Not Much to Hope for in Democrats’ Vision for Expats

 


 
Over the past few years the sheet distributed by the Obama 2008 team has been discussed here with regard to Supporting Americans Abroad (or rather, how it did not support them). Yesterday, Democrats Abroad released a set of questions and answers put to their Presidential Candidates. I thought it might be interesting to review what Mr. Obama said/did while contemplating whether there would be any improvement in the situation for expats based upon the statements of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders.
 

Mr. Obama

What He Said: Strengthen Economic Security for Americans Abroad

…he will work with Americans abroad to identify and understand problems they may face as a result of U.S. government policies.

What He Delivered: Closure of Bank Accounts; Inability to obtain/renew mortgages

What He Said: Census of Americans Abroad

What He Delivered: Nada

What He Said: Concerns of Americans Living Abroad

As president, Obama will work to establish a direct dialogue with Americans abroad.

What He Delivered: we are “Tax Cheats” “Traitors” “Don’t Pay Our Fair Share” oh, and not to forget, we must report our everyday bank accounts to FINCEN and endure considerable terror tactics used to try and get us to enter “amnesty” programs designed for criminals

What He Said: Other Governmental Services and Benefits

…..ensure that U.S. State Department staff members have proper training to assist Americans abroad in determining their various rights and responsibilities as American citizens

What He Delivered: OVDP/OVDI FATCA Form 8938 Renunciation Fee Raised 422%

 
So with those thoughts in mind, here are the questions that Democrats Abroad prepared and presented to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders and a Mr.Rocky De La Fuente.

 

FATCA: Would you support the FATCA “Same Country Safe Harbor” for Americans abroad, the regulatory reform that Democrats Abroad recommends for fixing FATCA’s problems but retaining its strength?

RBT: Would you support the replacement of the current system of taxing overseas Americans, known as citizenship-based taxation, with a system of residence-based taxation?

FBAR: Would you support reforms to FBAR regulations to address these concerns and inequities?

Medicare portability: Would you support an amendment to the Medicare law permitting American citizens to use Medicare benefits to pay for health care in approved medical facilities located outside the USA?

HR-3078: Would you support the establishment of a Commission on Americans Abroad to study and propose remedies to U.S. policies that harm or unfairly burden Americans living outside the U.S. (as provided for in House bill HR-3078)?

Windfall Eliminations Provision “WEP”: Would you support the examination of the WEP and its impact on U.S. citizens abroad to establish a remedy that preserves the social security benefits fairly earned by Americans abroad through their U.S. working life?

FAST Act passport revocation: Would you support, as part of the implementation of the 2015 FAST Act, these requests aimed at preserving the security of Americans abroad and their families?

 


 

Mrs. Clinton:

On FATCA “Same Country Safe Harbor”

harder to open a bank account, harder to save for retirement, and harder to get a mortgage. I know that the vast majority of Americans living abroad are paying their fair share,

On RBT

I believe that we need a broad discussion about reforming our tax code to cut taxes for hard-working, middle class American families living both here and abroad….making sure that the wealthiest Americans can’t move overseas to avoid paying taxes…. a complicated issue and I will work with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to cut taxes

On reform to FBAR

to examine filing requirements with the aim of avoiding redundancies and minimizing unnecessary paperwork and confusion.

On HR 3078

The government…crafts solutions that are executable at home but nearly impossible to implement overseas other than at an enormous cost to our citizens living abroad

On FAST Act passport revocation
Every American should pay what they owe under our tax laws. …… I will ensure that Americans receive timely and accurate information about their tax responsibilities and are given ample opportunity to remedy or resolve any related issues, within a reasonable timeframe, before a passport is revoked due to a tax delinquency.

 
I am rather certain Mrs. Clinton does not really have a grip on the situation of expats. This is difficult to fathom since the largest number of Americans in history have renounced under her watch at the State Dept. Her comments in response to Safe Harbour show no familiarity with what it is. “Harder” to deal with the effects of FATCA? How about those who simply can’t get accounts difficult or have had them closed? And while a lovely sentiment, where she gets the idea that the vast majority of Americans abroad even know about their tax obligations, never mind are actually paying them, is a mystery to me. “Reforming our tax code to….cut taxes…cut taxes….” does not address RBT. No one needs to have foreign taxes cut if RBT were adopted. The comments about FBAR reform are moot. And she better be careful about that last promise………anyone care to count the number of times she uses the words “cut taxes?”
 
 

Mr. Sanders:

On Safe Harbour:
permit the U.S. Treasury to focus on curbing tax avoidance by Americans living inside the United States who move their money to offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

On RBT:
deserves serious consideration… we can provide tax relief to middle-class families living overseas..

On FBAR reform:

shows he is familiar with issues but his comments do not indicate any real relief from FBAR requirements

HR-3078
examine the impact of federal financial reporting requirements, the ability to vote in U.S. elections, and access to federal programs like Social Security and Medicare for Americans living abroad.

on FAST Act:

have access to information on tax debts and proper notice before the IRS requests that the State Department revoke or deny the renewal of the passports of U.S. citizens.

 
Mr. Sanders seems to be somewhat more aware, possibly open to somewhat more relaxed conditions but I see nothing to indicate strong support for anything that would actually change this situation. IOW, neither have any meaningful platform to address our issues. Then again, would these have been your questions of choice? What about simply releasing Accidental Americans from these ridiculous “requirements? What about rectifying the onerous treatment of those minnows who entered the OVDI programs? What about dealing with the lack of reciprocity in the IGA’s? What about not taxing our tax-deferred savings plans in our countries of residence? How about the immorality of imposing FATCA and its costs completely on other countries? How about honoring the relinquishments of those you told were no longer citizens? How about getting your noses out of our “alien” spouses’ financial information? How about letting children born abroad decide for themselves if they want to be Americans? and on and on and on………..
 
 

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