David and the Goliaths.

Perhaps the saddest, most telling indictment of our current political administration is that even after the drone strikes, the executive murders, the ongoing suppression of torture reports, the all-engulfing phagocytosis of the surveillance state— basically, a Human Rights record so abysmal that even Dubya might flush with shame—  we Canadians can still look south of the border and wish we were led by the likes of Barack Obama.

At least Obama doesn’t muzzle his own scientists. At least his administration doesn’t strangle research programs in the crib on ideological grounds, or fight tooth and nail against the slightest effort to mitigate climate change (he has Congress to do that for him). At least Obama has the balls and the fluency to weather interviews that extend beyond the comfy restrictions of tightly-scripted photo ops.

There is, however, at least one area in which The US and Canadian governments see eye to eye. The US wants to extort money from Canadian citizens. The Harper administration wants to help them do that.

You can tell both of them to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut, if you’re so inclined.

*

Somewhere between one and two decades ago— in the midst of a relationship which has long-since ended— I first met Gwen and Kevin, a couple who were friends with my then-partner.  If you ran into them on the street you’d figure they were almost too good to be true; co-owners of a successful graphics design company they ran out of their home, both smart, both ridiculously charismatic. Gwen was hot; Kevin looked like a Navy Seal from a martial arts movie.

We called them “Gwevin”.

I fell out of touch when my partner and I split up— the last time I ran into Gwevin was at a book launch way back in 2008. We caught up a bit, friended each other on facebook, mutually liked the occasional link. That was about it. For the next six years I had no idea what either of them was up to.

That changed last summer, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

*

Like any fading imperial power, the US has a tendency to bite off more than it can chew. After a global meltdown precipitated by the deregulation of their financial institutions, a couple of unnecessary wars that continue to go about as well as could  be expected, and an ongoing smattering of police actions designed to plaster over the resulting cracks in the middle east, the royal treasury is apparently running a bit low. There are a couple of ways The IRS can boost tax revenues to make this up. They could, for example, stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, or increase taxes on the 0.1%. Alternatively, they can redefine as “US Persons” a bunch of unsuspecting little people who’ve lived their whole lives in other countries, then present them with a bill for taxes owed stretching all the way back to the fucking Paleolithic.

Guess which option they chose.

*

I first started paying attention to this in early 2014, when my eye was caught by the anomalous fact of the CBC and the Global & Mail actually agreeing on something. Turns out the NSA hasn’t quite got the whole global surveillance thing down pat just yet. They’re not up for extracting the private financial records of Canadian citizens on their own— or maybe they are, but it’s just easier to order our banks to hand over their lunch money on threat of getting the shit beaten out of them. In this case, said shit-kicking comes down to punitive financial penalties on all US activities if the banks don’t play ball, enshrined in a piece of legislation called FATCA. Two governments push; the banks go over like a pile of bricks; Harper’s henchmen collect the financial records of a few million private citizens and, tail wagging vigorously, passes it all on to Uncle Sam.

Lest you think that we’re only talking about a few rich Americans hiding out in Yellowknife to avoid the taxman, let me disabuse you: we’re talking about anyone the IRS defines as a “US Person”. That does include rich tax evaders, of course. It also includes children born in US hospitals to Canadian parents, even if those children never subsequently set foot south of the 49th. It includes people who were not born in the US and who never lived there, so long as they were pupped by Americans. In includes the Canadian spouses of Americans. Hell, my Dad— born, raised, and retired in Canada— might have been caught up in that net if he was still alive. My late brother, a US citizen, handled Dad’s finances in his declining years, and any citizen who has such financial connections with a US citizen becomes— you guessed it— a “US Person”.

A lot of these poor bastards didn’t know they were US people. It never occurred to them. A lot probably still don’t. Those waking up to demands for a few decades of back tax returns can, if they want, renounce their default US Citizenship.  Only catch is, the IRS has— coincident with the implementation of this new policy—  just jacked up the processing fees from four hundred dollars and change to well over two thousand. Then you have to file five years of back tax returns anyway, and six years of foreign bank account data on all accounts exceeding ten grand; those fees can cost you up to twenty grand. IRS demands capital gains tax on your Canadian home. Canadian retirement plans? Taxed. And you could face up to ten years in jail just for failing to file the paperwork.

One way or another, those fuckers are gonna squeeze you.

This past summer I read about a couple of women who’d launched a legal challenge on constitutional grounds— not to the US policy per sé, but to the Harper government’s eager collaboration therewith. These people took a dim view of the idea that foreign governments should be able to dictate the domestic policy of other countries, even if those countries are lapdogs. (The fact that the US has been routinely doing just that for generations is beside the point.) These people were of the opinion that FATCA violated the Constitution as well as the privacy of Canadian citizens. I had no idea who they were— I got the impression that at least one of them was keeping anonymous for fear of bureaucratic reprisal— but I wished them well. It was only a few days ago, when one of them gave me a nudge on facebook, that I finally blinked away the cobwebs.

Hello, Gwenny.

*

David and Goliath doesn’t even come close. It might, if Gwen Deegan and Ginny Hillis were only going up against the one federal government they’re taking to court. But there’s another  Goliath lurking in the shadows, vaster and darker and so much more dangerous than the pallid spiteful fish-faced lapdog yapping on its behalf.  This is David and the Goliaths, and holy shit is it going to cost.

These people need your help. They need your money. I’m giving them some of mine, and I implore you to go thou and do likewise. In exchange— just maybe, acting together— we can kill two turds with one stone.

Wouldn’t it be glorious, to see the good guys win for a change?

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday November 24 2014at 12:11 pm , filed under rant, scilitics . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

30 Responses to “David and the Goliaths.”

  1. Hmm. Wonder if that will have any repercussions this side of the pond, I like to think our governments in Yrp make at least a token show of defiance. Kind of like a cat that occasionally scratches it’s owner, rather than a lapdog.

    That’s why we keep the French around, mostly. :)

    Will try to signal boost… best of luck to ’em.

  2. OMFG. In this race I do have a pony. Right at the end of WWII my sister was born in Newfoundland to US parents, one of them a veteran. With no muss or fuss she became a US citizen, but later applied for and got Canadian citizenship as well. Possibly she had in mind that if our government got too oppressive, she could move. Or, maybe use Canada as a tax haven. I guess that idea is right out the window.

    This is in fact bizarre and ridiculous, and it’s the first I’ve heard of it here in the States.

    I wonder if they comparably jacked up the fees for applications to “regularize” immigration status in the recent Obama partial amnesty. I bet they did.

  3. “Wouldn’t it be glorious, to see the good guys win for a change?”

    Why Peter, you ARE an optimistic SOB after all! Are you gonna take a run at politics too?!

    Regarding this thread (David and the Goliaths) …. Unbefuckinglievable. OK, I’ll make a contribution.

    Regarding the last thread (Shapeshifter), I can’t believe folks on ANY kind of forum (OK ALMOST any kind of Forum) are not required to use their real name. Period. Want to stop folks from spewing crap they’d never say to your face? Stop letting them hide behind online persona’s. Mr Watts doesn’t – at least not here – course it would be tough to do that when it’s your own blog, but I digress.

    I’ve posted here before – VERY infrequently – but when I did I was “Deckard.” From now on it’ll be me. How about others?

  4. South American countries should look into doing this. 3+ million of their citizens are about to become US taxpayers, they should demand their fair share!

  5. @Chris Purdy: Ah, for most forums, how exactly would the forum managers determine who was using their real name? Maybe they could demand scanned PDFs of people’s birth-certificates or driver-permit/non-driver-ID? I predict a huge upswing in photoshop and a rise of a new “online fake ID” industry.

    I have had a variety of “aliases” or “handles” in my roughly 20+ years online. Yet for me the tendency has been to pick one and stick with it. There was once a time when it was a really good idea to strive for anonymity or at least to use a pseudonym, especially in the early days of building the internet into a tool that could bypass the Mainstream Media (and even alternative media) to critique the powers-that-be. But I would agree that nowadays, for most of us in the “developed world”, the internet is just the new telephone, and not many people are allowed pseudonymous telephone numbers… and probably most people use software to block “private numbers” on the theory that anonymous calls are never anything other than cellphone voicemail spambots.

    As for me, I think that Our Gracious Host has figured out who I am, and if it was really necessary for anyone to know who I am, he could tell them, according to his own sensibilities of appropriateness.

    But would it be moral of me to make a post about how under this new system of gouging, my sister might be at risk, and then post it under my real name? No doubt the taxman is drooling over this very page and wondering how they can make it as painful as possible to take any side other than “I like to pay taxes”.

    @Jeremy C: Even without direct attempts to tax, the economies of many of the “Amigo Nations” are very highly dependent on the remittances sent back home by expatriates. IIRC in 1999 or so roughly U$2-billions of remittances went to Mexico alone. Entire provinces (for example Zacetecas) were effectively denuded of working-age healthy males and even the working-age female population was deeply drawn down Yet somehow the economy boomed simply because people who had previously never had money were now buying goods at Mexican prices but American levels of conspicuous consumption. Comparable situations exist in Central America, etc. I doubt that any of the remittance-dependent nations (Argentina and Brazil, for example, have their own economic strengths) would want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so to speak, by craeting alienation through attempted taxation of people who already send the majority of their pay back to their families back in the homeland.

    I’m still trying to figure out WTF the US thinks it’s doing, here. If they were pointedly taxing against the One Percent, it would be understandable. But taxing low-income or even middle-class “US Persons”? Or forcing compliance to exhorbitant application fees? Ridiculous.

  6. Ignorant Canadian here. Could someone refer me to some further reading regarding why one would need to pay, for example, american housing taxes when they’re already paying Canadian housing taxes? I’d like to read more about this cross border double dipping.

  7. Nestor, In actual fact, Switzerland and UK were the first to sign on. France, not long after, did as well. After that it gets hazy about which nations came next, but Canada actually held out much longer than Europe did, giving us freedom fighters some hope that maybe our weak government had some guts after all. Flaherty was 100% against signing and I believe his disagreement to this was the reason for his resignation. He resigned within weeks of Canada signing away the rights of more than 1 million Canadians.

  8. Kasz,

    Please go to http://www.isaacbrocksociety.ca where there is a huge treasure trove of information about how and why the US taxes based on place of birth rather than residence like virtually every other country in the world. Our website http://www.adcs-adsc.ca has some information on it as well. But just Google FATCA and you’ll find article after article about how the extraterrestrial tax system of the US is pure overreach.

  9. Chris Purdy: Regarding the last thread (Shapeshifter), I can’t believe folks on ANY kind of forum (OK ALMOST any kind of Forum) are not required to use their real name.

    In an age where you can get kicked out of your job because of having privately donated a modest amount to a political cause a vocal minority disapproves of… do you truly believe it’s a good idea to use your full name?

    If you have a common name, it’s no big deal. My name is kinda unique, especially in the English-speaking net. Political opinions are a private thing, but discrimination against those who hold other political opinions is very common. Even in the supposed bastion of free expression, the academia. US academics discriminate towards conservatives..
    Probably the same thing, except our conservatives are stalinists.

    So yeah, sign your real name to all your opinions. The recruiters are gonna love reading all that crap!

  10. Is there any other species on the planet in which small factions hijack, or create, complex systems to exploit the rest of the same species?

  11. Yup, using your real name and accepting the consequences of doing so, is both difficult (to verify) and “dangerous” …. but if that’s the price of exercising your democratic rights, who do we expect to pay that?
    This is an articulate and educated bunch here, who have proven themselves willing to help when there are legitimate battles to be waged. Witness the response Mr Watts got when he had his “run in” with the US Border folks.
    We’ll continue to lose our rights and freedoms so long as we are not willing to stand up and say “enough.” Bullies, such as the one that was the subject of the Shapeshifter thread, are usually cowards. Outing them would go a LONG way to shut them up. In this thread, our own government is playing coward by helping the US Tax folks so yeah, I’m happy to tell them to “take a flying fuck at a rolling donut” by supporting the more courageous folks who are saying “enough.” … and if the recruiters don’t like that, I wouldn’t want to work for ’em anyways.
    Hey, if this “democracy” thing was easy, everybody would be doing it.

  12. I have been donating to this. My Canadian spouse and Canadian kid neither of whom ever lived a single day in the U.S. were caught in it. And no…we’re not rich tax evaders. I renounced asap when I knew they would be affected all for having one single American in the family. My spouse was incredulous. What type of Orwellian government wants all the banking details to “share among other agencies” of foreign citizens not suspect of any crime, with zero warrant? The crafters of FATCA have said they could “share” this information without your knowledge or consent with Homeland Security. Because you know Canadian college kids such as my son and Canadian spouses who are working class are so suspicious just for existing and daring to marry outside their boundaries.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous. It’s NSA spying on steroids. Gwenny, keep up the good fight. This law sounded good on the surface just like “Patriot Act” and “Homeland Security” but, when you really read this legislation and see it in practice it’s nothing but, a threat that does indeed violate the rights of over one million Canadians. More than that if they expand on it further as they want to do.

  13. Knowing Gwen personally, I can say that she definitely rocks and deserves every Canadian’s support!

    You may want to explore how it was in fact the Canadian banking community that pressured the Harper government into entering into the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement, not the opposite. The Canadian Bankers Association ignored all requests from Canadians to lobby the US lawmakers to repeal, and instead made the more expedient decision to throw 1M Canadians, their families and business partners under the bus.You only have to go 5 minutes into this video to hear Canadian Bankers Association representative Darren Hannah express that the CBA “strongly supports” the Harper FATCA IGA before it was made into law.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T8NjUpngfxE

    Of course, should Gwen and Ginny’s lawsuit be successful, the CBA will be left with the choice of digging in deeper, or making the disingenuous claim that the Harper government made them do it.

  14. PS, Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wish to defend the Harper government. I see both the Harper government and the CBA as co-conconspirator’s in this treacherous act against Canada and it’s citizens.

  15. Re: Y.
    Vocal minority?

    How about “outraged majority” ?

    Anyway, I work in competitive intelligence, which is to “industrial espionage” what “$4000/nigh escorts” are to “$80/night streetwalkers”, and obviously I’d rather not have my “real name” (to the extent that is even a thingie-thing :) ) known to dear beloved google.

    Re: donation
    I guess I’ll donate and get 01 to ponny up some. Cause fuck those uppity US tax people :)

  16. @Ruth Freeborn:
    >Yes, it’s ridiculous. It’s NSA spying on steroids.

    It’s kind of (darkly) funny… wasn’t the “we don’t spy on Americans” standard basically “if one of the parts of the conversation is not in the US, we assume they’re not Americans.”

    Yet for this purpose, “If you ever even shared a room with an American, we assume you are one too and you owe us taxes.”

  17. And here I thought a Canadian oil company using immanent domain to force a pipeline through middle of the US breadbasket was bullying, but this FATCA thing is much more invasive in comparison. There go any contingency plans to run away to Vancouver BC. The IRS/NSA specter will follow me wherever I go.

    Corporations get away with it. Burger King buys Tim Hortons and plans to move its headquarters to Canada, and hence lower taxes (not by much though). I’m sure there are other advantages, like national healthcare, lower salaries, and the downsizing of redundant positions that happen when companies merge.

    It is so very wrong.

  18. 03: Vocal minority?
    How about “outraged majority” ?

    Majority? Yeah, if you whip them up with a good ol’ dose of propaganda.

    Apart from that, most people are silent because they don’t really care and have better things to worry about.

    Gays are a 1% minority, and gay marriage is really a non-issue. Perhaps they shouldn’t call it a marriage though, something like 60%+ of male gay marriages are .. ‘open’. Seems to be quite a different arrangment to the ordinary form of marriage, where ~3% are considered open.

    Outrage is a good mind-killer though.

  19. Kasz,

    The U.S. says that they have the right to capital gains when you sell your house no matter where in the world it is. In our household, my Canadian spouse paid every red cent for our house as I *the American in the household* did not work. Nevermind, my name was on the house here in Canada as most spouses do share title on their homes. The U.S. claims the right to tax the sale of a primary residence. If one of the so called “U.S. persons” owns part of the home. This could include a child born to even ONE U.S. parent residing in the home and owning part. It does include Canadian border babies born in a U.S. hospital then carted back to their home in Canada with their Canadian parents decades ago. This and oh so much more. Naturally when a Canadian spouse finds out that the U.S. expects them not just to file tax forms but, will fine them extortionist amounts for any forms not previously filed even with ZERO taxes due. Well, a row and eruption soon begins. This has caused divorce talk, renunciations of citizenship to protect Canadain spouse and children *at a great financial cost to do so* and many, many other problems on low and middle income Canadian families and other families around the world. FATCA claims it aims at rich overseas tax cheats but, 82 percent according to ACA and Nina Olsen of tax forms filed from people who live abroad do not result in any taxes due. The biggest irony here is that the U.S. while it has bullied other nations into doing this has not implemented this inside its own borders. So, Canada has to violate our laws for the sake of a law passed in the U.S. congress but, the U.S. cannot implement it at home and why? Well, it would violate their laws. FATCA is the most convoluted, ill thought out *No cost/benefit analysis was ever done* damaging law to low and middle income people I have seen in the last few decades and most people who have not studied it well or who are not the targets of it, know nothing of what the collateral damages are.

    Parliament was warned repeatedly that going along with this would result in a Charter Challenge by several other MP’s including Elizabeth May and Irwin Cotler as well as Ted Hsu. However the U.S. our “friendly” neighbour was threatening Canada *and everyone else* with sanctions if they did not go along, violate our own laws and implement a law passed in their congress over our border. Let the Charter Challenge go forward. Harper if he loves U.S. laws passed in congress so much can move south of 49.

  20. Ruth Freeborn: . The biggest irony here is that the U.S. while it has bullied other nations into doing this has not implemented this inside its own borders.

    What irony?

    Politically more tenable to bully your allies and neighbors than to implement policies that might make legislators and the gov’t look bad.. you can bet CNN is not going to cover FATCA fallout like this.

  21. Chris Purdy: Why Peter, you ARE an optimistic SOB after all! Are you gonna take a run at politics too?!

    Not under the current system. If someone just wanted to put me in charge, though, I’d consider it.

    Regarding the last thread (Shapeshifter), I can’t believe folks on ANY kind of forum (OK ALMOST any kind of Forum) are not required to use their real name. Period. Want to stop folks from spewing crap they’d never say to your face? Stop letting them hide behind online persona’s.

    Actually, I can see a lot of legitimate reasons for anonymity on the internet. (I see the locals have already provided numerous examples upstream). It’s one of the reasons I get my underpants all knotted up over corporate and government surveillance. Cover for pernicious assholes like “Benjanun Sriduangkaew” is just the price we have to pay. For now.

    Gwenny D: But just Google FATCA and you’ll find article after article about how the extraterrestrial tax system of the US is pure overreach.

    What, they’re taxing Enceladus microbes now?

    Y.: Even in the supposed bastion of free expression, the academia. US academics discriminate towards conservatives..

    That was an interesting piece. I’ve downloaded the PNAS article it cited on the lack of evidence for gender discrimination in academia— first time I’ve heard that there was any hard data supporting that. Thanks.

    Corey: Is there any other species on the planet in which small factions hijack, or create, complex systems to exploit the rest of the same species?

    As I recall, female lions do all the hunting, and the males horn in and get first crack at the kill. That seems a wee bit exploitive to me.

    Also some chimps have learned to lie about food patches they find— making frustrated Dammit, nothing over here either vocalizations when they stumble onto a big patch of berries, for instance— to keep all the spoils for themselves.

    Really, our inclinations are no more assholey than any other species. We’re just a lot better at implementing them.

    Chris Purdy: We’ll continue to lose our rights and freedoms so long as we are not willing to stand up and say “enough.”

    The problem I see with this is, there’s a huge honking power asymmetry between rulers and subjects. Stand up to be counted and you will be. And then stuck on a list. And then they know exactly where to find you, for anything from “random” tax audits to getting disappeared in the middle of the night.

    Honestly, the Anonymous approach strikes me as more likely to be effective when it comes to throwing a wrench in those gears.

    Ruth Freeborn: This law sounded good on the surface just like “Patriot Act” and “Homeland Security” but…

    You know, to me, “Patriot Act” and “Homeland Security” looked pretty much the opposite of Good On The Surface right out of the starting gate.

    This whole thing looks worse and worse the more I find out about it.

    Suzanne: You may want to explore how it was in fact the Canadian banking community that pressured the Harper government into entering into the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement, not the opposite. The Canadian Bankers Association ignored all requests from Canadians to lobby the US lawmakers to repeal, and instead made the more expedient decision to throw 1M Canadians, their families and business partners under the bus.

    Thanks for that correction, Suzanne. I hadn’t realized.

    Still, no shortage of villains, huh?

    Y.: Gays are a 1% minority, and gay marriage is really a non-issue.

    Uh, Y., who said anything about gays? This is, you know, tax colonialism or something.

  22. Okay, this looks like it’s worth a donation.
    Seriously, FATCA thing is obscene, and I’m far from some anti-tax loon.

    Good thing that when I was picking a new citizenship, I didn’t pick USA lol :)

  23. Peter Watts: Uh, Y., who said anything about gays? This is, you know, tax colonialism or something.

    I used the example to point out that merely donating a modest amount of money to a cause unpopular with some small but vocal segment of the population, here a subset of LGBT advocates can have severe repercussions.

    Considering that even academics discriminate, can you rely on not suffering adverse consequences from having different political views to some human resources drone? Who is, typically youngish and female (in this part of the world anyway) and may not understand or like for example, a public Facebook discussion on the well-established difference in variance of cognitive performance between sexes..

    Might be better to discuss such stuff in a pub over beers. No chance of what you say getting on your permanent and searchable record..

  24. 01:
    Okay, this looks like it’s worth a donation.
    Seriously, FATCA thing is obscene, and I’m far from some anti-tax loon.

    Good thing that when I was picking a new citizenship, I didn’t pick USA lol

    In what universe one can ‘pick’ a citizenship? That’s y only an option for people who have some millions of $ or can bribe immigration officials with some 100’s of Ks… (‘investors’)

    Though I heard US also offers easy immigration for supermodels and geniuses, though, you’re not either, I imagine.

  25. Y.: Considering that even academics discriminate, can you rely on not suffering adverse consequences from having different political views to some human resources drone?

    Nope.

  26. Peter Watts,

    haha! That was supposed to be “Extra-territorial” tax, but got autocorrected on my phone!

  27. Thanks to all who have donated to this legal fight! We need to get all Canadians on board!

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”

    ~ Martin Niemöller

  28. The US is trying to tax the whole world but there is some pushback. Recently the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, got a letter from the IRS telling him to pay tax on the capital gains on the sale of his first UK home. What arrogance!!

    “Ms Hillis and Ms. Deegan have some things in common with Mayor Johnson:

    1. All three were born in the United States.

    2. All three were citizens of other countries from birth because of their parents’ citizenship.

    3. All three left the United States at the age of five.

    4. All three have lived their entire lives as citizens of other countries.

    5. All three earn their income and pay taxes to their own countries.

    6. All three are publicly saying “No” to attempts by the IRS to claim them as American tax payers or tax evaders.”

    – See more at: http://www.tax-news.com/articles/USA_Went_To_War_With_UK_Over_TaxingSee_The_Irony___572358.html#sthash.CQjisPT5.dpuf

  29. Y.: In what universe one can ‘pick’ a citizenship?

    In this universe, “milky way” galaxy, you should look for a small backwater star on the outskirts of the galaxy (G2V, metallicity of about 0.0122 or so, angular size 31.6–32.7), and then go straight for the third planet counting from the star (this bit is important).
    Locals call it “Earth” or something.

    :)

    Y.: That’s y only an option for people who have some millions of $ or can bribe immigration officials with some 100′s of Ks… (‘investors’)

    Though I heard US also offers easy immigration for supermodels and geniuses, though, you’re not either, I imagine.

    Actually, millions of $ are unnecessary unless you’re willing to drop all pretenses and go straight for economic citizenship (some jurisdictions offer it. It’s stupidly expensive), which is a rather large waste of money.

    In the EU (and USA) you can find “expedited targeted permanent residence for investors” programs that are essentially a slightly toned down and disguised economic citizenship program (you just have to waste time waiting a set period of time as “permres” and then jumping through some annoying hoops needed to go “full citizen”). Those come with some “minor quirks” (such as actually having to learn the language of the country in question, which all things considered isn’t a bad idea) and take considerable time, but total expenses clock in at $500k or less and everything is completely legal.

    The realization that I am neither obliged to retain loyalty to the nation state I was born into, nor somehow bound to it in any meaningful way, and am free to abandon one state for another if and when I see fit, was perhaps the most important discovery of my life.

  30. I’m a little late to the party, but this really is fundamentally about the fees, or should be in most cases – we have some pretty clear double-taxation treaty obligations with Canada, so if they’re paid up in the Glorious Communist Utopia of my maple-syrup drinking brothers and sisters, they should owe little to no actual money in the States (there are undoubtedly some corner cases).

    I gather you’re all pretty well aware of this, and the real nasty extortion comes in in the “whoops, you forgot to file a return, now we get to penalize you!” phase. But to future expats, at least: keep yo tax paperwork current, lest the Eye of Sauron happen to notice you. And read up on the specifics, if you have the time.