- President Barack Obama
Amnesty for Accidental Americans now!
We are Accidental American citizens. We need the US to free us from forcibly imposed US citizenship and taxpayer status now.
We are accidental US citizens because we were born with one nationality (from our parents) and the US has deemed that we acquired US nationality accidentally at birth by being born on US soil even though the US authorities have never recognised us as citizens. We've grown up and lived our entire lives outside the US, but as we didn't know we were deemed US citizens we have never formally renounced US citizenship. Nor have we ever exercised US citizenship: many of us have never had a passport, we have never cast a vote, we don't have any social security numbers.
We believe that you have no morally justifiable claim to tax us, to require us to disclose all our assets and savings to the US tax authorities nor to require us to document our existence from the time we left the US to the social security department. These are violently intrusive demands. We are not traitors, cheats or thieves. We are normal citizens of our counties. We, therefore, ask you President Obama to recognise our predicament and grant Accidental Americans a full amnesty on a no-tax, no-penalty and no-fee basis, and a quick unbureaucratic exit from unwanted, unrequested US citizenship on these terms:
Those who at birth were dual citizens of the US and of a foreign state and:
- at all times and up to the date of their expatriation remained citizens of another state;
- never resided in the US after attaining the age of 18 and a half;
- never held a US passport, or only held a US passport for the purposes of leaving the US or because the US State Department required them to travel into and out of the US on a US passport, or who held a US passport as a minor and did not renew or ceased to renew the US passport as an adult;
- relinquish their US citizenship within a period of 2 years following 1 January 2016 or in the two year period following the date on which they discovered their US citizenship;
- certify under penalty of perjury compliance with all US federal tax obligations that would have applied during the 5 years preceding the year of expatriation as if they had been a non-resident alien during that period, may exit the relationship with the US on a no fee, no penalty and no tax basis.
The US is the only country in the world to impose citizenship on the basis of birthplace and immediately impose taxpayer status and worse still a deeply intrusive compliance programme on all US citizens regardless of where they live. All western democracies, and most of the rest of the world, tax on the basis of residency. The US system is arbitrary, capricious and irrational. It is also profoundly undemocratic. Why should French, British or German people who don't live in the US be paying for roads in the US? Why should Indian and Swedish people who don't live in the US fund bridge improvements in the US? Why should Dutch people living in the Netherlands fund flood defences in the US?
We Accidental Americans all have different stories. Until 2015 we were living normal lives in countries like Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, and pretty much any other country in the world. Then the FATCA letter arrived from our banks asking for proof of not being a US person. From that moment on we have been prevented from living normally as citizens of our home countries. Banks have closed accounts and we and our families have been denied access to our savings. We may have to pay draconian penalties for late filing of US taxes and an exit tax when we renounce and we must fulfil complex disclosure requirements of all our assets to a foreign power. This is wholly disproportionate to the circumstance of being born on US soil: none of us chose where we were born.
As a result of our imposed status, we are discriminated against in our home countries. We can no longer access financial services or save for our futures. The US in turn discriminates against our families. Children of Accidental Americans, for example, don't count for US tax purposes as dependants because they are not Americans. Spouses are treated as aliens and can't inherit tax free.
No other country in the world has ever created a citizen by accident. The US has done so but has systematically failed to recognise us as citizens for decades. The US State department has never run an information campaign and instead issued most of us with visas for travel to the US. Now at this point in its history you are conducting an immense global census of US persons at the cost of the world's banks. This is President Obama's Doomsday Book. How you use that information will determine how history evaluates the Presidency and all US institutions. Will the US choose extortion, expropriation and penalties for those unfortunate enough to be guilty of being born in the US? Or will reason and fairness prevail so that we Accidental Americans can exit in peace?
President Obama, although you offered a diplomatic olive branch to Accidental Americans in February 2015 with the proposed amnesty for us, you have so far failed to make this amnesty law. Moreover, your draft was inequitable: it excluded a large group of people who are Accidental Americans, although they held a passport as children or because in recent years the US State Department has been slightly more alert to this status and required a US passport to be issued.
President Obama, prove that you can use your political power to help individuals who are caught in FATCA's trap and let us go.
- President Barack Obama
Amnesty for Accidental Americans now!
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