U.S. Citizens in Canada InfoShop


Flaherty Had to Fall Back on Newspaper Diplomacy?
IRS Relying on Fear to Minimize Response?
Big Offshore Cheaters?
Function of New IRS Form 8938?
New Democrats Offer More Support Than Conservatives or Liberals Do?
Americans Invisible in Canada?
Renunciation Statistics?
Using 1812 Bicentennial to Promote Militarism?


Flaherty Had to Fall Back on Newspaper Diplomacy?

Did Canadian Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty send his 16 September 2011 letter of concern to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post {{unpublished by all?}} because Canadian authorities could find no traction through regular intergovernmental channels? What does it say when Flaherty appears not to have posted the text of the letter on the web site of either the Ministry of Finance or his own riding?


Should the term amnesty be used to describe the punitive voluntary disclosure programs that the IRS has initiated since 2009 OVDP?

References to “amnesty” and “coming clean” pervade news accounts such as 2012 Jan 17 – McKenna.

An authoritative basic definition of the word is provided by Merriam-Webster online: “pardon … granted to a large group of individuals.” Etymologically, the word means “not remember” (Greek: a + mnasthai).

The IRS points with pride to collecting $4.4 billion from over 33,000 individuals through voluntary disclosure programs operant in the 2009-2011 period. A significant portion of the amount derives from penalties imposed.

For a writer to use amnesty in this context, an Orwellian Newspeak dictionary has to be hauled out. The problem is, there does not seem to be one word for this situation. Through its voluntary disclosure programs, the IRS offers anxious individuals an opportunity to trade the terrors of absolute financial uncertainty and possible criminal prosecution for defined maximum penalties and no criminal prosecution. The best available term for this trade-off may be plea bargain?

IRS Relying on Fear to Minimize Response?

To what extent does the fear of identification now operating among U.S. citizens resident in Canada resemble the fear in pre-war Nazi Germany that tended to restrict discussions of the developing situation to one-on-one exchanges with other trusted individuals?

Among the 747 comments on a Globe and Mail article, Matilda the Hun (10:33 pm on 16 Sept 2011) asked: “Does anyone know whether a group has been formed for US citizens living in Canada to speak out against these changes in a more organized manner?” Arrow (7:54 pm on 17 Sept 2011) replied: “Here’s the danger in getting a group together. Groups have membership lists, which can easily be made public, or can be requested (maybe with a court order) by authorities — and handed to the IRS.”

Big Offshore Cheaters?

If the average return per “offshore voluntary disclosure” to the IRS approximates $133,000 for 2009-2011, then how many big cheaters have the programs uncovered? How many hapless and frightened individuals have been sucked into the maw of leviathan? Where is the data on distribution that would make sense of the summary figure of $4.4 billion collected from more than 33,000 filers under the program?

Function of New IRS Form 8938?

Is IRS Form 8938 (required from 2011 onward) a move toward establishing a basis other than only a reporting requirement so that the Canada-U.S. tax treaty can require CRA to collect from US citizen residents who are not Canadian citizens?

The Government of Canada has stated in writing:

The Canada-United States Income Tax Convention contains a provision which allows for the collection by a country of taxes imposed by the other country, including civil penalties. This provision does not apply to penalties imposed under laws, such as the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, that impose only a reporting requirement (as opposed to those that impose taxation along with reporting requirements).

New Democrats Offer More Support Than Conservatives or Liberals Do?

Why has support for beleaguered American citizens been more apparent among New Democrats than among Conservatives? Should support for and defense of as many as a million Canadians be seen to fracture along party lines?

The 16 Sept 2011 letter that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty sent to several major US newspapers appears to be the only public representation that the Canadian governing party has made toward the United States on behalf of US citizens who are resident in and pay taxes to Canada. Internally, the Department of Finance and Canada Revenue Agency have stated that on the basis of the existing tax treaty, Canada will not enforce FBAR penalties at all, and will not enforce US tax liabilities incurred by persons who are concurrently Canadian citizens. This “relief” derived from interpretation, not action.

At the same time, the official opposition New Democrats have made multiple shows of strong support for the plight of a mostly jeopardized class that numbers well up into the hundreds of thousands. Available data indicates that no more than five percent of the group are fully compliant with US requirements.

       •  As the story first began to break in August 2011, Don Davies went to the media with the story.

       •  The NDP British Columbia Caucus has shared a strong letter (with signatures of 12 Members of
           Parliament) addressed to two relevant Ministers on 14 Oct 2011.

       •  On 17 Nov 2011 Don Davies posted his August letter sent to three relevant Ministers, together with
           the reply that he received.

       •  Alex Atamanenko and Jean Crowder have published op eds on the topic in their ridings.

       •  Denise Savoie has posted to her web site a statement of NDP position on FATCA.

       •  Megan Leslie recently sponsored a standing-room-only forum for her constituents in Halifax.

Meanwhile among the Conservatives in power, perhaps the only individual public expression of concern has come from John Williamson, whose New Brunswick constituency appears to be particularly affected.

Americans Invisible in Canada?

How does Canada recognize and protect U.S. citizens as one of the constituent peoples of Canada? To what extent will U.S. citizens deassimilate and become a more identifiable minority as they suffer from country-of-origin exceptionalism?

For background and history on “Americans” as a constituent people of Canada, see entry in Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples.

Renunciation Statistics?

If the present exponential trend continues for rate of abandonment of citizenship among U.S. persons abroad, will data that has so far been poor but trivial become more subject to manipulation?

For background see Data on Renunciations prepared by Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship: A Web Guide.

Using 1812 Bicentennial to Promote Militarism?

To what extent are 1812 bicentennial celebrations in Canada being used to reinforce the sharp militaristic turn that Canada took with armed participation in the U.S. war on Afghanistan?

Canadian Heritage.  Canada Day Poster Challenge 2012
“Each year, students aged 5 to 18 are invited to take part in the Canada Day Poster Challenge by designing a poster that illustrates their pride in Canada and in being Canadian. This year’s theme is 1812: The Fight for Canada.”

Dean Beeby.  Feds hire consultant to inject some war into annual Canada Day party
Winnipeg Free Press / Canadian Press  (8 Jan 2012)

Tom Taylor.  It’s 200 years since the war and we’re still here.  Vancouver Sun (5 Jan 2012)

1812 hero Chief Tecumseh gets own stamp.  CBC News Windsor  (21 Dec 2011)

[ Last update 21 Jan 2012 ]

Written by usxcanada

1 January 2012 at 12:00 pm

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