Oscar Peterson’s American drummer is banned from USA

Oscar Peterson’s American drummer is banned from USA


norman lebrecht

October 14, 2017

The drummer Alvin Queen, born in Mount Vernon, New York, has been notified that U.S. Homeland Security will not allow him to enter the US to perform at a long-planned Washington concert.

The concert, titled Jazz mmet France, is hosted by Wynton Marsalis and Dr. David Skorton , Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Mr Queen, 67, who holds a Swiss passport, was informed that, due to a run-in with the law as a youth half a century ago he would require a special Waiver from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security.

He says: ‘Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve spent months preparing for this concert. Dozens of others are also implicated in its planning. Funny thing, I gave up my US passport to make life simpler at tax time. I never dreamed I would one day be denied entry, and with such ridiculous reasoning. I am frankly disgusted to be disrespected in this way after a half century devoted to music.’

The only person who could grant an instant Waiver is President Trump and … let’s not go there.

More here.



  • MacroV says:

    I suspect Presidents, in general, aren’t in the business of giving such waivers.

    Before the Trump-bashing begins, understand that when you renounce US citizenship, they make very clear that you might potentially be barred from entering on your new passport. It does seem absurd to deny him entry (I assume a P or O visa) based on a 50-YO run-in with the law, but criminal convictions are grounds for exclusion. This decision was probably made by a DHS adjudicator when he submitted a petition for a performer visa; just a humble civil servant applying the law a little too literally.

    • Scotty says:

      I’ve heard or read or seen that the authorities are tougher than normal on folks who have surrendered their US citizenships.

  • John Matthew Moreno says:

    That’s a very sad sad song! Someone needs to rewrite it an turn it into a “great one”, And Call it “Let da man pass”!

  • Sir Kitt says:

    ‘Let’s not go there’, he said, going there.

  • Fellow US Expat says:

    Mr. Queen held a Swiss passport for 30 yrs. and until 2016 was a dual national US/Switzerland. He mentions in the article that he dropped his US citizenship in 2016 for tax reasons.

    Mr. Queen’s situation is circulating in US expat forums because it highlights an issue which is affecting hundreds of thousands of US expats working/living abroad right now. Here’s why:

    Alvin Queen is referring to the appalling new tax law for US expats – called “FATCA”- which requires US citizens living and working abroad to declare all foreign earnings and assets to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) even though they are already paying taxes on these same assets in their country of residence.

    This new law is wreaking havoc on lower and middle class US expats, many of whom, like Mr. Queen, haven’t set foot in the US for decades. It also applies to “accidental Americans” – children of US expats born abroad who as US citizens are obligated to declare all foreign earnings to the IRS.

    US expats are being forced to shell out large sums of money to accountants versed in this complicated new law (there aren’t many) just to declare their foreign earnings correctly to US authorities. They are being threatened with revocation of their US passports. An increasing no. of European banks (in Switzerland, particularly) are closing US owned accounts and refusing to do business with anyone who holds a US passport. This is impacting, in particular, retirement age US expats, who hold their pension savings in foreign banks. These banks are being threatened by the IRS to declare all assets held by US citizens for IRS purposes. US citizen-held accounts are now considered a liability.

    The result of this horrendous new law – which was designed to catch large US companies trying to avoid US taxes by keeping “offshore” accounts, but instead is wreaking havoc on average middle income US expacts – is that US citizens living and working abroad are renouncing their US citizenship in droves. Renunciation of US citizenship is currently at an unprecedented, all time high. It makes no sense to be paying US taxes on foreign earned income when you are already paying taxes on that income in the country you live in.

    Renouncing one’s US citizenship at this time is the only logical solution for expats dealing with FATCA. Many (esp. those in Switzerland, which is being hit hardest by this law) can no longer hold bank accounts, they are forced to withdraw retirement savings, they are facing exorbitant accountant fees to just to “get right” with the US IRS.

    US expats have virtually no clout with US politicians, because they don’t belong to a specified jurisdiction with a Representative or Senator to speak for them. So very little is being done to change FATCA. No one in the US is barely aware that this is going on abroad. No one cares, no one helps. The only recourse is to renounce citizenship, which is what Alvin Queen, like thousands of other US citizens living abroad, has done.

    Perhaps when a high profile expat, like Mr. Queen reveals, as he’s done here, why he renounced, people will pay more attention. FATCA has created an appalling situation, and Mr. Queen is one of hundreds of thousands of US expats hit adversely by the new law.

    Had he been able to keep his US citizenship, he’d have been able to play the concert.

    • Scotty says:

      US citizens living abroad have had to declare foreign income for as long as I can remember. It’s reporting foreign-stored assets that’s new. Americans living abroad who hold more than 200k in assents have to attach a new form to their US return. Has Queen actually said that’s why he gave up his citizenship?

      Regarding representation in Congress, I don’t about Queen, but expats do vote in the state they lived in before moving abroad. My congresswoman still provide constituent services to me.

      • Fellow US Expat says:

        Scotty, sorry you are dead wrong on so many points here. Be careful about pontificating on what you believe is true because it is not. There are legions of US expats now united in groups across the internet who will prove you wrong. We study this issue in detail, have brought it forward to legislators, to presidential candidates and we know our facts.

        Until FATCA, US expats had to declare foreign income only if exceeded a certain amount which was very high. Now there is no lower limit. Everything must be declared.

        Regarding voter representation, what you say is again wrong. Expats often – usually, in fact – do not have a US address. They may have voted before they moved abroad, but that does not entitle them to representation unless they maintain that US address which most do not. It’s a huge problem. We have to make our voices heard thru relatives with US addresses, or via the often unofficial lobbying groups which are organized online to speak on our behalf to legislators.

        Lastly, no, Mr. Queen does not specifically refer to FATCA in this article. He simply says he renounced for “tax reasons”. You make the connection. He’s in Switzerland. They are hardest hit by FATCA. His case is being touted thruout US expat groups online as an example of what can happen, what is happening.

        I am curious why you are so critical here when you’re not even fully versed on what’s going on. Are you even a US expat? Have you had to comply with FATCA? Do you have any first hand knowledge of Mr. Queen’s situation or that of any other US citizens living abroad who’ve been affected or do you just enjoy trolling?

        • Bill says:

          When I had an employment offer in Switzerland made to me early in 1988, my tax advisor told me of the wonderful policy of the US government (and virtually no other taxing authority) that I would be taxed on and required to report income regardless of where it was earned. There were cases where I would get an offsetting credit on my US taxes for income taxes paid to other governments, up to a point. The paperwork required to reclaim the withholding tax on dividend income from overseas investments was so tedious that most years I didn’t bother.

          In short, given the new headaches (FATCA) added to the old ones, it is not at all surprising to me that record numbers of people who can give up their US citizenship are choosing to do so, especially the very wealthy. It crosses my mind every time I do my taxes. But you have to be ok with becoming an outsider with little or no recourse if they decide they don’t want to let you in. And if you have substantially appreciated assets, you may need to pay tax on that appreciation before they let go of their claim on you!

          Not the sort of decision that should be made without serious consideration of potential outcomes. Depending on your past (or future), there may be no coming back.

      • Fellow US Expat says:

        Scotty, here’s a link explaining FATCA, for your enlightenment:


        • Scotty says:

          I suggest that you go to the source, rather than forums for your information. According to the US State Department, you can vote even if you do not have a US address, as I have for the past 15 years. Here’s the link: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/legal-matters/benefits/voting.html

          Similarly, US citizens abroad have had to declare their income all along. Currently the first approximately 100k is tax exempt. I know because I’ve filed the needed 2555 form for, again, 15 years. Have a look, then check the IRS form database for, say, the past decade. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i2555.pdf

        • Scotty says:

          It would be better to go to original sources rather than forums for this kind of information.

          According to the U.S. State Department, U.S. citizens who live overseas can vote, as I have for 15 years, even if they don’t have a U.S. address, as I haven’t for 12 years. Here’s the link: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/legal-matters/benefits/voting.html

          Similarly, for as long as I can remember U.S. citizens living abroad had to file a 2555 form to report all of their foreign income, as I have for 15 years. Here’s the link to the IRS information on the topic: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i2555.pdf. Search the IRS past-forms database and you’ll see that these requirements have existed for decades.

          As you can see, although you have to declare every shekel, there is a exemption of about 100k (net) before you have to start paying U.S. taxes on foreign income. Until recently, income above the exemption was taxed progressively starting at the lowest marginal rate. Now, however, income above the exemption is taxed at the marginal rate for the total income as though there were no exemption.

          And no, I’m not a troll. I’m just a hard-working expat musician who files his tax forms and votes every chance he gets, both legally.

          • Scotty says:

            Redundant comment above. Sorry. Moderation lag, I guess. Just another chance to bore readers who don’t give a flip about such minutia.

          • Fellow US Expat says:

            Scotty, I didn’t say we can’t vote. It’s just that we vote as expats instead of residents of a specific state. We are not under the jurisdiction of any Representative or Senator. Hence our opinions and our votes mean very little to them, since we don’t vote for them. They won’t go to bat for us.

            Well, it sounds like FATCA has hasn’t phased you at all. You seem to be perfectly fine with declaring your foreign income both to the US and to your country of residence. I am also a US expat musician who’s worked abroad even longer than you, and I have never had to declare my foreign income to the US until FATCA. Nor has anyone I know.

            If you wish to defend the status quo, that’s your business. But you can’t fault people like Alvin Queen for renouncing his US citizenship because they believe it’s unfair and complicated. I stand with him completely.

          • Scotty says:

            Fellow expat.

            Re voting: you vote in your most recent state for that state’s senator and congressperson. They represent you. As I mentioned before, mine has provided services to me.

            Re foreign income: the fact that you haven’t in the past declared foreign income doesn’t mean that you weren’t supposed to. You were, on the very 2555 form I provided a link to.

            Re FATCA: I didn’t say a word pro or con. In fact I’m not wealthy enough to reach the assets limit to require me to file that form. If my German bank boots me because of it, however, I’ll be in a pickle.

            Re expats having to file U.S. taxes: it’s a pain and I wish I didn’t have to do it.

            Re Mr. Queen: Didn’t say a word pro or con about him either. I wish him all the best, and you as well.

          • MacroV says:

            FATCA has caught a lot of US expats in its net, causing not only tax headaches but leading a lot of foreign banks not wanting to deal with US citizens. More here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2017/06/12/more-americans-renounce-citizenship-new-list-released/#534142fb6fe9

  • Fritz Curzon says:

    Move the event to Switzerland….