We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Trying to be the world’s tax collector is going to bite the US in the bum eventually

The Obama administration has performed the unique trick of alienating the majority of our most important allies, while at the same time causing America to be viewed as a patsy by its enemies…..The situation is bound to get worse now that the administration has taken the position that most financial institutions outside the United States are conspiring to help Americans and others avoid U.S. taxes and, thus, is attempting to require all of these foreign financial institutions to report to — and, in effect, become agents of — the Internal Revenue Service. A global revolt is brewing against the United States for being an international financial bully. The consequences of this revolt are likely to be extremely damaging and long-lasting to the nation

This is by Richard W Rahn, of the Cato Institute.

The United States has been threatening to criminally indict nonresident foreign bank executives for not complying with U.S. tax law, even in cases when the banks were not operating in this country or violating their own nation’s tax laws. This is causing great resentment, as one would expect. Each country has the right to its own tax and financial-privacy laws, whether the United States agrees or not.

Europe and most other countries prohibit capital punishment. What if other nations started indicting and imprisoning our federal or state government officials, including judges when they traveled outside of the country, for carrying out the death penalty? The point is, if the United States tries to enforce its laws on non-Americans working and living outside of the U.S. for acts that are not criminal in their home countries, it will put all Americans at risk if other countries start to retaliate, which is very likely, given the increased anger over U.S. actions.

And this:

The administration has the unmitigated gall to insult others by assuring foreign governments that all the sensitive financial information collected will be kept confidential. If the administration continues on this reckless and irresponsible course, the next president of the United States may well be forced to make an “apology” tour to most of the world’s countries for wrecking the world economy

I suppose it would be rather droll to watch the Light-bringer take to Air Force One to go on a tour grovelling to various nations for spying on them as well as putting the corrupt IRS in charge of the globe’s economy. But it isn’t going to happen under this administration, given the utter shamelessness of those involved in it. And yet those of us outside the US cannot afford to strike too many poses, since I have no doubt that given half a chance, countries in the EU, and the likes of Russia and China, would love to try to enforce extra-territorial legislation such as the US tax code if they could do so. America is not unique in this disastrous course; what is happening is that, given its still-large economic muscle, the US can do this. Most investment firms, for instance, will have some exposure to the US market to some degree and it is very hard to ignore the country. In some ways, though, the US drive, via legislation as described in the article, is a reflection in some ways of US weakness. The country is out of money, and is doing anything it can short of military invasion to get it (it could be argued that that country’s actions against Switzerland are bordering on force).

A small country behaving like this would be told, in so many words, to fuck off.

28 comments to Trying to be the world’s tax collector is going to bite the US in the bum eventually

  • John K

    It seems the “I” in IRS now stands for “International”.

  • A small country behaving like this would be told, in so many words, to fuck off.

    Indeed this is exactly what has happened to Ethiopia which has a similar extra-territorial taxation (albeit at slightly lower rates), the response by Canada to attempts to extort money from Canadian resident Eritrean citizens was to expel the diplomat involved.

    Canada expels Eritrean diplomat over fee collection controversy

    Any chance that we will see the American ambassador expelled anytime soon or is it one rule for the small countries and another rule for the Americans.

    FATCA is a ridiculous tool that could only have been thought up by a government bureaucrat who has no concept of the sovereignty of others.

    The sooner the US goes down the pan the better.

    This is not an assault on US Citizens who are little more than captured milch cows in the hands of the US government, but us foreigners are getting sick and tired of being forced to do bullshit (like biometric passports and pre-registration of ID with airlines), just because the US government throws its weight around.

  • Rob

    The ‘I’ in IRS clearly now stands for ‘Imperial’.

  • Many of us in the ‘provinces’ (New Zealand) are might angry about FATCA, and the United Police States of America:

    United Police States of America – FATCA Again and Obama’s Inauguration DoubleSpeech

    Even the Swiss banking system, with its famous privacy, has buckled to FATCA. Not even the Nazis managed that in WWII. Sometimes the Godwin applies because it is actual.

  • Eric Tavenner

    It seems the “I” in IRS now stands for “International”.

    I always thought it stood for “Infernal”.

  • Paul Marks

    JP (and others) the central point is being missed here.

    It is NOT American imperialism – Barack Obama is not Teddy Roosevelt.

    The aim of the “international community” (the establishment elite) is to get rid of tax competition – “tax avoidance” everywhere.

    The disputes with the United States are “all sound and fury signifying nothing” – in the end the major governments (or rather the international educated elite) are, on this point, all on the same side.

  • PeterT

    I would have thought that apologising for America would come easily to Obama. It’s not like he likes the place.

  • Eric

    I suspect Paul Marks is right – after much public huffing and finger-wagging other countries don’t mind giving Uncle Sam the financial details of US citizens as long as the US is willing to do the same. I don’t doubt citizens and bank officers are furious, though, and that’s not nothing.

    I can understand why Ghana would be afraid to get on Uncle Sam’s bad side, but I wish the Europeans, at least, would refuse to be bullied this way. And I say that as a US citizen.

  • Pardone

    The NSA’s current behaviour dates back at least a decade, so trying to pin all the blame on Obama is a sign of ideological tunnel vision. There’s in fact very little difference between US presidents of the past 2-3 decades; all of them cheeks of the same arse, all of them corporatist clones whose “left” and “right” paint job is entirely fake.

    The NSA’s activities and attitude can be traced back to the Dulles brothers and their long-cherished dream of a Fascist police state.

    The NSA, much like the CIA, IRS, and Spentagon, primarily exists to expand its own power and consume ever larger sums of taxpayer’s money, thus fattening the bank accounts of the contractors and those who lubricate the revolving doors.

  • AGR

    I know for a fact that the heroes at our own British Bankers Association lobbied aggressively regarding FATCA…

    Only they lobbied HMG to grant loopholes in Data Protection rules to share info on British citizens with the IRS.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “The NSA’s current behaviour dates back at least a decade, so trying to pin all the blame on Obama is a sign of ideological tunnel vision. There’s in fact very little difference between US presidents of the past 2-3 decades; all of them cheeks of the same arse, all of them corporatist clones whose “left” and “right” paint job is entirely fake.”

    Thanks for stating the obvious. The point is that the NSA, and the various other acronym organisations now causing so much damage, are operating under the Obama administration that, when it was campaigning for office, made a particular point about how all this sort of evil activity was going to end. I should also point out that horrendous pieces of legislation such as the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act were pushed, in the main, by Democrats such as Senator Carl Levin.

    So yes, previous administrations of all political stripes must take some blame for this. As you might have noticed, Pardone, this blog is a broadly libertarian one and hasn’t been gentle on right wing or left wing administrations. It just so happens that the preening idiot now in the White House is the man in charge of this and that is why I chose to kick him in the balls. So calm your fevered brow.

  • Paul Marks

    People – the political leadership requests (read DEMANDS)information – it does not formally say “brake the law” – but that is the implication (and everyone knows it).

    If a President does not want people to illegally gather information he could stop it – in an instant.

    Senator Barack Obama knew all this (better than anyone on this thread does).

    And what did he do when he became President?

    He requested (read DEMANDED) MORE information – and was more insistent and “hands on” than Bush ever was (look at his increase in drone strikes).

    Barack Obama appoints the leadership of all the agencies – and this is the most “control freak” Administration in modern history.

    Blaming “rogue agencies” and “empire building” (as the media is now doing) is false – utterly false.

    And the public?

    They could not care less (they see it all as soap opera – entertainment) – as will be shown next Tuesday in Virginia.

    They (the people) have a chance to send a message to the Commander in Chief – to the person responsible (and he is responsible).

    And they will NOT do so – they will buy all this “rogue agency” and “empire building” bull crap (even though they, deep down, know it is not true) and they will vote for Mr Obama’s (and Mrs Clinton’s) candidate – who has got lots and lots of MONEY (from the usual suspects) to push his attack ads all over the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    That is reality – that is what matters.

    IRS? NSA? Bengazi? Even Obamacare? Does not seem to matter.

    Everything will be blamed on “rogue agencies”.

    Some people in the IRS just happened to wake up one morning and said “let us destroy conservative groups and favour leftist ones” .

    The meeting before September the 11th 2012 (which Barack Obama PERSOANLLY ATTENED – he was AT THE MEETING) did not happen.

    The attack was caused by a “Youtube video” – Barack was not to blame.

    Spying on the Chancellor of Germany (and on and on).

    Again it was all “rogue agents”.

    If only lovely Mr Obama had known – the wonderful man would have stopped it.

    The fact that Barack Obama was demanding information on the German Chancellor (for years – most recently in the summer of this year)……….

    “I have got my fingers in my ears, I can not hear you – Barack had nothing to do with it, it was all rogue agents and empire building”.

    By the way what happens to senior people who show doubt (any doubt at all) about the President’s orders?

    Ask the high ranking officers in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and USAF.

    The vast number who have been FORCED OUT in recent years.

    Barack Obama is willing to do this to the MILITARY.

    What do you think he would do to spooks who questioned his demands?

  • Here I am, sounding like a broken record again.

    I ask, why do governments keep expanding their coercive powers? Because they can.

    Why can they? Because the vast majority of their “constituents” don’t give a sh**t.

    Assuming it is true that

    if just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will be adopted by the majority

    then not even 10% of the population of western societies holds an unshakable belief in freedom.

    We need to either get used to it or do a better job of rousing the snoozing lumpenproletariat.

  • Tedd

    For many years I’ve defended the U.S. against the mindlessly self-congratulatory anti-U.S. sentiment that is common here in Canada. But it’s getting harder every year. You guys really need to get your act together.

  • Matra

    It is NOT American imperialism

    Conservatives are constantly making this argument. Because the current administration doesn’t fit their image of an heroic freedom loving America they say its actions are unAmerican or at least not in keeping with the past. They are wrong. The Obama regime is just more of the same but with different language (‘progressive’!) used to justify it.

    As you might have noticed, Pardone, this blog is a broadly libertarian one and hasn’t been gentle on right wing or left wing administrations.

    That wasn’t the case during the first term of the Bush administration when everyone at this blog was very pro-American despite US government military, financial, and cultural aggression against many countries and, of course, against its own citizens and constitution. Liberventionists in the blogosphere fell for the WoT BS as much as did any big government GOPer.

    So calm your fevered brow.

    Unlike you Pardone stated his view in a calm manner.

  • That wasn’t the case during the first term of the Bush administration when everyone at this blog was very pro-American

    Speak for yourself. I’ve always taken the view that the US people and the US government are two separate things and have given sympathy to the former and utter condemnation to the latter since Slick Willy came on the scene.

  • Care to support your assertions with evidence, Matra?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Matra writes:

    “Because the current administration doesn’t fit their image of an heroic freedom loving America they say its actions are unAmerican or at least not in keeping with the past. They are wrong. The Obama regime is just more of the same but with different language (‘progressive’!) used to justify it.”

    Up to a point. I am sure that a McCain admininstration, or a Romney one, would be as bad in some respects. No disagreement there.

    But….there is this point that I made before. Obama ran, prior to 2008, on a platform where he promised to do away with a lot of this sort of international bullying. And yet he has totally failed to deliver. So it is entirely legitimate to beat him up for it.

    That wasn’t the case during the first term of the Bush administration when everyone at this blog was very pro-American despite US government military, financial, and cultural aggression against many countries and, of course, against its own citizens and constitution. Liberventionists in the blogosphere fell for the WoT BS as much as did any big government GOPer.

    Wrong. You will find that, apart from support for the Bush administration’s removal of Saddam Hussein and toppling of the Taliban (both of which I supported and for which I do not apologise one iota, given the legitimate reasons for both courses of action, which I am not going to rehearse), this blog criticised that administration a good deal, starting, if I recall, with attacking its stance on things such as the Patriot Act, steel tariffs (which hurt the UK), etc.

    This is certainly a broadly libertarian blog, although, I should perhaps point out, not one that insists on narrow doctrinal purity.

  • libertarianism….narrow doctrinal purity

    Very funny Johnathan. I’ve never met two libertarians who agreed sufficiently for there to BE a libertarian doctrine, let alone narrow doctrinal purity. That’s kind of why the Libertarian Party of the United Kingdom (such as it is) has limped along from one crisis to another.

    LPUK makes the Monster Raving Loony Party look organised.

    Got to agree with you on the direction of Samizdata under Bush Junior though.

  • You will find that, apart from support for the Bush administration’s removal of Saddam Hussein and toppling of the Taliban (both of which I supported and for which I do not apologise one iota, given the legitimate reasons for both courses of action, which I am not going to rehearse), this blog criticised that administration a good deal, starting, if I recall, with attacking its stance on things such as the Patriot Act, steel tariffs (which hurt the UK), etc.

    Seconded. We had very little nice to say about Dubbya, but if you expect regrets in this quarter over the downfall of Saddam Hussain… dream on.

  • Paul Marks

    I love the idea that I (for I was on this blog at the time) was a cheer leader for the Iraq war.

    Had I been such, “Uncle Bill” (who served in the area back before World War II) would have risen from his grave to smack me round the head.

    Spreading democracy to this bunch of savages?

    Not a practical plan.

    Saddam was not some sort of space alien – he was a fairly normal person by the standards of the culture in that part of the world (“racist!” – oh go jump in the nearest lake).

    George Walker Bush is a Progressive – true he is not a extreme Progressive, but he is a moderate Progressive (just as Richard Nixon was).

    He is NOT a conservative.

    Conservatives do not believe in Woodrow Wilson style “wars for democracy”.

    And (contrary to what the education system will teach you) most of “big business” was AGAINST Teddy Roosevelt’s Imperialism (some companies benefited – but most big companies just feared, quite correctly, that it would lead to a higher tax bill).

    T. Roosevelt was NOT a conservative – and neither is George Bush or John McCain.

  • Richard Thomas

    The problem with the US/world reciprocity proposition is that other countries do not have anything like the onerous and intrusive tax regime that the US does. Step outside of the UK for a few months and the UK govt doesn’t care what you’re up to. US citizens are expected to file taxes every year whether they are present or not. Even those who are US citizens by accident of birth and have never set foot in the country are (theoretically) subject to some quite awful laws with some *very* large penalties attached.

  • Paul Marks

    Richard – Mr Cameron (and so on) is also in favour of the “international community” cracking down on “tax avoidance” (not just tax evasion).

    It is later than most people think. It is NOT just the United States – this is the international educated elite. And both the education system and the media (including the entertainment media – and they are not all as crude as Russell Brand) work constantly to spread these beliefs to the general population.

    Even in Lichtenstein the government was eager (yes eager) to help destroy the country in order to serve “international values”. The last election may (I hope) have corrected this.

    But this is an international matter – as the new Swiss Constitution says “we celebrate our diversity” – yes the same (sick P.C.) language one would get in California. And (no coincidence) the same Constitution broke the last link between the Swiss Franc and gold.

    Unless there is a price (an electoral price) for pushing with all this collectivism (on tax, on culture, on everything) things will just get worse and worse.

    The attitude (that some people have)that it does not matter who wins elections (including party leadership elections and primary candidate elections) is a council of despair.

    It does matter – a nation (if its political leadership want to) can still opt out of the evil “international community” (i.e. the policy of ever more collectivism leading to world “governance”), but only if the voters actually wake up for five minutes – stop just staring at the television screen and believing anything they are told(“oh this candidate hates women – I should vote for the nice moderate then”) and do some research (just five minutes research) of their own.

    If most people are not really people (i.e. are not sentient self-aware agents with free will)then they are doomed – and (to be fair) such creatures deserve to be doomed.

  • bradley13

    “by assuring foreign governments that all the sensitive financial information collected will be kept confidential”

    This is pretty amazing, if true. The FATCA agreement that US expats are required to sign specifically states that their data may be shared “with third parties”, that they assume responsibility for “all consequences and any damages that may arise at any time due to use of the Data by any such third party.”

    So, no confidentiality.

    It gets even better: The expats also renounce their privacy rights in the country where they reside and subject themselves to “foreign laws, including but not limited to the law of the US.”

    I cannot imagine how anyone who read and understood this agreement would ever sign it. My choice was to renounce my citizenship instead.

  • Good for you Bradley. I used to work in the US on a L1 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa in the mid-90′s and it was a great experience at the time, but I wouldn’t do it now.

    The US Government has gone completely off the rails and I feel genuinely sorry for those trapped by this regulatory madness. As a UK ex-pat I come across US ex-pats all of the time suffering from the madness of the IRS and they feel completely cornered. FATCA is just another piece of busy-body mandatory compliance that is being forced upon them at a disproportionate cost to the value of the information being collected.

  • mac

    Don’t underestimate just how many people in the U.S. truly hate and loathe Obama. I’ve never seen a WH inhabitant make so many people so deeply angry. BJ Clinton was bad but this character is worse by orders of magnitude. Both he and his wife are truly despised and widely considered to be enemies of the country he supposedly leads. I’d say his Secret Service staff probably has more to be concerned about than any other President in the 20th or 21st Centuries. I see in the U.S. the same kinds of anger that caused an American civil war in 1861 and a Spanish civil war in 1936. Many people on both sides have given up any hope of sorting the issues through discussion; they just want the people on the other side silenced by any means necessary. If that takes killing, expulsions and concentration camps, so be it. If the economy continues on its downward path, and I fail to see how it can avoid it, hold on to your hats. It’s going to be one Hell of a ride!

  • Paul Marks

    mac – I am going to reserve judgement till the Tuesday elections.

    If the socialist wins in New York City it will bad – and I think he will win.

    If the Obamacare supporter wins the election to be Governor of Virginia it will be worse – and I think he will win.

    If things turn out differently I will eat my words and sing a different tune.

  • Julie near Chicago

    JG, thus:

    “…a government bureaucrat who has no concept of the sovereignty of others.”

    In a nutshell, that’s the problem with Progressives and Marxists alike.