This post is a “follow up” to an earlier post called: “Why are we so cruel to U.S. citizens living abroad.” That post also referenced the above Twitter Exchange. That post included the following poll:
The preceding twitter exchange identified at least part of the reason for citizenship-based taxation as “Congressional ignorance”. The exchange also referenced the need to get the message to the Ways and Means Committee. With the help of the advocacy of American Citizens Abroad and others Congress received many submissions on the topic of citizenship based taxation. Thanks to AbusedExpat for taking the time to transcribe excerpts from the submissions in comments starting here.
As Patrick Henry notes the comment from Jackie Bugnion of ACA rated a 10 on the “emotion scale” and was a true “Declaration of Independence” for Americans Abroad. Patrick Henry comments that:
I just read the submission from Jackie Bugnion. Her statement reads like the Declaration of Independence and actually brought tears to my eyes. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin could not have written it better.
“A revolution among long-term overseas residents is now underway. Five years ago, Americans abroad never talked about renunciation of citizenship. Today, it is a common topic in the press and among the community abroad. For more and more individuals, renunciation is the only solution to an intolerable situation created by the U.S. imposing its laws beyond its borders. The United States is literally destroying the community of Americans abroad, which plays an essential role in representing U.S. interests and goodwill overseas.”
Thank you Jackie!
It’s clear that Americans Abroad have communicated their plight, their circumstances and their resentment to the Ways and Means Committee. This is the biggest achievement of Americans Abroad to date. It is an extraordinary achievement. An achievement made possible by the work of so many people all over the world. So, congratulations to all!
The Difficult We Do Today – The Impossible Takes A Bit Longer
Where are we now? What Peter Dahlen calls the “congressional ignorance” is (or will be over). Jackie Bugnion did a brilliant job of demonstrating that the problems of “US citizenship abroad” result from the combined effects of many pieces of legislation. The problems are a combination of Congress dumping many pails of “legislative gasoline” on U.S. citizens abroad, followed by the Obama administration “lighting the match”, and “torching U.S. citizens abroad and their families”.
Winston Churchill (who had an American born mother) once described a wartime situation as “The End of the Beginning”. Americans Abroad are at the end of the beginning. Congress has been made aware of the problems. But, as Roger Conklin says:
This battle is far from over. In fact it hasn’t really begun.
The battle is now over the critical mass of public opinion. The battle is to convince Congress to understand what I believe is the governing principle.
That principle is:
In the battle between U.S. citizens abroad and the Unites States (represented by Congress), there is NOT one winner and one loser.
There are only two winners or two losers. What the submissions of all have demonstrated is that:
If citizenship-based taxation is changed to residence based taxation BOTH the United States of America and U.S. citizens abroad will be winners.
If citizenship-based taxation is NOT changed and remains the law BOTH the United States of America and U.S. citizens abroad will be losers.
This may be the way to pitch the argument.
What the end game will be …
After all of these submissions there is NO possible way that Congress can plead ignorance to the “prison of citizenship-based taxation” – a prison built – one legislative brick at a time.
Therefore, a Congressional failure to correct this situation would invite the inference that the United States would be attempting to:
1. Identify through FATCA; and
2. Destroy through “citizenship-based taxation”
one specific group of U.S. citizens – U.S. citizens abroad.
Since U.S. citizens abroad have NO political representation (the right to vote doesn’t matter if there is nobody to vote for), this “tax reform” discussion is the only chance to get the law changed.
If the law is NOT changed:
U.S. citizens abroad who are tax compliant must choose between returning to the Homeland or renouncing.
U.S. citizens abroad who are NOT tax compliant will have a harder choice. It’s not clear to me how they return to the Homeland if they are not compliant. I assume they would have to become compliant prior to returning.
A Final Thought …
As Roger, Tim and others have stated on numerous occasions:
This is going to take time. This is going to take patience. This is going to take courage.
And above all else:
This is going to require maintaing a positive attitude!
If U.S. citizens abroad don’t believe it’s possible to change the law of citizenship-based taxation, then why would Congress even consider it?
Short of a revolution in the spirit of 1776, this is the closest that Americans Abroad can be to getting a peaceful change in the law!