Letter from MP Denise Savoie to President Obama

I don’t how I missed this gem of a letter but apparently in the fall MP Denise Savoie of Victoria sent a letter to US President Obama on the subject of FATCA, OVDI, FBAR etc. I have linked to it below.


MP Savoie also has a section of her website devoted to US tax issues(although it hasn’t been updated since December) in which she continues to indicate her opposition to FATCA.


I am also trying to get together all of the official responses we have received and obtained for submission to Deloitte’s FATCA comments page. I don’t know whether Deloitte will publish them but there are all very much authentic.


If anyone wants to helpful post a link to any previously published letters here at Isaac Brock Society.


37 thoughts on “Letter from MP Denise Savoie to President Obama

  1. @Christophe; yes, it is disheartening that the issue as experienced by immigrants to the US are not being reported. It is only through some of the posts here and at the Townsend blog that I came to understand what was happening to newcomers to the US.

  2. @Christophe…

    Sadly, immigrants have even less of a voice on these issues than U.S. Expats do. I don’t know what the answer is to deal with that problem. I think immigrants, generally speaking are more fearful and intimidated than U.S. Expats or dual citizens, and there is no Nation specific Immigrant group that is being vocal or blogging about it that I know. Of course, it could be happening in a native language and I would be oblivious to it. I do know there were some Indian groups that met with Treasury and the IRS and Congressman asking for a better compliance program and basically they got about as much respect as the TAS Nina Olson did. Told to “Opt Out” if they didn’t like it. If you haven’t seen those stories I could see if I could dig them out for you.


    Maybe we can get Petros, to put something in the right hand column linking to all the letters that have been posted on Isaac related to FATCA, FBAR, OVDI, etc. I lose track of the many which have been posted and mentioned in comments. If I get some time next week, and no one else has done it, maybe I can try to go back through all the posts since Christmas and identify them all. It would be a GREAT resource, I think..

  3. Hi all,

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this too. As inclusive as we’ve tried to be, so far, I don’t think we’ve gone quite far enough. When our small group started The Isaac Brock Society last December (nearly 460,000 hits ago), our scope was initially more regional, with a predominantly Canadian perspective. We rapidly outgrew that, eh?

    Now, I am feeling that we are not yet doing enough to reach out to and represent all United States persons who are affected by all of this. It isn’t just United States persons abroad who are affected, but also the many immigrants to the mainland U.S., many of whom are not even aware that they now caught in the same trap.

    At the same time, I have been mulling-over the image and message we have been presenting to the world and I think it’s also now time for a succinct and descriptive summary of who we are and what we stand for. I therefore would like to present my ideas for a slightly revised banner slogan, and for the addition of something new – a kind of mission statement, if you will:

    Liberty and Justice for all United States persons worldwide.

    We are a growing collective voice seeking a just and moral end to citizenship-based taxation, its destructive effect on American and global economies and its tragic consequences for individual human lives.

    In the grand style of our experiment in distributed democracy, I would invite any and all feedback or additional suggestions. I just feel that we need to make our tent a little bigger now and our collective goals a bit more obvious. The world is beginning to pay attention to us now and we need to present ourselves accordingly.


  4. I agree with your thoughts Deckard1138. The immigrant community in the United States is in desperate need of our help and they should be included in our mission statement especially since they are an even larger group than Americans abroad.

    These poor immigrants come to the United States looking for a better life and imagine their horror when they realize the US government wants to bankrupt them by picking their pockets by way of their bank accounts back home.

    Many immigrants dream of going back to their home country when they retire. My parents worked in Canada for 35 years before retiring to live in India. A Canadian pension goes a long way in India. I imagine their lives would be much more complicated now if they had chosen to immigrate to the US. I’m so glad my parents chose Canada.

  5. @omg
    Most of us here are indeed immigrants ourselves – to the many countries around the world we have each chosen to call home. I am no longer an American, but a first-generation Canadian citizen, with a franco-ontarienne French-Canadian wife and three fully-bilingual children who make me so proud my heart could just burst some days. We must find ways to reach out to fellow immigrants living in the U.S. and add their voices to ours. We all have similar dreams and now very similar challenges. We can be so much stronger together.

  6. @Deckard1138

    I tend to agree with you. I obviously am not Canadian, but have gravitated here, (actually invited here) because the Canadians were the only ones that I saw who were actively pushing back on the IRS VD jihad and talking about FATCA.

    The renouncing citizenship message did not resonant with me, but over time I have come to understand why folks are making those decisions. Who knows, some day it might come to that for me, and now I have an excellent resource on the steps and pitfalls!

    That said……

    You are right. This is a much broader audience out there than just a Canadian centric one. I am sure those of you who started this have a lot of pride of authorship and there has been excellent advocacy for the unique nature of some of the issues you have been dealing with because of the large US citizen community residing there.

    But…there is a larger audience. I really feel for the US persons (green card holders and new immigrants) that have come to America looking for a better life and got trapped by this system for very benign failures to understand the most complicated tax system in the world. Many are being taken to the cleaners by both the IRS and the tax practitioner community. Intentionally by the IRS, and maybe more unintentionally by tax practitioners who have so many opinions and varying degrees of competence that the poor minnow immigrant has no way of assessing. They think they have to pay the high price for the advice, and as you know, the advice is often exactly the wrong thing to do.

    There is no organization or blog that I know of that is representing this group, at least in English, and I like the idea of a statement that seems more inclusive for them to. We have had several comment here and there may be more lurking in the background that we know not of, but we should reach out more if we can. They should feel welcome to ask questions and submit comments.

    I know a lot of them are asking questions continually on Jack Townsend’s blog, and in fact, recently I would say they are the majority right now.

    New immigrants, if they are going to live in America, like any country, they have to understand the rules and laws of that country. Sadly. the State Department and the IRS have failed miserably in their obligation of education and information for what reporting requirements were going to be made of them once they became tax resident.

    I contrast that with what New Zealand did for me, to assure that I knew on that on a date certain I was going to have obligations to report on my foreign earnings. They actually provided 4 years for me to adapt to the change before they hit me with it. They then sent me a letter to be sure I knew what was coming.

    Do you think the IRS would ever reach out like this? Me either.

    NZ has their own complicated set of foreign income reporting rules, that I can complain about. Complaining about taxes is an international sport. What I can not complain about is that they did not blind side me with a jihad or a “gotcha” FBAR type regulation to collect penalties out of me.

    If I leave here, and return to the States, or Australia, they will not threaten to hunt me down and collect taxes because I am now and forever a NZ person unless I go through some onerous exit process. They let go of me once I end my tax residency. Logical, and the way it should be. However, if I am residing in NZ, I have to follow their tax rules, and fair enough.

    They have more than gone out of their way to help me understand their tax requirements. The US on the other hand, just sprang this jihad on immigrants and basically said tough! You should have known. What a crappy way to treat new immigrants, and I can understand why some might be bitter about this experience and decide that they will walk down jetways heading home. What a loss for America!.

    So, this is the long winded way of saying, I am in favor of any kind of mission statement change that makes Isaac Brock Society seem more inclusive and reaches out to a broader community to help those struggling with the array of foreign tax complications that America imposes on its “Persons”.

  7. Sorry I have to dissent.

    First, I am not a US person and have not been for a very long time. Nor are the people I’ve been working toward helping. I utterly reject the phrase “US person.” That’s imperialist IRS speak for anyone who was born in the US, whether they left and rejected the US or not. It doesn’t apply to me, it doesn’t apply to my wife, and it doesn’t apply to a bunch of so-called accidental (I prefer the word unwilling) Americans. We are f****** well NOT US persons.

    I agree there are injustices resulting from the policies we’re fighting as they impact on immigrants living in the US. I hope there are organizations for them, and I think we have some common causes with them. But they aren’t us, or at least they aren’t me, nor are we them nor am I them.

    I have serious concerns about diluting our energies and meddling inside US borders — in a country that isn’t mine and isn’t ours any more, at least not for a whole lot of us on this forum.

    I think our efforts should mainly concentrate on getting our governments in our countries where we live to stand up for us and against what ACA has very rightly described as US economic imperialism. We don’t have a hope in hell of influencing the US political situation. We don’t have the numbers, and those among us who still can vote in the US have their votes diluted to absurdity. And as far as I can tell, the only people in the US who have any sympathy for us are our families and personal friends, and they’re also spread out and very much a minority.

    As someone who long ago rejected US citizenship and relinquished any right to vote or participate in the US political process, I feel it would be hypocritical and just plain wrong for me to meddle in US politics. As I feel it outrageous and unacceptable for the US or for Americans to meddle in Canadian politics and in the lives of Canadians.

  8. I’m with Schubert1975. I am NOT A US PERSON! I’m Canadian, like Schubert, I consider myself as having relinquished decades ago. How about “Liberty and Justice for all persons the United States wants to claim as US persons in order to frighten and bully them into giving up their life savings.” No, I’m not serious, but I am serious about not being a US person. Having said that, I do feel for the plight of the immigrants to the US, as I can only imagine what it would have been like if Canada had done the same thing to my parents when they immigrated here in the 60s.
    There are many streams to this site, the relinquishment, the FBAR, the FATCA, the taxes… can we not find room for those that wish to discuss the situation for US immigrants? I don’t have much to contribute or even comment on that topic, but I do understand that some do….

  9. @schubert1975
    You said ‘I have serious concerns about diluting our energies and meddling inside U.S. borders…’.

    I could not agree more. I believe most of here do not agree with citizenship based taxation but it is up to the voters of America to assist with getting the laws of America changed.I believe even Mr. Flaherty, in the letters he has written in response to our inquiries, has stated that Canada can not meddle in the laws of the United States.
    I, most definitely, am not a U.S. person and therefore, I have no right to change US policy. I am not without sympathy for the immigrants who have come to American and are now being ‘abused’ by a system they don’t understand.
    My hope is that a forum, like ours, will help to educate everyone who participates here. I also hope we can raise awareness in those who perhaps can vote and help to change policy.

    We need to encourage journalists to see all the sides of this issue and through their writings, perhaps the voters of America and more important the American congress will see the damage being done to the U.S. on the ‘world stage’.

  10. @outraged I agree completely with the sentiments of your alternative tagline, though like you I know tag lines with that many words lose effectiveness!

    The best alternatives I’ve come up with so far (and I do feel we need to change something in that tagline) are:

    liberty and justice for all present and past US persons abroad

    liberty and justice for all real and alleged US persons abroad

    or perhaps most simply if not most effectively

    liberty and just for all “US persons” abroad, with emphasis on the quotation marks.

    Words matter. I don’t support or participate in the American Citizens Abroad website, because I am NOT an American Citizen and want no affiliation with any organization that promotes tax reform so it can increase US penetration into the markets of other countries (like Canada), which seems to be the rationale they’re using to try to change the taxation. I don’t want any more US penetration into any aspect or part of Canada, I want less of it.

    I very much appreciate the substantial contributions made to the Isaac Brock Society by US resident citizens such as (among others I no doubt am overlooking) Roger Conklin, Steven Mospick and JustMe. I hope others in the US, including immigrants, as well as members of ACA and similar overseas organizations, can share strengths and ideas with us. But I think it’s important to keep our focus and be realistic as how to use our time and energy. I think that focus needs to be on “liberty and justice for all living abroad.” With emphasis on “abroad” and on not claiming that we’re all “US persons,” because a lot of us are not.

    Hey, how about “liberty and justice for all US taxation victims abroad?”

  11. hmm sorry, in my post I thought I had inserted in my last paragraph a focus on “liberty and just for all (fill in some words other than what we have not) living aborad” but somehow that didn’t get posted, maybe because I used the marks instead of parentheses, who knows … The focus is on US extraterritorial taxation not on liberty and justice of all sorts for everyone … let’s hope this correction goes through OK

  12. interesting technical point for future reference — the marks I used instead of parentheses did NOT get printed in my correction either, on my keyboard they’re the upper-case caracters about the comma and period keys, sometimes called left and right carats. This website seems to reject those carat brackets and anything included in them, when I hit the post button. Strange.

  13. And finally, getting back to the original thread topic of Denise Savoie’s excellent letter to Obama, she focuses entirely in her letter on US policies as they impact on Canadians. She doesn’t focus on the impact on anyone living in the US. Rightly so, she’s a Canadian MP and not a US politician, but still I think we need to learn from her example.

  14. Here is why I stand:

    1. I fully support the CDN govt and CRA sharing information on US “residents” who have bank accounts in Canada. If the US would like additional information(The so called FATCA “standard”) beyond what they are getting from CRA I fully support that too as long as US Banks are going to report more detailed info to the IRS of Canadian residents who have accounts in the US to be passed along to CRA.

    2. If the US wants to deny passports to dual citizens in Canada who haven’t filed that’s their business not Canada’s and is not at all an infringement of Canadian sovereignty. Its the US business whom they give passports to not Canada’s(Others may disagree and there maybe international human rights law issues. I would have to research this more).

    3. Domestic banking relationships between Canadian banks and Canadian residents are entirely a function of Canadian law passed by duly elected Members of Parliament in Canada and should stay that way.

    4. I think the US Canada Tax Treaty is unfair(the Savings Clause) in its treatment of US Citizens living in Canada. However, I am fairly realistic over the near term of possibility for this changing. I doubt Canada would ever grant the same terms to any other country.

  15. @Tim
    Thank you for your logical, and concise points above. I completely agree with you. As a Canadian, who is no longer a ‘U.S. person’, I do not believe I have any right or obligation to attempt to influence U.S. government policy. I might not always agree with it but I gave up any ‘right’ to change it when I ‘relinquished’ my U.S. citizenship 40 years ago.
    My hope is that through the Isaac Brock Society, we will influence our own government officials that they must protect the rights and privacy of their citizens. In that endeavor, I believe it is important that we continue to do our best to ensure that not only our politicians but journalists around the world are made aware of the dangers of FATCA and U.S. reporting rules, such as, FBAR.

  16. re Tim’s second point, and perhaps this is slightly off the topic but perhaps not:

    It seems to me that a logical conclusion of the concept of dominant nationality being where you live, in the case of duals, is that travel to other countries should be on your dominant passport, if you have more than one passport. It would make sense to me for a country to insist that its resident nationals depart and enter that country on that country’s passport; it doesn’t make sense to me for a country to tell duals who live elsewhere they can’t come in on the other passport or travel back on the other passport. Which is what the US seems to be saying in the cases of non-resident duals. However, as you say, all countries have a sovereign right to say who does or doesn’t get to come into the country and on what terms (within international law as well as national law).

    Taxation on the basis of residence and income source also fit with dominant nationality. See for example the detailed description of Canada’s taxation of outside-of-Canada income posted today on the CBC News website here
    particular point number 2 and the final sentence in that second about double taxation, which is very clearly the objective of the Canada-US Tax Treaty and also the recent OECD treaty.

  17. Okay I’ll weigh in on this. First of all my heart goes out to immigrants in the USA who might be less informed than we the “overseas oppressed” are. They are also much more vulnerable to the tyranny of the IRS than we are because they can literally expect a knock on the door. However I too would like to see IBS continue to focus on those who do not live in the USA yet are branded as “US persons” and those who do not live in the USA and continue to want to have a fair working relationship with that country so they can visit freely and possibly return there someday. I think this website would be a wealth of information, a virtual ex-pat pat (a “pat” as in the carpentry term), for any immigrant group in the USA which might want to start up a similar website there to focus on the life-altering effects of FATCA/FBAR and advocate, as do we, for some sanity in US tax code. If such a website did get set up I would hope it would zealously guard the identities of anyone posting there, for obvious reasons.

  18. Here are some additional manifesto items

    5. The CDN govt should insure the US enables CDN residents and citizens to renounce their US citizenship as entitled to under international law and to provide final and formal certification of that(CLN) in a PROMPT and TIMELY manner.

    6. (This is what I think is an appropriate carve out to #2)
    If a US Citizen in the present day living in the US applies for and receives landed immigrant status in Canada with intention of becoming a Canadian Citizen and renouncing their US citizenship the US should under international law provide the necessary travel documents to allow the person in question to provide proof of identity to the CBSA and protecting their right of emigration unless formal judicial proceeding of a penal nature have been taken in the US against the person in question.(This does not have to be a multi-use passport just enough to get them into Canada. I also don’t think this a real problem because present CDN law only required a drivers license to be presented by US Citizens to gain entry into Canada).

    The passport issue is a tricky one I’ll have to think more about. I was thinking in #2 more along the lines that the US could strip citizenship of long term duals who refuse to file under international law.

  19. I suppose very distantly related to point number 6 is story is former American actor Randy Quaid told below:

    On October 22, 2010, Quaid and his wife sought protection under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, after being arrested at the US-Canadian border in Vancouver B.C.[29] They have since applied for refugee status on the grounds that they fear for their lives in the United States, claiming that numerous actors have died under mysterious circumstances committed by the “Hollywood star whackers”.[30] They were granted bail on the condition of $10,000 bond pending further Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearings.[31] However, due to their inability to deposit the required bond with the court for several days, they remained in custody of the Canada Border Services Agency.[32] They were released on October 27 after the discovery that Evi Quaid is a “prima facie Canadian citizen”.[33][34][35] On July 15, 2011 an attempt to extradite Randy and Evi Quaid from Canada failed when the U.S. Department of Justice turned down a request from the Santa Barbara County district attorney calling for the Quaids to be returned to California to face the felony burglary charges dating from Sept. 18, 2010.[36]

  20. @Tim’s points 5 and 6:

    I totally agree with the ideas expressed. Especially number 5; as I’ve already ranted on about in a couple of other posts today and yesterday, the processing times for many CLN applications from Canada are starting to look ridiculous and distinctly dodgy. I’m not sure how Canada can “insure” the US do any of this; perhaps some other word is better. My Roget’s Thesaurus suggests “urge” or “call upon.” “Lobby” sounds too weak to me; “press” might be appropriate. Or whatever diplomacy words the US and others use at the UN when discussing Eritrea’s treatment of its expatriates.

  21. In the current Supreme Court case about Arizona’s new immigration law I found some interesting back and forth between a Supreme Court Justice and a U.S. Solicitor General regarding whether a citizenship database exists.

    “What information does your (federal) system have?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli … “How does that database tell you that someone is illegal as opposed to a citizen?”

    Verrilli told her that while many federal databases exist, including one listing U.S. passport holders, there is no citizenship database. “So you have lots of circumstances in which people who are citizens are going to come up (with) no match,” he added.

  22. @omghestillanamerican

    To my previous comment about Randy and Evi Quaid. My understanding at least is that Evi Quaid has a “clean” record as a matter of Canadian law despite being detained at the border for not having proper documentation. Basically after being detained for several days by CBSA it was determined she was in fact a Canadian citizen and allowed to go on her way with a “clean” record. I guess personally being “detained” by CBSA overnight is not something I generally would want to experience my guess in some sense anyone eligible to enter Canada can just show up at the border with no ID so I guess it makes my earlier point #6 somewhat moot.

    Once Evi Quiad was released by CBSA and got proof of Canadian citizenship she was able to get her US citizen husband released in Canada into her custody. Having said that it is interesting that it took several days for her to prove her Canadian citizenship to the satisfaction of CBSA.

  23. All day, in the back of my mind, ideas for taglines have been fomenting. How about something along the lines of
    “for all persons affected by United States citizenship based taxation”.

  24. @outraged
    also have been mulling over words, but they get more complicated.

    I like yours but only if it is “all persons residing abroad and affected by …” I don’t want to see us messing with what goes on inside US borders.

    Best other choice suggested privately by someone else was “for all present and former US persons abroad” but the wording of former needs to be expanded or complicated to include people who fall between those cracks, notably so-called accidental (or unwilling or unwitting) Americans who reject the idea they’re US persons and ever have been, never as adults either having lived in the US or having exercised US citizenship rights.

  25. @Shubert, I take your point. I was thinking the tagline didn’t include people inside the US, because they ARE in the US and therefore logically have to pay just as we have to pay in the countries of our residence. The only issue I have (and it’s a small one) with the term persons residing abroad is the term ‘abroad’. That term seems to be what gets mainlanders goat and causes the kneejerk negative reactions. I could be wrong on that, it’s only my perception from reading all of the asinine comments on various articles. Persons living outside the US borders? I am one of those that reject the idea I’m a US person, but I’m still affected by the US’s citizenship based taxation – because the US is TRYING to reclaim me. That was my thinking on it, aanyway. However, I’m certainly not emotionally tied to my suggestion 🙂

  26. The topic recurs!  Whatchamacallit  Whatever common usage may be, however gappy the semantic field spreads out, the word abroad is fated to carry a heavy freight of multiple negative connotations. For the record, USxCanada is not “abroad.”

    And one irresistable new parting jab:  “liberty and justice” is so tainted by association with that kludge of illegiance. Give me liberté, égalité, fraternité and turn me loose.

  27. Good points about liberty, justice and abroad. As a supposedly (and marginally) bilingual Canadian I can live with the French wording quite happily. Though that risks waving another red flag in front of the “freedom fries” crowd, but then we’re not ever likely to win them over anyway.

    On further reflection, I increasingly like the qualfying wording Outraged proposed:

    “… all persons affected by United States citizenship-based taxation.”

    It’s growing on me. It finesses the isssue of what kinds of persons we are or aren’t. We’re all in the same boat, we’re all being screwed over (or so they intend) by US citizenship-based taxation instead of residency or income-source based taxation like the civilized universe.

    Maybe “sanity for all persons affected by US citizenship-based taxation?” Probably too provocative … and too unrealistic given the Congresscritters we’re dealing with.

    In typically Canadian fashion, maybe we just slide back into the status quo wording, absent anything better we can all agree on. But I still can live with, and rather like, “liberty and justice (or whatever short snappy replacement that doesn’t evoke that hypocritical pledge we don’t want to hear again) for all persons affected by US citizenship-based taxation.” At least it gets around that problematic “US person” label the IRS keeps slapping on people who don’t recognize nor want it, while still including those who do want to remain US persons or retain that option, without seeing Uncle Sam plunder their life savings.

  28. How about “Citizens of the world united to free American slaves by abolishing citizenship based taxation”?

  29. @all,
    I like ““… all persons affected by United States citizenship-based taxation.”” , but how about ‘all persons SUBJECTED to United States citizenship-based and extra-territorial taxation’? Or, ‘citizenship-based asset reporting and taxation’?

    I would like to get away from just the ‘taxation’ aspect – which Geithner and Shulman and McMahon, etc. like to toss around, because the increasingly evil FBAR and FATCA reporting and penalty burdens have only a peripheral link to actual tax liability as they are being applied – and are moving into a whole other realm – the assets are post-tax where we earned them and we duly reported the interest income where we live – so it is about keeping detailed records on our assets, not the more traditional type tax records on earnings. Some of the assets like RRSPs will be reported on over and over and over for our lifetimes – until cashed at retirement. It isn’t really the interest ‘earnings’ we’re compelled to report, it is the entire asset – and account – even those that earn no interest, and thus no ‘income’.

    And in a broader sense, although it all is rationalized by the IRS and Congress as ‘taxes’, it is continuing to move far beyond ‘taxation’; FATCA results in the denial of access to banking (as per European examples, abrogates privacy, and threatens our families’ financial security), and decides for us what strategies we can use to save for the future and discriminates against those with disabilities abroad (ex. not recognizing RDSPs). Perhaps with our chosen wording, we could recognize the issues that most affect immigrants and those with ‘substantial presence’ in the US (whether immigrating there from Canada – like many greencard holders, snowbirds, etc. AND also those from India, China, with accounts ‘abroad’). The category of ‘immigrant’ to the US includes many many Canadians, since there is a lot of cross-border US/Canadian movement – and therefore, is not necessarily from a non-N.American country. Several of those on this site gave examples such as: they were born to Canadian students studying in the US, or went there to work temporarily, etc.

    I am trying to include as many people as possible, because I think we are stronger that way. We have benefited from hearing from ij, and from people outside N.America. I think we could even start dedicated sections of the site if we wanted to encourage contributors with specific issues (ex. greencards, or family accounts in home countries, etc.) to have a place to focus on those aspects.

  30. I agree that the issues go much deeper, however I guess I see citizenship based taxation as the root of all evil. It’s the excuse. If they didn’t have that, they’d have to come up with another reason to bully banks into becoming informers, and regular folks into quivering messes who must report on themselves.
    I can certainly that dedicated sections could be used. I like having this one place to go, and then I can pick and choose which stream I want to check out.

Comments are closed.