updated 6:10 PM CEST, Jul 14, 2020

The AXFNJ's collection of post-FATCA tax quotations for American expats

Almost every tax practitioner has his or her own favorite tax quotations; even the IRS has a collection of them on its website, as we noted here last year.

But most of the tax quotes one hears are from another era. It was Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), after all, who observed that, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”...

 And Martha Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, in which Scarlett O'Hara observes that "Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them!", was published more than 80 years ago.  

Even Lord Roy Jenkins’s classic quote about inheritance tax, which he described as “broadly speaking, a voluntary levy paid by those who distrust their heirs more than they dislike the Inland Revenue", is more than 30 years old now. 

What's more, none of these quotations addresses the central tax issues of American expatriates in 2020, which have to do with FATCA, FBARs, and life-long obligations to file tax U.S. returns, even if you have lived abroad for most, if not all, of your life. 

For this reason, on the tenth anniversary of the signing into law of FATCA, we offer up an exclusive collection of new, post-FATCA tax quotations, for tax aficionados in Expatland, whether tax practioners or just taxpayers.

The following 14 quotations are courtesy of John Richardson, a Toronto-based American lawyer and avid follower of American expat tax and citizenship issues. 

  • "The motto for Americans abroad should be: Report early, report often, report everything – and keep a record of what you report."

  •  "We’re in a situation in which the IRS is the judge, the jury and the executioner.”

  •  "The beauty, genius and timeless wisdom found in the Internal Revenue Code include the principle that the Internal Revenue Code, in its majestic equality, punishes both Homelanders and Americans abroad for having financial assets and accounts outside of the United States.”

  •  "Americans abroad are always the most highly taxed people in their country of residence – making them the most highly taxed people in the world."

  •  "The United States imposes a separate and more punitive tax system on those Americans living outside the United States than it does on Homeland Americans."

  •  "The IRS treats marriage between a U.S. citizen and a non-U.S. citizen as a form of tax evasion."

  •  "To the IRS, a non-U.S. pension is nothing but a sacred instrument of tax evasion."

  •  "There are two kinds of Americans abroad with problems: First, those who do not file U.S. tax returns. Second, those who do file U.S. tax returns."

  • "All roads lead to renunciation."

  • "If you see the word foreign in the Internal Revenue Code, the word "penalty" (usually starting at  US$10,000) is sure to follow."

  • "It's not that Congress doesn't care about Americans abroad. It's that they don't care that they don't care." 

  •  "When the United States move to 'territorial taxation' for corporations [in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act], what it actually did was to expand internationally the territory over which the United States claims tax jurisdiction."

  • "The single most important skill for American citizens in the 21st century is the ability to complete and file a U.S. tax return without having to resort to professional help."

  •  "A supporter of citizenship-based taxation is someone who has merely given some thought to the idea of citizenship-based taxation. An opponent of citizenship-based taxation is someone who actually understands citizenship-based taxation."

Below are some other post-FATCA tax quotes we've come across recently. 

If you have any FATCA quotes you'd care to share – and indeed, which you've come up with yourself – please share them with us, preferably today! 

  • "American expats are the vegans of the cross border financial services industry. Unlike citizens of other countries – and like vegans – they can only buy products that are specifically suited for them.”   
             ~ Overheard 

  • "FATCA was intended to increase tax compliance. It wasn't intended as a criminal enforcement tool. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, on the other hand, was not intended as a tax compliance tool, but rather, as a criminal enforcement tool." 
             ~ Anthony Parent, of Wallingford, Connecticut-based Parent & Parent LLP, also known as IRS Medic