Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Susan Walsh/AP

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service's announcement last week that it is extending its tax amnesty program for American citizens living abroad is more a reminder of the unfairness of U.S. tax laws than it is a welcome relief. As many as a million Canadians – not to mention millions more people around the world with dormant U.S. citizenship – are liable for taxes and penalties that are patently unjust.

The U.S., unlike other countries, demands that its citizens file income taxes and make annual declarations of holdings in foreign banks, regardless of circumstances. Even a Canadian who was born in Florida 50 years ago while his or her parents were on an ill-timed one-week vacation, and who has never since lived or worked in the U.S., is as obliged to report to the IRS every April.

Many millions of people around the globe are U.S. tax delinquents, even if they don't owe a penny in back taxes, thanks to fair and sensible international tax treaties. They have never paid U.S. income tax, either because they were unaware they should, or because the IRS simply didn't seem to care.

Story continues below advertisement

That changed in 2009 when American legislators, grasping for cash in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, sent the IRS on a mission to collect what it could. The IRS has since pulled in $6.5-million in back taxes and penalties.

The U.S. also passed a law obliging foreign-owned banks to inform the IRS of any account holders who have American citizenship, a move that has sparked international privacy concerns. Canadian banks will start informing the Canadian Revenue Agency of accounts held by American citizens as of July 1, and the CRA will pass that on to the IRS as of next year. Ottawa negotiated exemptions for most registered saving plans, such as RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts, but the IRS will very soon have a pipeline into the personal banking information of tens of thousands of Canadians.

The United States is being invasive and unreasonable, and damaging its relationship with some of its most devoted allies.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies