Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trying to get back to the rhythm of posting

I know I just posted a spurt of several posts, but I really should get back to the rhythm of posting every two weeks. My calendar reminded me that this week was one of those weeks, so I may as well write.
I haven't written about FATCA and all that headache for some time. To be frank, I'm sick of the subject. I'm waiting for my banks (two) and other financial institutions to get in touch with me to send them the W-9 form. And I'm waiting, and waiting. I have no qualms about giving them the W-9 form; after all I've been declaring these FFIs (foreign financial institutions) all along. The accounts will not have to be reported by the FFIs, anyway, since they do not hold the threshold declaration amounts. Some banks are on the ball and have filtered their customers, either by asking them directly if they are US persons, or by mining their customer data for birthplace information or other indications of US personness. Mine, apparently, have not.
Some institutions have eliminated US persons from their clientele; that's their way of being compliant -- having nothing to declare. It's all very weird and a lot depends on the country of residence, too. The result is that the backlog of Americans living abroad waiting for appointments to renounce their US citizenship is reported to be so long that the next available appointment in Toronto, for example, is in mid-2015. That is in spite of the renunciation fee having gone up from $450 to $2350. Some say that it'll just be even more expensive down the line.
Most of these people are not tax evaders. They pay their taxes. Many are accidental Americans, unaware of their US citizenship and the declaration obligations until now.  Many are dual citizens and want to be able to live as normal citizens of wherever they happen to live (and have citizenship). They want to be able to get a mortgage (denied to US persons and their Swiss spouses in Switzerland), have the standard retirement plans in their country, and so on. US citizenship has become a burden. Many US persons are not even citizens; they may be people who lived in the US at one time and have a greencard.
Now, something that bugs me, personally. I don't have a US checking account. That was denied me because, although I am a citizen, I don't live in the country. With my old Fidelity account, I had check-writing privileges, so that was not really a problem. But Fidelity, along with all the other brokerages, changed the rules and even if I still have check-writing privileges, I cannot trade, so I no longer have much money in that account. I have moved to another brokerage that allows trading (a good thing for a brokerage to do, I think), but does not accord check-writing privileges. It  had enough cash at hand without needing me to sell anything, so I wanted to deal with my last IRS estimate from this account. Like a child, I had to ask my asset manager to please take care of it before the end of 2014, rather than in January. So, why not now? And he took care of it. But the firm used overnight delivery for $20! It's not due until mid-Jan. 2015. It did not require overnight delivery! I do not need to spend an extra $100 each year for the delivery of my estimate checks and the final amount due! The explanation was to make sure it got there. I think that the appearance of the deduction in the account takes care of that. And if it doesn't show up, then we can worry. We have time.
'Nuff said.
We babysat last week. Sacha is wonderful to listen to. We can understand more and more and he's even trying out some English with me. Chloé is growing soooo fast. (I better update the family pictures to share!)

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