About the Isaac Brock Society

The Isaac Brock Society consists of individuals who are concerned about the treatment by the United States government of US persons who live in Canada and abroad.

Sir Isaac Brock

The United States is one of two countries in the world that taxes its people no matter where in the world they may reside.  The other is the terrorist thug nation of Eritrea.  The majority of US persons who live abroad are not aware of their filing requirements.  But recently, the US government has decided to crack down on those who are not in compliance.

But what is more, the US government has begun, since about 2004, to apply with great pressure a long-neglected requirement of 35-year old law called the Bank Secrecy Act.  That requirement is FBAR, the foreign bank account report, which the United States government expects annually from those who have accounts outside of the United States which exceed $10,000 in aggregate.  The fines for failure to file this form are extortionate, and virtually no US person who lives abroad even knew about FBAR, while most of them, over a certain age, own bank accounts with retirement savings exceeding that amount.  The threats of fines and imprisonment has frightened many people who as a result have consulted expensive accountants and tax lawyers to get this mess sorted out, only to face high accounting or legal fees on top of potential fines and back taxes.  In 2009 and 2011, the IRS offered voluntary disclosure programs (OVDI).  Some who entered into the 2009 OVDI,  because of fear of the penatlies, were shocked when the IRS assessed them fines in the tens of thousands, essentially treating them as tax evaders instead of a law abiding citizens in their countries of residence.

For many US expats, renunciation now seems like a really good idea.  Why not?  Many haven’t lived in the US for years and now they have few ties there except perhaps some family members.  So they want to renounce their citizenship only to find that the laws regarding expatriation are confusing and that the exit tax requirements are at best complicated and invasive, and at worst, extortionate and utterly in violation of their right to expatriate.

The media coverage of this issue has been uneven. There have a been a few balanced stories, but most of the time, the media has merely publicized the purposes of the US government; this is especially true of US media sources.  The Canadian media has generally done a much better job of grabbing the attention of the world about the abuses of the US government.  That being said, even the Canadian media sometimes falls into the IRS trap of projecting fear in order to force compliance.  Overall, we regret when the media offers only condemnation and fear without telling the story from the side of the victims or informing them of their rights and alternatives.

US persons abroad also face US border guards who are starting to put pressure on all those who have a US place of birth to travel only on a US passport, even if the person has not been a US person for decades–an arbitrary change of policy making those who relinquished citizenship into would-be loyal taxpayers to a profligate government that has to borrow 40 cents on every dollar its spends.

The Isaac Brock Society is here to fight.   Sir Isaac Brock prepared Canadians for war with the United States and gave his life in repelling a US invasion in 1812.  So we also want to fight for US persons who are frightened by the IRS, the border guards, and the media.  We are here to provide one another with resources and strategies, comfort and advice.

But not only so, we are here to warn other Canadians about the illegal incursion of the US federal government into the lives of the US expat community.  Pretty soon, with the new FATCA legislation, this arrogant attitude of the United States will affect every man, woman and child on the planet who wants to open or maintain a bank account or to invest in a retirement fund.  Now, according to FATCA, you will have to tell the United States whether you are a US person when you open up a bank account in, e.g., Australia or Thailand.  This makes every country in the world a protectorate of the United States, for, if they comply with FATCA, they are a ceding their sovereignty to nation which has not invaded or conquered the rest of the world, but only uses its waning hegemony over the financial sphere to coerce other nations.

So whether you are a US person living in exile, a Canadian or a citizen of any other country, we ask you to join us in this struggle for freedom and justice.

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26 thoughts on “About the Isaac Brock Society

  1. Excellent site, well done!

    Has anybody sent a link of this site to the democratic and republican candidates for the U.S. presidency?

  2. I’m not sure that will help but it’s worth trying. US politics is preoccupied with it’s own battles. I believe asking our governments to help their citizens is a good way to go. Ultimately renewed tax treaties should not be signed if they discriminate against dual citizens.

    I am essentially British and have never lived in the US, and have been amazed by the US tax laws that affect me and my family. I had hoped for some UK activity but there has been none. The UK government is currently complaining about very small potential European taxes on London financial transactions, yet there has been no debate on the much greater burden of FATCA on the UK financial sector. It seems all the financial institutions are just lying back and accepting it. I am also disappointed how little the expat community is doing in the UK. Can we have lobbying by the Isaac Brock Society in Britain and other parts of the world? disappointed by how little

  3. Hi Petros,

    your Calgary readers may be interested in a presentation we are hosting on Jan 24 in Calgary on US tax and reporting for CDN residents. We’ll cut throught the noise and deliver just the facts and options people have.

    if people are interested they can find more by going to http://www.moodystax.com/register

    Roy

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  7. this is leaving such a bad taste with so many hardworking immigrants and expats. The folks in Goldman Sachs, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Country Wide and Greenspan who created the economic equivalent of 9/11 are walking scott-free when immigrants and expats are being targeted by this vague and unknown law and being separated from their hard earned money.
    In many cases, this money is not even earned in the US.
    Most of the legal and well qualified immigrants to this country have such a great affection and respect for america, a well laid out plan to make them all question their decision to come to America couldn’t have been any better than the current cruel
    enforcement of FBAR.

  8. Kumar…
    Yes, that is true. You, I and the participants at Isaac Brock know this, but sadly, many in the US government / IRS are either blithely unaware, or don’t care.

    I don’t know if you are or are not in the OVDI process or not, but if you haven’t yet decided, I would spend a lot of time reading and thinking before you do. It may not be for you. Be sure to read this…

    http://isaacbrocksociety.com/2012/01/28/the-ovdi-drudgery-for-minnows/

    If you did join, and now pondering an “Opt Out” be sure to read the Moby Out Opt success thread…

    http://isaacbrocksociety.com/2012/03/10/moby-opt-out-update/

    and be sure to read the recent comments at Jack’s Blog… especially those from Moby and John Doe

    http://federaltaxcrimes.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/opting-out-2-3212.html

  9. It is not they are unaware. I am pretty sure,they are, but they dont care.
    They know they cannot touch the GS folks and the other bankers.
    Not sure if you viewed the senate testimony of GS.

    Still they could not do anything,

    More than the money, it is how you start to think if something
    like this can be done to you by the very govt you trust.

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  16. Hi, I don’t see a contact form, so I’ll just leave message and hope you see it. The ACA (American Citizens Abroad) has started a campaign contacting members of congress to encourage US taxation to be changed to a taxation-based-on-residency policy. I think this is something we need to get behind and help publicize. It’d be great if there were a post on it.

    Overview:
    http://www.aca.ch/taxreform.pdf
    Their proposal:
    http://www.aca.ch/taxreform1.pdf

  17. Reblogged this on YouViewed/editorial and commented:
    In addition to their focus on American’s abroad and their taxation , this site provides a wealth of valuable tax information for those of us who reside stateside as well . Well worth your time .

  18. I’m a concerned ex-pat who has lived abroad for many years. I never plan to return to the US. Most discussions are centered around wealthy ex-pats with large savings outside the US. What about the Social Security only pensioner with only a minimal foreign account to qualify for retirement visa? I could not survive on my monthly income in the US.

  19. TGKaucher –

    Unless I’ve missed something, and I think my practiced eyes have passed over it all, the main point to come out at Brock so far on Social Security is that (as of current legislation, anyhow) SS continues to be paid even if an extraterritorial US person renounces citizenship.

    Social Security would be a good topic for some policy wonker to pull together for a Brock posting. Likely nobody who is not receiving payment would ever go to the trouble.

    I have spoken with one full ostrich Canadian who did enough work in the US to acquire the dreaded citizenship, is depending on the Social Security, and is hoping to continue off the radar.

    If you are not tax and FBAR compliant with the US, going forward you may face garnishee for back taxes, interest, fines, whatnot. This could become a third hook, along with FATCA and passport.

    The harsh homeland seems to be out to extract whatever it can from wherever it can as the state proceeds to fail. Hard to believe it won’t start using data mining to match up Social Security files with IRS files.

    This is practically all speculation. We are in a crazy interim. Who knows how long it will last.

    Welcome to Brock, fellow minnow, and to the famed drudgery of trying to figure it all out. At least here you have company, will find sympathy, and may learn enough to contribute to the total sum of what we all wish we didn’t know.

  20. @usxcanada…

    Big Data at work! The US “Big Brother” government wants to know everything about everyone just like Big Internet Corporations! Period!

  21. TG: First, let me assure you that you are among friends here. Although discussion in recent days has focused on Eduardo Saverin, for every Saverin, there are literally thousand of average, everyday people caught up in the IRS quagmire.

    Most of us are minnows, not whales. Most of us have average or low incomes. We include an aid worker in Africa, an executive, a physician, “foreign” public servants, a mother fighting for the rights of her disabled son (born and raised outside United States), a villager in India, young people at the beginning of their careers, retiree seniors, U.S. military veterans, draft dodgers, people who were told they relinquished U.S. citizenship decades ago, citizens who have renounced or wanting to renounce, citizens determined to maintain their U.S. citizenship and new immigrants to US. wanting to become citizens. And, of course, there is our fearless leader Petros.

    We have members in the South Pacific, Asia, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and North and South America. I don’t think we have yet had anyone join in from the Middle East, but we have read articles from Israel and Lebanon and residents of those countries are welcome. Despite the fact our situation is very different from Eduardo Saverin, we would welcome him here if he wanted to join us–just as we welcome someone trying to survive on Social Security outside of US.

    Our backgrounds, beliefs, faiths, politics, values, lifestyles and reasons for living outside the U.S.are as diverse as we are. We are united in our conviction to fight the snare the IRS is trying to catch us in. We also are a tremendous support to each other and are constantly learning together.

    So, welcome to Isaac Brock. I’m not qualified to give you any advice on your personal situation, but I will try to share what I have learned here, but I first need to ask a couple of questions. Have you been filing income tax returns with IRS during years you have been living outside of of US? As a US citizen, you are required to do that. If you have been filing returns, have you been including FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Report)? Again, this is a requirement of IRS.

    Are your assets in your “foreign” bank in excess of $50,000? This is the level which has been included in FATCA draft regulations for banks to report on the holdings of their “US person” customers outside of US.

    As we have said to others, the best thing you can do for yourself if to not panic (easier said than done–We’ve all been there). Gather the necessary information and go forward from here. Based on what you have described, you would be best to stay away from OVDP (Overseas Voluntary Declaration Program–which is designed for whales and criminals).

    As usxcanada said, we all are in a “crazy interim” (great term!) We are helping each other to maintain sanity among the craziness of the IRS. I hope you will be part of our eclectic but solid group.

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