Since this is an election year, presidential candidates have been campaigning hard about the issues that affect US citizens. However, according to an organization known as American Citizens Abroad (ACA), the candidates have been missing one group of voters and their issues: US citizens living outside of the US. The organization has written to the candidates, outlining their concerns and asking presidential candidates President Obama and Mitt Romney to address the issues that affect Americans living abroad.
ACA is a group that represents the millions of US citizens who live outside the US. In a letter to Romney and Obama, the ACA outlined concerns about FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), FBAR filing (Foreign Bank Account Reports), and the OVDP (Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Program), all tax laws which they note make life hard for citizens living outside the US. The ACA has asked the candidates to restrict FACTA and to eliminate the FBAR requirement. The ACA has asked the presidential candidates to support proposed legislation introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. That law, H.R. 6263, would result in a study examining the role the government plays for US citizens outside the US. The ACA has also requested that presidential candidates support tax reform to create a residence-based tax system for US citizens. Finally, the ACA’s letter asks Mitt Romney and President Obama to read the 2011 report authored by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. That report outlines the difficulties that US citizens face when living abroad.
FACTA, OVDP, FBAR, and other financial and tax regulations have made life difficult for US citizens living abroad. US citizens must continue to pay taxes, even when they do not live in the US. This creates problems if they are already paying taxes in their country of residence and creates problems when it comes to currency and the tax rules of different countries. FACTA requires foreign banks to share financial information about American account holders with the IRS. The provision makes a lot of extra work for foreign banks and has led some banks to not want to work with US citizens, making it harder for US citizens abroad to have access to banking services. FBAR and OVDP have also made it difficult for citizens abroad.
US citizens abroad are still allowed to vote in the US election, so the presidential candidates have an opportunity to address the concerns of these citizens and to seek their votes. In the past few elections, absentee ballots from citizens abroad have had a significant impact on elections, so the ACA hopes that the candidates will take the concerns of these citizens seriously. The ACA has promised that they will inform members of any responses the candidates make to their letter about tax legislation.