I hope we are not confused with domestic tax protesters or the sovereign citizen movement

I hope that they don’t fear us at Isaac Brock Society and put us in a parallel category with the “Sovereign Citizen” and “Freeman” movements because the only thing we want is to pay our taxes in, and only in, the countries where we live.  We don’t claim to be immune from the law (our local laws in the countries where we live apply to us) we just claim that US jurisdiction does not apply to us abroad!  Most of us live in sovereign nations that are independant from the US.

Here is a 60 Minutes show about Sovereign Citizens.  They say the Feds consider them domestic terror threats.  Again, I would hope they realize that minnows, ostriches and other of us abroad at are not the same.  We are sensible people who obey the laws where we live, pay taxes where we live, vote, etc.   

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57 thoughts on “I hope we are not confused with domestic tax protesters or the sovereign citizen movement

  1. What a sad story. Isaac Brock Society DOES NOT advocate the use of violence in pursuing its agenda, otherwise I WOULD NOT BE HERE! I follow Brock in order to learn about any and all legal means to address the challenges we face. That is why I demanded the ear of John Weston, my Member of Parliament, and will continue to pursue all other legal and political means available to me in resolving my current predicament. I feel you’ve contaminated Brock just by posting that!

  2. @JDT: The IRS and other law enforcement agencies closely monitor the internet, popular blogs, and anything else fringe groups and crack pot organizations put out in the public domain. Anything which might be considered evidence of criminal activity such as suborning or inciting others to ignore the law for example, on the grounds that taxes are illegal, screw ball theories about gold being the only legal tender, and crack pot arguments like the IRS has no authority to collect taxes because certain amendments to the Constitution were not legally enacted, are guaranteed to get a second look by government criminal agents.
    It would be sad if either the Canadian or the U.S government were to put the Isaac Brock Society in the same category as Sovereign Citizens. For the most part, the discourse on these pages doesn’t come close to the kind of conduct which crosses the line beyond free discourse, lively debate and a fair exchange of ideas.
    That doesn’t mean the IBS is not on the IRS radar.
    For the most part, government agents are smart enough to distinguish between bluster, posturing, and mere rhetoric. But people like @Petros do no service to the organization by going on and on about casus bellis, acts of war, and “man-the-barricade” type hyperbole. At one point, @Petros asked on one of these pages, “Heck, I was banned from the Expat Forum for telling jokes about moderators, don’t you think there might be some in the government who see what I’m doing and are not laughing about it?”
    The answer to that question is most definitely “yes.” My guess is the IRS doesn’t think @Petros is in the least bit funny.There is probably a good chance that someone in the US government is paying attention anytime someone mouths of about the IRS and “natural law. ” The “natural law” argument is an old one which Special Agents have been hearing from tax protestors for many years.
    Saying things like, the IRS is committing an act of war It is a little like making a joke about a bomb seconds before passing through an airport screening device or perhaps more like putting a target on your back with a sign that says, “please kick me and then ask me what I think about the IRS.” Maybe a little “out there,” but definitely not funny.
    More importantly, talking about FATCA and FBARs as “acts of war” just makes you look silly and it surely detracts from the good solid research and analysis and opinion which appear from the overwhelming majority of people who post on the IBS site.

    30 Year IRS Vet

  3. My personal opinion is it makes no sense to get mixed up with “tax protesters” or other people of that nature. They actually do exist outside of the US in countries like Canada and their arguments are just as silly. There seems to this weird fascination among Canadian tax protesters over this 1950s court of case called Lord Nelson Hotel even though numerous courts have ruled it has nothing to do with the Income Tax Act of Canada.

    Most “tax protesters” live in the US and don’t want to pay any tax even where they live and detract from the real issues being brought up here which FATCA, FBAR, Access to Banking services, who is a US Person, nationality law, double taxation etc. The arguments that NEED to be made here are at not all unreasonable in fact many US government entities such as the Congressional ways and means committees, and the Joint Committee on Taxation have been quite willing sit down with people from American Citizens Abroad and hear their arguments so to speak. Generally I don’t think the House Ways and Means Committee or the JCT spend much time with “tax protesters”. Here at IBS we need to be more overtly politically. There are lot of smart people at JCT, US Treas, and the Congressional Committee committee staff that can study taxation proposals till the cows come home but they don’t really make the decisions in DC. The other angle is of course the one in Ottawa and other foreign capitals(ACA doesn’t get involved in lobbying non US govts) where at least in Ottawa the message is getting through from a lot of commenters and visitors here.

  4. I can see why in the case of high net worth individuals like athletes, entertainers, and big time business people the US feels justified in imposing citizenship based taxation. Most of these people would not make the money they do if not for the US and it’s system for generously rewarding people who are the best at what they do.

    But when you apply the same rules to ordinary people living in other countries, the burden is too much. We pay high taxes in countries like Canada and if citizenship based taxation is going to be imposed on us we should have the right to say sorry but we can’t afford dual citizenship.

  5. @omghesstillanamerican

    Hopefully Petros is off for the day. I guess the question is whether people want to complain(which is what going on when people talk “soveriegn citizens” and such is doing)or actually get some changes in policy made. If the goal is to get Ottawa to be more proactive they aren’t going to make arguments to DC about “acts of war” or “soveriegn citizens.”

  6. They can pay a capital gains tax upon cessation of US residence. You basically make everyone fill out form 8854 at the end of their final year living in the US. Easy system

    If you look at the people renouncing yes they are probably above average in income but they aren’t the super rich. In Canada most of the richest Canadian citizens live in the country even though they could move to some place like the Bahamas and not pay any income tax. Its not to say they aren’t “some” who are living in places like Bermuda et all for tax reasons but it generally is not the “super rich”.

    To the US’ credit the 2008 law expatriation tax law is actually “better” and cleaner than the previous system which tried get “covered expatriates” to continue filing for ten years even though they were no longer citizens. To be fair the old system was legally dubious but to their credit they changed. My understanding is that Congress was leaned on heavily by the staff at the Joint Committee on Tax to make 2008 law changes.

  7. You’re right Tim. If we go to war with the US, that will last about 2 seconds and we’ll lose.

    It may take some time but I have to believe the agitation this is causing between the two governments isn’t worth what little tax revenues are involved. Canada is a small fish and the US is the whale. It doesn’t really do them much good to fight us.

  8. Steven:

    I think what you are saying is good common sense advice — don’t let the rhetoric inadvertently get you in trouble with someone.

    But there’s an important context to this issue that I don’t think you’ve grasped yet; and it is what motivates some of those over the top comments you see from time to time. FATCA is an extra-territorial imposition of US law on foreign institutions, and through them on their entire client base — because it is that entire client base (not just so-called US persons) that is going to shoulder the burdensome costs of going along with FATCA. This goes beyond the US insistence on citizen-based taxation (contrary to the practices of the rest of the civilized world) and gets into making the rest of the world help the IRS enforce its domestic law.

    Because this is an extra-territorial imposition, most people on this site are far more concerned with complying with Canadian law, not the laws of some foreign government. So when the IRS cruises this site looking for lawbreakers — maybe it needs to do so in the context of “Canadian” lawbreakers. Of course the IRS couldn’t care less about Canadian laws being broken, right?

    Here’s an example from the past that might explain why people gets their knickers in a knot when the US does this kind of thing. In a legislative process very very similar to the way FATCA was foisted on us all, the US passed piece of legislation some decades ago called the Helms-Burton Act. I forget what this POS was attached to –something very important most likely. But it had the effect of imposing US law regarding Cuba on citizens of other countries that were quite happy to trade/consort with Cuba. Canadians were actually thrown in jail over this, and it put Canadian (and many many other foriegn companies) in the position of having to comply with US law or suffer some serious consequences when dealing with the US. Sherrit-Gordon was the most affected.

    Other countries, including Canada, got so PO’d about this attempt to make them comply with US law, that they specifically passed legislation making it illegal (in Canada) to comply with Helms Burton! But to this day, executives from Sherritt Gordon are at risk of arrest if they have the misfortune to land on US territory.

    I have argued many times that the way to beat FATCA is for countries to do a Helms-Burton on it. It would take only one (like Canada) to draw a line in the sand and I suspect others would follow. In some respects, I’m hoping that the IRS and US Treasury are completely stonewalling Canada and other nations in the ongoing discussions on FATCA implementation, because ultimately the frustration will force Canada and others to do the right thing.

  9. @Tim, “Non-U.S. citizen, nonresidents can now annually visit the U.S. for 120 or more days without becoming taxed as U.S. residents (under the pre-2008 rules, visits to the U.S. for more than 30 days during any of the 10 years following expatriation caused the individual to be treated as a U.S. resident for that year).”

  10. @Arrow

    Helms Burton is rather interesting story. First a lot of the really onerous provision are have been waived by the US president every six months since the law was enacted. However one part that has never been waived is the travel ban on certain non US individuals from entering the US. Technically I believe only five people are on this list but two of the five are Canadian in particular businessman Ian Delaney and his wife Catherine or Kiki(Their kids until the turned 18 were also banned from the US). Kiki Delaney having nothing to do with her husbands business is quite accomplished in her own right and for example has served on several advisory panels for Flaherty and the Department of Finance. Ian Delaney just recently was appointed by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to clean up the air ambulance service ORNGE in Ontario(which has undergone a major scandal). My final comment though will be not to shed too many tears for the Delaney’s as they are incredibly rich and politically connected in Canada. There also I bit of rumor which I don’t think Delaney has ever denied that he was purposely trying to get on the “blacklist” in order to ingratiate himself with the Cubans. My suspiscion is the US really didn’t want to blacklist a Canadian over someone from Spain or Mexico however Delaney shoved it their face.

    Historically the US and Canada had an “understanding” on Cuba policy for many years. For example under “Canadian” law it is illegal to export US made products to Cuba but is legal export Canadian made products to Cuba. However, the 1990s the US Congress essentially tried to overturn the previous arrangements dating back to the 1960s with a series of laws essentially over the objections of the executive branch essentially trying to make the US embargo more extraterritorial. Previously it had really be centered on banning US made goods from Cuba. In that era a US company such as GE could actually make products in Canada without US content and sell them to Cuba.

  11. @bublebustin

    As I said the old law was MUCH more onerous. The difference is the new law is better for minnows whereas the old law was better for whales for had big prospective capital gains tax bills that they could simply wait out for ten years(I.e. like the Getty’s and other super rich people)

  12. Tim
    Fascinating — I knew some of that, but not all. But the history of that spat is largely unappreciated in the US. I wonder if Steven understands yet that it is this attempt to impose US domestic law in other places that gets people’s dander up. You kinda wonder how the US would react if other nations responded in kind. They are getting a little taste of it through DATCA and it will be interesting to see if they back off on that and jeopardize their little 5-nation FATCA clique. Wonder if those Congresscritters are even capable of making the connection.

  13. @Arrow

    I remember just like it was yesterday when the US tried impose the “no fly” list on domestic Canadian flights that passed into US airspace even if only far a small distance and often over places like Maine and North Dakota. All the Canadian media at the time were quite adament that Canadian airlines would have no choice but to comply because the US was the US(This was back in 2005 much closer to 9/11). The then transport minister Jean Lapierre stated that if necessary domestic Canadian flighs would have to stay in Canadian airspace for their entire duration rather than comply(which would be more expensive and time consuming for airlines) and Canada if necessary would impose a “Canadian” no fly list on any domestic US flight passing through Canadian airspace such as Boston to Minneapolis. No one knew who would be on the Canadian no fly list but one joke I heard was that it would be every member of the US Congress. The US in the end decided to back down.

  14. @30 Year IRS Vet – I do agree that inflammatory language can inflame, but particularly for many of us minnows out here, the act of filling out a form incorrectly, because we are presumed guilty by what we thought to be our government, can ruin our entire lives. And the Establishment really does not give a flying ****.

    The quotes from politicians from both sides of the aisle in the US about Americans living abroad are belligerent, and I would wager there aren’t many who would come to our defense if genuine mistakes were made. What the various expat requirements represent is taxation without representation – our absentee votes almost never get counted in elections, anyway. And these requirements can impede our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    As someone alluded to earlier FATCA will affect everyone – I understand that the cost to banks for remaining FATCA-compliant, once they are established, has been estimated to be $10 per account per year (that’s all bank accounts not just the bank accounts of American persons.) And Commissioner Shulman has shown no inclination of actually scaling back the provisions of FATCA (only delaying them,) no matter what representations are made to him. I suspect that once all the foreign banks get the infrastructure in place for FATCA, it will then be expanded to include all American persons, and not just those with accounts >$50k.

    It is really sad for people to have to contemplate giving up citizenship because of the risks posed by the potential costs to making an honest mistake on a form can ruin one’s entire life.

  15. Funny. I thought Petros was the smartest person here. I was sure that the IRS and US Congress would hire him to reformulate their laws.

    I guess someone smarter will hire him then. Too bad for the IRS and US Congress.

  16. @All,

    Personally, I like ‘listening to’ the different viewpoints on this site. We certainly don’t all agree with each other. I like it that Steven Mopsick posts his opinion – sometimes I see his point and other times, I might want to scream because I think something like “why oh why, can’t he see our point”. For the same reason, I have always liked reading OP-Ed pieces in the media expressing different views – perhaps the NDP view and/or the Conservative view.

    I have two sisters living in the United States. At times when I visit them, I think to myself: Were these two people raised in the same house? One sister will only allow CNN to be on and the other sister, only Fox News. (You can imagine the dinner table conversation between the two of them). I have asked both of them at different times, ‘how can you have an informed position if you don’t listen to the other side?’

    I think we all must remember why this site got started and the great service it is doing for most of us posting here. You know, I raised three sons, all adults now. You might be able to imagine how loud and boisterous the house became at times. So to all posting on this blog, I will say what I used to say to my three boys – “Look, can you just try to get along and if you can’t let’s just pretend that you are!”

  17. How much does everyone want to bet that Mr. Mopsick is going to get ridiculed (by Petros) just like he did yesterday for having the same feelings as almost everyone about the racist video?

    Like my name states I am Annoyed at Mr. Mopsick getting thrown under the bus by Petros continuously for saying the facts. He helps us all on this blog, yet Petros is trying to chase him off.

    Just like everyone else, I can’t wait for him to fire back. People, please have Mr. Mopsick’s back, or we might lose his feedback that we all so desperately need.

  18. I would like to think that the IRS would understand why expats and accidental Americans feel resentful about the citizenship-based taxation and onerous reporting requirements. It is awful that they often have to rely onexpensive specialist accountants due to the complexities of the US tax code and is frustrating that many can’t take advantage of domestically tax-efficient investing/saving that’s available to others where they live. It’s even more frightening that many may have their local accounts closed or find it difficult to open up new accounts due to being US persons.

    It’s unfair that they face taxation without representation. But the law is the law. Unlike Petros, I am not about to get myself blown away by sticking my neck out. I will anonamously express that I am very upset about it but feel resigned to it, myself.

    I have pragmatically concluded that sometimes life is not always fair and that in the meantime will have to comply and pay my taxes ti the US when they arise plus budget for the professional fees. However, though I have warned him about being a ring leader, I agree with him that we need to be willing to write letters and express how we feel so that hopefully there will eventually be reform. But in the mean time, the law is the law is the law…

  19. @monalisa
    There are those on this site who have made a decision to ‘keep’ their U.S. citizenship and perhaps also a citizenship of another country. That is their right. There are perhaps others on the site, who have lived in another country as U.S. citizens only. That is their right.
    Yesterday, I spoke to a client who has lived in Canada for 40 years and has never become a Canadian. She could not believe that 40 years ago, I became a Canadian knowing that I was “irrevocably” giving up my American citizenship.Quite honestly, I had the sense that she was appalled at me. However, it was my right in 1972 to make the decision to become a Canadian and renounce my U.S. citizenship.
    I agree with you “the law is the law”. We might not agree with ‘citizenship’ taxation, but as long as it is the law of the U.S. then those people who choose to remain U.S. citizens have an obligation to file U.S. taxes. Those of us who many years ago decided to ‘relinquish’ or those who today decide to ‘renounce’ should not be obligated to file U.S. tax returns.

  20. Re: “The law is the law.”

    After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery Alabama in 1956, she asked the police officer “Why do you all push us around?” She remembered him replying “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.”

    Rosa stood up for what was right by remaining seated. She helped change the course of history by doing so. I hope we are all standing up for what is right by resisting the IRS and Congress in whatever peaceful way we can.

    I am not and never will be a “sovereign citizen” as described here in this video. I am, however, a responsible citizen of a sovereign nation called Canada. I firmly believe I have no obligation to the foreign government which told me clearly, firmly and directly 40 years ago that I was permanently and irrevocably renouncing my citizenship by making the voluntary and informed choice to become a Canadian citizen.

  21. @Tiger and @Blaze, I appreciate where you’re coming from, given that you believed you had relinquished your US citizenship when you chose to become Canadian all those years ago. This is also a very Canada-centric site, whereas I am a dual citizen living in the UK so have loyalties to both countries. I suppose I feel almost like I have two spouses and thus have obligations to both. As a result, I feel with hindsight that I should have kept better informed about my filing and double tax obligations so blame myself to a large extent for the complications. I realize that I differ in my opinion to the majority here.

    @Tiger, I do agree that we should be allowed to renounce but that in doing so, accept that it could have harsh consequences rather like in an acrimonious divorce. I haven’t yet decided if it’s something I’m willing to go through, especially as it’s essential that I can continue to travel there to visit my aging parents. But again, I realize there’s a difference between relinquishing and renouncing (which is perceived by the Us government as being far more of a rejecting act).

  22. @monalisa

    I do understand what you mean that ‘renouncing’ might be perceived by the U.S. government as ‘far more of a rejecting act’. However, I would think that by the time someone makes the decision to ‘renounce’, they don’t really care if the U.S. government feels rejected. At the same time, I believe that someone like my client who seemed appalled that I had relinquished, obviously is no where near wanting to renounce and therefore should not do it.
    When I became a Canadian in 1972, I did it for several reasons. I desparately wanted to be able to vote in my country of choice (Canada). I was not allowed to do that until I became a Canadian. Also, at that time, the Viet Nam War was being fought every night on my T.V. screen and in my living room. I was hearing about friends of my brother who did not make it home. I had most definitely become more Canadian than I was an American. I had even mastered the “eh”. so common to Canadians. So I was more than ready to relinquish my citizenship.
    One thought I have had many times in the last two months, is: “I am glad that my mom has died”. I appreciate how difficult it would be to not be able to visit her. I respect your desire to be able to continue to visit the States to see your aging parents. That is very important.

  23. @All – I, also, very much appreciate both sides, Petros’ and Mr. Mopsick’s, although I often don’t agree completely with either one of them. However, I firmly believe in their right to express themselves and I appreciate that both are willing to do so here, so that I can take advantage of both points of view. It’s a little ironic, actually, I have never been political, paid very little attention except for the issues locally to me, and I have never been one to jump into the fray. And here I am. This issue has certainly radicalized me to some extent. I have been a proud Canadian since 1976, but now I am a vigorously proud Canadian, and that’s a good portion of where my outrage comes from. It’s not just the taxes and fbars and fatca, in an odd way, I feel the US is trying to steal my identity from me. At any rate, in the past I have always been a letter of the law follower, and yet I’ve finally, I guess, hit my limit. In a round about way I think I’m trying to say I am trying to understand where both are coming from, and to say that I hope both continue to post as whether I agree or not, I’m almost always given new food for thought, from both of them.

  24. @Outragec

    You said ‘ I feel the US is trying to steal my identity from me’. You must have been reading my mind. Today while I was out, running my errands, thinking about all these things – I had the same feelings I had while I was going through the grief of my husband’s death. Something had been stolen from me then and you are correct, something is being stolen from us now. Some huge part of who I am ie an American – born, proud Canadian has been damaged by all of this. It has even affected the way I feel about my U.S. relatives and that is terrible. I know this is not their fault and yet part of me blames them. I know that is silly but it adds to my ‘grief’ that I even feel that way.

  25. @Outragec and @tiger,

    I identify what I feel as a lack of trust that I once had in the land where I was born and raised — its ideals; its fairness. It started with the Vietnam war and relatives and classmates senselessly lost, with the brother that disappeared from the face of the earth after his four years of military service in those days (he tried to commit suicide and I’m sure he has succeeded along the way). And, the wars continue; and we don’t learn from history. My trust has been completely shattered with this latest round of absurdity. What had been a given for me, that I was a Canadian and had free access to crossing the southern border to visit family, is gone — I am now a second-class Canadian by virtue of having been born in the US. Until there is resolution of this for my family, there is no closure for me. It’s hard to move on until that time, a total waste of my precious energy and someone else’s benefit of the use my time.

  26. @calgary411 and outragec

    Thank you both. I believe you know exactly how I am feeling. I know my friends don’t – they try to be kind and commiserate but it is alot like when you lose someone near and dear to you (like a spouse, a child, a brother), your friends can sympathize but they can’t empathize.So many here do ‘walk in the same shoes’ and thus can empathize.Even my own children, they are trying to understand my anguish, but I know they really wish mom would stop ‘going on and on about all this stuff!’
    It is nice to have a place to vent but even better to have a place of empathy.

  27. Yes, this place is a sanity saver for me. I’ve expressed that sentiment to others, but I can tell from their reactions that they don’t quite understand. You guys do, and I treasure that. We’re not all the same, not all the same story, but we’re all going through a horrible time and can empathize with one another, with true understanding. And that,as the cliche goes, … is priceless.

  28. on seeing the above posted, it appears that I’m being lighthearted about this – I’m not, actually. I’m not in that kind of place in my mind, I meant every word of what I wrote above here. I truly truly do not know what I would have done if Calgary411 hadn’t pointed me in this direction. I was absolutely panic stricken and now have some semblance of sanity back, and it’s thanks to the good folks on this blog!

  29. @ all, this group cannot be any farther away from these radical “sovereign citizens”, the subject of the original post. As I said in my introduction to Brock, it is like going through the five stages of grief, they aren’t always done in succession, but eventually we must find a place where we find sanity. I have moments of complete rage (my own Tourette’s syndrome) then I find joy in life. Persecution will do this to people and it is definitely helpful having common ground with others, but still the future is extremely uncertain for us and I think that a great source of anxiety for all. We look for signs of sanity in the direction things are going, and rejoice in them, but then news comes along that sends us into the abyss again. I am way more affected than my husband, who became an American through his father and never lived in the US. Not having any attachment to the USA whatsoever, he can’t wait for the moment he can get out of Dodge.

  30. On the road now, so expect my postings to be less regular.

    I read Steven’s chilling warnings to me with a deep dread. He only confirms what I believed was probably the case, that the IRS is watching this site and is not happy.

    I did indeed make an appeal to natural law: but to see that the IRS keeps people who make such arguments on their radar shows how far from the founding of the country, with its defiant declaration of Independence based upon an appeal to natural law–how far from that founding that the IRS has fallen. Do they really have time to follow the musings of a former citizen?

    I am a Canadian, Steven, sworn to serve my Queen and her realm. So I want to make sure that Canadians know that when the United States invades our tax base and impoverishes our people, that it is indeed an casus belli. Now I don’t believe it will lead to hostilities, for now–but I’m just saying, Steven, that it is really not the best way for the US to make friends and influence other nations, and that Canada and the other nations of the world have to nip this extra-territorialism in the bud. This is not an over the top statement. We just disagree. But you talk about how I’m in oh so much trouble–this is truly chilling, and I actually feel twinge of pity for the people that still live under the tyranny of the United States Federal government. It has truly become an evil beast–investigating a little fish like me because I believe that there is something called natural law; and they fund the whales, like the banksters, with bailouts. I am truly sorry about how corrupt the United States has become. It is really sad to see.

    But the worst thing about the United States Government is that so many people, Americans, Canadians and other people around the world, fear it. So much so that few people here at Isaac Brock, except me, will write in their real name (Peter W. Dunn–well, there’s also Roger and Marvin, and few others). Most of the others are truly worried about having trouble with the IRS. We live today in a climate of anxiety and fear of what the US government will do to us. The United States is intentionally holding access to family members hostage (taxes must be paid to renew passport; covered expatriates pay extra taxes on bequests to US residents; one can be banned from the United States for expatriating for tax purposes, etc.). This is truly frightening.

  31. “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny” -attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
    Seriously, if any government wants to get past a pen name they could. There are no martyrs here, just those who seek “liberty and justice for all US persons”. Period.

  32. I am not proud to admit it but am even more scared now that I have so openly discussed my situation on here, especially after the chilling words recently written by 30 yrs IRS Vet towards Petros. I used to be more optimistic that more and more people would respond to Petros’ point of view but the fact is, we’re terrified of what could happen. I no longer believe that anything will be reformed in the near future and that people are just going to have to acknowledge that we’re in a brave new world.

    All we can pray for is that the IRS will be merciful with those of us who meekly came forward with good faith disclosures…but I do honestly fear that rather than appreciating Petros’ intelligence and ideals, that he will be deemed a threat to US security and face major reprisals. But I for one do not want want to sink with the ship. Very very sad times we live in but if I can survive relatively intact than I will be grateful.

    I almost feel that there isn’t much point in me writing any more in the meantime, though will continue to follow the blog…however, if anything really scary happens to me like FBAR fines or a major audit, I will of course write about it. But for now feel it’s safer just live one day at a time during this drawn out period they could investigate me.

    I am deeply grateful though how I’ve been able to vent on here and express all my fears because, like so many others on here, I find that the people in my life sympathize but don’t fully empathize. It’s in many ways similar to having a cancer diagnosis and not having any idea what the longterm prognosis is going to be. People care but you’re going through it alone. I wish everyone the very best and my prayers go out to you all but for now, going to give it a little rest…

  33. @Mr Tomas, I was right. You contaminated Brock by drawing parallels to a group of lunatics when none existed. Everyone should just chill out.

  34. Two comments, second may be without respect for thread. (1) Mona, as long as you and others say if anything really scary happens to me … I will of course write about it we are strong. The fear that paralyzes individuals into silence is the scariest thing of all. I’m thinking specifically of what so many knew and what so few would say in public in late 1930s Germany. (2) Good work with the privacy commissioner office. Consider following up with a written communication based on your notes and/or recollections addressed to Commissioner and cc’d to whoever else seems relevant. Phone calls evaporate, writing is documentation. Always good to get the name of whoever is talking on the other end of the line and document that as well. One technique is to say that you will assume that your written account is an accurate record of what you understood you were told unless you receive contrary response in writing.

  35. @Petros: come on Old Pal! I rather think you are enjoying this. I have no idea what your personal tax situation is.
    If you think you owe the the IRS money for whatever reason, the worst thing that could happen is they send you a bill from Detriot..do ya think their gonna wanna come over and have a chat with you about the terms of an installment agreement?
    What exactly would you be terrified about?

  36. @all Actually, I think that the debate on this thread has served to clarify again what we are all about, and demonstrates that we should not be put on a black list. I don’t feel it is contamination. We should be considered by the US government as a group of people who have legitimate complaints about US policy, and who feel that the protections of the constitutions, UDHR, and democratic values have been compromised by US policy.

    I personally have been threatened by an IRS agent that I came across in Europe with consequences from DHS, or the “spooks”. The agent seemed incorrectly to put us recalcitrant minnows abroad in the same category as domestic tax protesters (there is certainly at least some crossover between some domestic tax protesters with some members of the “Sovereign Citizen” movement). It was a thinly veiled threat and it may not have been heartfelt (only knee-jerk) but it frightened me and that is why it is important that we continuously make it clear what we are about. With NDAA and other suspensions of constitutional due-process rights there is always a risk that somebody in the US government will try to come after our members in a draconian way. They need to understand that our position is completely different than that of domestic tax protesters.

    One of the key points that someone brought up above is the uncertainty. I don’t think it is post traumatic stress, it is traumatic stress in the present tense. Until we get more clear cases of the IRS trying to collect from a recalcitrant person abroad (especially minnow who is tax compliant where he lives) who refuses to pay up, we will remain in the dark. Personally, I would like to see more foreign court cases about our issues, and more resistance on the part of foreign governments.

    I don’t agree with the “the law is the law” argument. If we don’t stand up for our values like Rosa Parks did, nothing will change.

    Most of us are citizens/residents of sovereign nations outside of the US, and the US must recognize this sovereignty.

  37. @monalisa1776
    “whereas I am a dual citizen living in the UK so have loyalties to both countries. I suppose I feel almost like I have two spouses and thus have obligations to both.”

    I, too, am a dual citizen. I grew up as a Navy brat. I served in the US Navy for six years. I am intensely patriotic as an American, but am having problems with my citizenship of the United States. I am now able to separate “being an American” from “being a United States citizen.” Because the government that defaults to treating me as a criminal is not the same government I grew up pledging allegiance to or serving (and that’s a philosophical statement, not a political statement.)

    The fact that the IRS would come onto this site to see if anyone is fomenting revolution is a good symptom of the changes in the country I had my first allegiance to. It used to be in the US that the State existed with the consent of the governed; it now seems to be the other way around. If you had nothing to worry about, then you weren’t watched.

    I get the spouse analogy, but I feel as if one of my wives has become a shrew who accuses me of cheating on her every time I see her, and, by contrast, the other one is just so nice and understanding and patient.

    I got the paperwork that I need to fill in from the London Renunciation unit yesterday. It’s beginning to add a bit of finality to my decision. And although, intellectually, it is the right thing to do, emotionally, it’s a struggle. And I am not doing it to “avoid paying my fair share” as politicians from both sides of the aisle describe it. I’m doing it for peace of mind. My life is over here, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change. And the only way I could ever think about going back is if I had a lucrative job waiting for me or if I had a lot of money in my pocket, both of which are sufficient reasons for acquiring a visa to stay.

    And if it ever got to a point that the US was blocking UK citizens from coming, then I couldn’t come back anyway, as my English wife was never allowed a green card, anyway – apparently they thought that she would move to the states without me (after 9 years of marriage at the time) to take advantage of their “generous” welfare provisions. So between taxes (which I have yet to ever owe) and immigration policy, I have effectively been exiled.

  38. Steven wrote:

    @Petros: come on Old Pal! I rather think you are enjoying this. I have no idea what your personal tax situation is.
    If you think you owe the the IRS money for whatever reason, the worst thing that could happen is they send you a bill from Detriot..do ya think their gonna wanna come over and have a chat with you about the terms of an installment agreement?
    What exactly would you be terrified about?

    Yes, this is enjoyable. Rather like lancing a boil.

    I have always maintained publicly that my tax returns are unnecessary paperwork. But I see from Bubblebustin’s case, that it is good thing I never sold my house.

    Don’t you realize how chilling it is what you are saying? I’ve maintained here that FBAR is unconstitutional on several grounds, and it is exactly what the IRS fears on Eighth amendment grounds, and even what a federal judge has determined on Fifth Amendment grounds. Steven, even you have tacitly admitted that FBAR and FATCA are violations of the Fourth Amendment. This means to me that the people at the IRS, the brightest and best lawyers from the most elite schools, are trying to run roughshod our constitutional rights and they are doing so with mens rea. I have therefore said continually that Canadians must avail themselves of the protections of our government and refuse to comply with FBAR–but not only so, that compliance with FBAR is a voluntary relinquishment of constitutional rights, which I think we should not simply cede without a battle. For this reason, and because of my appeal to natural rights, you have suggested that I am probably on an IRS watchlist. Chilling my friend. Chilling.

    But I am not so much afraid for my own situation as I am for the meaning that this attitude of the government will have when things get really bad in the United States because of the debauched currency and people in the US won’t be able to afford the basic necessities of life with their welfare cheques, their food stamps, and their government pensions (like retired IRS employees). The US is getting closer to civil war, between those who feed at the government trough and those who resent paying into it and getting almost nothing in return. The next demagogue will not be promising “hope and change” but a “solution” (Or perhaps even an “Endloesung”). In an Endloesung, the demagogue finds someone to blame and to punish for allegedly causing the problems that the suffering people are facing. What will be the US “solution”? Will it be invasion of Canada, to make us pay for overcharging you for $200 per gallon gasoline? I mean, we have up here a million people who haven’t paid their taxes or reported their banks accounts. What better scapegoat for the insolvency of America?

  39. Most in the IBS want to do the right thing and obey the law, even though they don’t agree or like the law. For example, many complied with FBAR, even though they believed that it is unconstitutional. When they commit a genuine mistake like FBAR, many expats ended up spending many months of sleepless nights and loosing tens of thousand of dollars to rectify innocent mistake by entering OVDI as soon as they were aware of their innocent mistake (even if many don’t owe any taxes). I am sure this torture must have severely impacted many expats performance at jobs.

    I am sure many dual-citizens just ignoring IRS, since they believe IRS can’t come after them in a foreign nation. So none of them are bothering to visiting sites like IBS to learn how to safely become compliant. People visiting sites like IBS to educate themselves to find out a safest way to become compliant and stay compliant by relinquishing the US citizenship.

    The IRS must be crazy, if they confuse and mistook our frustration and angry expressions due to lack of proper guidance for allowing many of us become compliant, as tax revolt. If a dual-citizen doesn’t want to pay taxes, IRS can do very little in the nation he has been living. In many developing nations, unless he volunteers there is no evidence that he is a US citizen. In many developing nations, over 70% of the populations have no birth certificates or have no proof of birth. It is quite easy for even illegal immigrants to get passports.

  40. @ A Gentleman’s Rapier

    Thank you for your comment: “I am now able to separate ‘being an American’ from ‘being a U.S. citizen’. I hope I will be able to also come to that place. It will help with the ‘grief’ I feel about my country of birth.

  41. @Surya. That is a pretty good look at the current situation. I think that many others who are eager to learn more about their options will be visiting sites like Brock. Any speculation that we are being surveilled for potential terrorists is only going to scare away good potential participants. That being said, anything is possible. As long as Chris Hedges and those like him remain free men, I don’t worry too much 🙂
    @A Gentleman’s Rapier, it’s their implying I’m a criminal that insults me too, that if we were left to our own devices we would cheat them of their tax revenue. Meanwhile it seems to be perfectly ok with them make little effort to make us aware of our tax filing and FBAR reporting obligations. I’ve learned more about US taxes from the international media and places like Brock in the last year than from the US government in the entire 44 years I’ve lived outside its borders!

  42. @Bubblebustin: I agree, it is insulting to call expats criminals or tax cheats, since IRS in mid 90s actively discouraged filing taxes, when there is no tax due. That was what my CPA told me and confirmed by IRS, when I called 1-800 helpline. Why any one needs to hide money to evade taxes, when there is no tax due. In fact, recently I learned I could get few thousand dollar refund due to child tax credit, making work pay credit and tuition credit etc. Do I get tax rebate for 2008? May be there are more credits that I don’t even know yet. I qualify for all those, since my income is modest but that provides a decent living in India as cost of living is very low (and have no house payments, if one inherits couples of houses to live from his grandparents). My reasons to moving back to India is, I need to look after my aging parents, I missed my family, friend, simple/contended living in India and it needs juts few hundred dollars to live comfortable, so I can spend more time on what I want to do.

    I don’t owe any taxes to IRS due to high tax rates in India. I hate learning and doing taxes, so I always relied on accountant to file taxes. But now I am forced to learn about taxes to become compliant, since I can’t afford expensive CPA. It is impossible to find a US tax expert where I am living in India. Also I was about to enter OVDI, but thanks to visiting IBS I learned that it is not for me (since I don’t owe any taxes). I can’t afford expensive lawyer, so I am trying to educate as much as possible before approaching a CPA on internet to file back taxes and FBAR.

  43. @Petros: You can be sure there is an actual case or controversy making its way through the IRS audit, appeal, Tax Court, appeal yet again process, where an argument is being crafted that FBARs and 8938s violate the Fourth Amendment. In the end, there will be a case where a taxpayer will make a business decision that it is cheaper to litigate the issue than to pay the government what it is trying to get from an FBAR penalty case. That will be a few years from now. In the meantime, people are left struggling with how to, or whether to comply at all.
    The Isaac Brock Society does well to sound the alarm about the potential for government abuse of the tools of FBARs and FATCA. With all due respect, the jury hasn’t even been charged yet if the IRS were ever to be put on trial for plain and simple stupidity by going after Canadians who have little or no business or connection to the US.
    I read a lot of good stuff here about extraterritoriality, bad decisions over OVDI, and the problems associated with citizenship based taxation, but the actual reported cases of IRS overreaching are few and far between.
    As far as us being on the verge of civil war down here in the US right now, actually, we are getting ready for the baseball season to start.
    Talk about “chilling,”..wow! Your Endloesung prophesy is chilling. A demagogue rising up and getting elected, I guess, by stupid Americans who woud flock to him, –making his “Solution” the invasion, rape, and pillage of Canada, (I am guessing your not so subtle innuendo about “the final solution”was to make us think of Adolf Hitler). Well OK. If you say so.
    BTW, running the Jeremiah Wright tape right in the middle of the O’Keefe flap was really below the belt wasn’t it?

  44. @Steven The United States is currently running a 1.5 trillion dollar budget deficit. That is, the US Federal government is borrowing roughly 40 cents for every dollar. This is a debt death spiral, in my opinion, that will ultimately result in the total devaluation of a currency that has already been under serious pressure for over a decade (not for the first time), if the price of gold and oil is any measure. When that final devaluation occurs and the rest of the world utterly rejects the dollar as a world’s reserve currency, you can be sure that your politicians will be scrambling for a solution. This bodes ill. For what does history teach us? It teaches us that when a great military power experiences severe economic conditions at home, the all too common solution is to go to war and annex the resources of other countries. Is that not what the Soviet Union did not more than forty years after the Bolshevik Revolution?

    I credit the United States for being, at one time, the most generous nation in the world. The Marshall Plan showed that the USA did not want to make the same mistake twice (i.e., the mistake of the treaty of Versailles), and Germany and Japan have been consistent allies for 50 years. The USA decided to rebuild these countries and help them back on their feet. But that was then and this is now. Going after expatriates in the world bodes ill for what the USA is becoming. Portraying anyone who lives in another country, who happens to have a US citizenship (or could eventually claim US citizenship) as tax cheats, is greedy. You now begrudge the prosperity of other nations and you demagogue in your media sources about evil people with foreign bank accounts who refuse to pay their fair share. This makes the nations, the banks, and the people of these nations to be complicit with the alleged greed of these people.

    Yes, the US is going down a road which bodes ill for the future. The current crisis is the beginning of the woes. What will the American people do? The next demagogue will bring a “solution”. Make no mistake; economic meltdowns often lead to the rise of a demagogue. We saw that in Weimar Germany. Hitler rose to power promising to solve their problems.

    My reference to the report concerning Rev. Wright was far from below the belt. Demagogues come to power sometimes by hiding their true agenda. How could Obama have listened to that man for 20 years and never be offended? Tell me why it is below the belt? Is it because I suggested you may have voted for Obama, knowing that he had this 20 year association with this hater? But let’s just consider this from a demographic standpoint: you are a career Washington bureaucrat and a trial lawyer, both of which groups vote overwhelmingly democrat. Chance are pretty high that you voted for Obama. So you holding us (Isaac Brock) to a higher standard than the man for whom you voted for the POTUS?

    So my concern is that you think its so important that the Isaac Brock Society guard its image. We are at this point just a little website that is gathering useful information about US expat tax issues. Just because we put an article or video up as a source of information doesn’t imply a relationship with the source. That is ridiculous. If media sources had to stand up to that kind of scrutiny, 90% of the news would never see the light of day. So you are trying to portray me and hence Isaac Brock Society as potentially nutty, whacky and criminal. That is in my opinion below the belt.

    My criticism of Obama was perfectly fair. Did you refuse to vote for that man who sat under the teaching of Jew hater for 20 years? Presuming he went to church regularly and he would have heard as many as 1000 sermons by Wright. (Or perhaps Obama stepped out for a smoke during the sermons?). I am a theologian and have been involved in the training of pastors: I can tell you this: I probably wouldn’t have been able to listen through even a single one of that man’s hate-filled sermons, much less 1000 of them. Yes, I would have stood up and walked out–I’ve done it before. I listened to my own pastor’s sermons for 8 years until the day he took a job at a seminary. During that time, he never once said anything like “God DAMN America! It says it in the Bible”. So sir, I did not vote for Obama, because I concluded that he was either a bigot himself or that he lacked the critical faculties to be able to discern when he was associating with bigots. Evil or stupid, take your pick. But not suitable for the presidency. And now, we expats suffer under his administration. Go figure.

  45. Surya,
    95% of the immigrants (indians or otherwise) are impacted by this one way or other. I hear especially those who lived and worked in the US for the past 20 to 30 years and returned back to India for retirement got impacted the most.

  46. @Arrow, so I’d never heard of this Helms-Burton Act and Canada’s strong response to it. I have to say I’m a little ashamed of my lack of knowledge about my own country, I am certainly getting an education from this site that I never expected when I joined. (Thank you!) At any rate, the kind of response from Canada to this is the what I’m looking for from our gov’t, particularly on FATCA. Bill C-54, – The Canadian courts may restrict the production of records and other information sought to enforce the Helms-Burton Act.
    – The plaintiffs may recover the amounts of foreign judgments and additional damages in Canadian courts.
    – Canadian courts will not recognize foreign judgments based on the Helms-Burton Act or may reduce the amount of the judgments.
    (I find the last one a bit odd, it’s a ‘no’, but a maybe? will not recognize, but may reduce, that doesn’t make sense to me…)

    So what is the difference this time? Is it because most of Canadians that are affected by this are minnows and therefore do not have the financial power base of big business? It surely can’t be numbers – were there really a million people affected in Canada by the Helms-Burton Act, like there are with FATCA?

  47. @Surya and others.
    I wonder how many immigrants to the US in their zeal to be naturalized or receive a green card read the fine print regarding reporting of world-wide income, or if it’s even brought up anytime in the process(?) I’m sure many would think twice about the world’s most coveted citizenship if they were fully aware of the requirement. I’ve visited a few Fb groups that encourage immigration to the US and mentioned it. I’ve gotten a few responses wanting more information. Another thought I have is to write to all members of congress who were born in other countries in an effort to foster empathy. There’s less than a dozen, one is from Canada, but from his bio, I think he would rather forget he was born in lesser America (tongue firmly implanted in cheek here).

  48. @Surya, and @all, I am interested in finding additional information about :”IRS in mid 90s actively discouraged filing taxes, when there is no tax due. That was what my CPA told me and confirmed by IRS, when I called 1-800 helpline.”

    I am just wondering if we could find something that further documents that shift – from ‘actively discouraging’ to now – since many of those affected by this probably had (then and now) NO or minimal US tax due or owing. Especially those in higher tax countries and those in places with mutual tax treaties. I realize only now (as of media reports in fall 2011) that the ‘tax’ filing was distinct from bank account reporting (FBARs).

    It also occurs to me that if all of us ‘abroad’ had filed for the 2008 tax year (and perhaps in earlier years with similar programs?) some would have qualified for those stimulus refunds (@ $300. US per individual in 2008?), or other refunds? http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=179181,00.html . I don’t know if there have been equivalent offers over the years.

    So, I am wondering if there would be a way to estimate that rather than costing the US tax money by not filing – all of us filing from now on would actually be more expensive for the IRS? I know that it is rigged so that there are many deductions and credits that we can never qualify for, but even so, what is the actual cost of ‘compliant’ filers from abroad – from now on – assuming (big assumption I know, given complexity) no penalty debts incurred? Probably anything that would show that we then qualified for actual refunds would then be blocked by Congress -similar to the repeated calls for the FEIE to be repealed.

    Again, this is where the IRS refusal to divulge whatever ‘facts?’ they have, or develop any legitimate and robust cost/benefit analysis to support their claim that pursuing/persecuting US individuals ‘abroad’ will result in recovering massive tax owed makes their claims suspect.

  49. @badger

    I believe the IRS and cross border accountants also did that as far back as the early 80s. I had a “dual citizen” friend tell me last week that when she and her husband became citizens of Canada in 1980, they continued to file U.S. returns for a couple of years, there was no tax owing and they were told (by a cross border acct), there was no obligation to file as long as the returns were going to show a nil amt owing. They stopped filing, the husband has been deceased for at least 6 years and the wife is still not filing.

  50. Nina Olson of TAS accused the IRS for not getting the word out, they can not only be accused of that, but also of getting the WRONG word out! They must be taken to task on this. Anyone with accounts of the IRS, or any within the US government telling them that they weren’t required to file should contact the Tax Advocate’s office and let them know.

  51. @ badger: It is hard to get proof for things happened more than 15 years ago. I don’t think our conversation was recorded, even If I were to written down number and name of IRS agent. For example, I read somewhere that an old CPA received a warning letter from IRS for filing too many nil returns for many of his clients. If you search on internet you can find many such examples, mostly from 80s and 90s.

    May be it was not official policy but that was the attitude then. Even I have the recorded response I don’t think it can help. I can’t afford to hire a lawyer and pay him US$500/hour to fight a case? I can’t even afford to travel to the USA and stay their, even if a lawyer takes up this case for free. This already taken a big toll on my work performance.

    It is much cheaper to file returns and get refund. I am sure my filings will be expensive to IRS, because some one must manually verify each tax refund. The IRS ignored TAD. The IRS ignored ACA request for data under freedom of information act. Those are violation of laws. Many of us believe that FBAR is unconstitutional, but we cannot afford to take IRS to court. The IRS can ignore tax filing part and impose FBAR penalties (by saying ignorance is not an excuse).

  52. thank you @surya and @tiger; I had heard accounts myself of cross-border preparers telling clients that they didn’t need to file when the tax owed was nil, just hadn’t heard about the other twist: “CPA received a warning letter from IRS for filing too many nil returns for many of his clients. If you search on internet you can find many such examples, mostly from 80s and 90s.”

    @surya, I appreciate that it was long ago, and that is wouldn’t help with an actual case now – wasn’t asking for proof. Just had never ever heard about the warning letters for filing nil returns – and found it very very interesting. I will try to look around for an example myself.

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