Americans who are living abroad and are frustrated by the myriad tax and citizenship issues they're facing can do more than complain, an audience of such Americans was told the other evening in London.
"All of us in this room are capable of helping to bring about change," Rebecca Lammers (pictured right), a London-based member of the Democrats Abroad's UK Tax Committee, told an audience of around 30 American expatriates at the "Tax Day" event, which took place the evening of the day after the traditional U.S. tax deadline day of April 15.
Lammers stressed that the seminar was not to be mistaken for a "tax advisory session" but rather, was a "tax advocacy" event, aimed at encouraging more Americans resident abroad to become involved in lobbying American lawmakers for needed changes in the way expats are taxed and otherwise treated by U.S. laws.
The Democrats Abroad, through their Tax Committee and a "Taxation Task Force," of which Lammers is also a member, are asking four things of Congress, Lammers explained: "To enact a switch from Citizenship-based Taxation to Residence-based Taxation; to pass the 'Overseas Americans Financial Access Act,' to eliminate the foreign financial accounts of Americans living abroad from reporting under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA); to pass the 'Social Security Fairness Act,' which would repeal the 'windfall elimination provision' that prevents Americans abroad with pensions in their countries of residence from claiming the full amount of Social Security payments owed to them; and to grant American business owners abroad relief from the Transition Tax."
Lammers accompanied her talk with a PowerPoint presentation that included a diagram, left, showing the complex process bills must go through in Congress before becoming law.
To make the same point, albeit in a light-hearted way, she also showed a brief video from an American educational television series dating back to the 1970s called "I'm just a Bill", which may be viewed by clicking here, and from which the image above was taken.
As reported, the Democrats Abroad last month published a major report highlighting the hardships American expatriates are enduring as a result of the way they are taxed. Among the findings of the research, conducted earlier this year, was that approximately 97% of a cross-section of those surveyed said they were experiencing "serious problems addressing their U.S. tax filing obligations" every year. Some 55% of those who participated in the survey said they rely on "tax return professionals" to prepare their U.S. tax filings, with 61% saying that they pay more than US$500, or "at least twice what U.S. based Americans spend on average" on professional tax help, to ensure their taxes are done properly.
This report may be viewed and downloaded on the Democrats Abroad's website by clicking here.
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