Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Update on the Veterans Tax Assistance Project

Most of you will recall that I am working with a group of local tax practitioners to form a 501(c)(3) virtual, public interest law/accounting firm (I use this term loosely and cautiously) solely for the purpose of supplying pro bono professional tax services to qualified veterans(to be defined). This would include all forms of IRS and state controversy representation but not return preparation but we would assist with multiple years of failures to file.

I am happy to report that close to two dozen practitioners have responded with an interest in helping and even a willingness to be a board member.

For now, I am happy to report that with the help of WKBLAW in Sacramento, we have formation documents for the Veterans Tax Assistance Project and we are well on our way with the beginning of the preparation of the lengthy 501(c)(3) application to the IRS.

We are securing malpractice insurance for attorneys and we are looking for a volunteer to locate the same for accountants. We are also seeking a volunteer for web services. We need a state of the art website and everything that comes with it including post set-up maintenance. Our hope is to get volunteers for almost everything we do and while we will be doing some fundraising, it would be great if someone knew an enterprising IT business person who has the ability to provide us with something snappy and effective in exchange for plenty of honorable mention on almost everything we do.

Fund Raising: I have made some very preliminary inquiries for fund raising. We do not need a lot of money. Our hope is to make the Veterans Project as “virtual” an operation as possible. In addition to a web site and a dedicated phone line, and the malpractice insurance I believe our need for funds will be minimal. Ideally we may need to hire one staff person but that would be a consideration later on.

Future: I hope to have very infrequent meetings but at some time before next tax season starts we hope to have an after-hours reception/organizational meeting. As this will be a virtual “firm,” members need not be in the Sacramento area to help us and indeed, we envision members who would be willing to serve from anywhere in the world.

Providing this kind of help for veterans seems like a no-brainer for me. We can be so helpful sometimes with nothing more than a consultation or a phone call to an IRS or state office. There undoubtedly will be some matters which will require more time if not the filing and pursuit of a Tax Court matter or representation in a complex audit.

Please let us know if you can help with any of the above. 

* The flag is known as a "service flag" and is one of the most common military flags flown today at the home of a family who has another family member serving in the armed forces.

Friday, August 2, 2013

FATCA: 'Simple Premise' Gone Terribly Wrong

I am happy to repost an article by Lynne Swanson whose blog is The Maple Sandbox and Victoria Ferauge who publishes the blog, The Franco-American Flophouse. Their article, "FATCA: Simple Premise Gone Terribly Wrong" originally appeared in The Hill’s Congress Blog on July 28, 2013.

I have a deep respect for both Lynne and Victoria for their contribution and particularly their professional tone on the emotional issues which surround the FATCA debate, particularly the highly charged issue regarding the possibility of renouncing US citizenship, in part as fallout from FATCA.

I also highly commend to everyone, particularly our dear friends to the north, Victoria’s piece on the Franco American Flophouse published July 25, 2013. "On Being An American." I trashed a draft blog of my own "on being an American" which I was struggling with before the Fourth of July. I was searching for words to express the feeling Victoria captured so eloquently below which I am sure has resonated with Americans abroad.

Here is what Victoria said,

I had an epiphany the other day. I may have spent most of my adult life outside the U.S. but I was born and raised here in Seattle. No one can take away the first 20 years or so of my life. I am an American and will always be one even if I decide to forgo the pretty blue passport. Cutting ties by relinquishing/renouncing will mean cutting my ties to a political community but here's the kicker: America is so much more than that. There is a nation beyond the government and perhaps it's time to start putting the people above the state.  Yes, if I renounce I would no longer be an American citizen, but I would still be an American by culture, blood, language, and inclination. I am part of the collective memory of this country and no one on this planet (not the US Congress or the President or the home landers) can take that away from me. 

There is a 500 pound gorilla in the room which has lost the peoples’ focus in this age of surveillance and enhanced security. As Peggy Noonan noted in the Wall Street Journal on June 14, 2013: "

The price [of that enhanced security] is "a now formal and agreed-upon acceptance of the end of the last vestiges of Americans’ sense of individual distance and privacy from the government."   

American hegemony is not the issue and the government really isn’t smart enough for us to consider this mess anything close to a conspiracy.

To read the "FATCA: ‘Simple premise’ gone terribly wrong" article published in The Hill’s Congress Blog, please go to: .