When all you want for Christmas is a CLN

I cannot help myself when it comes this topic. It’s one of my triggers – meaning it triggers a flood of emotions and a cascade of choice words.

American expats familiar with the US tax code, citizenship-based taxation, high compliance costs and FATCA will know exactly what I’m talking about. Especially the long-term expats, like me, who left the US for love, feel like they’ve been hung out to dry by their homeland. And you know what? It’s a real romance killer. Nothing puts more strain on a relationship than financial woes and the IRS excels at shattering wedded bliss for America’s diaspora.

Recently Prince Harry proposed to the queen of his heart, Meghan Markle. Oh, what a fairy tale! The prince and the star-spangled actress to be wed in a storybook ceremony, chock full of romantic kitsch, celebrities, and flowing frocks – BUT WAIT! It actually didn’t take long for the press to pick up on the fact that Miss Markle’s citizenship was capable of infiltrating the royal finances. At least several outlets reported on the awkward situation the prince’s proposal proffered. The novel news was short-lived, however, and the royal PR pros promptly issued a statement confirming that Meghan would receive expedited British citizenship, while simultaneously downplaying the impending relinquishment of her US one and the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN) that entails. One day a film will be made about this couple and they will be sure to leave out the sexy discussions they must have had about US tax compliance and how it was nipping at their heels like one of the Queen’s pesky corgis.

Nevertheless, the dream of many an American girl (woman?) to be swept off her feet by a charming foreign prince from a delightful old country dotted with castles remains a perennial tale in the collective psyche of dime-store novelists and filmmakers. Case in point: last night I was perusing the options on Netflix and landed on “A Christmas Prince”, the storyline of which you can probably guess. My husband and I amused ourselves by filling in the missing bits of dialogue such as, “This tutoring job won’t pay enough to cover my expat tax advisor!” and, “No, I can’t marry you because then I’ll be forced to file as ‘married-filing-separately’!” As I stated before, once you’re aware of the tax situation, the IRS presence will likely let any romantic notions you may harbour shrivel up and die, or at the very least, mutate into scathing sarcasm.

Mundane pragmatism must rule the heart… unless Santa brings you a CLN.