLN.
    After Abby Deshman and Joe Arvay told me the article was excellent, I asked who wanted to hire me as a researcher for the FATCA Charter challenge.
    Joe replied “I thought you might want to be the lead plantiff??”
    I told him I thought being a researcher would be far less stressful. Hopefully, it won’t come to a Charter Challenge. Hopefully, it will be resolved before then and we can all go back to having normal lives.
    Normal life? What’s that?!?

  10. Honestly Lynne, your articles make me want to run over to Fort Henry and man the cannons again! Very encouraging! Or perhaps that is the position Flaherty should have taken! Living where I do in Canada’s first capital I am in deep Tory country here. With the U.S. just across the water and the Fort still there. We still have cannons and turrets all along the waterfront. Hell there is one just a block from my house. Everywhere you go here you are reminded of Canada’s battle with the United States so long ago. The reason the capital was moved to Ottawa was Kingston was thought to be too close to the U.S. and Ottawa would be less vulnerable. Yet mighty battles were fought here an the signs are so visible all over this city. I look at them with so much more appreciation than I had before.
    You really are at the fore front of a second battle to keep the U.S. from over taking and bullying Canada. I love it!

  11. @Atticus: I lived in Kingston for a year. I know Fort Henry. Man (Or Woman!) the cannons for a FATCA fight!
    Remember what was said before:

    “The unanimous vote of the Continent is Canada is ours. Quebec must be taken.” (John Adams, 1776)
    “The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.” (Thomas Jefferson, 1812)

    It didn’t happen in 1776. It didn’t happen in 1812. It’s not happening now!

  12. Oh, you know what? I think I WILL go up there this weekend with all the fall events going on to hand out pamphlets.

    1. Good idea, I’ve been thinking of distributing pamphlets also…not sure where, though I guess anywhere is good…heck, even window-shields in a shopping mall parking lot.
      Are you referring to the fact sheet that Victoria compiled?

  13. Fabulous idea. I wish I could go with you. Let us know what happens. One Mom In Tennis Shoes protest? Have someone take photos. Do you have a musket you could use?

  14. “Blaze” – ‘illumination’, ‘intensity’, ‘rage’, ‘break new ground’, ‘light the way’.
    Your pseudonym is well chosen!
    Simply great article. My hand is raised in support of the nomination for the GG’s award!

  15. CBA response to Blaze is consistent with what I found out from the Investment Industry information session I reported on in “The elephant in the room”.
    It is going to take a very long time for the financial industry to adapt to the IGA, which gives us more time to hammer away and educate.

  16. One of the things I find disturbing, and perhaps grounds for at least one class action law suit, is that by giving IRS access to ‘US person’ accounts, they are putting us into harms way, with no justification for doing so.
    For example, those of us who have lived most of our lives in Canada, as normal Canadians, have set ourselves up for horrendously expensive annual tax reporting – never mind the US tax liability – by investing in TFSA’s and RESPs (considered foreign trusts by IRS) and Canadian mutual funds (considered passive foreign investment companies by IRS). No ‘US person’ in their right mind would ever invest in these things had they a clue they were US taxpayers. They would renounce FIRST, but cannot now without jumping through expensive, complicated hoops. The Canadian government never cautioned Canadians with US indicia that these investment products could be lethal.
    And even if our government manages to carve out an exception for registered products, they are still handing over personal financial account details of Canadians who will become target for further IRS scrutiny – thus RESPs and TFSAs etc, will eventually be subject to expensive reporting, taxation, and penalization whether reported on directly through FATCA regulations or by the wearied, hunted-down ‘US person’ herself.
    If the Canadian government signs a FATCA IGA it is literally putting responsible, saving Canadians into harms way, while there was no wrong doing on their part.

    1. Not a far-fetched idea, and I am talking about a class action lawsuit by both current and former citizens against the US Government.
      Already the US government is being sued over NSA bugging. I already posted these links in another thread.

  17. @Arctic,
    I was referring to a class action lawsuit against the Canadian government, not US. It is the Canadian government who is putting its Canadian citizens, and residents under harms way, by refusing to do its duty to defend us against an extra-territorial law that will and already has caused us harm.

  18. @White Kat, what FATCA and FBAR reporting really are doing is a criminal investigation. An investigation on innocent people with no proof of any wrong doing or any reason to launch such investigating. At the very least we should have the right to not be investigated with no evidence of any wrong doing.
    This exactly the same as if you were able to be searched while walking down the street just because some officer doesn’t like your looks. To me part of the question here is legal. How legal is FBAR in Canada? They are saying everyone is to report on themselves so they can see if you are a criminal or not and if you do not report on yourself and everyone related to you then you are fined. It’s outrageous from any nation calling itself a “democracy” or even a “constitutional republic” if you want to mince words.

  19. Atticus, you are right, of course. The arguments against FATCA are endless. Our side of the argument is easy to defend; truth always is, despite the fact that FATCA is against us.

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