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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/6/13

FATCA Faces Tell The Real Story

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Their faces tell the story.  They show the real victims of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

They include everyone from a mom and toddler in Britain to seniors in Canada. They range from a group of protesters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to a U.S. military veteran in Switzerland who was forced to renounce U.S. citizenship to protect his Swiss family and the mortgage on his Swiss home.

The We Are Not A Myth Portrait Protest shows the world the Myth vs FATCA document released by Robert Stack, Assistant Deputy Secretary of U.S. Treasury, for what it actually is. A Stack of Lies.

We Are Not A Myth Portrait Protest
We Are Not A Myth Portrait Protest
(Image by Collage by Em)
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We Are Not A Myth Portrait Protest by Collage by Em

These people are not myths. They are real human beings with no economic ties to United States.  They are not tax cheats or tax evaders. They are not criminals.  They are people of modest means who pay taxes in the countries where they live and work--and where most are citizens of those countries.

They are young Canadians whose Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) may be reported to United States Internal Revenue Service simply because a parent was born in United States. They are grandparents, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers, determined to protect their families who have no connection to United States.

They include a man with a developmental delay. The U.S. will not allow him to renounce U.S. citizenship because of "mental incapacity." His only connection to United States is that his mother was born there 70 years ago.  U.S. has refused his mother the right as his guardian to renounce U.S. citizenship for him. She worries the disability savings she has sent aside for him with the encouragement of her government will be vulnerable to demands of FATCA.

A woman in New Zealand is threatened by FATCA simply because she lived in United States for four years 20 years ago.

A dual Swedish-American citizen states the obvious. "People do not move to Sweden to avoid taxation." A modest income grandfather asks "Why is the America I love doing this to us?"

These people have come together in the We Are Not A Myth Portrait Protest.  Some show their full facial image. Others have partially hidden their faces out of fear of retaliation or concern their banks may identify them as "U.S. persons" and report them to IRS.  Many more are choosing not to participate in the Portrait Protest for fear of "outing" themselves.

FATCA is an American law intended to combat offshore tax evasion. It expects every financial institution on the planet to identify "US persons" among their customers and report to IRS on total assets, account balances, transactions, account numbers, income, and other personal-identifying information.

"US person" includes anyone born in United States, Green Card holders, individuals with a "substantial presence" in U.S., and others.

The definition is so broad it includes the King of Thailand, the Mayor of London, England, and the Premier of New Brunswick simply because they were born in the United States. It even encompasses some Canadian snowbirds who help support U.S. economy by spending winters in southern states.

The reality is a law intended to combat offshore tax evasion by people living in United States is instead snaring honest citizens and residents around the world.  This is no myth.

Millions of people around the world are affected by FATCA. Some have had their legal bank accounts closed simply because they were born in United States.

People have had many sleepless nights from FATCA looming over them.  Marriages have been strained and some have broken up. Health and careers have been affected. Some have even contemplated suicide. Yet, these people have done nothing wrong. They are most definitely not myths.

We Are Not a Myth Portrait Protest was launched and is being coordinated by a Canadian stay-at-home mother who recently relinquished American citizenship to protect her Canadian family. She has been contacted by many people who may be too frightened to post on websites or to share their pictures, but e-mail her to thank her "for what you are doing."

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Lynne Swanson is a retired human resources manager, writer and blogger. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she has been a Canadian citizen for 40 years.
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