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On Receiving my Certificate of Loss of Nationality

My Certificate of :oss of Nationality

Almost five months after my renunciation day, I received my Certificate of Loss of Nationality today. It seems ironic that it arrived on Tax Day.

People keep asking me how that feels, but I have trouble formulating an answer.

Certificate of Loss of Nationality = divorce papers

The best analogy I’ve been able to find is that renouncing citizenship is like a divorce. I’m talking about the kind of divorce where you still love the person, but you know that he/she is just not good for you. Regretfully, you file for divorce.

In this case, the decision to divorce isn’t mutual. My ex doesn’t want me to leave and tries everything to force me to stay, i.e. making me become tax compliant, costing me both a lot of money in accountancy fees and a lot of stress, then charging me $2350 to file the divorce papers.

I’ve never been through an actual divorce, but this is what I imagine it feels like. The makers of the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory rate divorce as second only to the death of a spouse in terms of the stress it causes.

the State Department stamp on my Certificate of Loss of Nationality
the State Department stamp on my Certificate of Loss of Nationality

In a way, I’m in mourning for that marriage. It was a good marriage for a long time. I lived in the US for the first 35 years of my life, except for two years when I was in the Peace Corps. Every so often, as I’m going about my normal day, my thoughts flit back to my renunciation and I have to fight back tears.

I feel relieved that I’ve received my Certificate.

Although I still have to file my 2015 tax returns and the FBAR form once more, I’m relieved that this will be the last time. I’m relieved that my “request” to renounce was approved.

To be honest, though, I don’t feel “freed” in the way I was hoping I would. Perhaps it’s because all the tax-related paperwork isn’t finished. Or maybe it’s because, while I feel less of the fear of persecution from the IRS that I felt before, I still carry the burden of a tremendous anger.

I feel angry that it came to this.

As I’ve described before, I did not renounce citizenship easily or willingly. I can’t really claim I was forced to, though. I could have continued filing US tax forms and FBARs for the rest of my life.

I’ve discussed my reasons for renouncing before as well:

  • FATCA forces me to hand over my private financial information, as well as my non-American husband’s, to an extent that homeland Americans don’t have to unless they’re suspected of a crime.
  • FATCA strong-arms our local banks into handing over our private financial information as well.
  • It treats my local accounts as being equivalent to hiding money overseas.
  • I could vote in the US, but no one represents the needs of US citizens abroad because our votes are dispersed over all 50 states.
  • I pay almost $1000 per year to an accountant to fill out the forms—more and lengthier than they’d be if I lived in the US—only to prove I owe nothing, since I pay taxes here in the Netherlands.
  • Without an address in the US, I can’t open an investment account there; with US nationality, it is becoming more and more difficult to do any investment or borrowing outside of the US.

I am grieving the loss of my home.

One of the consequences of my renunciation cuts deeply: I will never again be able to live in the US. I can visit, but only for up to 90 days, like any other Dutch person. If you live in the US, think about how it would feel to be exiled from your home. That’s what renunciation does to me.

I never realized how much I carried America in my heart—as my home, whatever that means—until I took the steps that led me to renounce.

I am disappointed in America.

I get asked all the time where I’m from; just a few words is enough to betray my accent when I speak Dutch. To avoid having to explain, I often answer just “I’m American,” and leave it at that. Sometimes, instead, I say “I’m Dutch but I grew up in America.”

The problem with saying that is the feeling in my gut that comes along with it. I feel like I’m betraying my country.

Growing up in the US in the late 60s and in the 1970s, in the middle of the Cold War, I was taught to love my country. In elementary school, we said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, followed by singing the national anthem. Being American was something to be proud of: the side of right, facing off against the “bad guys,” meaning the Soviet Union. Since we were the good guys, we would prevail.

Nevertheless, I learned quite early that the American system wasn’t perfect. If it was, why would my parents take my sisters and me to so many protests?

At the time, being so young, I didn’t know what these protests were about. My childish memories include marching down a street with lots of people in the dark, carrying a candle and singing “We Shall Overcome.” I realized much later that those were civil rights marches. Sometimes the memories show a daytime march, carrying signs, after which we’d settle down on the grass with thousands of other people, eating a picnic lunch while my parents listened to voices coming from a loudspeaker very far away. I assume now that those were Vietnam War marches.

We never questioned the system, though. I was taught that American democracy was good and strong, and if only more other countries were like the US, the world would be a better place. The marches were, in this view, a demonstration of the power of American democracy.

I absorbed American exceptionalism as I grew up. It was an unconscious acceptance, a taking-for-granted.

Later, in college, I developed a more nuanced view of the United States. I participated in marches protesting US involvement in El Salvador and Nicaragua and worked on political campaigns for various candidates. Nevertheless, I still believed in the underlying value of American democracy.

My cancelled passport was sent back to me along with my Certificate of Loss of Nationality.
My cancelled passport was sent back to me along with my Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

Now I’m not so sure. I’ve written before about “No taxation without representation,” and about how that’s what’s happening to overseas Americans.

I realize that I still believe in the basic strength of the US democratic system: it will survive whoever wins the presidential election, for example. I just feel like that system has pushed me away, and is pushing away millions of people like me who could be contributing to keeping it strong.

So it’s over. I’ll continue to call myself an American, for ease’s sake. I’ll continue to represent America to students in my American Studies classes.

But I have repudiated America, and America has repudiated me. This Certificate of Loss of Nationality confirms that our divorce is final.

Feel free to comment below, but please keep it civil!

My whole US citizenship series:

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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments! Read more...

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I think that once the government rethinks this nonsense, there will be put in place a way back to US citizenship for those who lost it. There are precedents — Germany for example (though only for EU countries and Switzerland), Switzerland, and India. There are probably others.

But right now, with this set of Congresspeople, no chance.

Hi rachel. Every single word you’ve said about renunciation of US citizenship resonates deeply. My approval came last month. The day i was taking oath of renunciation at the embassy in london i began sobbing so hard could hardly read the oath of.. Even the officer asked if i was being forced by anyone! It’s exactly like a divorce but the last few years felt i was married to someone who absolutely despised me for livimg in UK. Like my love for the usa was instantly suspect and of course my husband and i having to go through the same tax filing stuff you describe! We took a few years to decide & to go through it as my heart felt so heavy everytime just thinking of renouncing. And yes we finalised as were starting to feel really angry and bitter. Thanks for writing this. You Spoke all our feelings .

I have nothing to add to what you said except I am so sorry it came to this for you too. I know your anger and the grief. To be brutally honest, I will never really be “over” this. The loss of “home” is something you really cannot describe to anyone adequately who hasn’t been through it. I await a path back to my citizenship as well, like you, I won’t hold my breath either.

Thanks for this heartfelt essay Rachel, these words for my inarticulate heart. I’m still treading along the edge, trying to make the ‘relationship work’ but knowing that analogy is apt; divorce… because the partner isn’t the one you thought they were and they are just dragging you down. I’m one step closer…

The Divorce is an excellent Analogy Rachel and I would get the same feeling in my stomach as you do. I hope there is a way back for you one day but I feel you have done the right thing. I would keep on calling yourself an American because that is what you feel you are. If people want to delve you could tell them about the Divorce but explain that you will always feel American.

This is a moving story that I think many will relate to.
Though your citizenship and passport have been taken away, no one can take away your loving memories…

You recited the Pledge of Allegiance to The Flag many times in school. Yet that was to an America that was about “liberty and justice for all.” Arguably the US treatment of US persons overseas has little to do with “liberty and justice for all,” a different America with unAmerican tax and compliance obligations on US persons overseas.

Good analogy. Freedom from impossible spouse. My favorite thought: In the circumstances, repudiating US citizenship was the most American thing I could do.

We are the true 1776 Americans. Thank you so much for writing this. I have felt stressed and sick over this since being shaken from my blissful ignorance about FATCA and CBT about two months ago. I am horrified that I will likely have to renounce. Luckily I am already a British citizen. I refuse to be a Trojan horse for the IRS peeping into my British husband’s finances and bleeding money from the British taxpayer. I have already cried about this so many times and just wish it was a bad dream.

Loved your story. I too renounced way back in 2004. I too am only allowed the 90 days visit to the USA each year undr the “visa waiver.” But you CAN get visas that allow you to stay longer if need be. When you say “you can never again live in the USA”…that is not true. I was told that if you have family still there, they can petition immigration for you, but it can take a long time depending on your relationship with the American citizen. You can become a resident. You can also go thru the process of getting your citizenship back also, altho I dont know what the process is….just what I’ve read from others.

I have never filed taxes because for the first four years in France I didn’t have a job. And now that I do have one I still don’t do it because I refuse to pay someone 2000€ to prove I owe nothing.

It makes me really sad to think I may
have to divorce the US also. After living overseas I felt more American than ever and I felt like I came from a good country founded by brave stock, people who left everything to start over. Now of course I realize that what I was taught in school about America being the best country in the world was absolutely bs but I still love my country.

Congratulations for being strong enough to leave. But I understand your heartache and I am sorry that FATCA forced you into such a sad decision.

Hi, I’m in france I and file my taxes myself with TurboTax, it is more than 10 times cheaper than hiring an accountant ! And my taxes are complicated as I am self-employed and I own stocks, but still you can manage to do it, usually takes me two days. You can check this website to find out if you are required to file in the US https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1901490-do-i-need-to-file-a-2013-tax-return-with-the-irs

HI Emily- I know how you feel- in my case, we just grew apart; born in the 1970s in the lower east side of NY City, I never felt ‘mainstream’, I moved abroad after college at just 23 years old, married and raised two children overseas, who were American in name only. They both went on to live in England, a fairly close visit by plane. Eventually it became clear that we were not really an American family, we are a european family, and Europe is where we will stay. I still have a dear sister in the States, but few finances or opportunites to visit her. I stood there and cried when I had to recite my renunciation at the embassy. It had nothing to do with money or taxes for me, just where I belong. Local issues matter to me I love being able to be politically involved in my adopted country,something I could never do before. I wish you good luck and success in your transition .

I have read this through and find it very helpful. I have been through a divorce which was horribly painful and I don’t want to relive that pain!! I am, however, facing a huge tax bill if I sell my house here in the UK to downsize and that might have terrible ramifications on my financial well being for the future. I am NOT an “AMerican first”-er but I usually am proud to be an American but I feel that I am become more and more alienated from my home of origin. I am now 65 and am being threatened with a huge financial penalty if I don’t take Medicate Part B now (can’t use here in the UK) but then decide to move back to the States at a later date. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place

Rita, you might find the following to be of interest:

“I want to share a scenario that I am encountering more and more with Americans abroad. And yes, it is related to taxes (or at least to U.S. tax laws). The tragedy is that many Americans are NOT aware of this until it is too late.

Consider this very realistic, very common and very likely scenario for Americans abroad in Canada.

Hypothetical:

Retired senior citizen who has lived in Canada almost all his life. He is a dual Canada U.S. citizen with a net worth under two million U.S. dollars (the magic number that leads to being a “covered expatriate”) who has a small pension and lives in a fully paid off house. Most of his net worth is in the value of the house. The cash flow generated by the pension is just enough to cover basic living expenses. General inflation is a worry. The costs to maintain the house are also a worry. The costs to maintain the house are increasing every year. It’s clear that the house must be sold for a number of reasons which include the inability to afford the maintenance of the house in the long run.

Most Canadians use their principal residence as a vehicle of financial planning. That’s because under Canadian tax laws, a principal residence is a “tax free capital gain”. Unlike U.S. residents Canadians do NOT receive a tax deduction for mortgage payments. Income taxes are far higher in Canada than in the United States. This is part of the policy reason for Canada’s allowing a “tax free” capital gain on the sale of the principal residence. Canadian resident taxpayers are able to sell the house, take a “tax free” capital gain and invest that capital in an income generating vehicle.

As a U.S. citizen this senior citizen is NOT able to sell the house without paying a significant part of the proceeds to the U.S. government in the form of a capital gains tax. The U.S. does (subject to a partial exemption) subject the capital gain on a principal residence to taxation. As a U.S. citizen, this senior is subject to taxes in both Canada and the U.S. The U.S. will tax the same gain that Canada will exempt from tax.

This senior simply cannot afford to lose the capital that will be lost on the sale of the home that is a U.S. capital gains tax. It’s not an option. On the other hand, he can’t afford the costs to keep the house.

Solution: The only way to maintain his retirement capital is to renounce U.S. citizenship before selling the house.

This senior must choose between being a U.S. citizen and having enough capital to live on in retirement.

Unfortunately this is a “real life” scenario that I am seeing more and more of. It’s a very real problem. It’s a the result of being subject to one tax system (Canada) that encourages the use of a principal residence as a vehicle for retirement planning and a second tax system (U.S.) that does not encourage the use of a principal residence as a vehicle for retirement planning.

It’s obvious that seniors in the situation of having to downsize their principal residence must renounce U.S. citizenship prior to doing taking this step. This is simply a practical reality.”

If you want to see the complete post:

http://www.citizenshipsolutions.ca/2014/10/11/when-renouncing-u-s-citizenship-is-a-smart-retirement-planning-tool-for-americansabroad/

Your analogy to divorce is a good one given the feelings you describe.It has to be tough to lose that sense of home, even if you haven’t lived there for a while. I can understand the anger and sense of betrayal.

Hello Rachel,
I plead for World Citizenship anyway. My parents are Dutch but I was born in Switzerland. Theoretically I was Dutch and Swiss – But I think the Dutch don’t allow double citizenship anymore, because my mother lost hers from the Netherlands (which made her as angry and disappointed as you are now).

As a Swiss I don’t lose my passport if I have a second citizenship and I don’t need to pay tax in Switzerland if I don’t have property in the country. I like that!

I hope you get over your disappointment soon. I’m sure if you’d really want to go back to the US there would be a way. It’s not the passport who says where you belong to, it’s your heart.

I suggest to my American clients overseas that they not renounce: most Americans overseas simply have to file tax returns each year – they don’t have US taxes unless, under normal circumstances, they had US-source income in that year, in which case they might owe US tax. One does not leave one’s choices open in life by renouncing – and one does leave one’s choices in life open by NOT renouncing and simply filing tax returns. Consider your children also: if they decide to go to college in the US and/or inter-marry and/or live there someday, you may wish to go back for extended periods, not just the tourist-visa period. Don’t limit your choices if you’re already a citizen. Be proud of it and not angry to the point of detrimental responses. That’s my advice to my clients, anyway. Those that don’t take that advice are, truly, not related to the U.S. in any way, shape or form: they may have inherited their citizenship, never lived there, etc.

@June, If what you’ve written were true, there wouldn’t be the outcry going on now. You’re talking about “leaving one’s chances open” without addressing how the already onerous new laws could become worse or more costly? And how does any of that give permission for the USA to over-extend itself to superseding the autonomy of other nations simply because they, the US, can’t figure out how to fix their own “loop-hole-filled”, wealthy-person-slanted tax system? Poor people don’t create loopholes, you know. Close some of those, in-house, & see what you get without bullying other countries for your own issues.

The fact that millions of US citizens are being seen as “acceptable collateral damage” with FATCA is beyond shameful. And, the US is only able to pull this off by threatening sanctions against anyone who doesn’t come to “their” party!

To top it all off, the “other countries” are supposed to pick up the tab for the work the USA “ought to” being doing itself. This whole thing smacks of a major, political over-reach. I’m pulling for & donating to the good folks in Canada, who have had a gut-full & are suing their Gov’t on the grounds that this “IGA” is giving away their freedoms & privacy-> which their gov’t cannot do without breaking their OWN laws.

It’s a data/power/money-grab by the USA, pure & simple.

@June

I have strong reactions to your comments. In Canada, citizenship based taxation makes it impossible for anyone to save properly for retirement. The US does not recognize plans that are basically the same as Roth IRA’s, 509 plans, etc. Canada does not tax on the sale of a primary residence and it makes no sense whatsoever for a house bought and paid for with Canadian money to be taxable by the United States.And what to say of non-US mutual funds? The treatment of these by the US is basically criminal.Punishment for not buying US. It is simply not true that people will not owe tax. Perhaps not often in terms of annual income tax but it is far more complicated than your description.

Things were a lot different 4 years ago when I renounced. Much more frightening with endless threats when no due diligence had been undertaken once the US decided to enforce laws no one knew about. I lived in fear of penalties which would require us to lose our home.For not filing a piece of paper. There was no streamlined or anything like that. And I was the only American in the family.I could not allow the US to take from them. The whole idea is obscene in the first place.My son made his own decision to renounce. I think it is very self-serving to look at complying just to keep the door open for one’s own possible gain in the future.That isn’t patriotic, does not demonstrate any allegiance to the ideals we were taught to believe in, etc.

Your comment:

“Those that don’t take that advice are, truly, not related to the U.S. in any way, shape or form: they may have inherited their citizenship, never lived there, etc

is offensive beyond belief. How dare you tell me that I am not related to the US in any way, shape or form because I did not take advice such as yours. I was born and raised there. And spoke out against anti-Americanism every day in Canada where “American bashing is the national pastime.” To be betrayed in the way we were negates any desire to return period. And only a fool would continue to believe there was noble purpose in remaining loyal to a country that sees you only as a piece of property to tax.

I was once sad about renouncing but no longer. I am glad to be free of the illusion of American exceptionalism.Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra scandal and the horrific civil rights issues all seemed bad enough. I am glad I am not deluded about the fact that American tortures, it assassinates its own citizens without so much as a trial.It holds people in miserable jails for 12 years or more without even being charged. And people just accept this because suspected “terrorism” is used to justify such behaviour.No thanks, not interested in going back, not ever.

Congratulations on your CLN 🙂 Bittersweet isn’t it?

I agree with JD in that the good memories will remain but that it’s quite “American” to stand up for one’s principles. Which sometimes requires voting with one’s feet…by walking away. Or, sailing away as America’s forefathers did.

Some background before I get to my comment about June’s post and then continue:

I am a “Dutch Girl” born in the US. My mother was Dutch, father US (though first generation from Czechoslovakian parents who escaped communism to a better life in the US, when this was still possible…).

My mother tried to get NL citizenship for me at birth but since my Dutch parent was my mother, they did not allow this. If my father had been Dutch then I would have been Dutch immediately…! Thank goodness the Dutch men in government finally saw the error of their ways (probably due to being hit over the head with a frying pan by the Dutch women!) and changed this rule a number of years ago. So, about 2 years ago I was able to get my NL citizenship – yippee!

My first language is Dutch, and even though I was born in the US English is my second language, which I learned in school. I was only allowed to speak Dutch with my mother, until I moved out of the house! I spoke English with my father. I speak both languages without an accent in either one and am So Grateful to my mother for giving me this wonderful connection to my Dutch heritage!

But since I grew up in the US I am mostly American, with a big dash of Dutch thanks to being raised by my Very Dutch mother.

About three years ago my mother expressed to me that she would like to move to Ecuador so she could more comfortably live on her Social Security check of about $900/mo. At that time I was living on savings and was interested in living someplace less expensive. So we moved to Ecuador together!

I have done extensive research for myself as well as my US friends here regarding all the reporting obligations to the US while we live “overseas”. Here is what I learned about how the US taxes its overseas citizens some of which June is apparently unaware of (and I feel for her uninformed clients):

If one does not have foreign earned income, therefor no benefit from the FEIE, but does have some nonUS investments (foreign business or stocks), gains from these Are Taxed because these are considered passive income, not “earned”. Note that these are investments Not In The US but they are taxed anyway! If you own a foreign rental apartment, the earnings Are Taxed as gains because, again, it is considered passive income. But this is nonUS property! There is no way out of these taxes. I confirmed this consulting extensively with an experienced expat accountant, himself an expat.

Is it any wonder that I have this question:
What right does the US have to tax on gains made on nonUS soil or from nonUS business or stock investments?!

And, if a US person has a foreign company (LLC or LTD) as a method for protecting assets from foreigners who see US people as targets to sue for easy money (since many believe that All US people are rich…sigh…) — are you sitting down? — the US now pierces the “corporate veil” and requires all information regarding that foreign company to be revealed, including bank account numbers and balances! AND it taxes passive earnings for that company even if not distributed! Unbelievable. If they did this in the US there would be a countrywide uprising!

All the forms required by the US of US citizens living abroad come from the place of “you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent”. Isn’t this the opposite of how things are supposed to work for US citizens?

I am not a rich person, and is why I live in Ecuador where it is more affordable to live. I am not a criminal and I resent the implication all these invasive forms make to this effect.

Many US people living outside the US are “economic refugees” because the US has become an expensive place to live. And believe it or not, I actually have better opportunities available here than I had in the US for earning some income, go figure. Not all US people living in foreign countries left the US for political (or family) reasons, many of us left so we could afford a more comfortable life with limited resources. This is a sad reflection of the state of affairs in the US.

Here is the scariest part of all for me as far as all these overreaching US rules go: if one makes an honest mistake, or even easier, misses some new rule (easy to do since these are not widely publicized) the fines Start a $10,000, some fines actually take (steal!) 50% of the value of what was not reported properly!!! How is this right on any level?

I do not live in the US anymore, I live in a lovely country and my focus is on my new life here. But in order to avoid potentially being unjustly fined, I have to constantly keep up with these new and ever increasing invasive rules? And if my tax guy doesn’t ask me all the right questions to be sure all the forms are filled in correctly and a mistake is made? I am the one that pays for it – Big Time.

The US used to be a Great country but I feel, and many agree, this is no longer the case. It has become an international bully, forcing many countries to break their own laws of privacy in order to comply with FATCA. What right does the US have to interfere with other countries laws in order to comply with US rules? How is this legal on an international level?

And I won’t even get started on the constant wars the US is involved with, and how dangerous it has become to be a US person in many foreign countries due to US aggression…

When I put all of these things together I realized that I could no longer, with a good conscience, be part of a system gone so terrible wrong and which is so punitive towards its citizens living outside the US.

I actually became ashamed of being US, and when people assume I am US due to sounding “American” I immediately correct them with I am “Holandesa” (Dutch) but was raised in the US and is why I don’t have an accent…

I used to be proud to be US but the US has let me down in so many ways. I hope this changes some day and that the US becomes the great country again that it once was.

As with Rachel, I deliberated for a long long time but finally, sadly, came to the conclusion that I could no longer remain a US citizen.

I am not a “covered expat” and I’ve always been up to date with my taxes. The renouncing process was straight forward, though expensive as Rachel has said but it is the last “pound of flesh” the US will get out of me.

While I am sad that renouncing was for me the only reasonable option, it has also giving me a wonderful feeling of liberation. I can now live my life without worrying about getting an unexpected notification from the US informing me I missed some unreasonable new rule and that what little savings I have will be taken away from me, and likely be in debt for more. I am now free of this worry and can fully focus on my new life here.

I am in month number two awaiting my Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

PS:
No longer being US unfortunately does not make some of the problems of having been a US person go away. I will forever have to prove that I am no longer US whenever I do anything financial. All the due diligence required by the US of all foreign financial institutions now includes asking where one was born… And every time I answer this question I will have to produce my CLN to prove I am no longer US. I have already experienced this (and they are waiting for a copy of my CLN).

I have also been told that I will have to have my CLN with me when I enter the US with my Dutch passport if an observant immigration officer realizes that my city of birth listed on my passport is in the US and asks to see my US passport…sigh…

PSPS:
Sorry about such a long comment…but I had a lot to share 🙂

Hi Rachel,

Congrats! on receiving your “freedom” from oppression & “taxation without representation”, along with freedom from the requirement to file bank balances with the criminal div. of the US Treasury. No more worries finding a qualified CPA to file expensive taxes each year for your $0 owed. Congrats on now being able to LIVE your life where you ACTUALLY RESIDE & receive services from! You can now use a bank! & open a retirement fund! without risking possible money/prison penalties!

I say all this, though I know you’re aware, because the responses are turning your “emancipation” post into sadness-cakes.

I, like you, grew up in the US 60′-70’s, as well. But I don’t have the issue of separating my past life & memories from the shameful deeds of the current establishment/gov’t. Relinquishing doesn’t change my good memories or the fact I have some family & friends still there. It is me practicing the principles I was taught growing up, and as has been pointed out, it’s a VERY American stance, indeed.

You stated it felt like a divorce, but I think it sounds more like leaving a “bad boyfriend”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8flfOeWMPQ

😉

Your posts about your renunciation have been very moving and have me wondering if I could do the same thing given your set of circumstances. How fortunate you were to be raised by parents who taught you to question the status quo and exposed you to the wonderful right a free society has to protest without recrimination. One of the things I find most wrong about the whole FATCA taxation issue is that it’s the expat middle class who are bearing the brunt of a complicated system of onerous taxation.

Your blog (and specifically this post) was sent to me by a friend, another American expat, because she knows that struggle I am now under. I am in the process of completing the OVP (voluntary disclosure – the true lion’s den) for seven years of FBARS. I filed my tax forms religionsly. As you know, this is not about taxes, because we rarely owe taxes when we live abroad unless we are in an especially high income category AND live in a land with a lower tax rate than the US – neither of which apply to me. The case has been open for three years, the mistakes the IRS has made have been frightening. My legal fees are in the five figures. It has been, in a word, TERRIFYING. I have lived abroad since the age of 35, and have now come to the point where I am preparing myself for filing for divorce (your absolutely perfect analogy). Some of my friends understand completely. Some of my friends and family cannot. At the ripe old age of 57, I cannot bear to keep doing this, to keep exposing myself to this inordinate risk, to chronically feel like there is something about my living situation that is inherently anti-American, and that I am at risk just by nature of having foreign bank accounts – well, they are not foreign to me, they are my home accounts, because this is where I live. And honestly, I did not want to make this comment about me. I wanted to make it about you. I wanted to jump in my car and drive to the Netherlands from southern Germany and take you out to a bar and get drunk and let you cry your eyes out because you are one brave girl. Let the sense of filing taxes in one country and having a simple life wash over you, Rachel. Let is absorb into your pores and let it bring you a sense of peace that no American expat can ever, ever have. They do not like us. I don’t know why, but they do and there is nothing we can do about it. There is no reason for how we are treated. They castigated us into a category of money launderers and terrorists and decided we should stay there. Enjoy voting in a place where your vote counts for YOUR life. You did the right thing. And I know I have to do it too. As soon as my FBAR case is closed, I will begin the process of divorcing myself from a country that my father fought for but no longer wants me. I send you the warmest, warmest greetings from not very far away.

I work in the German finance industry and was involved in installing the FATCA rules into several programmes. Actually I was shocked to see how much and what information are to be reported to the IRS.

I am very sorry to see that Americans feel forced to get rid of their nationality because of something like that. I can imagine the feelings you all went through.

I was suprised that Germany agreed to FATCA and passed a national law to ensure it. After all the implemantion of those rules are quite expensive and is something without any benefit for Germany, only for the American IRS. I doubt that the US would do something similar.

Actually we discussed to reject new American customers. But that would not solve the problem with already existing American customers. I work for an insurance company and we are not allowed to terminate life insurance contracts for such a reason.

Rachel:

Hope finally receiving the CLN will bring this to an end for you. Unfortunately, the oppression of Americans abroad, is such that there is NO outcome that is truly satisfactory. It’s important for you to NOT dwell on this any longer than you have to. Otherwise, it will be harder for you to achieve the “peace” and “freedom” that you desire.

With respect to your citizenship, you were dealt a “bad hand”. All you can do is play that hand as well as you can, which you have done.

Is divorce a good analogy here? The pain may be similar. A divorce does NOT depend on the consent of the former spouse. Renunciation US citizenship does depend on the consent of the United States.

I wish you peace, happiness and the presence of mind to move beyond this.

Thank you for your series of posts which have allowed others to experience your journey!

Happy Patriots Day Rachel. This Patriots Day, I will think of you and the thousands of other ex-pats who were left with no good choice but to give up their US nationality due to foolhardy and abusive tax policies. You are a true patriot in my book. Thank you for sharing your story.

All the best,

BC Doc

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