I have been writing a lot about FATCA. Which is funny, as after my final US tax return next year it should never be an issue for me again.
I guess I am behaving like a jilted lover in many respects. But it feels even deeper than that. I feel as if my country of origin has unwittingly declared war on me and people like me. And the first battle that I was fully engaged in was renouncing my US citizenship, still one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
I suppose the various tax laws and their applications are akin, in my war, to the events of the early 1770s leading up to the American Revolution. And the renouncement of my citizenship was equivalent to the introductory paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. Which is comprised of some very powerful words indeed.
I often tell my British friends that the American Revolution was an English revolution of Englishmen asserting their rights as Englishmen under the rights won for them in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. And my own battle comes back to that battle cry of “No Taxation without Representation.” Things come full circle, I suppose
It was only in the McCain/Obama contest that I realised that my absentee ballot was not likely to get counted unless the results for my home state were close and they needed tie-breaking votes.
I have a confession to make, fellow FATCA exiles: as a latter day Benedict Arnold, I worked briefly on the FATCA implementation programme for a big British bank. It was apparent from the activity around me that no one in the bank, even at C-level, thought there was necessarily anything wrong with FATCA; they were only concerned about how much of a pain and expense it would be to implement, with any lobbying being done to absolve them of data protection issues (the UK govt) and to postpone the reporting and withholding regimes (the IRS) not even looking at the risk it poses to the financial system when withholding does come about.
My recent activism (well, actually just writing of three letters and a few blog posts) has been my attempt to make amends and strike back for working on that loathsome programme. It is also part of my way to lash out at the power that tried to hold me under its dominion from 4000 miles away.
I’ll not dedicate my life to it, but it sure feels good trying to throw a spanner in the works. I hope my efforts, and the efforts of those doing similar around the world, will begin to have at least some sort of an effect.
This may be the last I write on it. But we’ll see.