As reported by Brian Knowlton in the NYTs and Badger pointed out here a Presidential Commission is being Sought on U.S. Expatriates. The Bill number HR 6263 with details can be found at here .
American Citizens Abroad (ACA) is encouraging members and supporters to contact their representatives and ask them to support this bill. This is a positive step forward for Americans living and working overseas. A Presidential Commission would be invaluable in our efforts.
ACA Press Release follows:
WASHINGTON, DC – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Charles Rangel (D-NY) have introduced legislation to create a Federal commission to study the impact of government policies upon the millions of Americans living overseas.
“Americans living and working overseas constitute a kind of unsung constituency,” Maloney said. “They pay taxes and vote, but U.S. policies and laws can have unintended and sometimes irrational consequences on their lives– because no entity in Washington is paying attention. These hardworking citizens are our country’s informal ambassadors around the globe and help strengthen the U.S. economy and promote American influence. Their concerns about how their government interacts with them deserve to be heard– and paid attention to– here in Washington.”
“As a member of the Congressional Americans Abroad Caucus, I am proud to fully support the Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act, authored by my friend and Caucus Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney,’ Honda said. “Millions of U.S. citizens who are living and working abroad have voiced their concerns regarding the harmful impacts of federal policies– often unintentional– on their lives. These Americans abroad promote U.S. influence around the globe and help our economy thrive, yet our federal policies often disenfranchise them from becoming citizen ambassadors or even returning to the U.S. It is time we acquire a thorough, comprehensive understanding of the federal policy impacts on these Americans, which this bill would provide.”
“This commission would give Congress an opportunity to look under the hood of this issue and see what’s working, what isn’t, and what can work better,” Rep. Rangel said. “It’s our elected responsibility to ensure American citizens here and abroad are equally protected by their nation’s laws and Executive actions.”
Full text of the bill is viewable here:
BACKGROUND ON THE LEGISLATION
Rep. Maloney is co-founder and Chair of the Americans Abroad Caucus in the House. Find out more at here
This legislation creates a 15-member bipartisan Executive Commission to study the impact of U.S. laws and Executive actions on the overseas Americans community. The study would then be used to make recommendations for actions Congress and the Executive Branch could take to improve collaboration and communication of policies impacting this community. The intent of the review is to ensure awareness, coordination, and integration of the activities of the federal government relating to Americans abroad. Specific areas of federal policy the Commission is charged with looking into are tax and banking policy (including FATCA, Banking Secrecy Act, USA PATRIOT Act), immigration, voting, access to federal benefits (Medicare, Social Security), and student loans. There is an initial study due one year after enactment, and then one year following that report an update of what actions the federal government has taken based on recommendations from the initial report.
I just received this comment privately, and am passing it on.
“Caroline Maloney is really going out on a limb with her bill to create a presidential commission for US expats. I really think she needs some political cover here and I think it would be a good idea for us to write to her and thank her for her initiative even if we aren’t her constituents.
Her contact info is here. She has a special form for comments from people outside her district.”
You can visit the new ACA web site here.
*I found the bills but I suspect my link will expire in 30 minutes too. Interestingly enough the legislation in 1992 was co-sponsored by Repubican Benjamin Gilman of New York who served in Congress until 2003.
*The two bills Alexander introduced were:
Overseas American Economic Competition Enhancement Act of 1991 – H.R.2430
Overseas American Economic Competition Enhancement Act of 1992 – H.R.4562
Thanks Tim. The below links should be permanent:
@Tim, @Michael, @Eric, I didn’t know that the links expired. The bills are:
H.R. 2428, Overseas United States Citizens’ Representation in the Congress Act of 1991
H.R. 2429, Overseas American Children’s Human Rights Act of 1991
H.R. 2430, Overseas American Economic Competition Enhancement Act of 1991
H.R. 4560, Overseas United States Citizens’ Representation in the Congress Act of 1992
H.R. 4561, Overseas American Children’s Human Rights Act of 1992
H.R. 4562, Overseas American Economic Competition Enhancement Act of 1992
As Tim mentioned, the 1992 bills were co-sponsored by Benjamin Gilman.
The links still don’t work, but you can find the bills this way:
Go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/LegislativeData.php?&n=BSS&c=102 (already selected the 102nd Congress, 1991-1992)
Type “overseas” in the search box
Under House Members, click on “Alexander, Bill”
The six bills should appear.
*I thank you all but especially Mr. Conklin. We have this in common: he has worked in Brazil and knows what this entails. Since 2009, when I learned about the FBARS I have been distressed to the point of now being close to having to aks professional help for my mental status. I am surprised that not more Americans, Dual Citizens and Green Carders have not protested more against these traps that Mr. Shulman set for us which he calls “amnesty”. If I had my way ACA http://www.aca.ch would by now have at least 1.000.000 members. Maybe I am an isolated casualty because I lived and worked 30 years of my life in the USA, became a citizen and then decided to come back to my country of origin. Then the nightmare started. I have considered stopping working ( I will be 80), return to the USA, follow the advice of the IRS and renounce my citizenship (this hurt my feelings after spending and loving this Country for 30 years). I have consulted US CPAs and Tax Lawyers and to this date I am not sure that the IRS is not going to come a take way my savings that would allow me to stop working. I think about this 24 hours a day. Everything that Roger said is true. He has been a great help to me and I want to thank him publicly here. At this point I am paralised and don´t know what to do. Regards to all.
@Per Shadow Raider. Text of bill released…
Many feel as you do, which I describe as betrayal by a country I once had some pride in being a citizen of. Because of the ambush aspect of FBAR, and the fact that FBAR and FATCA even exist as measures of mistrust in me, I’ve concluded that I’m only of value as revenue to the US. That is a bitter pill to swallow coming from a country that prides itself on its egalitarianism. It’s been a year since this nightmare began for me and my husband, and I lately have been doing a bit of reflection on my journey. This time has been emotionally gruelling and is now becoming unsustainable for me if I am to survive mentally. I have decided that in order to find enjoyment in my life once again, I must allow myself to feel satisfaction in knowing that I am making every effort I can to rectify the situation and maintain the belief that through my effort I may be contributing to change. These are the darkest hours when it all seems hopeless, and perhaps maybe it is, and I am trying to find peace even in the worst of outcomes. Regardless of the outcome, I will not allow the US government to destroy my soul. My wonderful life in Canada has been there for me for the last year and I am grateful for that. I can’t throw that life away so in turning away from the ugly mess, for even a moment, it allows me to believe that I will not be consumed by it. Try to take the enjoyment back that has been robbed of you, even if it’s only a bit at a time. It’s yours and you deserve to have it.
Thank you very much. Yes, I am trying hard to have the few years left to me in this world. In my 45 years of being an American Citizen (dual citizen) I only lost faith in the fairness of the US government in the last three years when, over night, I became an “outlaw” having to defend myself of crimes that I did not commit. It has been a long road. Hundreds or not thousands of e-mails, dozens of consultations trying to do the right thing. And above all, fear that kept me awake in the night. When I first learned about FBARS I thought that Mr. Shulman would give us an amnesty (that is the name he gave to his program) and that all I need to do was to start filling them that year. But then I learned that he wanted to go back in years and he was going to give me incredible penalties for now knowing about it (and I had an US CPA!). I consulted a US Tax Lawyer who scared me to death and wanted 15,000 dollars up front to “save me from jail”. That is when the nightmare started. Up to this date. My US CPA never told me to file FBARS because traditionally the USA was not going after Americans Living and Working Abroad. This made sense to me because we had an Income Exclusion and Tax Credits from the taxes we paid in the country where we where working. But Mr. Shulman is not going after this. He is going after us failing to file FBARS for not knowing. He found a way to collect money from us setting this trap. He placed us in the same boat as Americans Living in the USA who have hided investments in foreign banks in order not to pay taxes. I refuse to believe that he did not and do not the differences between these two groups of Americans. I can not renounce my citizenship as the IRS recommended to me. I have daughters, son a grande daughter in the USA. I have investments in the USA (I never invested one cent of I earned in the USA in the country where I am living and working know). So I am doing what I can, trying to follow your advice. But my life has changed and this has affected my family and my work, For the first time in my life I regret having become an US citizen 45 years ago.
Please don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. I just lost a friend to depression, which is treatable. Things can get better.
Thanks. I am not that bad. Just annoyed and anxious. I hope this month I will be able to send my IRS Return that I have been working on since January 2012. A lot of work because the banks here don´t give the information the IRS wants and I have to go to them. And the accounting here not always is the same as the accounting in the USA. I am working with a US CPA and a Brazilian CPA. Be sure that I have enough reasons to be alive besides money and I am sure that sooner or later this ordeal created by Mr. Shulman will be over. I only feel sorry because I am very much for Obama and I have contributed for his re-election, but now I am conflicted about voting for him. Sad.
What keeps me from complete despair is feeling confident that this will one day be behind me! Best of luck with setting things right.
Just adding to the archive:
Friday, August 17, 2012
‘Presidential Commission on U.S. Expats?’
……The New York Times writes about a possible Presidential Commission on U.S. Expatriates. I welcome this, but I’m concerned when we consider Obama’s campaign promises to expatriates in 2008.”….
Thought I’d see what happened to this bill.
H.R. 6263 (112th): Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act
Died (Referred to Committee)
This bill was introduced on August 1, 2012, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted.
Aug 01, 2012
Referred to Committee
Aug 01, 2012
*badger, with 16+ trillion debt, America cannot afford to finance this and thus it is good that it died. America doesn’t need to waste money to learn the obvious. Rather, it just needs to open its eyes and look beyond its borders.
@swisspinoy, the mere fact of introducing the bill might have raised awareness of our issues. It was a long shot. Re; “America doesn’t need to waste money to learn the obvious”..
Well they appear to be deliberately and willfully blind to the obvious. They do not want to know or acknowledge what we are saying. Denying > 6 million abroad a chance to have their issues identified, while fully taxing and penalizing them shows that. They want to keep us chained and available to tap at will. I consider that the cost of the commission would have reflected only a small portion of the cost of lifelong compliance they are intent on making us bear.
They would have been buying some goodwill – at a cheap price. Now it is confirmed that they have no intention or interest in us other than harvesting our already taxed assets earned abroad where we live, work and many have been born. They squandered an opportunity.
*badger, that sums it up nicely. No matter how much they spend, they will continue to choose to be “deliberately and willfully blind to the obvious”. The reasoning for this is to “taxed assets earned abroad where we live, work and many have been born”, since those without representation cannot defend themselves from political corruption.
The only thing that will get the attention of politicians in Washington about the plight of America’s ex-pats is when the number of renunciations gets high enough that they are forced to do something about it.
*@FromTheWilderness, how high it “high enough?”
Although renunciations are up the numbers are still really tiny compared with the number of people who are trying to get in and clamoring for US citizenship. Renunciations are up from about 200 per year 10 years ago to 1,781 in 2011, but this is still such a small number compared to the more than half a million that become naturalized US citizens every year that I sincerely doubt that the number will every become so high as to become “alarming” in Washington. Renunciation used to be free, but fairly recently a $450 renunciation fee was instituted. If renunciations of US citizens living abroad were to surge into the hundreds of thousands per year, then it might be considered “alarming,” but I just don’t see that happening during my lifetime.
Remember that the waiting period to obtain a US visa to relocate to the US is usually several years long, unless there are special circumstances.
I read yesterdy in the Miami Herald that the waiting line in Cuba at the US Interests Section in Havana, which operates under the auspices of the Swiss Embassy, to obtain a tourist visa to visit the US, just as a tourist, is aout 5 years. There are a very few Caribbean countries (one of them is Trinidad and Tobago) to which Cuban citizens can travel without an entry visa issued by that country.
Starting this month Cubans supposedly no longer have to obtain exit visa authorization to travel abroad. All they need is a Cuban passport and a visa from the country they intend to visit issued by that country, plus of course an airline ticket which, because of the limited resources of most Cubans, must be prepaid by a relative or someone else outside of Cuba. The average salary in Cuba hovers around $20 per month, regardless of whether the person is a street sweeper or a brain surgeon. This “no exit visa requred” begins on January 15, so eyes are on Cuba to see how this is really going to work.
@Roger, re the number of renunciants, I was very disappointed to see that although the Taxpayer Advocate noted the dramatic increase in her report – and highlighted the size of the increase, the footnote for the source of her stats seemed to be the Federal Register which seems to be only ‘covered’ expatriates, and perhaps not an accurate list even of those in that category.
It would have helped if she could have noted that those figures were most likely higher – as we know they have to be given the numbers and instances that IBS is tracking that do not appear on the published lists, and the numbers of spots which get filled fast on the Consular services appointment system here in Canada alone.
An official acknowledgement that the published numbers on the Register (sourced from the IRS itself?) are far lower than the actuals (as processed by the State Department and Consulates ) would have been more powerful.
See the source below, for other evidence of the discrepancy in the numbers cited;
…”The Department of State itself unwittingly published an interesting report which highlights the unreliability of the data. In a June 2009 cost of services study commissioned by State to analyze consular fees, the fiscal year 2009 workload for documentation of renunciation of citizenships is stated to be 1,188. Presumably, this means that 1,188 renunciation cases were documented from October 1, 2008 to September 30,
2009 (the dates of the U.S. government 2009 fiscal year). However, according to the expatriation lists published in the Federal Register, there were 295 unique renunciation cases in that period.
In fact, in all of fiscal years 2008 and 2009, there were only 606 unique renunciation cases reported in the Federal Register. So we have no idea how the independent analysts who made the Department of State report arrived at the figure of 1,188, but clearly it bears little relation to the information published by Treasury in the Federal Register. [A separate issue is that the State study was conducted from August 2007 to June 2009, and is referred to by State documents as the “June 2009 cost of services study”, begging the question of how any of the information could incorporate data through September 30, 2009. According to the Federal Register data, there were only 552 unique renunciations in the entire 2 year period roughly corresponding to the period of the study, highlighting even further the unreliability of the data.]”…
I put this up on a couple other threads, but thought I would add here. A great read from that other foreign country, Alaska, and the frustration of lack of IRS services. Sound familiar?? Thanks @Blaze for alerting me to this…
Direct link to the Letter to the Editor
IT IS NOT INEPTNESS OR INCOMPETENCE, THE IRS IS STEALING FROM YOU
*@Bager, Your comments on the real number of renunciants being undoubtedly larger than reported in the Federal Register bring up an important point which perhaps there is a way to pursue. At least there ought to be.
Each person who renounces is issued a CLN by the State Department. I can’t believe that the State Department does not carefully record each and every CLN issued. Most certainly they are all issued at one specific point in the State Department so theere must exist somewhere a very accurate accounting of the number of these issued. There is proably one person in the State Department who has immediate authority over and access to these numbers. I would be willing to bet that somewhere there is a log book with a record of CLNs that is updated each time one is issued.
Are these CLNs by chance numbered? Having never seen one, I don’t even know what they look like. Perhaps one of the contributors to this blog who has a CLN might be able to scan it and let us all see what it looks like, blacking out any personal data that should remain confidential of course.
I just fail to understand why this information is not readily available.
IMHO, once FATCA starts to kick in, the number of renunciations and relinquishments among long-term expats will significantly rise. When people with US indicia start receiving letters from their banks demanding they prove they are not US persons, the numbers will rise. The only people who will tolerate such treatment are those who plan on returning to the US at some point in the future. Those who don’t will most likely go through with formally the plug.
Look at how many people renounced in Switzerland due to the banks coming under pressure. Some articles posted here indicate that Israeli banks have recently begun to come under pressure and as a result, are starting to squeeze their customers. Watch how many renunciations will happen there.
In the eyes of virtually every homelander, US citizenship is the greatest thing on earth and everybody wants to be an American. But once it becomes known that large numbers of Americans abroad are rejecting it, it will become a political issue. IMHO, the rejection of US citizenship is very sensitive to the American psyche. It goes against everything Americans believe in.
Here’s a link to the CLN on the State Dept’s website.
I just took a look at mine:
The CLN was filled in by the consul, who signed and dated it and affixed the seal of the consulate at the bottom.
Then in Washington, that blank box in the upper right hand corner was rubber stamped in blue “Approved – Overseas Citizens Services – Department of State – By CA/OCS/ACS/WHA” and the approval date was rubber stamped there in black.
As for your question about if they’re numbered, no serial number appears on it.
I agree with you that undoubtedly they must keep statistics on how many are issued.
I would find it interesting if they released statistics on how many are issued each year — and also break that down with stats indicating the years in which the actual loss of citizenship occurred. Not sure that’s worded clearly — I’m referring to the backdated CLNs — like how many CLNs issued last year are based on 1970 loss of citizenship, how many on 1971, etc. As suddenly they’re dealing with issuing CLNs with effective dates going back 50 or 60 years because so few people ever heard of CLNs until fairly recently, let alone needed one.
From what I’ve read in the past year, I have a feeling that people in the US might be quite shocked to learn that that termination of US citizenship has been occurring, probably pretty steadily, throughout history (or at least our lifetimes), as well as suddenly skyrocketing.
“once FATCA starts to kick in, the number of renunciations and relinquishments among long-term expats will significantly rise…
once it becomes known that large numbers of Americans abroad are rejecting it, it will become a political issue”
I believe you will be proven right, and the increased political awareness will likely result in a period of demonization of expats and possible punishment as the Chuck Schumer’s of the world have proven they’re eager and more than willing to dole out.