From Our Listeners
12:03 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Letters: Hurricane Sandy And The Snow Storm

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 12:34 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

With all the election news, we couldn't get to it earlier, so it's Thursday and time to get to your comments.

During our conversation with our Political Junkie Ken Rudin two weeks ago, Mark(ph), an absentee voter in Florida, called in to ask us about something called FATCA. We didn't know what he meant, and we promised we'd find out more. Well, FATCA is the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act. The IRS requires foreign financial institutions to report U.S. account holders and their earnings and holdings overseas to the IRS. Institutions that do not comply are subject to a 30 percent withholding tax. FATCA is designed to ensure that U.S. taxpayers with financial holdings overseas are paying the correct amount of income tax.

We also received this letter from Marie(ph) in Toronto, who wrote: I was listening to your show on October 31, 2012, when a caller from Florida called in, too, asked about FATCA legislation and how it will impact the election. I was amazed to find none of the panel knew what it was. FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, was written into the HIRE Act of 2010.

What the legislation does not address is that 6 million U.S. citizens live and work abroad and have bank accounts in their country of residence. Most don't even know they have to file taxes with the IRS. Many have become citizens of other countries and have no financial or other connection to the U.S. Most Americans in and outside the U.S. are ignorant of the fact that the U.S. is the only country in the world that tax is based on citizenship rather than residency.

This means that if you're born in the U.S., move to Canada with your family at the age of three, you are still considered a U.S. citizen. You must file income tax with the IRS every year, pay income tax on Canadian-sourced income and also disclose the value of all of your Canadian assets to both the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department. This is a huge issue for U.S. citizens abroad. Nobody in the U.S. is talking about this. Nobody knows about it, and nobody seems to care.

Earlier today, we asked those of you in the path of the nor'easter that's been hitting the same areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy to send us some emails. This from Paul in Connecticut: You asked to hear from us. We are here in Hamden, Connecticut, the bull's eye of the latest storm. Yesterday, last night, we received a foot, yes, 12 inches of snow. The early a.m. forecast yesterday called for a possibly half an inch of accumulation. Oops, enough already.

And this from Wendy(ph), one of the listeners we heard from last week as Sandy raced up the East Coast. She was waiting for her daughters today. She writes: We went to D.C. No power until Monday, we hope. The storm interrupted setting polls and installation of transformers. Still no kindergarten, but the rest are back after eight days.

If you have a correction, comment or question for us, the best was to reach us by email. The address: talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there, @totn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.