Tag Archives: citizenship taxation

Determining Tax Residency In the United States: Citizenship and other forms of deemed tax residence

Introduction

The advent of the OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) has illuminated the issue of “tax residency” and the desire of people to become “tax residents of  more “tax favourable” jurisdictions. It has become critically important for people to understand what is meant by “tax residency”. It is important that people understand how “tax residency” is determined and the questions that must be asked in determining “tax residency”. “Tax residency” is NOT necessarily determined by physical presence.

What is meant by tax residence? Different rules for different countries

All countries have rules for determining who is a “tax resident” of their country. Some countries have rules that “deem” people to be tax residents. Other countries have rules that base “tax residency” on  “facts and circumstances”. Canada is a country that bases “tax residency” on either “deemed” tax residency OR tax residency based on “factual circumstances”.

What if a person qualifies as “tax resident” of two countries?

When an individual (who is NOT a U.S. citizen) is a “tax resident” of two countries, it is common to consider any tax treaty between those two countries. Often the tax treaty will contain a “treaty tie breaker” provision which will allocate “tax residence” to one of the two countries. (Note that the “savings clause” which is found in standard U.S. tax treaties prevents U.S. citizens from having most tax treaty benefits. Note “treaty tie breaker” provisions are available to Green Card Holders.)

In summary: for the purposes of the “CRS”, tax residence is determined by BOTH a country’s domestic laws AND tax treaty provisions that assign “tax residence” to one country.

Even though the United States has chosen to NOT participate in the OECD “Common Reporting Standard” (CRS), and is NOT a “reportable jurisdiction, the OECD reminds us of the rules for determining “U.S. tax residency”.

Deemed tax residency in the United States …

The IRS discussion of “U.S. Tax Residency” includes:
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Determining Tax Residency in Canada: Deemed resident vs. factual resident

Let’s begin with the law as stated in the Income Tax Act of Canada …

Taxation in Canada is governed by the Income Tax Act of Canada. Sections 1 and 2 of the Act read in part as follows:

Short Title

1 This Act may be cited as the Income Tax Act.

PART I Income Tax

DIVISION A Liability for Tax

2 (1) An income tax shall be paid, as required by this Act, on the taxable income for each taxation year of every person resident in Canada at any time in the year.

(This does NOT say that ONLY those “resident in Canada” are required to pay Canadian tax. In fact there are circumstances under which nonresidents of Canada are also required to pay different kinds of Canadian tax.)

Searching for the meaning of “resident in Canada” …

Tax Residency” is becoming an increasingly important topic. Every country has its own rules for determining who is and who is not a “tax resident” of that country. The advent of the OCED CRS (“Common Reporting Standard”) has made the determination of “tax residence” increasingly important.

At the risk of oversimplification, a determination of “tax residency” can be based on a “deeming provision” or decided by a determination “based on the facts”. Some countries base “tax residency” on both “deeming provisions” and a “facts and circumstances” test.

Tax Residency in Canada – “Deemed residence” or “ordinary residence based on the facts” …

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Physical presence as a necessary condition for being a US “resident” under the Internal Revenue Code

Introduction

Every country in the world with the exceptions of Eritrea and the United States claim tax jurisdiction based on “residence”. Although the tests for “residence” may differ, “residence based taxation” means that it is possible to sever your tax connection to a country by severing residence.

The nations of Eritrea and the United States impose taxation based on citizenship. U.S. citizens (primarily those “Born In The USA”) can NEVER sever their tax connection to the United States as long as they remain citizens. When it comes to U.S. citizenship-based taxation it is possible to NEVER have lived in the United States and still be subject to taxation!
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Part 13: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – Colonizing other nations by imposing US taxation on the world

Introduction – FATCA is really about extending the U.S. tax base into other nations …

In other words, FATCA is more about the “creation of taxable income” than it is about the “taxation of existing income”. This point was also made in my “Tax Haven or Tax Heaven Series“.

 

What follows is a comment that I tried to leave on the following blog post:

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Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 4: Why bother “poaching capital” as a Tax Haven, if you can steal the capital using citizenship-based taxation?

Involuntary “poaching” of capital – “citizenship-based taxation”

U.S. citizenship-based taxation ALSO results in the direct “poaching of capital” from other nations! A thoughtful post describing the cost of U.S. “poaching” to Canada is here.

 

Through “citizenship-based taxation” the United States has turned U.S. citizens residing in other nations into “Weapons of Capital Extraction”. By imposing direct taxation on U.S. persons in other nations, the United States transfers the capital of other nations to the U.S. Treasury.

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Part 2: “What God Hath Wrought” – Interpreting the IGA: Definitions incorporated by reference reveal the true intent of the FATCA IGA

Introduction – Updated April 4, 2016

The above tweet references a comment posted at iPolitics.ca

Thanks to Elizabeth Thompson for her continued coverage of the FATCA Chronicles.

Her article contains the following statement from the Minister of National Revenue:

“Minister Lebouthillier wants to reassure Canadians that all exchanges of information are subject to strict confidentiality rules,” reads the e-mail sent by Lebouthillier’s office.

“The CRA ensures that tax cooperation with its foreign partners is done in a manner fully consistent with privacy rights in Canada. It is important to note that Canada and the United States have a long history of exchanging tax information in a fair and responsible manner, going back to 1942.”

Whether the Minister believes what she says or not, FATCA supporters in the United States have made it clear that the use of information obtained pursuant to FATCA, should NOT to be used only for tax purposes. Since this post references, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s letter to Lynne Swanson, I will reference you to a blog post written by Lynne Swanson which appears on her Maplesandbox.ca blog at:

http://maplesandbox.ca/2013/ca…

Ms. Swanson’s post references a 2012 letter written by the then U.S. Senator Carl Levin.

The letter from Senator Levin includes:

“Although FATCA is structured to address offshore tax abuse, offshore account information has significance far beyond the tax context, affecting cases involving money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorist financing, acts of corruption, financial fraud, and many other legal violations and crimes. Given the importance of offshore account disclosures, FATCA guidance and implementing rule should create account FATCA forms that are not designated as tax return information but, like FBARs, may be provided to law enforcement, regulatory, and national security communities upon request. FFIs are not, after all, U.S. taxpayers, and will not be supplying tax information on behalf of their U.S. clients; they will instead be providing information about accounts opened by U.S. persons. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that bank account information is not inherently confidential but is subject to inspection by law enforcement and others in appropriate circumstances. Foreign account information is too important to a wide range of civil and criminal law enforcement and national security efforts to be designated as tax return information bound by Section 6103’s severe restrictions on access.”

You can read the letter yourself here:

http://bsmlegal.com/PDFs/CarlL…

Ms. Swanson concludes her post by asking the obvious question:

“Why bother with a warrant or surveillance when you can simply declare someone a “US person” and FATCA them?!?”

In Part 1 I described how the FATCA IGA is being applied to a U.K. PTA. My next post will continue the discussion of “Entities”. That said, this series of posts is about how the FATCA IGA works and how it may be interpreted. This post will focus on how some of the definitions in the FATCA IGA are found NOT in the IGA but in other sources.

This post will also explain how the clear definitions  in the IGA (incorporation by reference from other sources) makes it clear that the purpose of the IGA is to extend beyond taxation. The IGA is supposedly justified as an extension to the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty which is found here.

Article XXVII of the Treaty reads as follows:

Article XXVII

Exchange of Information

1. The competent authorities of the Contracting States shall exchange such information as is relevant for carrying out the provisions of this Convention or of the domestic laws of the Contracting States concerning taxes to which the Convention applies insofar as the taxation thereunder is not contrary to the Convention. The exchange of information is not restricted by Article I (Personal Scope). Any information received by a Contracting State shall be treated as secret in the same manner as information obtained under the taxation laws of that State and shall be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts and administrative bodies) involved in the assessment or collection of, the administration and enforcement in respect of, or the determination of appeals in relation to the taxes to which the Convention applies or, notwithstanding paragraph 4, in relation to taxes imposed by a political subdivision or local authority of a Contracting State that are substantially similar to the taxes covered by the Convention under Article II (Taxes Covered). Such persons or authorities shall use the information only for such purposes. They may disclose the information in public court proceedings or in judicial decisions. The competent authorities may release to an arbitration board established pursuant to paragraph 6 of Article XXVI (Mutual Agreement Procedure) such information as is necessary for carrying out the arbitration procedure; the members of the arbitration board shall be subject to the limitations on disclosure described in this Article.

To put it simply:

  1. The clear terms of the U.S. Canada Tax Treaty make it clear that the treaty is about taxation.
  2. The clear terms of the U.S. Canada IGA make it clear that it is about much more than taxation.

Yet, the Governments of both Canada and the United States claim that the IGA is justified as an extension of the tax treaty.

Introduction …

So much has been written about FATCA IGAs that few people consider the original FATCA legislation. The IGAs seem to have taken on a life of their own. As a reminder, the original FATCA legislation may be found in S. 1471 to S. 1474 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The title is: “TAXES TO ENFORCE REPORTING ON CERTAIN FOREIGN ACCOUNTS”.

Much has written about the reason for the FATCA IGAs. Much has written about the role that the Canadian banks played in lobbying for the FATCA IGAs. Much has written about the Canadian laws that have been changed to comply with the FATCA IGAs.

Very little has been written about how to interpret the IGAs. It is assumed that the FATCA IGAs are to facilitate the intent of FATCA as expressed in S. 1471 to S. 1474 of the Internal Revenue Code. A perusal of the definitions section of the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA suggests that this may not be true.

This post is to highlight certain definitions found in the IGA that are incorporated by reference from other sources. I believe that the passage of time will demonstrate how important these “incorporations by reference” are.

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Part 1: What God Hath Wrought – The #FATCA Inquisition (Review, Identify and Report on “U.S. Persons”) – “Entity Edition”

Prologue – All non-U.S. “Entities are subject to the FATCA inquisition” …

 

How the U.K. IGA affects the U.K. PTA …

The online discussion referenced in the above tweet is about a U.K. PTA account. How can FATCA, (like the recent passport revocation bill which is one of the many “Revenue Offshore Provisions” used to target Americans abroad), included to finance the costs of the 2010 HIRE Act, possibly intrude into a U.K. PTA? To be clear, a U.K. PTA is similar to a U.S. PTA. Full details on a UK PTA are here. The information (maybe U.S. Treasury doesn’t believe it) is that a U.K. PTA is a charity and is described as:

A PTA is an excellent way to bring together parents, teachers and your local community to raise money and to support the school. It provides an opportunity for everyone to work together towards a common goal. All parents, teachers and school staff can get involved even if they only have a small amount of time available. Whatever type of association you decide to form, your school will benefit from the additional funds it will raise and the increased opportunity for parents to be more involved in school life.

 

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CBT extracts capital from the economies of other nations. Example of CBT extraction in action

Everybody knows that U.S. “citizenship taxation” extracts capital from other nations and transfers it to the U.S. Treasury. The above tweet references an interesting Facebook post that demonstrates “CBT Capital Extraction” in action.

As always, the comments are interesting. The post begins with:

cbtcapitalextraction-300x284

The author, Heitor David Pinto has been an extremely prolific and effective advocate for residence based taxation. He also submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee in April 2015.

Interview with GordonTLong.com – Citizenship based taxation, PFIC, the S. 877A Exit Tax and #Americansabroad

On May 22, 2015 I was interviewed by Gordon T. Long. There is NO way to discuss U.S. “citizenship taxation” (which is primarily “place of birth taxation”) without discussing the S. 877A Exit Tax rules. During the month of April 2015, I wrote a 14 part series on “How the S.877A rules affect Americans abroad“. The interview with Mr. Long serves as a good reminder (or if you don’t want to read the posts) on:

– what it means to be a “covered expatriate

how the U.S. S. 877A “Exit Tax” rules operate to impose punitive “taxation” on non U.S. pensions (See the actual scenarios of how the Exit Tax applies to various individuals including those with a non-U.S. pension.

– more

This topic is of extreme important to anybody with a U.S. place of birth. Those with a “U.S. place of birth” begin life as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, those born in the U.S. are in effect:

“U.S. Taxpayers by birth”.

The U.S. is using FATCA to search the U.S. for people who were “born in the USA” to bring them into the U.S. tax system. More and more people are receiving “The FATCA Letter“.

This interview with Mr. Long really should be included as part of the “Exit Tax” series.

Therefore, I have designated my interview with Mr. Long to be:

Part 15 of the Exit Tax Series.

As a reminder this series of “S. 877A Exit Tax Posts” includes:

Part 1 – April 1, 2015 – “Facts are stubborn things” – The results of the “Exit Tax

Part 2 – April 2, 2015 – “How could this possibly happen? “Exit Taxes” in a system of residence based taxation vs. Exit Taxes in a system of “citizenship (place of birth) taxation

Part 3 – April 3, 2015 – “The “Exit Tax” affects “covered expatriates” – what is a “covered expatriate“?”

Part 4 – April 4, 2015 – “You are a “covered expatriate” How is the “Exit Tax”  actually calculated

Part 5 – April 5, 2015 – “The “Exit Tax” in action – Five actual scenarios with 5 actual completed U.S. tax returns

Part 6 – April 6, 2015 – “Surely, expatriation is NOT worse than death! The two million asset test should be raised to the Estate Tax limitation – approximately five million dollars – It’s Time

Part 7 – April 7, 2015 – “Why 2015 is a good year for many Americans abroad to relinquish U.S. citizenship – It’s the exchange rate

Part 8 – April 8, 2015 – “The U.S. “Exit Tax vs. Canada’s Departure Tax – Understanding the difference between citizenship taxation and residence taxation

Part 9 – April 9, 2015 – “For #Americansabroad: US “citizenship taxation” is “death by a thousand cuts, but the S. 877A Exit Tax is “death by the guillotine”

Part 10 – April 10, 2015 – “The S. 877A Exit Tax and possible relief under the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty

Part 11 – April 11, 2015 – “S. 2801 of the Internal Revenue Code is NOT a S. 877A “Exit Tax”, but a punishment for the “sins of the father (relinquishment)

Part 12 – April 12, 2015 – “The two kinds of U.S. citizenship: Citizenship for “immigration and nationality” and citizenship for  “taxation” – Are we taxed because we are citizens or are we citizens because we are taxed?”

Part 13 – April 13, 2015 – “I relinquished U.S. citizenship many years ago. Could I still have U.S. tax citizenship?

Part 14 – April 14, 2015 – “Leaving the U.S. tax system – renounce or relinquish U.S. citizenship, What’s the difference?

Part 15 – May 22, 2015 – “Interview with GordonTLong.com – “Citizenship taxation”, the S. 877A Exit Tax, PFICs and Americans abroad

 

 

Part 10 – The S. 877A “Exit Tax” and possible treaty relief under the Canada US Tax Treaty

Introduction – The Canada U.S. Tax Treaty Does Not Always Prevent Double Taxation

When countries independently make major changes in tax law, double taxation can occur

The following comment from 5thSwiss on the Isaac Brock Society site explains why and how double taxation can be a reality. It also underscores the dangers of a U.S. citizen leaving the United States.

It’s not obvious that renunciation of citizenship will cure failure to report in the past, or forgive unpaid tax. (“a ‘disposition’ of PFIC shares can occur by redeeming them, selling them, gifting them away, or even by giving up one’s US resident status or citizenship”)

The increasingly complex, expensive and draconian US tax law as applied to “accidental” US Persons might be considered by some a “good thing”. The more draconian – disproportionate – tax laws and penalties become, the more costly it is for ordinary families living abroad to report and pay tax on concessionary funds (such as for minors and disabled dependents, and retirement and tax-sparing funds not envisaged in the relevant bilateral tax treaty) the more impossible of enforcement and outrageous in principle such unilateral and exorbitant laws are seen to be.

And the less likely it is that the country of residence of a noncompliant person deemed to be a US person will assist the USG in collecting tax, prosecuting an individual and pursuing others on the basis of “transferee liability”.

Canadians who faced double taxation of their inheritance in that decade after Canada moved to capital gains taxation of estates based on deemed sale at death vs US imposition of estate duty (there is now a credit of one against the other under a tax Protocol) will understand that individuals are cannon fodder for Governments, who when they negotiate tax treaties are mainly concerned with the interests of multinational firms as represented by lobbyists. It is no wonder that of the 6 million Americans said to be resident abroad (the State Department knows of only half of those), an increasing number, unable to pay for tax advice or preparation, for renunciation of citizenship or the incremental US tax itself, are simply remaining underground. A series of GAO reports has looked at this and found no solution. And, by and large, legislators and bureaucrats (including diplomats) don’t care.

For the time being, the Lord Mansfield Dictum protects. But the hostility towards tax evasion abroad translates into hostility to expatriates generally. That is not a good sign.

5thSwiss describes the creation of  “double taxation” after one country (in this Canada) moved from an Estate Tax to a deemed disposition of assets on death. We now have a problem of the U.S. creating a deemed disposition of assets on expatriation when Canada has no such tax. This is what happens when one country makes a major change to its tax system and the other does not. (In this case there is at a minimum a “timing mismatch” in the taxable event.)

The S. 877A “Exit Tax” and the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty

The primary purpose of this post is to explore whether the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty can be used to mitigate some or all of the effects of the “Exit Tax”. I don’t know the answer. Therefore, this post will “raise an important question”, but not “answer the important question raised”.

U.S. Tax Treaties 101 – The outline

I am also going to use this post to outline some VERY basic aspects of U.S. tax treaties.   There will  four parts to this post:

Part 1 – Tax Treaties and the U.S. Constitution

Part 2 – Tax Treaties and the “Savings Clause”

Part 3 – The S. 877A “Exit Tax” and possible treaty relief

Part 4 – The “Savings Clause” as an argument against “citizenship taxation”

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