News for Americans Abroad

 

AMERICANS CITIZENS ABROAD - by Dale Finlayson

Tax reform for Americans abroad


Both Houses of Congress have been working on plans for a fundamental revision of the tax code, and American Citizens Abroad (ACA) and other expat groups have been urging Senators and Congress to include residence-based taxation (RBT) in the revised code. Under RBT Americans living outside the U.S. would continue to declare income generated in the U.S. but would be exempted from reporting to the Internal Revenue Service the income they generate in their country of residency.


A recent poll of non-American taxpayers by Democrats Abroad, to which there were approximately 4,500 responses, showed enormous support for a radical change to the way the tax code treats non-resident taxpayers: 84% of respondents supported a switch from the current system of citizenship-based taxation to RBT to resolve the problems caused by a tax code that discriminates against non-resident citizens.


For a helpful guide to RBT, compiled by Democrats Abroad in a set of FAQs, go to: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s6AZ9wSqtjb_jm4cNWeDlVlDFDUnHQOYYiClYkY3sxs/edit.


There is also a wealth of information about ACA’s efforts in Washington on the ACA website: https://www.americansabroad.org/taxation/. Working with other organisations, as well as tax experts and accountants, ACA is developing revenue estimates to put before Congress. Together with its sister organization, ACA Global Foundation (ACAGF), it has begun raising monies to fund the project. The outcome will be very important for American expats. If you would like to contribute to their efforts, go to: http://acaglobalfoundation.org/donate.


See also “Tax Reform Should Tackle the Worldwide Tax System”, a recent article in Forbes magazine by Marylouise Serrato, the Executive Director for American Citizens Abroad, focused on US Citizens living/working overseas. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/10/06/aca-tax-reform-should-tackle-the-worldwide-tax-system/#6ad287346601 19


Finally, it always helps to write to your Senator and Congressman, describing your experiences with the American tax system.


Are you (or your child) a “Never Resided” Voter?


A new policy brief from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) informs policymakers how State laws affect the voting eligibility of Americans who were born abroad but have never resided in the United States. FVAP refers to members of this unique group as “never resided” voters. A key component of citizens’ voting eligibility is whether they meet the residency requirements of the State in which they are seeking to vote. Thus, a citizen who once lived in the US can vote in elections for federal offices in the last jurisdiction in which they resided prior to leaving the US. The problem arises if the citizen has never lived in the US. Even among the 36 States that permit never resided citizens to vote if a parent or legal guardian was last domiciled in the State, there are gray areas.


The issue of residency is ultimately left to the States, but there is a lack of consistency among them. A recent Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) policy brief discusses how citizenship and residency impact voting eligibility – and insert an additional layer of complexity for overseas citizens to overcome. The policy brief can be viewed at fvap.gov/uploads/FVAP/EO/FVAPNeverResidedPolicyBrief_20170222_FINAL.pdf.


 

Getting a US document notarized – Safedocs

Safedocs is an online notary service made available by ACA to its members. Until now, the only options for having a US document notarized was to make an appointment at a US. Embassy/Consulate or to hire a local attorney/notary. Both options are time consuming and expensive, not to mention the travel that can be involved. It can take two days advance notice, a $60 notary fee plus shipping, which can run upward of $100 to expedite paperwork back to the US. Now with Safedocs it should only take a week from request to having your document in the hands of the requestor back in the US.

If you have an internet connection and a computer with webcam, you can have your document(s) notarized regardless of where you live. No traveling, appointment delays, or shipping expense. The process takes about 12 minutes and you’re done, at which time you can electronically deliver an original document immediately. You also retain a certified original copy at no additional cost and they are accepted in all US states.

How it works: Log into ACA’s members-only page on the ACA website and click
on the link to Safedocs. Enter your information, upload your completed but unsigned document, select a time and day that is convenient, and you’re all set. Full instructions will be returned via email, along with your confirmation.  Log in at your select time and you will be met online by a trained and certified e-notary to assist you in having your document notarized. It’s as simple as that!

Note: You can also use Safedocs directly, for a fee, without being an ACA member (https://www.safedocs.com/).

 

 

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