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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Concerned about FATCA or Confused about Filing US Tax Returns? Some Low-Cost Help.

U.S. tax season is nearly upon us and as FATCA gets closer and closer to being implemented many US Persons in countries around the world are desperately looking for help.

Not the individuals who can easily afford expensive cross-border tax experts, but those lower and middle-income U.S. citizens/Green Card holders who live outside the United States who have discovered to their horror that these matters are of direct concern to them.

It has come to my attention that there are organizations out there (some of which I work with) that are offering low-cost seminars to help US Persons understand the FATCA law and to offer assistance for first-time filers of US Tax Returns.  These seminars are free or low-cost (and that means under 50 Euros/70 USD/75 CAD).  Here is a short list by date with links to where you can get more information and register/pay.

 If you know of other free or nearly free events, let me know and I will happily add them to the list.

 And, above all, if you don't see a session/seminar/workshop near you, contact these organizations and see if it's possible to organize one in your city/country/region.

March 2, 2014 - London, UK:  Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship – Information session, The Church Hall, St Pancras Church House, Lancing Street, NW1 1NA, London, United Kingdom. Cost: 15 GBP/18 Euros (Posted at the Isaac Brock Society).

March 8, 2014 - Waterloo, Canada:  Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship – Information session, Conrad Grebel Univ. College, Rm 1300, 140 Westmount Rd. N., Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G6 Canada. Cost: 20 CAD. (Posted at the Isaac Brock Society.)

March 13, 2014 - Paris, France:  AARO Tax Seminar -Tax 101: An Introduction to Basic Tax Reporting Requirements for US Citizens Residing Abroad.  Help for first-time filers in a workshop setting. Forum 104, 104 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris, Cost: AARO members €10; Non-members/Guests €15. (Association of Americans Resident Abroad event.)

March 16, 2014 - Montreal, Canada:   Foreign Account Tax Information Act (FATCA) Information Session. Professor Allison Christians and Toronto lawyer John Richardson will be speaking about disclosure, compliance, and other obligations raised by FATCA. McGill University, Chancellor Day Hall: Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada , H3A 1W9.  Cost:  Free.  (Event hosted by the McGill Heward Stikeman Chair in Tax Law.)

March 17, 2014 - Paris, France: AARO Tax 202: AARO Annual Tax Seminar.  This session is destined for those who have some familiarity with filing and just need to know what's new this filing season. Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture, 34 avenue de New York, 75116 Paris, France. Cost: AARO Members 10€; Non-Members/Guests 20€.  (Association of Americans Resident Abroad event.)

March 22, 2014 - North Bay, Canada:  Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship – Information session, Legion #23,150 1st Ave W, North Bay, Ontario P1B3B9, Canada.  Cost:  20 CAD.  (Posted at the Isaac Brock Society.)

April 5, 2014 - Munich, Germany:   Solving the problems of U.S. citizenship – Information session,  Eine WeltHaus München, Schwanthalerstr.80, München, Rm 211-212 (top floor).  Cost:  14 Euros.  (Posted at the Isaac Brock Society.)


Anonymous said...

ARRO made a comparative list that shows the tax discrimination faced by expats.

The list for expats looks like a bunch of Jim Crow Laws:

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Victoria FERAUGE said...

Ah, that is a good one, Anonymous. I'll do a post and highlight that AARO list.

And for any of you who are interested, AARO has an official Facebook page maintained by me. Every day I post articles and events of interest to Americans abroaqd everywhere. If you're interested just like the page which is here.

@James, I'm sorry and I'm sure you were trying to be helpful but the policy on this blog is that I don't advertise and I don't allow others to do so either. Your comments are more than welcome and anything you have to add to the discussion is deeply appreciated. Direct links to service offerings is out, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Was it not politically correct to put a link to the Canadian Charter Challenge Fund direcly on the aaro facebook page?
It is referred on the Allison Christians post, but somewhat hard to find...

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Hi anonymous. Good question (and I love questions). I put up the link to Allison's piece because I thought she did a fine job of providing the context behind the challenge.

But when I go to read the Challenge website with my AARO eyes, it really drives home that is about CANADIANS (not Americans) fighting this US law.

It's something I personally support (and will write about on the Flophouse)but it just doesn't feel right to put it up directly on the official AARO FB. If it read differently and was about Americans fighting FATCA then I would definitely post it. But it isn't that at all - it's just not written for an Americans abroad perspective (and that's what AARO is all about) and so it just doesn't make sense to put it up on the AARO feed.

What you could do, however, is to post a direct link in the AARO facebook group and tell the group why they should support this challenge given that most of them are not Canadians. I think there is an argument there to be made. Here's the group:

Anonymous said...


Canadian challenge to FATCA is a go:

"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

Fundraising goal met for first step in Canadian Charter/Constitutional challenge to FATCA in Canada:

Note also, the IGA has not yet been enabled by legislation in Canadian parliament.

Comment period for criticism of the proposed enabling legislation - closes March 10 - to Department of Finance Canada:

"Comments on the legislative proposals can be submitted to the Department of Finance at or to the address below. The closing date for comments is March 10, 2014.

Tax Policy Branch
Department of Finance
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G5"

Anonymous said...

"..when I go to read the Challenge website with my AARO eyes, it really drives home that is about CANADIANS (not Americans) fighting this US law. just doesn't feel right to put it up directly on the official AARO FB. If it read differently and was about Americans fighting FATCA then I would definitely post it. But it isn't that at all - it's just not written for an Americans abroad perspective (and that's what AARO is all about) and so it just doesn't make sense to put it up on the AARO feed."

What is the "Americans abroad perspective"?

Many people in the anti-FATCA and anti-CBT efforts are still BOTH UScitizens abroad AND another nationality. Our opponents in the US seek to ignore our dual citizenships and the claims of our other nationality and home - and claim us as ONLY US SUBJECTS. Yet, also to ignore our rights as Americans, while oppressing us and extorting our non-US earnings and savings - held where we work and live - outside the US.

AARO and ACA were not assertive enough to represent us. They are hamstrung by still believing that US citizenship is more important than our non-US citizenships and our lives outside the US and our NON-US FAMILY.

Where is their assistance in mounting any legal challenge? We have NO effective representation in the US from elected officials.

When was the last time that any US official other than the Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson did or said anything to help us?

Our NON-US home country seeks to distance itself from us in order to justify treating us all as tainted second class 'Americans' - and rationalizes collaborating with US aggression via FATCA and CBT - by referreing to us as 'Americans in Canada' or 'US PERSONS HABITUALLY RESIDENT IN ------' (fill in the blank your home country name here - ex. New Zealand).

Ironic then that the very effective Canadian fight against FATCA has cost many their US citizenship in active protest and anger against the US government oppression of ALL those deemed US 'taxable persons' abroad (similar to burning draft cards).

What happens in Canada will help all those deemed US persons and 'citizens abroad', including AARO and ACA members and will set a precedent for the other parliamentary democracies who have similar legal structures.

ACA and AARO are hampered by their domination by people who perhaps see their life outside the US as temporary - in the long or short term. And because they need/want to work inside the US system.

Which has failed to protect us.

I see the dilemma, but increasingly wonder how much I have in common with those US citizens who still think that the US is the center of the universe - and could live with the situation of being owned like a subject if only the rules were tweaked a bit. Similar to the Democrats Abroad approach.

Anonymous said...

To temper the tone of my comments above: I do sincerely appreciate all the good work and efforts of ACA and AARO - I know they have been working on similar issues for decades. AND I am thankful for all your good work and fine writing.

I only fear that successfully protecting ourselves and everybody else from FATCA and the distortionate injustices of CBT may require different approaches and campaigns than they are willing/able to mount.

Some of us have had to renounce or relinquish - there was just no living a day longer with the situation.


The US is and was making us sick - (and I don't meant metaphorically) - with depression, fear, threats, potential obliteration of our non-US family savings - which have already been fully taxed, and are entirely legal, earned and saved locally, and which also belong to non-US people. We have lost savings in useless filings - paying accountants and lawyers to prove we owe nothing to the US - which in many cases was completely obvious from the beginning. And it has strained marriages and distracted from our family life.

We can't wait for some future in which the US sees the light and makes a change - I fear that given all that has happened over the last years, all signs say that may never occur. Same is true for waiting for the US to change to RBT. It was a valiant attempt, and may bear fruit eventually, but here we still are and we cannot live with the stress and the fear. We are not important enough to the US - except as 'taxable persons'. We cannot survive in this situation as it currently stands. Many of us are not going to 'return' to the US. We were born abroad or have been gone for decades. But we should have still had the right to retain our US birthright heritage. And not to have undergone an Inquisition in order to be free of the abuses of US Might Makes Right.

Ironically, even when one is 'compliant' and has filed all the forms as best as we are able, AND the returns show BELOW zero US tax owed, (far under the personal exemption) it can take months to clear up computer generated notices of assessment - and hours on the phone long distance, with IRS personnel consistently not calling back as they repeatedly promise - and yet, the IRS is entirely and ridiculously unable to explain why one is getting the threatening notices.

This cannot go on. US citizenship and US aggression against those it claims is unsupportable.

And the injustices to those being taxed on their non-US disability savings and benefits is beyond the pale. And the taxation of our children's tuition savings. It should be the focus of international outrage and overt protest or legal action now.

This urgency is going to increasingly divide us. Many cannot just write off the costs to maintain US citizenship, or the costs to the wellbeing of our NON-US family and the survival of our marriage to a non-US person.

We need relief. And the US shows NO signs of coming to its senses at all - ever. In fact the opposite: US officials publicly bragging about how everyone in the world is begging for FATCA, and deliberately lying about its negative and abusive effects. And to add insult to injury - the IRS announcing that they're planning to scrutinize those renouncing .

No remedy, no recourse, no representation, only injury piled on injury.

At what point will the AARO, ACA and other organizations call a spade a spade?

We are sick of being cast as criminals and scapegoats and being oppressed by the US government.

Maybe AARO and ACA need to consider changing their approach. All social movements are multipronged.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Anonymous, I feel your frustration and share it. I take the position that all the actors in this fight ACA, AARO, Isaac Brock and others are complimentary and each is fighting according to its means and methods. Where I feel ACA and AARO are not assertive enough, I switch hats and go be a Brocker. That's how I'm dealing with it. :-)

The FATCA/CBT is one issue (and clearly is THE issue that Americans abroad are concerned about right now) but, yes, there are others and depending on the population some of the others are VERY important to members. Like Social Security, for example.

And when I put on my AARO hat I need to think about all the members and what they care about. So FATCA/CBT always makes the com but so do other things that are important to all Americans abroad (that perspective I was talking about) and it really is surprisingly broad with a lot more on the table than one might think.

My personal opinion? I think that the underlying problem under ALL the issues is that we lack legitimacy and an effective voice.

How do we fix that? This is a tough one because if we present ourselves as citizens of another country (Canadian, French, Chinese) then, frankly, no one in the US is going to listen to us. The consistent reaction I get from homelanders is "Then you just go off and be French and stop bothering us."

It's only when we talk to them under the hat of "American abroad" voters and constituents and taxpayers that we get any traction at all. But not nearly enough.

By the way this is a classic diaspora dilemma and we just might want to have a look at how other diasporas handle it to get some ideas about what we are doing wrong (or right).