Retired Canadian lawyer Ginny Hillis has a message for the U.S. Congress. “They have no rights over me. None.”
Hillis detests the “arrogance” of Congress for “imposing their laws on a sovereign nation with the complicity of that sovereign nation’s government.”
Because Hillis was born in Michigan 69 years ago to Canadian parents, FATCA demands her Canadian financial institution provide comprehensive private financial information to IRS on her and anyone the United States deems to be a “U.S. person” or face harsh economic penalties.
“It’s a form of cruelty,” Hillis said.
“I am not an American. I am a Canadian. Therefore I do not believe they have any business in my financial affairs,” said Hillis. “They can get their nose out of my life.”
Hillis feels no connection to the U.S. “I am looking at this from a Canadian perspective and a legal perspective at all times.
“I don’t expect the United States to ever change. But I do expect my (Canadian) government to protect me.”
That is why Hillis and her co-plaintiff Canadian Gwen Deegan are challenging the Canada-U.S. FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and enabling Canadian legislation that overrides all Canadian laws, including banking, privacy and human rights laws, for FATCA.
Both women moved to Canada with Canadian parents when they were five years old. Both are considered Canadian citizens since birth. Neither has ever worked, earned U.S. income, voted in a U.S. election or had a U.S. passport or Social Security Number.
The lawsuit--which is the first FATCA lawsuit in the world--was filed in Canadian Federal Court in August, 2014 by prominent Canadian constitutional lawyer Joseph Arvay.
The lawsuit claims the IGA and enabling legislation violate Canada’s Constitution, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian Income Tax Act, Canada-United States Tax Convention Act and Canada-United States Income Tax Treaty.
Under Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the plaintiffs claim the IGA and enabling legislation violate their rights: to life, liberty and security of the person; to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure; and to be provided equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on national origin.
They also claim the IGA violates the unwritten principle of Canada’s Constitution that Canada will not forfeit its sovereignty to a foreign government.
They further claim the IGA is not a tax treaty; automatic disclosure does not meet the “may be relevant” standard of the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty; and automatic disclosure of comprehensive information is contrary to Canada’s Income Tax Act
Hillis does not consider herself an American, but thinks the way the United States treats its expats is “just horrible.” She would encourage Congress to “consider they are the only country in the world” with such threatening citizenship-based taxation (CBT) for people living outside its borders.
“We pay taxes where we live,” says Hillis. She resents any implication she should pay anything or give any information to a foreign government with the support of her own government.
Like Hillis, Gwen Deegan has never considered herself an American citizen despite being born in Washington state 53 years ago. Deegan says “FATCA and CBT are two of the worst and most egregious examples of bad laws that demonstrate how US lawmakers don't understand the way their own laws work in the real world.”
Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty (ADCS) is funding the lawsuit through crowdfundng with donations from people across Canada and around the globe. To date, ADCS has raised over $400,000 of the $500,000 needed for the Federal Court case.
A Summary Trial dealing mainly with Income Tax Act and Income Tax Treaty issues will be held on August 4 and 5. Date for a full trial to deal with constitutional and Charter of Rights issues has not yet been set.
ADCS Chair Dr. Stephen Kish says the lawsuit’s goal is to “kill” the IGA. He says the Canadian government submitted to the FATCA IGA under “pain and suffering” of American threats to Canadian financial institutions.
Kish calls FATCA “an attack on a country’s sovereignty…A country can’t submit to a bad law just because another country is bigger than you and threatens you.”
Swanon is a retired human resources manager, writer, blogger and chair of the legal challenge committee of ADCS. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she has been a Canadian citizen for 42 years.