Pillaging one person at a time: why I’m coming out in the open with my fight against the IRS

Pillaging one person at a time

A few years ago, when the current president of Central African Republic took over via military coup, Chadian rebels, who helped him to power, pillaged the seminary where I taught for eight years as a visiting professor.  Eye witnesses said that nearly everyone shut themselves up in their houses and hid from the rebels, who came and forced each house to open up by firing their AK47s outside their doors.  Then, the rebels took anything that was of value from each inhabitant.

My friend Bennet said that everyone, in fear, took the completely wrong approach.  Bennet was a Sudanese refugee in the Central African Republic and had worked at the school.  He said that he learned in his military training in Sudan that if someone is hiding from you it is because they have something to hide.  He took the opposite approach and walked up to them and spoke with them in Arabic.  He gave them a tour of the campus, misdirecting them.  When they came to the largest of buildings, full of professors’ computers and other valuables, they asked him, “What is that builiding?”  Bennet responded, “That’s a library.  It has books.  You won’t be interested in that.”  They agreed, as they were all illiterate.  Thus, Bennet spared the school the worst of the damage.  I was meditating about this over night and the next day I asked Bennet the question that was bothering me:  “Weren’t you afraid?”  He said, “No.”  I asked, “Why not?”  He answered, “Because they were not shooting at me.”  A Sudanese refugee who fled in panic the artillery shelling of his hometown through the dense forest separating CAR and Sudan is not easily intimidated by a few light arms pointed at him.

The US persons who are resident in Canada number approximately 1 million.  We are a sufficiently large group that if we stand up boldly together we can make a difference.  But if we cower in fear and hope that the IRS doesn’t notice our houses they will threaten and pillage us one by one.  We Canadians are standing on the moral high ground.  We have conducted our lives in accordance with the laws where we are resident and most of us had no clue what the IRS demanded (the number of non-compliant is in the hundreds of thousands). Their demands are not only unjust but also unconstitutional.  I for one am tired of suffering in silence or using pseudonyms when dealing with this issue.  The fact is that hundreds of people on internet bulletin boards and blogs are using false names.  Well, if they want to know who I am, they can figure it out.  It doesn’t take great hacking skills.

I am coming out in the open.  I have committed no crimes and I am innocent, and I would ask that the IRS and all the other branches of the US government stop treating me like a criminal.  I don’t owe you any taxes, not even according to the rules that you’ve set up.  I’d love to be so rich that I owed you taxes but with the rate of taxation in Canada, it’s going to be long time before that ever happens.  Here I am.  If you want to make an example out of me, then you do so at great risk to your reputation.  Already in this last campaign you have been censured.

Is the taxation of US citizens abroad constitutional?

The United States of America started as a country very sensitive to tax issues. Thirteen colonies of King George’s England rose up in unified rebellion because the Crown did not respect the rights of colonists. Furthermore, they resented this extra-territorial taxation and insisted upon a basic principle of English democracy, “No taxation without representation”. This protest was in spite of Parliament’s claim to have protected the Colonists in the war with France.  The slogan helped to incite the American Colonies to rebel against the King and to declare independence in 1776.

Now 235 years later, the numbers of Americans living in foreign countries has grown to six million and Congress believes that it has right to tax them because it “protects”  them (for a history of taxation of non-resident citizens see renunciationguide.com)–mind you, Congress does not provide customary services, such as roads, post office, or social welfare, which are available to residents. I recently asked where the US Federal Toronto office for unemployment, food stamps and welfare could be located and found that no one has had a reply. Yet there are phone numbers to call for help from the IRS if you are living abroad.  It’s like that bad friend who borrows from you but never lends when you need help.

Now my question in this post is whether this extra-territorial taxation is legal in the first place.  From the standpoint of international law, it is highly suspect and the only other nation in the world which taxes its non-resident citizens is Eritrea, and most civilized people see Eritrea’s attempts to tax their citizens living abroad as “extortion“.  Yet since the US doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks, we will get no where with that approach: you cannot shame this government.  But if we approach it from a constitutional perspective, then we have to deal with the superstructure of lower and Supreme Court case law wherein even legal experts disagree.  My contention in this post is that the Constitution belongs to the People and the People are the final arbiters of what it means. The Supreme Court gets its power from the Constitution and the Constitution gets its power from the People.  Therefore, if I can convince enough People that what I think it means is correct, then I will be satisfied.  Here then are my arguments:

Taxing people residing outside of the United States violates the fundamental right of “no taxation without representation”.   Very simply put, the US census doesn’t count those of us who live outside the United States and since the US Census determines the number of representatives for each state on the basis of population, the non-resident citizen does not have representation.  This is a fundamental principle of Constitutional law that extra-territorial taxation violates to the core.  I was alerted to this by a comment on Phil Hodgen’s blog (see below).

Applying the so-called exit tax, created by Heroes Earnings Assitance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, to non-resident former Americans is unconstitutional because it violates the fundamental right to expatriate.  From the standpoint of American law, the right to expatriate is supported by the Declaration of Independence.  It is also supported by an Act which Congress passed in 1868.  It says explicitly:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any declaration, instruc- tion, opinion, order, or decision of any officers of this government which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is hereby declared inconsistent with the fundamental principles of this government.

Ironically, Congress was trying to protect those who would leave their countries to become citizens of the United States and to forbid other countries from not permitting their expatriation.  Now, the requirement that former U.S. citizens fill out Form 8854 to determine if they are covered expatriates or not, is a violation of this 1868 law, which to my knowledge has never been repealed.  I have other objections to the Form 8854: for one, it requires that I list all my assets, which I flatly refuse to do on the grounds that the IRS has no right to that information (has anyone in the IRS or Congress ever read the Fourth Amendment?).  But my understanding of fundamental rights, is that government is not allowed to tax you, require fees, or prevent you in any other way from exercising them.  For example, no impediment is allowed to hinder the right to vote.  This would apply also to the $450 renunciation fee, in my opinion, but you could whistle till you’re blue in the face, the State Department won’t budge.  The $450 is an impairment to expatriation and it is a violation of the 1868 law quoted above, which is based upon a “fundamental principle of this government”.  The exit tax is likewise an impediment.

Finally, in case anyone is worried that the Bill of Rights does not support the right to “no taxation without representation” or the right to expatriate, don’t ever forget that the Ninth Amendment covers those fundamental rights:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Thus, the Bill of Rights supports these fundamental rights and the attempt by Congress and the IRS to collect taxes from non-residents and an exit from those who would renounce their citizenship, is in my opinion unconstitutional.  Class action lawsuit anyone?

See also:  William Thomas Worster, “The Constitutionality of the Taxation Consequences for Renouncing U.S. Citizenship“, Florida Tax Reviw 9 (2010) 923-1020 (can be downloaded at link: see “One-Click Download”).

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I live in Toronto: How do I apply for US Federal unemployment, welfare or food stamps?

Dear Mr. Obama:

I am currently employed, but with the current economy I am worried.  Now I know that the United States government believes itself to have the right to tax Americans resident in Canada, and so I was wondering where I could get some of the goodies that you are daily handing out to deserving but down-on-their-luck-formerly-employed taxpayers.  Just in case I lose my job, where is the unemployment office where I can apply for federal unemployment insurance?  Also, if I need welfare and food stamps, where do I go?  I live in the Toronto area, so I was just wondering if there is a federal office in the GTA where I could apply for these programs.  Perhaps you have a absentee program for those living outside the US–if so, how can I apply for that.  Just, you know, askin’.  Thanks for your time.

If you need a US address, I could give you either my brother’s or my father’s address.  They still live there.  I’m sure they would be happy to forward the cheques (that’s the Canadian spelling) to me.

Sincerely,

Petros (formerly an American Citizen)

Guest post: Reactions to the Globe and Mail article on renunciations of US citizenship in Toronto

This guest post comes from a new blog called Renounce US Citizenship:  Be Free (used with permission):

McKenna Globe Article – Comments on the comments

Yesterday I posted about Barrie McKenna’s article about American citizens in Canada renouncing  U. S. citizenship. As good as the article was the number of comments was astounding. Incredibly 730 comments were posted in 24 hours. The comments were incredibly illuminating – recommend them to you. There is clear anger at the U.S. government. One of the most interesting comments came from the U.S.

“Bart Hall –Kansas USA

8:58 AM on November 9, 2011

It is far worse than even the article indicates, and reflects a profoundly disturbing trend—the fervent desire to have US law apply not only within US territory, but to any US citizen, anywhere. To my knowledge this is utterly unprecedented at any time or place in history.

Not only are the US attempting to apply their somewhat draconian tax regimes around the world, they’re in the course of doing the exact same thing with their idiotic drug laws. You know, because they work so well at home.

Something has gone desperately wrong in Washington. My 6G-grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence. I am closely related to three Presidents. And my family has brought forth officers (and plenty of enlisted) for the defence of this land in every single generation since 1701.

The desperate hunger for ever-greater power and revenue in Washington must be stopped. They have already begun to turn that hunger onto Americans at home—the TSA are now setting up roadblocks on assorted American highways, and if you do not allow them to search your vehicle you will not be allowed to proceed.

“Fourth Amendment rights? You ain’t got no stinkin’ Fourth Amendment Rights.” Americans: are you paying attention? Hello? Anybody home?”

There is something clearly wrong inside the United States. By leaving people are voting with their feet.  Lawyer Phil Hodgen comments on the Vancouver back log to expatriate.  Mr. Hodgen writes:

“Canary, meet coal mine

At the moment the number of people leaving might be small, and their actions dismissed in a hand-wavy fashion.  But they should not be dismissed.  Their actions are an indicator of something gone awry.

The United States has been built on immigration.  Out-migration tells us something isn’t working.  (Hah.  Tell that to the State of California. “Oh, no. Everything is fine!”  Same thought.)  When people vote with their feet — and are willing to pay a staggering tax to do so — they are sending a message.

I don’t think anyone is listening.  And this, unfortunately, is to the greater harm of the United States.”

http://hodgen.com/vancouver-consulate-backlog-for-expatriation/

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Bah Humbug: A suggestion for the US Federal Christmas Tree Tax

Unpopularity has scuttled the extra-constitutional, extra-judicial Christmas tree tax (see below video for a sample).  Now the Department of Agriculture had proposed this tax, and of course they went about it in a completely wrong way.  First, they should have the IRS collect it.  Second, they should only impose it on US citizens living outside the borders of the United States, and recent immigrants, for example, people who have come from India in the last 10 years.  That way it only hits those who don’t have representation in Congress or small persecuted minority groups.  Then, a line should be added to the 1040NR form asking, “Did you have a foreign Christmas tree this year at any time during the year?”  In the explanations of this line, it should say that if the answer to the question is yes, then each person filing must fill out a disclosure form DA-FCT1025365NR for the Department of Agriculture which must be received by the 30th of June on the year that the foreign Christmas tree was used.  It should be mentioned that non-wilful failure to disclose whether one had a Christmas tree could result in a $10,000 fine per infringement, per tree (so that if two spouses filing jointly or separately would each have to make a disclosure).  Wilful failure of disclosure can result in prison sentences and huge fines that are so stupendous that it requires the implicit waiver of the 8th amendment, let’s say as much as 300% of your personal wealth.  Finally, this disclosure must be retroactive for the last six years.