updated 2:28 PM CEST, May 24, 2023

Lehagre's AAA: 'Call to action to fight citizenship-based taxation'

The Paris-based Association of Accidental Americans (Association des Américains Accidentels) is calling on its members and other accidental Americans – as well as other U.S. expats frustrated by the United States' citizenship-based tax regime – to join its campaign in support of efforts (by others) who are understood to be planning to launch a legal challenge against CBT, within the next few months.

This "call to action" on the part of the AAA has taken the form of a Change.org petition that the Paris-based organization's U.S.-born founder and president, Fabien Lehagre, posted about a week ago, and which he is now urging other accidentals and expats to sign. (Thus far, more than 170 people have.)

Importantly for those keen to do more than just sign the petition, there's also a link here to a GoFundMe page that's collecting donations to fund a "parallel lobbying and public relations" campaign against CBT, as well as a link to a 51-minute YouTube video posted six months ago by U.S.-based tax lawyer Anthony Parent, of IRS Medic/ Parent & Parent LLC, the headline of which says "victims of the IRS's Citizenship-Based Tax Regime ready to sue [the] U.S." are being sought to participate in the planned lawsuit.

The AAA is not itself planning a legal challenge against CBT, Lehagre stresses.

The AAA's campaign comes as there's growing agreement around the world that the U.S.'s all-but-unique system of taxing on the basis of citizenship – which dates back more than 150 years, to the U.S. Civil War – is seriously problematic for most if not all of its expats. In recent years CBT has emerged as a major problem in particular for those known as "accidental Americans," who typically have lived all of their  lives in other countries, after having been born in the States, usually to non-American parents. This is because such "accidentals" have lived their lives without realizing that anyone considered them to be American, and once they are, they find themselves struggling to keep bank and financial accounts they have had, and otherwise having to address and deal with major financial problems, and costs, that they otherwise wouldn't have had to.

Like other campaigners against CBT, the AAA argues that the U.S. should join the rest of the world (with the exception of Eritrea) in adopting a residence-based tax (RBT)  regime. Under RBT systems, individuals pay taxes to the governments of the countries in which they live and earn money, and benefit in turn from such taxpayer-provided services as the provision of roads, electricity and water; public transport, schools and police protection; and in certain cases, military protection and medical care.

'Appropriate' to support anti-CBT lawsuit

In a message on the AAA's website, Lehagre writes that with a lawsuit planned by others "in the coming months...against citizenship-based taxation," he thinks it "appropriate" for accidental Americans and other U.S. expats to support "parallel lobbying and public relations actions" in order to support it.

He then goes on to urge those interested in supporting action against CBT to share their names, email addresses and other information, in addition to sharing the AAA's  message "with all overseas Americans you know, asking them to support this too.

"These people should also forward the message to their contact[s], to make it go viral."

A New York- and Jerusalem-based law firm, Zell & Associates International Advocates LLC, which has handled other legal matters on behalf of U.S. expats and accidentals, including on behalf of the AAA, is thought to be the firm most likely to take on the CBT case. 

Crowd-funding and petitions: 'increasingly important role'

Crowd-funding and online petitions have played an increasingly important role in U.S. expatriate advocacy and lobbying efforts in recent years. This has been particularly noticeable in Europe, where the European Parliament has long made use of an in-house Committee on Petitions (generally known as PETI), where petitions that attract a significant response are formally addressed, via hearings and meetings, and often, recommendations are ultimately made to EU lawmakers.

Since 2016, for example, four separate petitions have been filed with this committee against the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which thus far has resulted in at least two major PETI hearings and, as reported, a fact-finding visit to Washington, D.C. last July. 

FATCA is also the tool that, beginning in around 2016, first enabled the U.S. government to begin to enforce its citizenship-based tax regime globally for the first time, and thus is directly related to the accidental Americans' campaign to replace CBT with a residence-based tax regime.

Lehagre founded the Association of Accidental Americans in 2017, as he grew increasingly frustrated with the problems he was increasinly encountering as a result of his "accidental" American citizenship, and discovered he wasn't alone.

Since then, the organization has launched a number of legal challenges, not just in the U.S. and France but also in such countries as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and today has around 1,500 members. 

Related articles: 

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Major ACA/DEG analysis finds U.S. move to residence-based tax regime 'could be revenue-neutral'

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