In reaction to my position that US persons abroad suffer taxation without representation, some at the Expat forum make the claim that it is a commonplace today, such as Ladyhawk:
The issue of “no taxation without representation” comes up over and over again. While I sympathize and agree, this is nothing more than a historical sentiment, in reality. Every person who immigrates to the US and gets a job, or who works temporarily in the country, pays taxes and cannot vote unless and until they are citizens (except in a few jurisdictions). Felons in the US cannot vote, nor can anyone under 18 even if they pay taxes. The residents of DC have no representation in Congress. If this is unfair, Canada and many other countries are equally unfair, as they have similar laws.
Another person pointed out that US citizens abroad may vote by absentee in the last district that they lived in or, for those born out of country, where their parents last lived. But in response, it is necessary to make a distincition between franchise and representation.
The question isn’t whether you have a right to vote. That’s easy enough to extend. It is whether you have representation. Note that the colonists fought the War of Independence because they insisted on “No taxation without representation!” Now imagine that King George said, “But you can vote for your MP in the last riding which you or your ancestors lived in!” Then the colonists would have simply responded, “that gives us the vote but we still have no representation, because we are voting for an MP to represent Surrey, not southern Virginia” (or where ever it may be). By contrast, an immigrant resident in the United States is counted in the census, the same as children below the age of 18 (or a woman in the days before woman’s suffrage); they are in cateogries of people who have no franchise, but because they were counted, they have a representative who will go and fight for their local area in Washington where the decisions are made.
So whether the US persons abroad vote or not, they still have no representative; if they do vote in federal elections, they are only voting for someone else’s representative.
See Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States, section 2, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which says that Indians “not taxed” were to be excluded from census–therefore, if they are not taxed, they receive no representation, the penchant of the “No Taxation with Representation” is “No Representation without Taxation”. What US persons abroad have is Taxation without Representation.
The more I think about this, the more angry I become. It’s bad enough to feel “singled out” for ridiculous reporting requirements; having to list my Canadian spouse’s accounts and having to look forward to more of the same (FATCA, 8938, etc ad nauseum). And even if we get through this first batch of FBAR without penalties, how easy it will be to make mistakes and get sucked into their completely outrageous and onerous fines.
It should matter. It is unlikely to matter to the area I vote in; people in Ohio simply are not familiar with what we are going through and most likely would not care very much. On a practical level, this leaves us in an unfair position with little means to change it.
How can they possibly be worried about your issues when unemployment is raging and 45 million people on SNAP (food stamps), people’s retirements funds have done poorly, Social Security is running out time, banks are going bankrupt, people are in default on their house payments, etc. So no, unless you have representation with the needs of your locality in mind, they will not, and they cannot represent you.
A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. should run for president.
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The argument that Americans abroad have the right to vote for congressional representatives in their previous districts and for the US President is the same as Great Britain’s argument that the American colonialists had “virtual representation” in the British Parliament and the King of England represented the interests of all Englishmen throughout the empire.
American expats today, like the American colonialists of the 18th century are no longer accepting the terms and conditions being forced upon them from an Imperial capital thousands of miles away.
Taxation without representation and without benefits is tyranny!
America’s founders refused to accept it, why would their descendants be any different.
Renouncing US citizenship today is the same as when the American colonialists renounced British citizenship 236 years ago.
History has a way of repeating itself. The tyrants in Washington would be wise to read their history books again, if they ever did so in the first place.
Patrick Henry: you once gave a rousing speech.
Your comment shows that you haven’t changed in over 200 years!
My ancestors can be traced back to the American Revolution. So I guess its in the genes.
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