A Stupid Story
Larry worked for a great company, Universal Solution Associates. He worked on the highest end projects, led his industry in quality and quantity of projects completed. He was a shining star for this industry leader.
Larry was required to submit timesheets. His time was billed, and the company needed to know how many hours he worked on each project. It was a condition of employment. Larry could have refused to submit timesheets, but he would be fired. It was also a requirement to receive overtime. The company rightly paid Larry for every hour he worked, but they would not pay undocumented overtime; because they could not bill customers for it.
Larry was happy, USA was happy, and much money was made.
One day Larry met Lucy at a café. She was eating a foreign looking dish; while he munched a cheeseburger. He asked her what she was eating, and before long, he was in love with her dishes. Lucy worked for a competitor of USA, Enriched Universal.
EU successfully recruited Larry to work for them. Larry gave his two-week notice, got thoroughly drunk at his going away party, and left on friendly terms with all his coworkers. Larry loved USA but EU offered extra benefits such as wine instead of beer, food he couldn’t pronounce that tasted awesome on Friday mornings instead of donuts, and he did not have to submit timesheets, that pain-in-the-ass, no value-add inconvenience.
Life was good for Larry. He grew to love Lucy, the new foods he couldn’t pronounce, and the freedom of working on whatever he wished to work on. But there was one problem. EU would not pay him any overtime. It did not matter if he worked thirty or eighty hours a week, his pay was always the same. Before too long, his love of Lucy waned, and he began to crave cheeseburgers and beer. He decided to return to USA.
USA was grateful to have Larry back. Their business was not the same without him. They even gave him a raise. But there was one problem.
“Larry, you have not completed your timesheets for the last year.”
“I worked for EU.”
“Because you are delinquent, we will be taking the money that would have been paid to you off your future earnings.”
“I didn’t work for USA, I worked for EU.”
“Because of the administrative burden on us, we are also imposing a fine of 50% of those earnings you didn’t submit timesheets for.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t work for you. I had no employment contract.”
“But you did, Larry. The original contract you signed was for life, and you agreed to all of these terms.”
That’s crazy. You can’t do this.”
“We can Larry. The courts have already backed us in other cases. Lew went to work for United Kickassers and he never reported his time. We just sold his house last week.”
“Your house too, Larry. We’ve put a lien on it, and if you do not come clean within the year, your house is ours.”
“Everything I own is in that house. I have no retirement funds. You can’t do this. This is stupid.”
“This is the way USA works, Larry”
“Well I am leaving USA!”
“You can leave, Larry, but every competitor will garnish your wages for us.”
Of course this is a stupid story. Anybody reading this can plainly see the injustice of this situation. In fact, it is completely implausible. This is not a scenario any person smarter than a grapefruit would even consider as realistic.
Yet this is how the United States treats its citizens living outside the country. Once we leave the country, we are still obliged to fill in our timesheets (taxes, FBAR reports, and loads more paperwork) or be penalized, even though we live in, physically and under the laws of, foreign nations. All I did was replace the word country with company and tax with timesheet.
Yet because President Lincoln first created this practice in 1861, all Americans think it is legal and just. Because the Supreme Court backed these laws in 1924, our elected representatives think it is just. Modern day taxation gurus and champions go to war defending these laws and accuse those of us who don’t believe in them as tax cheaters.
What Americans cannot do with these laws is think about them logically. They cannot sit back and examine how the rest of the world taxes citizens and fights tax cheating. Americans, even though this is supposedly what makes American great, cannot find an better (at least acceptable by all) way of doing things. Americans cannot even understand that this situation is taxation without representation (we get zero American services) and is the reason colonists went to war with Britain. Only when Americans decide to move abroad — which by the way is a universal right of all people of this world — do they come to realize the absurdity of these laws.
I don’t care who you are (@POTUS, Obama, or Rand Paul) or what you believe (Left, Right, or anywhere in between, religious or secular), the bottom line is, if you think the existing citizenship taxation laws are just, then frankly, you are an idiot.
Think America. Please think!