“No taxation without representation,” a slogan going back to colonial America, is commonly cited by overseas Americans like me in discussions of FATCA.
It’s also the basis of the Tea Party’s name: a reference to the Boston Tea Party, an act of rebellion against the taxation of the American colonists by the British government.
As I’ve posted before, we overseas Americans are, for all intents and purposes, not represented by anyone in the US government.
At the same time, increasingly draconian tax laws have been imposed on us. For many of us, these laws do not actually require us to pay taxes to the US over and above what we already pay in our country of residence. For some, though, they do. Without going into the details, some of us are unfairly double taxed in some situations. (Refer to the Isaac Brock Society website to get your fill of details.)
Besides the double taxation, onerous privacy-violating requirements (the FBAR form) are imposed on us and not on our homeland fellow Americans. And we are threatened with extremely high fees if we do not comply by filing the required extensive forms, even if the forms only serve to prove we don’t owe any taxes.
The Tea Party
I find myself quoting this slogan “No taxation without representation” whenever I discuss why I renounced citizenship. It occurred to me the other day that this, in a way, allies me with the Tea Party, a group I strongly disagree with in pretty much every way. It’s an uncomfortable realization!
In today’s Tea Party view, the current US government does not represent “We the People.” They believe the government is too big, that taxes are much too high, and that the government should be involved in the economy as little as possible. I don’t actually believe any of those things. I much prefer the Dutch system of higher taxes providing an adequate social safety net.
The original “Tea Party” took place in Boston in 1773, when colonists boarded a ship full of tea and threw the tea into Boston Harbor to protest a tax being charged on the tea. This act of rebellion increased tensions between the colonists and the British parliament, and can be seen as a turning point on the way to the American Revolution.
Those colonists’ cry of “No taxation without representation!” is echoed by the current right-wing groups calling themselves the Tea Party.
So where does that leave me? Am I suddenly a Tea Party sympathizer? Of course not.
Today’s Tea Party is an amorphous group that has somehow laid claim to a proud tradition that belongs to all Americans. The rebellion of the colonists against the oppression of the British government is admirable, and I can protest the taxation without representation of overseas Americans without agreeing with the present-day Tea Party.
By positioning themselves as born-again American patriots, the Tea Party implies that the rest of us, especially the left wing like me, are somehow not patriotic.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey toward renouncing my citizenship, it’s that I’m a patriot to the core, no matter what my passport says.
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