Another Brock Warrior Down – In Memory of Marcio V Pinheiro

 
Marcio-head-only-212x300Marcio de Vasconcellos Pinheiro was a long-time Brocker, known primarily as “markpinetree” and also as “ThatIsMe” and “Still American.” He died on Friday night after a long struggle with cardiac disease. He was 82 years old.

He was a very kind and gentle man who suffered greatly from a feeling of betrayal from a country he chose to embrace and become a citizen of. He was a medical doctor by profession having come to the US from Brazil in 1958 for his internship and residency in psychiatry. He chose to become a dual citizen in 1967. He was very proud of his two daughters, son and granddaughter living in the US. He worried about his health and what would happen to his wife should he continue to become worse. He also was afraid to even consider renouncing, in spite of the ill effects this situation had on him, because he feared it could affect the situation of his family in the US.
 
Clearly at the mercy of tax professionals, (or IOW, clearly mislead into entering OVDI), he mentioned $300 per hour lawyer fees and he ended up paying 27.5% of his life savings. Unbelievably, he had a letter from the IRS indicating that his best course of action would be to renounce his US citizenship.
 
This was what he emailed to me to include as his personal submission to the SFC:

“I became a dual citizen in 1967. I loved the USA. Lives and worked there for thirty years. I am grateful for the way they received end treated me. I came back to my country of origin and continue to pay my income tax to the IRS. Since a few years ago I don´t believe what I am going through, I feel that I am treated very unfairly by the USA for the first time in my life. I am in failing health and I am spending sleepless nights afraid of losing my small life savings. I have to comply now with so many forms and information that it is always difficult to know if I am doing it right. I can not prove this but I suspect that my health is deteriorating because of this. I never expected one day to me in this predictament, of the USA being unfair to me.
Please so no publish my name.”

 

He seemed to enjoy and respect Robert Woods’ columns on Forbes and put many comments over the years. Here are a few of them, all of which demonstrate how proud he was to be American, how he valued what the US stood for and yet, how horrid the effects of being so were on his last years of life. I have a lot of his comments as a result of including them in the Senate Finance Committee submission since his were expressed so simply and with such heartache.
 

ThatIsMe
Mr. Wood, again thank you. I lived and worked in the USA for thirty years. In 1967 I was proud to become an US citizen. I am now back in my original country, with a failing health afraid to lose my small life savings in sleepless nights for the past many years. I never thought that this would be happening to me in my very old age. I cannot believe that this is happening in a Country supposed to be fair where there is no taxation without representation. Too late!

 

ThatIsMe
Mr. Wood. I don´t miss one of your articles. For the simple reason that they make sense. This is what the USA Government should be doing insofar as Americans, Dual Citizens and Green Carders living abroad. How come you can see things so clearly and the USA insists in going after innocent American citizens living and working abroad. Do they think that these Americans, who have no representation or even a voice, com be trapped and milked to help pay for the American debt? Let me confess that I have been a democrat all my life and up to recently I have supported in many ways President Obama. But against my best wishes I will no longer do it because I can´t believe what is being done to us. Is this the America that I was so proud of becoming a citizen?

 

ThatIsMe
Mr. Wood. Again, congratulations and thank you. What you describe is the truth. The great majority of us Americans living and working abroad are not renouncing in order to avoid paying taxes. I am beginning to explore this possibility because I cannot spend six months filing my Income Tax return to two countries, besides being double taxed. Not to speak of the enormous fear of doing something wrong and losing my life savings. Do I like this? No! But I feel I have no choice.

 

Thatisme

Once again Mr. Wood. I am beginning to give up. In my thirty years in America I used to hear: “you can´t fight city hall”. Never quite understood it. Now I do. In my situation I believe the best I can do is to shut up and every year go from January to September or October collecting data, filling forms and send them to a CPA in NYC to do my IRS Return, FBARS and all. In a way I am glad that I will not have much long to go in this world. And I regret having one day, many, many years ago going to an US Court and become an US Citizen. Thank you for all your help.

 

StillAmerican
Thank you very much. I trust you and above all your expertise and judgement. After living and working 30 years in the USA I came back to my country of origin about 10 years ago. I have nobody here who is a US CPA and understands about IRS Returns from Americans Abroad. I have one telephone number to call in Philadelphia (paid), I do not have representation (the congressmen from the last State I lived on do not accept e-mails from outside the USA. I have spent an enormous amount of time and money trying to do the right thing. I only learned about FBARS in 2009 when visiting my “children” in the USA. This was too late, I was already considered a criminal for not filing it before and the penalties were stiff and included 27.5% of my small life savings. There are so many things. For instance Americans in France do not pay US Income Tax on their French pensions. I do. If filling as a Self Employed I have to pay Self Employment Tax to two countries, 16% to each, having no return. I live in fear, the advices I get do not always coincide. I am slepless and in bad health. I don´t want to become a “victim”. I will listen attentivelly to your thoughts. Many thanks and regards.

 
The following exchange is a complete demonstration of how tormented Marcio was by the dilemma of his US citizenship. I can’t help but think of this exchange when hearing the DOJ’s comments regarding “the injuries that plaintiffs allege they have suffered as a result of such laws are self-inflicted, speculative, or even illusory.” Perhaps someone could point out in what way Marcio’s story is self-inflicted (CBT is illusory?), speculative (OVDI & 27.5% penalty are definitive) or illusory (this whole situation is made up?). Really, how do they get away with this? Real people see this exactly for what it is and it’s not any less a form of violence than any other crime against a person/persons.
 
Mark Pinetree
I have the same question. I lived abroad from 1974 to 1957 and again I am abroad since 2001. Something changed drastically. Today my life is a nightmare. I am looking to spend almost the whole yers spending a lot of money and doing a lot of paper work. I fail to understand why this is being done to us. Anger because we are not living in the USA? And I am not speaking of the fear for my mistakes with draconian fees that Americans in the mainland don´t have. And we have no representation. Isn´t that a case of discrimination?

renounceuscitizenship
@MarkPinetree

Yes, this whole thing has been and continues to be a nightmare. For the first two years, many (including me) thought this must be a mistake, that surely the U.S. didn’t know what it was doing, etc.

After two years I have realized how wrong I was. The U.S. treatment of it’s citizens abroad can now be understood to be deliberate. I have been reading your comments for a long time and I feel your pain.

My advice to you:

Renounce as quickly as you can. The U.S. has been given ample opportunity to correct its ways. Rather than work with U.S. citizens abroad and acknowledge their value, the Obama administration has turned U.S. citizenship abroad into a living hell.

There is only one way out – renounce in the quickest manner that is consistent with your financial circumstances.

A final point: You don’t live in the U.S. On a day-to-day basis there is not much they can do to you anyway. My question: Why give them them permission to inflict such psychological pain on you? The pain is now habitual. Remember that:

“Habit is the prison of the mind”.

You can deal with the world as it is or as you wish it were.
 
Mark Pinetree
Thank you. I have considered this. But I am 80 years old with a failing health. I have two married daughters in the USA and one son who is getting married there. I now have a granddaughter born in the USA. Even thought I may not be able to travel to the USA, my main family is there. After working 30 years in the USA, I have investments there, tax sheltered retirement plan, social security income. I never invested one cent of what I earned in the USA in my country of origin. My investments in my country of origin are from money that I earned working here and to the contrary I frequently send money to my family in the USA. But the IRS intrudes on me. For instance I have a small pension income from my work here. I this country I don´t pay taxes on it. Yet I have to pay to the USA even knowing that Americans in France do not pay taxes on their pensions; Up to a few years ago I trusted the fairness of the US government to its citizens. As you I could not believe in what was happening and my life becoming hell. I know spend months trying to cope with my IRS Return (not to speak of the cost). But against all odds I still believe that the USA eventually will do the right thing to Americans Abroad.
 
renounceuscitizenship
@Markpinetree
What you describe is so so horrible. The biggest problem is not the taxes but the way that it has consumed your life. Nobody should be subjected to this. What would it take for you to NOT think about this?
I used to think that the US would do the right thing. Now I am not so sure. The problem is that the US government no longer represents its citizens (whether homelanders or expats). The government has been hijacked by two private clubs – The Republican and Democratic parties who run the country for their own benefit.
There is nobody left in the U.S. that represents the citizens, the voters, the taxpayers.
You say you are now 80. What would it take for this problem to go away so that you can live in peace?
 
MarkPinetree
I have been trying to see what I can do. So far I have not found an answer; I regreted having gone to the USA in 1958 and more yet becoming an US citizen for trusting so much this country.
 
renounceuscitizenship
@MarkPinetree
What would your world look like if this problem were to go away? Remember you can’t control what others think, say or do. But, you can control your response (if any) and your own thoughts.
Question for you – Are you more upset about the objective incidents of citizenship-based taxation or are you more upset about your sense of betrayal and mistreatment by the US?

Mark Pinetree
First and foremost I lost trust in the fairness of the USA. This shuck me up. Then I am scared because I never know if I am doing the right thing and what they can do to me. Third I don´t believe that year after year now I will be able to do all that is required from me. I dread every year to start the process, even though I have a CPA in NYC. Only answering her questionnaire yesterday took me more than one hour, How can you live under these circumstances?

renounceuscitizenship
@Markpinetree
Responding to:
“First and foremost I lost trust in the fairness of the USA. This shuck me up. Then I am scared because I never know if I am doing the right thing and what they can do to me. Third I don´t believe that year after year now I will be able to do all that is required from me. I dread every year to start the process, even though I have a CPA in NYC. Only answering her questionnaire yesterday took me more than one hour, How can you live under these circumstances?”
You are right. Nobody can live under these circumstances. It is nothing but a life of forms and worry. It is also impossible to know that you are doing the right thing or what they can do. But: you are relying on the advice of a CPA and as long as that advice is reasonably competent, it should allow you to argue “reasonable cause” in the event of a mistake. Another thing to realize though is that you are NOT in the US. Common sense suggests that they can’t do that much to you. What are they going to do? Send an “Obama Tax Terrorist” IRS Agent to your country. I doubt it. So on actual compliance issues, they may not be able to do as much as you think. Remember also, that your anxiety is the result of wanting to tax compliant and taking steps to do this. They should be happy with you.
That said, it does seem to me that they can cause you to do a lot to yourself. If you allow them to get you worried to the point where you can’t sleep and it is affecting your health, you are doing more to yourself (with help from them) than they could ever do to you anyway.
Frankly, (after reading your comments for awhile) it seems to me that they should hold you out as:
First, an example of of a model citizen – you are doing what Geithner never did – try to be tax compliant.
Second, an example of the very reasons why renunciations are on the rise.
On the issue of having lost trust in the “fairness” of the USA. You were conned. I was conned. We were all conned. The USA is a very very unjust nation. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you now realize it. You know what people in the U.S. will never know.
Wouldn’t it be nice to renounce U.S. citizenship. You would die a considerably more free man!
Honestly, I think you should stop worrying about this. You have done as much as you can! What more are you supposed to do?
Sometimes in life bad things happen to good people. The bad thing is U.S. citizenship. You can make it go away.

MarkPinetree
Thank you. I will try to follow your advices because I really have no choice. I have done all I can to learn what to do when I first learned of FBARS even thought I had an American CPA. At that time I was naive and that did not bother me because I thought that the USA was going to be fair with people like me. and really give me amnisty for not knowing about them. It was with horror that I realize that this was not so and that was at risk of becoming an outlaw. Since them I started with this ordeal that never ends. Yes I am not doing good things for myself. Since then I have spent a lot of money consultating lawyers and CPAs. My life changed. And I have no IRS representatives in the country where I live and work, And I do not know the consequences of renoucing because I have my two married duaghters, one engaged son and one granddaughter in the USA. And after living and working there for thirty years I have investments also there because I <strong >have not invested one cent of what I earned in the USA in another country. Today I met a Canadian here in my country. He could not believe what I told him. He said that he lived and worked five years in this country and never had to fill Income Tax Return on what he earned here in Canada. And it seems that if I am not mistaked he has a retirement acount in Canada and pay Canadian Taxes on it. but his medical expenses in this country are covered by their health system. I felt envious.

renounceuscitizenship

#americansabroad need their own representation in Congress. The mere right to vote is NOT sufficient for democracy


Thatisme

The final question is: it is good for the USA to have its citizens living and working abroad? Or not?…Just they be supported, encouraged? Or, punished?

renounceuscitizenship
@Thatisme
Two answers:
1. It is quite obviously good for the US to have its citizens working abroad.
2. The US government cannot see the connection between a strong, economically productive and respected US government and having its citizens abroad.
The US is run by a bunch of idiots.


Mark Pinetree

Expats should have direct e-mail access to the Representatives and Senators from the last US State they resided before moving abroad. As things stand now only Americans in their Districts can e-mail them. Or, better yet, they should have their own representation.
 

MarkPinetree
This is indeed a sad, umbelievable situation. How can the USA be so cruel to us especially when we have no representation and are easy preys

renounceuscitizenship
@Markpinetree
I know you are worried about what “might happen”.
Just came across something I think might be helpful to you:
“When I look back on all the worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.
Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)”
By the way, not sure whether you are aware of this but Winston Churchill’s mother was a U.S. citizen.
“Winston Churchill was half American by birth – a fact of which he was deeply proud. In his first address to a joint session of the United States Congress, on 26 December 1941, he teased the assembled Senators and Representatives with the mischievous suggestion, “If my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way ’round, I might have got here on my own!”
http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/biography/genealogy/churchills-american-heritage
Not sure what that would mean for his citizenship status. But, it’s likely that he would not be happy about this today. The Obama administration has turned U.S. citizenship abroad into a cancerous tumor.

Mark Pinetree
This is what I can not understand. I am Democrat, supporter of Obama, used to think of him of a just and fair man who wanted to do things right. Before his first election he supported us, Americans Abroad. After that not one word, only demands and threats.
 
 
It is sad and then, infuriating to realize what this man went through, and how severely his outlook was destroyed (what to say of his health). I cannot for the life of me undertand how any of these people (Shulman, Levin, Obama, et al) can sleep at night. In the end, life is simple in spite of all the “more important issues” the world insists on focusing on. The United States of America has clearly become what most people would describe, as evil. Rest in peace Marcio, along with Roger and Don and OzTeddy and likely many other expatriate Americans who did not deserve the treatment they received at the end of their lives.
 

With thanks to Bubblebustin for finding this sad news

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