Some #Americansabroad view themselves as US citizens and some do NOT believe they are US citizens

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. If your past performance is an indicator of your future results, then we certainly have “something to hope for”.

It would be impossible to compile a specific and detailed list that included all of the specific accomplishments. It would be impossible to compile a list that includes all the participants. As President Truman was known to have said:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

The participants (from all around the world) include individuals, academics, organizations (in Canada and Europe), various lawyers, journalists, and of course the “unsung heros” who spent hours helping to guide and educate via Twitter and blog comments.

Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize the differences among the various groups of Americans abroad. Some are opposing FATCA and some are clearly not. Some are opposing U.S. “citizenship taxation” and others are not. The point is that:

“Not all those deemed to be Americans abroad are the same”

 The differences among the different groups must be respected.

The above tweet references the following comment from Marie that compares the attitudes of those who view themselves as true Americans abroad and those who view themselves as people who happened to have been born in the United States and don’t live in the United States.

IMHO, I believe organizations such as ACA, AARO, etc. work to represent the interests of Americans who happen to be residing in other countries (perhaps temporarily). People like myself, and many of the people commenting on this website do not fit into that category. Many of us are Canadian (or other nationality) citizens, resident in Canada who happen to have a US birthplace. Members of the first group want to retain their place in US society whereas members of my group really just want to be left alone.

 

The above tweet references the following comment from Lucy Stensland Laederich of FAWCO fame.

 

Both AARO and FAWCO were sent a list of comments from the Isaac Brock website criticizing our positions and our submission to the Senate Finance Committee.
We stand accused of caving and pandering – I beg to differ!
Both AARO and FAWCO have progress to their credit in terms of citizenship and election reforms – in each case, we followed the legislative path and worked with allies. It is true we do not have a history of “rocking the boat” but we do have one of sometimes major successes: when we inundated Washington with tea bags in the mid-Seventies (a campaign that started in AARO), we got the vote for overseas Americans!

People say we don’t advocate RBT? This is simply incorrect. As I said to Walt Sanchez: The AARO board agreed that there is one organization that has done the very heavy lifting with regard to the RBT proposal and that is ACA. Why would we try to do again, and less well, what they did with vast amounts of input from a panel of specialists around the world and from Congressional experts from both sides of the aisle? RBT is not a “footnote” for AARO; we have supported the ACA RBT position from the beginning and defended it in Washington, and when we talk about other “fixes”, they are prefaced with the comment “absent RBT….”
Please see the position paper AARO and FAWCO took to Washington in March that begins by saying the US should “join the rest of the world and convert to Residence-Based Taxation:
https://aaro.org/position-papers-2015/taxation-and-financial-reporting

FATCA repeal? The AARO and FAWCO position is that this is unlikely in a world moving to generalized CRS / AEOI but that the undue burden that FATCA places on Americans, specifically (as opposed to, e.g. Swedes and Turks, in this new world), could be alleviated by Treasury or by Congress (the former being more likely than the latter in the current Congressional climate). We are not “in bed with the Democrats” – we had the same idea at more or less the same time and continue to think (like Nina Olson) that it makes sense.

Being “used” by the Democrats? It is in the statutes of both AARO and FAWCO that they cannot support a political party. It has happened in the past that the Republicans were our best natural allies (in fighting attacks on the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for example); today, we find ourselves more aligned with the DA arguments. But anyone who calls us a tool of any political party is looking for a lot of enemies!
I don’t believe that anyone “in bed with the Democrats” would have offered a public forum to Senator Mike Lee and Jim Bopp in Paris, to talk about their constitutional challenge…

Our request for continued funding for IRS offices? Are you ready and equipped to assist the thousands of US persons who need advice and assistance right now? The offices are closing and Americans are still taxable in the US until major reform occurs. Is it more constructive (right now) to castigate the IRS or to advocate funding so they can continue to help the people you say you defend?

JacDac accuses me on May 6 of “political writing”? No, it was an attempt to keep my submission to one page so it might be read, rather than rambling for pages that would be glazed over…

I have been working on “overseas Americans issues” for a long time now and there is really one big constant over all those years of siding with Republicans or with Democrats or with no one: when we work together, we are more powerful; when we help each other to develop common positions, our voices are stronger; when we bicker and point fingers, we shoot ourselves in the collective foot.
Rather than belittling other organizations, why not try to work with them and find common ground, to build on our collective strengths?

 

The above tweet references the following comment from Badger.

 

@Lucy Stensland Laederich;
“….why not try to work with them and find common ground, to build on our collective strengths?”

Why not try to work with us? The expat groups abroad benefit from the heat and light and media that we have generated and the litigation that we are undertaking. Just as civil rights in the US were not won only by polite and diplomatic delegations. Social and political change requires a range of approaches and tactics.

I’ve come to know of and respect the work of those in the ACA, AARO and FAWCO through the writings of the late Roger Conklin (who we frequently conversed with here at IBS) and Victoria of the Franco-American Flophouse blog http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.ca/p/the-diaspora-tax-war-of-2012.html . I am not unappreciative of the ACA Foundation debate – and the fact that it was sited in Toronto Canada (though I wish we had had our own videographer and captured the critical and pointed real life questions and frank feedback from the audience – not just the musings of US tax law theoreticians). I am not unappreciative of the ACA, the AARO and FAWCO’s work – (much done solely by volunteers )- which is of longstanding and very valuable.

But since first becoming involved 2011, I have come to feel very strongly that we needed to go beyond the current approaches.

We have commonalities, but we have significant differences. And I haven’t felt entirely comfortable that other groups representing US expats really represented me and those in Canada – with our particular historical and social and geographic relationship to the US.

Canada is an important constituency of those deemed “USpersons” it has the second largest population of those deemed “UStaxablepersons”/citizens “abroad” (Mexico is 1st). Because of the long common border and intertwined history, and flow of people back and forth across the Canada/US border, and entwined families, what happens here affects a large proportion of the population in Canada – whether they are cognizant of that right now or not. That is a significant number of families and lives affected on both sides of the border. We were used to travelling into the US without having to have obtained and maintained a US passport – but since 9/11, more and more of us were coerced into getting one – sometimes by border guards who insisted that even people who lost US status by becoming Canadian decades ago must still travel only with the US passport – which then created the problem of seeming to negate their earlier relinquishment by obtaining one – under duress – bringing needless trauma and anxiety for many http://www.robertsandholland.com/siteFiles/News/03-05-13_Expats%20Live%20in%20Fear_MJM.pdf http://www.caplindrysdale.com/michael-pfeifer-comments-on-the-issuance-of-us-guidance-on-expatriate-tax-status . We have the problem of “accidentals” AND ‘border babies’ due to the many border communities ( http://www.cbc.ca/player/AudioMobile/Quebec%20AM/ID/2661540815/ ) that have created many “UStaxablechildren” and adults who did not seek US status – many who consider themselves Canadians only, or first and foremost.

I never came across any US citizen abroad activities in Canada growing up here (over 5 decades ago), and wasn’t even aware that the groups existed. We have the 2nd most number of UStaxablecitizen/persons, yet any IRS assistance in person here at the embassy and consulates was cancelled long ago. Canadians looking for Taxpayer Advocate assistance are officially directed to a Puerto Rico # for “international” assistance (forced to work around that by calling the US TAS offices to get someone in PR to call back – after incurring expensive long distance charges on hold to PR) though in many cases we can actually see the US from here. The 800 numbers never worked from Canada.

Lobbying for the IRS to get more money won’t ensure that they spend it on ‘service’ to those located outside the US. They already CHOSE to allocate more to ENFORCEMENT than to customer service and information WITHIN the US. The Taxpayer Advocate has taken them to task for that, years ago – to no avail. The IRS CHOSE not to give those ‘abroad’ any avenue to come into compliance except the OVD programs until there was substantial outcry. It CHOSE not to offer any information in Canada while issuing threatening and slanderous statements about what the IRS would do to those with “foreign” accounts – our local legal post-tax savings.

That tiger will not be changing its stripes – ever, even with unlimited funds. As someone said, to a hammer, everything is a nail. Any increase in the IRS budget will NOT be going to the only source of help we ever found there – Nina Olson and the Taxpayer Advocate service. Her recommendations have been falling on deaf ears – both in Congress and within the IRS.

And we will not be able to change the minds of the vast numbers of US homelanders like FATCAfather ‘Dick’ Harvey and Mythster Robert Stack, and politicians like Max Baucus, and Sander Levin who see benefit on using us as scapegoats – even if they know that we cannot possibly be billionaires with Cayman accounts (or have powerful connections to “understand” our inadvertant compliance problems like Douglas Shulman, or own massive family trusts offshore like Penny Pritzker, or own businesses opaquely incorporated in Biden’s state of Delaware ….. ). Even if changes are made, US citizenship for those outside the US will mean constant vigilance, as the US continues to enact laws that either intentionally or through willful ignorance harm US citizens and duals ‘abroad’. Look at how those outside the US barely escaped the full brunt of Obamacare ( https://americansabroad.org/issues/healthcare/obamacare-does-not-apply-abroad/ ) – and I acknowledge that was in large part due to the efforts of ACA, AARO, FAWCO, and others.

I was daunted and disturbed by the fact that during the ACA Foundation debate (which I attended in person all day), it appeared that speaking of renunciation/relinquishment as one remedy – AND as a potential form of protest, did not appear to be up for open discussion. I am not seeing expat groups outside NAmerica protest at the effective denial of that American and international human right http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.ca/2014/08/want-to-renounce-join-queue.html. And I am not seeing materials highlighting the plight of those with deemed legally incompetent who can never renounce and have no remedy for the US extraterritorial taxation and penalization of their disability savings and benefits and accounts. And the families who can renounce – but who cannot renounce for their dependents. Or that of the minors who are having their education savings and grants treated the same way – but are not allowed to renounce until they can prove that they are mature enough. And the children who are to then report those funds directly to the Financial CRIMES Enforcement Network. Parents and guardians can renounce themselves, but not their children and dependents. In the meantime, the US is eating up the legal local funds saved for their support and their education.

That is something that should cause us to picket the US embassy and consulates, not politely write letters to Washington. The US is harming the most vulnerable – and it doesn’t show any signs of caring.

I wanted to remain a US citizen – it was my birthRIGHT, but was FORCED to relinquish for the sake of my Canadian family. I gave it up – under duress, and consider it not only my only real remedy, but also in protest.

I felt duped and betrayed by the specifics of the 2008 Obama pledge to listen to and represent those “abroad”.Ex. “….Obama will work with members of the Americans abroad community and the U.S. embassies to determine how the U.S. government can be responsive to the concerns of overseas Americans. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has taken seriously the concerns of all Illinoisans, whether they are currently in Illinois or not. As president, Obama will work to establish a direct dialogue with Americans abroad.

Other Governmental Services and Benefits: Americans living abroad have little access to basic information about U.S. government services and affairs. Barack Obama believes that U.S. embassies and consulates, which are the main U.S. government contact points for Americans abroad, should develop and implement concrete plans on how to communicate basic information to Americans living abroad. Additionally, Obama supports efforts to ensure that U.S. State Department staff members have proper training to assist Americans abroad in determining their various rights and responsibilities as American citizens. He welcomes a continued dialogue between the White House, the State Department, and citizens abroad in an Obama administration….” http://archives.uruguay.usembassy.gov/usaweb/2008/08-469EN.shtml . Followed soon after by the HIRE Act, FATCA and the OVDI threats and slander of those “abroad”, the extortionate increase in renunciation fees, etc.

My contact with the office of my US “representative” was fruitless. My emails to the Congressman and Whitehouse went unanswered – or generated mere nonsense form replies. The more I learned, the better I could see the depth of the serious peril that US citizenship was coming to represent. It became a shackle that I could only remove with great effort – and at great cost.

I have come to believe very strongly that litigation and open protest is the only remedy and recourse for us.
The US responded to the polite representations by increasing the renunciation fee to 2350. The American Chamber of Commerce noted that it is a growth industry worth exploring from the business perspective; “……Here’s a hot tip for accountants and tax attorneys: now is a good time to develop specialized expertise in advising clients who may be seeking to expatriate from the United States. That demographic looks more and more like a real growth opportunity……. from;
‘Exit Strategy: FATCA Tax Law Keeps Pushing Americans To Give Up Citizenship’ Monday, August 18, 2014 – 12:15pm David Kinkade https://www.uschamber.com/blog/exit-strategy-fatca-tax-law-keeps-pushing-americans-give-citizenship ).

Where do the expat groups stand on that issue? It is our American RIGHT to expatriate if we choose to or are forced to. US consular officials posted to Canada are making those in Canada wait in a queue which is getting longer and longer just to inquire about an apt. to renounce. They told one of us that we are low priority which they have no intention of attending to http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2014/11/04/my-november-4-2014-conversation-with-toronto-consul-general-of-us-new-renunciation-appointments-extended-to-september-2015/comment-page-1/ . I had to stand outside in the cold in a lineup in order to exercise my right to relinquish. The consular official was needlessly abrasive and unpleasant during my apt. So much for those “benefits” conferred on me at birth that I had to pay thousands to rid myself of.

The ADCS legal challenge has given me hope where there was none, and I support it with all my heart. It speaks to BOTH my strong desire to protect the sovereignty of my home country of Canada AND to my desire for remedy for those who have chosen to or who have no choice but to remain US citizens – though I could not. I found specific support and information here at IBS that I could not find elsewhere. I think what the US is doing (in many arenas) is VERY WRONG and unjust. I don’t want to be muzzled because it is impolitic to say out loud that the Emperor is naked. I don’t really believe that if we were nicer that the Senate Finance Committee, the US Treasury and the IRS will do what is right.

But there is something important missing. If we are to work together, that has to be addressed. I want to be able to state freely that the US Emperor has no clothes. I don’t want to have to pretend to admire his latest outfit while begging him for alms.

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