Yesterday I wrote about a December-January survey of Americans living abroad showing that 31 percent of them have been actively thinking about renouncing their citizenship in the wake of the awful Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which places tax-reporting burdens on expatriates so intolerable that record numbers are revoking their citizenship.
One participant in that study, Ruth Freeborn, is part of the 43 percent of citizen-renouncers reporting pre-tax household income of less than $100,000, putting the lie to the Chuck Schumers of the world that FATCA targets are "fatcats." Freeborn wrote in to Reason to share her story. Read it and weep:
I was a stay at home mom to a kid with medical problems here in Canada. I married a Canadian and only moved here because his parents were elderly and depended upon him for care. I remained an American here in Canada and did not take Canadian citizenship until such time as it became impossible for me to remain American.
There was no way after the implementation of FATCA that I could keep my citizenship. I tried, I wrote congress persons and did all I could for two years to see if some amendment would come so that I would not have to relinquish my citizenship. The burdens on my family here in Canada were such that I simply could not keep it. It was a gut wrenching experience that I do not think I will ever be over. I did not owe the U.S. any taxes as we are too low income for that. The problems with FATCA are a lot more complicated and harmful than just taxes owed.
At any rate it has been rare that Americans living in the U.S. have attempted to understand what is going on here. I can tell you that having to explain to my family in the U.S. that I could no longer remain American was simply horrible to have to go through, especially having to tell my father who is in his seventies.
If congress ever fixes this mess I will fight as hard as I can to get my citizenship back. It's all I can do but, those of you in the U.S. can do so much by simply calling out the baloney a lot of the press in the U.S. is propagating about FATCA. Most of the harm is not happening to "fatcats" I have met with forty U.S. citizens here in my small city and every single one said they would likely not be able to keep their citizenship and that includes veterans. Meetings have been going on here in Canada going on three years now and no one is listening to us in the U.S. or trying to do a thing about what we are going through.
I did not break any laws, I did not owe the U.S. any tax and I never would have given I have NO income and all the income in this household is earned by my Canadian spouse.
FATCA is a disgrace and should be repealed. Sadly, it's also a harbinger of a future in which all of us—not just the 7-8 million Americans who live abroad, or the uncounted millions of us who hold more than $10,000 in foreign financial institutions—are compelled to invite the U.S. government into each and every savings instrument we own.
UPDATE: Freeborn explains more about her situation (and that of people in her shoes) in the comments below, under the name "Ruth."
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.