Tag Archives: renounce U.S. citizenship

The Internal Revenue Code vs. IRS Form 8854: the “noncovered expatriate” and the Form 8854 Balance Sheet

Introduction: For whom the “Form” tolls …

I would not want the job that the IRS has. There are many “information reporting requirements” in the Internal Revenue Code. The IRS has the job (sometimes mandatory “shall” and sometimes permissive “may”) of having to create forms that reflect the intent of the Internal Revenue Code. The forms will necessarily reflect how the IRS interprets the text and intent of the Code. Once created, the “forms” become a practical substitute for the Code. If you look through your tax return you will “form” after “form” after “form”. The forms reflect how the various provisions of the Internal Revenue Code are “given meaning” (if the meaning can be determined).

The Form (in theory) follows the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code …

Every “form” is the result of one or more sections of the Internal Revenue Code. For example, Form 8833 is described as:

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Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 5: How the 1966 desire to “poach” capital from other nations led to the 2008 S. 877A Exit Tax

Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter N, Part II, Subpart A of the Internal Revenue Code is of great interest..

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IRC8712

The text of S. 871 of the Internal Revenue Code is here. The IRS interpretation of S. 871 along with the requirements for when the non-resident alien is required to file a 1040-NR return are here.

The above subsection of the Internal Revenue Code applies to “NON-RESIDENT ALIENS AND FOREIGN CORPORATIONS”. It contains rules for how those who are not “U.S. Persons” are taxed under the Internal Revenue Code. As is expected, the Internal Revenue Code imposes U.S. taxation only on those “aliens” who have income sources that are connected to the United States. The previous post explained that S. 871 (in its present form) was enacted in 1966. Internal Revenue Code S. 871 also provides strong incentives for “aliens” to bring their capital to the USA.

Interestingly this subsection of the Internal Revenue Code also includes the S. 877A and S. 877 Expatriation Tax provisions. Significantly, both S. 871 and S. 877 were enacted in 1966 as part of the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966, Public Law 89-809.

The combination of the inclusion of both Internal Revenue Code sections 871 and 877 suggests that the intent of the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966, Public Law 89-809, included:

1. The intent to attract “Foreign” capital to the United States by imposing either no or low taxes on that “Foreign” capital lured to the United States, as expressed in S. 871 of the Internal Revenue Code;

2. The intent to give “non-resident aliens” certain tax benefits that were NOT available to U.S. citizens;

3. A recognition that some U.S. citizens might wish to expatriate to avail themselves of the benefits of NOT being a U.S. citizen;

4. A “penalty” expressed in S. 877 of the Internal Revenue Code for those U.S. citizens who expatriated to receive the same tax benefits enjoyed by “non-resident aliens”.

For a pdf of the 1966 Foreign Investors Tax Act (a massive document), see …

Foreign Investors Tax Act 1966 809

My point is a simple one …

It is clear that the U.S.desire to establish itself as a “Tax Haven”, also resulted in the S. 877 Exit Tax, which gradually evolved into the S. 877A Exit Tax that exists today.

To put it another way: the desire to establish the United States as a “Tax Haven”, eventually evolved into the S. 877A Exit Tax rules that:

1. Impose confiscatory taxation on assets that are outside the United States; and

2. Impose confiscatory taxation on assets that were acquired after a “U.S. Person” abandoned residence in the United States.

To illustrate why this is so, please see:

The S. 877A Exit Tax in Action – 5 actual scenarios with 5 completed U.S. tax returns

You will be shocked by what you see!

Like the 1970 FBAR rules, S. 877 of the Internal Revenue Code has gradually evolved into a mechanism to confiscate the assets of Americans abroad. Think I am kidding? See the examples in the link above!

John Richardson

@SenTedCruz sponsors “Expatriate Terrorism Act”: threatens certain US citizens with loss of citizenship

By the time I had received this fascinating “hot off the press” information from a U.S. law firm, I had read the article referenced in the above tweet. The article is written by David Bier who is an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center. It has generated interesting discussion at Keith Redmond’s  “American Expatriates Facebook Group“.

Yes, it’s true, Canadian born, U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has introduced a bill threatening people with the loss of U.S. citizenship (notwithstanding that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. citizenship belongs to the citizen and NOT to the government). It is clear that Senator Cruz, hearkening back to the days of the Viet Nam era and before, is of the view that U.S. citizens remain citizens only as long as Congress allows them to. The purpose of the revocation of citizenship is to provide a mechanism to keep them out of the United States. This is is a form of “border control” – a “Cruz concern” as evidenced by the following @SenTedCruz tweet:

The article in the Huffington Post is remarkably well researched and provides a reasonable overview of the issue.

See for example:

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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.

The $2350 “relinquishment fee” does NOT mean that people should simply renounce citizenship

 

On September 6, 2015 it was reported on the Isaac Brock Society that the State Department intended to begin charging $2350 for both “relinquishments” and “renunciations”. The proposed rule is to be published on  September 8, 2015. With respect to “relinquishments” the Federal Register states:

The Department is expanding the application of and renaming item 8 in the Schedule of Fees to “Administrative Processing of Request for Certificate of Loss of Nationality.” The fee will be applied to cover not only services to U.S. nationals (i.e., U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals) who relinquish nationality by taking the oath of renunciation under 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5), but also to cover services to U.S. nationals who relinquish nationality under 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(1) to 1481(a)(4) or any earlier-in-time relinquishment statutes administered by the Department of State and request a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. Currently, the fee is paid by those taking the oath of renunciation under 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5) at the time the oath is sworn. The fee would be collected from an individual claiming to have relinquished nationality at the time that person requests the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (that is, after completing Form DS-4079 and signing before a consular officer Part II of Form DS-4079 entitled “Statement of Voluntary Relinquishment of U.S. Citizenship”). The Fiscal Year 2012 Cost of Service Model update demonstrated that documenting a U.S. national’s relinquishment of nationality is extremely costly whether the service is for a relinquishment under 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(1) to 1481(a)(4) or a relinquishment by renunciation under 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5). Both require American consular officers overseas to spend substantial amounts of time to accept, process, and adjudicate cases. The cost of the service is not limited to the time consular officers spend with individuals prior to and at appointments. The application is reviewed both overseas and domestically to ensure full compliance with the law. The consular officer must determine that the individual is indeed a U.S. national, advise the individual on the consequences of loss of nationality, and ensure that the individual fully understands the consequences of loss, including the inability to reside in the United States unless properly documented as an alien. Through documentary review, consideration of the individual’s circumstances, and careful interviewing, the consular officer also must determine whether the individual is seeking loss of nationality voluntarily and with the requisite intent, as required by U.S. Supreme Court case law and by statute (8 U.S.C. 1481). This determination can be especially demanding in the case of minors or individuals with a developmental disability or mental illness.

The consular officer must also ensure that the commission of an expatriating act was as prescribed by statute, which is often an issue in non-renunciation relinquishment cases. The loss of nationality service must be documented on several forms and in consular systems as well as in a memorandum from the consular officer to the Department’s Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, DC (“OCS”), in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. All forms and memoranda are closely reviewed in OCS by a country officer and a senior approving officer, and may include consultation with legal advisers. This review entails close examination of whether the requirements of voluntariness and intent are satisfied in the individual case. Some applications require multiple rounds of correspondence between post and the Department. The final approval of the loss of nationality must be done by law within the Department (8 U.S.C. 1501), by OCS, after which the case is returned to the consular officer overseas for final delivery of the Certificate of Loss of Nationality to the individual. In addition, every individual issued a Certificate of Loss of Nationality is advised of the possibility of seeking a future Administrative Review of the loss of nationality, a time-consuming process that is conducted by OCS’s Office of Legal Affairs.

Currently, nationals who renounce nationality pay a fee of $2,350, while nationals who apply for documentation of relinquishment of nationality by the voluntary commission of an expatriating act with the intention to lose nationality, do not pay a fee. However the services performed in both situations are similar, requiring close and detailed case-by-case review of the factors involved in a request for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality, and both result in similar costs to the Department.

In the past, individuals seldom requested Certificates of Loss of Nationality from the Department to document relinquishment. Although the Department was aware that an individual relinquishment service was among the most time consuming of consular services, it was rarely performed so the overall cost to the Department was low and the Department did not establish a fee. Requests for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality on the basis of a non-renunciatory relinquishment have increased significantly in recent years, and the Department expects the number to grow in the future, causing the total cost of this service to increase. At the same time, the Department funds consular services completely from user fees. The Cost of Service Model continues to demonstrate that such costs are incurred by the Department when accepting, processing, and adjudicating relinquishment of nationality cases; therefore, the Department will collect a fee from all individuals seeking a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. Taking into account the costs of both renunciation and non-renunciation relinquishment processes, the fee will be $2,350.

The fee will take effect on November 9, 2015. I have been aware of this impending fee increase for some time. Hence, it comes as no surprise. Furthermore, if you accept the validity of the $2350 fee for renunciations then a similar fee for “relinquishments” is justifiable.

There has been and continues to be extensive discussion of this increase. What does it mean? Why now? Is this to discourage “relinquishments”? What does this say about the character of the U.S. Government?  At a bare minimum, the fee increase is a continuation of a pattern of abuse of Americans abroad. That said …

The purpose of this post is to comment on a question asked by, USXCanada, who is a long time (I believe) blogger at the Isaac Brock Canada. He or she includes an interesting question in this comment:

The best thing about the utterly predictable extension of the $2350 fee to relinquishers?

Not having to endure any more speculations about the convoluted retroactive possibilities for exhuming prehistoric personal intentions to lose U.S. citizenship – especially by extraterritorials who did any such thing as (1) hold a U.S. passport (2) vote in a U.S. election (3) file any U.S. taxes (4) work a week as a temp janitor for a non-U.S. municipality.

How about a Brock contest to see who can do closest guess on (1) when the current fee next increases? (2) how much it goes up by? Here’s mine: September 2016 to a round $3000. Further out? At least $6000 by September 2020.

Off-the-top-of-the-head question:  Is there now any circumstance at all where an exiter will prefer to seek relinquishment because the morass of rules confers some benefit that would be lost through renunciation? (PS – Staying off the name-and-shame list is NOT one.)

The answer is yes! The “relinquishment fee” is an irritation but it is NOT a reason to simply default into a “renunciation”. Now, I am writing this post quickly and I invite others to add their thoughts. But, here are categories  of reasons why those who believe that they have validly relinquished U.S. citizenship, under U.S. law, should insist on a CLN based on a relinquishment.

Category 1 – For at least “citizenship purposes” the relinquishment date is always prior to the renunciation date.

Category 2 – The difference in treatment under other U.S. laws between “renunciations” and other forms of relinquishment.

Let’s examine each category.

 

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Taxability Freedom Day: On what day does a “U.S. person” cease to be a “U.S. taxpayer”?

Update: October 9, 2015

This post focuses largely on the role of form 8854 in relinquishing U.S. citizenship for tax purposes. See also my more recent post which discusses the role of the Certificate of Loss of Nationality in relinquishing U.S. citizenship.

 

Introduction …

There is a difference between:

  1. What is your tax liability IF you are a “U.S. person” for tax purposes”;and
  2. Whether you are a U.S. person for tax purposes at all.

I find that many of the blog posts and articles confuse these two issues.

Remember that “U.S. person” for tax purposes INCLUDES (but is not limited to) U.S. citizens and Green Card Holders.

What this post is NOT …

This post is NOT to discuss your specific U.S. tax liability – the AMOUNT of U.S. taxes owing in general. It is NOT to discuss how U.S. taxes are calculated in general. It is NOT to discuss the “taxes that may be triggered” by expatriation. Only those who are “U.S. persons” are subject to U.S. taxation. Therefore, in order to end the “jurisdiction of the United States to impose taxes on you (your “taxability”):

You must terminate your status as a “U.S. person” for tax purposes. This means that you must either “relinquish your U.S. citizenship” under ALL applicable legislation or terminate your Green Card.

What this post IS …

This post is to explain the date that you cease to be a “U.S. person” for tax purposes. At what point, can you say with confidence:

“I’m free. The U.S. no longer has the right to treat me as a “U.S. person” for tax purposes. Nothing that I do from this point on will generate “U.S. tax liability”.

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Relinquish or renounce U.S. citizenship – The course

U.S. Citizenship – Where taxation and citizenship intersect

“Relinquish or renounce U.S. citizenship – The Course”

What: Relinquish or Renounce U.S. Citizenship – The Course

Who: John Richardson – Toronto Lawyer – Specializing in “solving the problems of U.S. citizenship” and the relinquishment of U.S. citizenship

When:

Toronto, Canada – Saturday October 1/16 – 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: Toronto Downtown – Exact address TBA

Cost: $500 per attendee plus taxes

Enrollment limited to 10 participants!

Why would you participate in this seminar?

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Thoughts on: Major updates to Foreign Affairs Manual on U.S. citizenship renunciation procedures

In a well researched post, “Eric” at the Isaac Brock Society writes about updates to the U.S. FAM “Foreign Affairs Manual” on RENUNCIATION (not relinquishment) procedures. The revised procedures are here:

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It appears that  “two interviews” will be required, but that only the second interview (actual renunciation”) must be in person.

On balance, it’s clear that the State Department is directing it’s attention to the question of whether the would be “renunciant” really does intend to relinquish U.S. citizenship (after going through all the work of tax compliance, paying the fees, etc.).

The following changes are notable:

1. In the view of the State Department the “intention” to relinquish U.S. citizenship requires an “understanding of the consequences” of no longer being a U.S. citizen.

Comprehension

: When faced with a potential renunciant, a consular officer must make a judgment whether the individual fully understands what he or she is seeking to do, including the consequences such as losing the right to reside in the United States without documentation as an alien. Absent such an understanding, it cannot be said that the individual intended to relinquish his or her U.S. nationality when he or she executed the oath of renunciation. You must also assess whether the person is acting of duress, coercion, or undue influence from others and without reservation. (See 7 FAM 1290 for guidance about minors,persons with mental incompetenceor mental or developmental disability, prisoners, criminal defendants or convicts in pleabargain cases, members of cults, and other …

2. There is NO “intent to renounce” if you intend to continue to live in the United States

Potential renunciants may also express the intention to continue to reside in the United States or its territories and possessions without documentation as aliens. Since this right of residency is a fundamental right that U.S. citizens and nationals possess, potential renunciants who wish to retain this right do not possess the intent necessary for an effective renunciation. Consular officers must not take renunciations from any individual who seeks to retain the right to reside in the United States or one of its territories or possessions.

3. No lawyers – “whether the person is acting of duress, coercion, or undue influence from others and without reservation”

In order for the consular officer to ascertain whether the renunciant’s action in relinquishing his or her U.S. citizenship is a product of his or her own free will, a parent, guardian, attorney, legal representative, or other representative should not participate in any interview, including a telephonic one, conducted by the consular mission member or attend the administration of the oath of renunciation.

4. Interesting – The State Department views U.S. citizenship as ALLEGIANCE to the United States

If possible, the renunciant should stand and raise his or her right hand while taking the Oath of Renunciation. This formality and the symbols of the United States underscore that the renunciant is severing all ties of allegiance to the United States and in doing so loses the protections that the U.S. Government provides to citizens and noncitizen nationals

5. It’s possible that a RENUNCIATION might not be approved by the State Departement

If a renunciation is undertaken but not approved by the Department, the fee is not refundable.

6. U.S. citizenship continues to be primarily about taxation and renunciants should be warned about the Reed Amendment

a.If a would – be renunciant indicates a desire to renounce U.S. citizenship for the purpose of tax avoidance, (see INA 212(a)(10)(e) and any pertinent guidance adopted by the Department), you should consult 7 FAM 1262.4(i) regarding recordation in the consular officer opinion of the purpose stated by the renunciant, and should inform the person that:
(1) Renunciation may not exempt him or her from U.S. income taxation; and
(2) If the Department of Homeland Security determines that the renunciation is motivated by tax avoidance purposes, the individual will be found inadmissible to the United States under Section 212(a)(10)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 212(a)(10)(E), 8 U.S.C
.
1182(a)(10)(E)), as amended.

7. The Consular officer has the right to postpone the “renunciation interview” (those who are renouncing prior to age 18 1/2 should take particular note of this provision)

Consular Officer Discretion

Prior to administering the Oath of Renunciation and recommending loss, the consular officer must exercise his or her judgment that the renunciant is acting voluntarily and with the intent to lose U.S. citizenship. The consular officer has discretion to request a further period of reflection should this not appear to be the case.

8. Form 4079 is NOT required for “renunciation cases” – but may be useful for the DOS…

While Form DS – 4079, Request for Determination of Possible Loss of United States Citizenship, is not standard or typically necessary for renunciation cases, where there is a question about intent it may prove useful.
Further, the DS -4079 may serve as a helpful tool for information gathering in appropriate cases regarding, for example, ties to the United States and the host country, or possible earlier commission of an expatriating act. In short, consular officers should not seek completion and signature of the DS – 4079 in renunciation cases as a matter of routine but only if pertinent as described above.

Hmmm…. It strikes me that renunciants should NOT seek to complete the form either. Clearly, nothing good can come from it. On the other hand, Form 4079 will continue to be vital for those claiming “relinquishments”. Clearly, the Department of State is beginning to separate “renunciations” from “relinquishments”.

 

 

Part 2: Cook v. Tait 1924 – The evolution of Citizenship, Taxation and “Citizenship Taxation”

Part 1 of this post traced the evolution of taxation. This brings us to:

Part 2 – The Evolution of Citizenship

In 1924, the Supreme Court of the United States, per Justice McKenna ruled in Cook v. Tait that U.S. “citizenship taxation” was constitutional. Since that time Cook v. Tait has been cited to justify the constitutionality, although not necessarily the propriety, of “citizenship taxation”. Note that “citizenship taxation” contains both the words “citizenship” and “taxation”. As a result, Justice McKenna’s decision along with the relevant statutes, may tell us a great deal about what “taxation” and “citizenship” meant in 1924.

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

1995 – The origins of the S. 877A Exit Tax – Video of House Oversight Committee

 

 

This testimony in this video covers a number of perspectives. It includes a consideration of whether the S. 877A rules are a “human rights violation”. This video should be watched in its entirety. It illustrates the viciousness of the Exit Tax and the attitude of the Clinton administration. There is a suggestion that the purpose of the S. 877A rules was to “keep people from leaving”. If you find any testimony or questions that address the problems of “Americans Abroad”, please leave a comment describing the speaker, time and the substance. It appears that there was little or no consideration of how this would affect “American Citizens Abroad”.

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