published Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Blessings of U.S. citizenship!

Many of us, quite understandably, tend to take our U.S. citizenship for granted, because we have become so accustomed to the many wonderful rights and privileges that just "being an American" assures us.

But it was good for us to be reminded of the blessings of American citizenship as more than a hundred people from more than 40 foreign countries became Americans on Thursday in ceremonies at our local National Guard Armory.

In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, more than 619,000 people in the United States became naturalized citizens -- more than 4,200 of them in Tennessee, and 213 in Chattanooga.

With our new citizens having commendably completed the legal process, it is good for all of us to be reminded of our privileges -- and our responsibilities.

Do you remember our Pledge of Allegiance, perhaps from school days, or military service? Shall we ponder it anew?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all."

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nucanuck said...

There are about five million American citizens living outside of the US and now many of those citizens are contemplating renouncing their US citizenship because recent policy changes have made their lives more difficult. Only the US and Mauritania require non-resident citizens to file tax returns even when they have no income from their native country. It has been common practice to ignore this requirement in the case of people who would have no tax liability in the US, but now the US has gotten aggressive in enforcement.

Ordinary people are finding that they owe no taxes, but owe tens of thousands of dollars in penalties because they have not filed US tax returns. In addition, most out-of-country auditors aren't familiar with IRS tax reporting and the few who are are expensive.

The upshot is that a growing number of US citizens residing outside the US are in the process of giving up their US citizenship.

This has never happened before and it isn't a good trend.

October 15, 2011 at 12:38 a.m.
LibDem said...

This is odd indeed. Penalties are usually a percent of the tax due.

Nevertheless, if you see no advantage in US citizenship or carrying a US passport, then you should by all means transfer your citizenship to the country of your allegiance.

October 15, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
nucanuck said...

LibDem,

I agree that this seems odd. That's why I brought it up. It has become a focus of many news stories in Canada because thousands of Americans have married Canadians over the years and now...suddenly...they feel like they are being treated like criminals.

My daughter's close friend is a secretary at a school here...she files and pays her Canadian taxes every year only to now find she should have filed a US return also. She has no tax liability, only penalties for failure to file and failure to file a form on foreign accounts. This woman has two teenage kids and can barely make ends meet. To now pay the US penalties she will have to try to borrow the money.

Her story is being played out all over Canada and the world. My guess is that more than half of the overseas Americans are in similar situations...millions of people.

October 15, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.
LibDem said...

Well, I understand now. Obviously anyone who marries one of those obnoxiously friendly and cheerful Canadians should be punished.

I don't see a tax nexus when a person resides and earns abroad. The US tax return does require one to reveal control over foreign accounts but, to my knowledge before now, only if a return is actually filed.

I would wonder if our current anxiety about security might have provoked this interest in Americans working abroad. Would this come to the attention of US authorities on renewal of a passport? Is the foreign employer reporting something to the US? How did they (IRS) know this person was living and working in Canada?

October 15, 2011 at 3:26 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Both of the two new laws that are causing the hubbub were aimed at trying to catch high dollar tax evaders. The unintended consequence has become a nightmare for the millions of average overseas Americans.

October 15, 2011 at 6:02 p.m.
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