Category Archives: FBAR

Part 2: Be careful what you “Fix For” – Mr. Kentera meets Mr. #FBAR in the “Twilight Zone”

Introduction …

This post is one more of a collection of FBAR posts on this blog. The most recent FBAR posts are here and here.

The “unfiled FBAR” continues to be a problem for certain Homeland Americans with “offshore accounts” and all Americans abroad,  who continue to “commit personal finance abroad”.

The above tweet references a recent post which discussed how to “fix past compliance problems“. The introduction included:

Continue reading

Be careful what you “fix for”! A Holiday Gift: What to do about the unfiled #FBAR

As 2016 comes to an end …

I suspect that history will show that that the growth in renunciations of U.S. citizenship (and abandonment of Green Cards) continued in 2016. Absent a change in the way that the United States treats its “U.S. Persons Abroad”, I suspect that the growth in renunciations of U.S. citizenship will continue.

The purpose of this post and a short summary …

This blog post will hopefully encourage those with U.S. tax issues to consider whether they can deal with minor/unintentional FBAR violations as a “stand alone single problem”. There may be no need to escalate and expand one single problem into a multi-dimensional full blown tax problem that may end up with unintended and unanticipated costly professional fees as well as undue time spent!  Read on and learn why.  Keeping a calm head is most important, even if it is most difficult to do in the face of the scary situation of not being in compliance with the U.S. tax and regulatory regime.

This post consists of the following six parts:

Part 1 – Problems, more problems and the expansion of problems

Part 2 – Looking For Mr. FBAR

Part 3 – It often begins with a chance meeting with Mr. FBAR

Part 4 – How the compliance problems of “Homeland Americans” (particularly Green Card holders) differ from the compliance problems of “Americans Abroad”

Part 5 – Focusing specifically on the problem of FBAR non-compliance

Part 6 – Dealing with the tax professionals: Beware of how they can expand the number of problems

 

_____________________________________________________

Continue reading

Citizenship-based reporting: Mr. #FBAR as a role model for President Putin and the Russian government

 

It has been widely reported that American actor Steven Seagal has joined American boxer Roy Jones in becoming a citizen of Russia. By becoming Russian citizens, Mr. Seagal and Mr. Jones are now subject to Russia’s Currency laws, which include the requirement to report their non-Russian bank accounts to the Kremlin. Messrs Seagal and Jones may admire Russia. That said, it’s clear that the Kremlin admires the U.S. Treasury in general and Mr. FBAR – America’s most important citizen – in particular.

Citizenship-based reporting: Mr. FBAR as a role model for President Putin and the Russian government …

 

Although Russia has “residence-based taxation” it has “citizenship-based reporting”.
Continue reading

Around the world in 192 pages: Experiences of #Americansabroad in an #FBAR and #FATCA world

Here it is:

richardsonkishcommentsamericansabroadapril152015internationaltax-2

This is one of seven parts of the Richardson Kish submissions to the Senate Finance Committee in April of 2015. I thank Patricia Moon for her unbelievable effort in putting this document together!

And speaking of Americans abroad in an FBAR and FATCA world, you might like to read:

The message is:

When In Rome, Live As A Homelander

#YouCantMakeThisUp!

John Richardson

 

Will a business trip to the United States of America trigger a “chance” encounter with Mr. #FBAR?

Prologue: Circa 1948 – George Orwell anticipates the arrival of Mr. FBAR

‘By the way, old boy,’ he said. ‘I hear that little beggar of mine let fly at you with his catapult yesterday. I gave him a good dressing-down for it. In fact I told him I’d take the catapult away if he does it again.

‘I think he was a little upset at not going to the execution,’ said Winston.

‘ Ah, well — what I mean to say, shows the right spirit, doesn’t it? Mischievous little beggars they are, both of them, but talk about keenness! All they think about is the Spies, and the war, of course. D’you know what that little girl of mine did last Saturday, when her troop was on a hike out Berkhamsted way? She got two other girls to go with her, slipped off from the hike, and spent the whole afternoon following a strange man. They kept on his tail for two hours, right through the woods, and then, when they got into Amersham, handed him over to the patrols.’

‘What did they do that for?’ said Winston, somewhat taken aback. Parsons went on triumphantly:

‘My kid made sure he was some kind of enemy agent — might have been dropped by parachute, for instance. But here’s the point, old boy. What do you think put her on to him in the first place? She spotted he was wearing a funny kind of shoes — said she’d never seen anyone wearing shoes like that before. So the chances were he was a foreigner. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?’

‘What happened to the man?’ said Winston.

‘Ah, that I couldn’t say, of course. But I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if-‘ Parsons made the motion of aiming a rifle, and clicked his tongue for the explosion.

Chapter 5 of George Orwell’s 1984

Writing in 1948, George Orwell (in his book 1984) identified the need to identify and punish all things “foreign” as being important for domestic security.

Continue reading

US tax lawyer, blogger and #FATCA researcher inducted into “Hall Of Fame”

So much publicity! So little relevance!

The New York primary was this week. Both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton extended their leads and moved one step closer to their respective party’s nominations. (Mrs. Clinton with the approval of the Democratic Party and Mr. Trump with the disapproval of the Republican Party.) Interestingly both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton have higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings. Yet each of them appears likely to represent their respective parties in the upcoming Presidential election. One of them will win the election (this is not the same as having been elected). Will the eventual winner make a positive difference in the life of any individual? Doubtful. Watching the political process contributes to a sense of negativity about human nature.

But, wait! The World Is Full Of Good People!

Starting at the age of 7 or 8, I participated in four seasons of organized sports. To be truly effective, organized sports are highly dependent on adult volunteers. I well remember a guy named “Bob D.” Although I thought of him as old, he was probably somewhere between the age of 20 and 25. Anyway, “Bob D” was helping with baseball. “Bob D.” was helping with basketball. “Bob D.” was helping with football. “Bob D.” was always volunteering his time and coaching.  I have a memory of my father noticing “Bob D.” and commenting “There are a lot of good people in this world”. So true.  I don’t believe that “Bob D.” received a lot of recognition or a lot of gratitude. Yet year after year, season after season, week after week, day after day. “Bob D.” showed up. He clearly made a positive difference in the lives of others.

The Unsung Heroes of Life

You will find people like “Bob D.” in every facet of life. They do things for people, just because they want to. They contribute to their communities, just because they want to.  They provide mentorship for people, just because they want to. They put their kids through university because they want to. They are the true “Unsung Heroes of Life”. I once thought of writing a little book about these “Unsung Heroes of Life”.

Although, I can’t do a book. I can offer this “Bedtime Story” …

Continue reading

Tax Haven or Tax Heaven: Introduction – Were the “Panama Papers” about #offshore “tax evasion” or “tax avoidance”?

The above tweet references an article written by Tony Burman, which appeared in the Toronto Star (and other papers) on April 9, 2016.

The article included:

The global aftershocks of the so-called Panama Papers are only beginning to be felt. More revelations are expected in the weeks ahead, and this will only add to the uproar.

The prime minister of Iceland has already been dumped. Other government leaders have been embarrassed. Several countries have announced inquiries into the secretive world of offshore tax evasion. And public anxiety about the corrupt coddling of the world’s superwealthy “1%” is showing signs of turning into red-hot anger.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not as if we didn’t already know that the world’s political and business elites frequently cheat and steal, that our governments are swindled out of trillions of dollars of revenue and, as a consequence of this greed, the vast majority of people suffer from a painful culture of austerity so these freeloaders can get richer. We already knew that.

However, it is the disgusting detail contained in this week’s revelation of leaked documents that is so revolting — and, of course, the appalling fact that so much of this is technically “legal.”
With their own interests in mind, politicians and business leaders in many countries have worked quietly in the dead of night to make this so. The result is that, more than ever, taxes now appear to be primarily for the little people.
The documents come from an influential Panama-based law firm. They include 11.5 million internal records disclosing the financial secrets of heads of state, billionaires, drug lords, celebrities and others.

While expressing outrage at the part of the “Panama Papers” that represents tax evasion, Mr. Burman identifies that much of the revelations of the “Panama Papers” was the result of clear and deliberate government policies and laws. In other words, the story of the “Panama Papers” is mostly about “legal tax avoidance” and ” NOT illegal “tax evasion”. Therefore, it is entirely unreasonable and counterproductive to focus on “tax evasion” and exclude “tax avoidance” from the discussion.

Nevertheless, when it comes to tax evasion …

The OECD’s Q and A about the “Panama Papers” reveals:
Continue reading

US Passport application links Citizenship @StateDept to Taxation @USTreasury to enforce “Taxation based Citizenship”

Yesterday I was forwarded an email which originated from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. The purpose of the email (included at the end of this post) was to give notice of  U.S. tax obligations for U.S. citizens living outside the United States. In other words, the State Department is assisting the IRS by notifying Americans abroad of their U.S. tax filing obligations. Put another way, this email represents:

“Tax Education Outreach” from the IRS delivered by the State Department”

I do NOT recall this in previous years. That said, this email notification is extremely significant. It means that the IRS can argue that those who received this email may well have had notice that they were required to file U.S. tax returns. Over time, this will increase awareness of U.S. tax filing obligations. The greater the increase in awareness of U.S. tax filing obligations, the harder it will be to claim ignorance of those obligations. (This is in addition to the “Educational Outreach” coming in the form of FATCA letters from your local bank and your friendly journalists. In both cases, you are being asked to consider the question of: “Are you or have you even been an American citizen?“) Although, this is NOT an immediate problem, it seems logical that sooner or later it will become more difficult for Americans abroad to claim ignorance of their U.S. tax filing obligations. This may have implications for coming into U.S. tax compliance.

 

Q. Who would have received this email from the U.S. consulate?

A. Anybody who is on the U.S. Consulate email list.

Q. Who would be on the U.S. Consulate email list?

A. It would include almost anybody who has applied for a U.S. passport.

To put it simply:

One who applies for a U.S. passport is now putting oneself in a position where one will be told about U.S. tax filing obligations. Since most Americans abroad need a U.S. passport, it stands to reason that those who apply for a U.S. passport are creating a situation where they will be told about U.S. “taxation based citizenship”. You can see where this is going.

This appears to be the next step in the progression that includes …

Continue reading

Why the S. 877A(g)(1)(B) “dual citizen exemption” encourages dual citizens from birth to remain US citizens and others (except @SenTedCruz) to renounce

Introduction – The S. 877A(g)(b)(B) “born a dual citizen” defense to being a “covered expatriate”

The “dual citizen” exemption to the S. 877A “Exit Tax” rules is not well understood. It is also not as simple (who could have known) as it initially appears. The focus of this discussion will be on being born both a Canadian citizen and a U.S. citizen. Although the post is “Canada centric” (hey, I am a lawyer in Canada), it will help anybody hoping to benefit from this wonderful “defense”. For the benefit of those born before February 15, 1977 (the date of the second Canada Citizenship Act), I am required to explore some of the history and difficulties of the the 1947 Canada Citizenship Act. This will lead me into a discussion of the “Lost Canadians” citizenship issue – pioneered by Don Chapman.

This is the 1st of seven posts analyzing the “dual citizen exemption” to the S. 877A Exit Tax which is found in S. 877A(g)(1)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. Please remember that the “dual citizen exemption” is available ONLY to those who meet the “five year tax compliance test”.

1. What is the S. 877A(g)(1)(B) “dual citizen exemption” and why does it encourage those “born dual citizens” to not renounce U.S. citizenship?

2. The history of Canada’s citizenship laws: Did the 1947 Canada Citizenship Act affirm citizenship or “strip” citizenship and create @LostCanadians?

3. The S. 877A “dual citizen” exemption – I was born before the first ever Canada Citizenship Act? Could I have been “born a Canadian citizen”?

4. The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: The 1947 Canada Citizenship Act – Am I still a Canadian or did I lose Canadian citizenship? (The “Sins Of The Father”)

5. The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: The 1947 Canada Citizenship Act and the requirements to be “born Canadian

6. “The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: I was born a dual citizen! Am I still “taxed as a resident” of Canada?

7. The S. 877A “Dual Citizen” exemption: “MUST certify tax compliance for the five years prior to relinquishment

Here, we go, Post number 1 …

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and London Mayor Boris Johnson are “high profile” examples of people who have the “unwanted citizenship” of the countries of their birth. Each of them has found the citizenship of the country of his birth to be inconvenient.

Ted Cruz was born in 1971 in Canada. He was therefore born a Canadian citizen. He claims to have been born to a U.S. citizen mother and was therefore a U.S. citizen by birth. (Whether he qualifies as a “natural born citizen” is a different question.) As a Canadian citizen he had the right (prior to renouncing Canadian citizenship) to live in Canada. Had Mr. Cruz, moved back to Canada, he could have avoided the U.S. S. 877A Exit Tax. Incredible but true. It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Cruz regrets renouncing his Canadian citizenship. As you will see, by renouncing Canadian citizenship, Mr. Cruz surrendered his right to avoid the United States S. 877A Exit Tax.

Here is why …

The S. 877A Exit Tax rules in the Internal Revenue Code, are the most punitive in relation to U.S. citizens living outside the United States (AKA Americans abroad). To put it simply, with respect to Americans abroad, the S. 877A Exit Tax rules:

– operate to confiscate assets that are located in other nations; and

– operate to confiscate assets that were acquired by U.S. citizens after they moved from the United States.

There is not and has never been an “Exit Tax” anywhere else that operates in this way. The application of the S. 877A Exit Tax to assets located in other nations, is both an example of “American Exceptionalism” at its finest and a strong deterrent to exercising the right of expatriation granted in the “Expatriation Act of 1868“.

But, the “Exit Tax” applies ONLY to “Covered Expatriates” and “dual citizens from birth” can avoid being “Covered Expatriates” …

As has been previously discussed, the Exit Tax applies ONLY to “covered expatriates“. There are two statutory defenses to becoming a “covered expatriate”. This post is to discuss the “dual citizen from birth” defense to being treated as a “covered expatriate”. I have discovered that this defense is NOT as well known or understood as it should be.

The statute granting the “dual citizen from birth” defense to “Covered Expatriate” status reads as follows:

Continue reading

Prologue: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – #Americansabroad and forced renunciation of US citizenship

U.S. Citizenship Abroad in a FATCA and FBAR World

FATCA has inflicted pain on the world. The pain has been most acutely felt by those with a U.S. place of birth. The following report is shocking in its brutality.

Listen to the pain and anguish of the woman interviewed who can’t have a bank account simply because she is a “U.S. person”. Listen to the language she uses. Jen is proud to be an American, feels that she is being forced to renounce U.S. citizenship, and considers the current U.S. government to be a “bunch of extortionists”. She is clearly suffering extreme pain and anguish. Listen to the French citizen and resident, who doesn’t speak English and is claimed by the United States to be a “U.S. person”. Then listen to the unnamed “Voice of the Obama Administration”, which says:

“The U.S. Treasury Department has worked tirelessly to address many of these problems and most have been resolved. All you have to do is look to see how many countries have agreed to the law and how many financial institutions have signed on to the law.”

Clearly the voice of the Obama administration is either a liar or is delusional.

How we got there – A brief backgrounder on “how many countries have agreed to the law and how many financial institutions have signed on to the law”

FATCAHunt2

As you know the U.S. Government is hunting for those they consider to be “U.S. persons”. The hunt is taking place outside the United States. The hunt is intended to identify the residents and citizens of other nations that the U.S. chooses to define as “U.S. persons”. The vast majority of those deemed to be “U.S. persons”, are deemed so because they were born in the United States. To put it simply: The United States exercises taxing jurisdiction based on reasons that include “place of birth”. The fact that somebody is a citizen and resident of another nation is irrelevant. If you were born in the United States, then you are subject to U.S. law and control wherever you may reside. The only defense is to have “relinquished U.S. citizenship”. Relinquishment is a broad term that includes “renunciation”. President Obama promised “change you can believe in”. President Obama delivered. The most enduring legacy of the Obama presidency will be that he has made a “Certificate of Loss of U.S. Nationality” (“CLN”) the most sought after document in the world today.

Furthermore, the United States and the United States alone decides who is a U.S. citizen.

See comments about the BBC Interview here and here.

Some of the interesting comments include:

Great job Keith. Hearing Jen (?) speak was very powerful. Even with understanding what is going on with this mess, to hear her speak just opened the wound a little wider if possible.

How they cannot see how absolutely disgusting CBT/FATCA is and how “exceptionally” abusive they are I will never understand. This mess has taught me what hatred feels like, something I could have well lived without.

and

Made my blood pressure boil hearing Treasury quoted as saying the rest of the world wants FATCA – Mythster Stack is a &%#*}#!!!!

and

Giving up US citizenship is not an alternative. It is a last resort solution. Cutting off one’s arm to escape the trap. One doesn’t get rid of a problem by getting rid of the victims of the problem. The only real solution to this problem is for the US to adopt residence as a standard for taxation, the same as every other country in the world. Only then will non-resident US citizens be placed on an equal footing with other non-resident citizens from other countries and no longer have to suffer the consequences of discrimination.