I met with my local City Councillor this morning to discuss what he and I might do to promote the anti-FATCA cause. As a result of the meeting, we both agreed to write letters to relevant members of the federal government. I wrote the following to Prime Minister Harper, as well as the MP and Senator covering my district.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you as a US citizen living in Canada regarding the US Foreign Account Compliance Act (FATCA) which would require Canadian banks to send my private financial information to the IRS.
As I am sure you are well aware, FATCA would require banks to break two Canadian laws: Access to Basic Banking Services (ABBS) and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). While it may be argued that the IRS has a right to my information as a citizen of their country, FATCA would also force banks to divulge private financial information regarding my husband (because of our joint accounts), as well as a local Canadian charity where I volunteer (because I have signing authority).
In addition to the United States’ disregard for Canadian laws, the penalties attached to failure to file the FBAR statement are, as Financial Minister Jim Flaherty says, draconian. I, and many other American expats, was unaware of FBAR. Even many certified cross-border accountants were unaware of the requirement. And yet there is no mitigation of penalties for those of us who have been turned into ‘accidental criminals.’
As it stands, the IRS is poised to take our RRSPs and our children’s RESPs.
The only protection US citizens living in Canada have is the public embarrassment and political danger of pursuing the hard working, law abiding, Canadian tax filing individuals and families who are guilty of nothing more than simply being ignorant of the tax regulations of a country that many of us have very little connection to.
Because of this, it is imperative that politicians such as yourself continue the conversation and continue to apply pressure on the United States to waive penalties on US expats living in Canada.
It has swelled my heart to read about Minister Flaherty’s work on this matter. Though I am terrified for my family’s future, it has been a great comfort to know that my beloved adopted country has been fighting on my behalf.
Please don’t stop working on this issue. Hundreds of thousands of US citizens in Canada and their families are counting on you.
Feel free to use any part of this letter you please. I urge you to write letters to your own Member of Parliament and Senator. The more they get, the more likely they are to continue fighting on our behalf.
And remember that you don’t need postage as long as you’re sending your letters to the Hill.