Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said FATCA is "extraterritorial" and "unwarranted" and "will turn Canadian banks into arms of the IRS." Nonetheless, the Harper government -- urged on by the CBA -- has been negotiating secretly with the United States for more than a year about an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to implement FATCA. Opposition MPs have demanded transparency and an explanation of the impact an IGA would have on Canadians' rights and on Canadian sovereignty.
"This letter asks banks to refuse to help the U.S. impose FATCA on Canadians and for the government to enforce Canadian, not U.S. law, on banking, privacy, and human rights" says Lynne Swanson of Maple Sandbox.
Protestors will take that message to the Canadian Institute's 19th Annual Conference on Regulatory Compliance for Financial Institutions, November 13 and 14 at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. "Unfortunately the goal of this conference is to teach them how to navigate the compliance "hurdles' in a session called "Preparing to Implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)," says Stephen Kish, one of the protestors. "The session will be led by a Washington D.C. attorney formerly international counsel to the IRS."
November 12, 2013
Canadian Bankers Association,
199 Bay Street, 30th Floor Toronto, Ontario
Dear Mr. Campbell,
As citizens and residents of Canada, we are strongly opposed to the Canadian Bankers Association's (CBA) recently-stated advocacy for an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that would allow the government of the United States -- through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act -- to impose its tax laws in Canada.
Such an agreement would represent a gross violation of Canadian sovereignty and would violate the rights of Canadian citizens and residents under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and other legal guarantees. The CBA's claim that an IGA would mitigate these violations in any meaningful way is illusory.
There are an estimated one million people in Canada who have, one way or another, connections to the U.S. that would place them, through FATCA, on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's radar screen. Add in family members, who are also caught up in this net, and the one million gets closer to four million -- that's nearly 12% of the Canadian population!
We implore the CBA to use its considerable influence and resources to insist that the Canadian Government categorically reject Washington's demands and to lobby for FATCA's repeal by the American Congress. We are writing now because within the past few weeks, CBA officials have confirmed that despite your valid and well-known concerns about FATCA, they now believe that Canadian banks have no choice but to comply, and that an IGA is the best way to facilitate compliance.
This has been spelled out publicly in two items posted on the website of the Isaac Brock Society (IBS) on October 18 and 19, 2013. We note especially the following excerpts (the full texts of the CBA postings appear at the end of this letter for your reference):