Petros made some great suggestions about how to get the word out and make it stick. As I was brainstorming the other night it occurred to me that this is an election year and, if we take the right actions, we just might get some traction with some people who would otherwise happily ignore the whole business. These are 3 easy things that I have done or will do and I offer them to you as suggestions. If you have your own ideas, feel free to add them in the comments section:
1. Contact the U.S. Political Parties: There are overseas groups of the major political parties who are right now trying to drum up support among overseas Americans. I belonged to one and I sent them a letter two days ago asking them to cancel my membership. In my note I informed them that I was not giving them any more money and that I would not be supporting their candidate in the 2012 presidential elections nor any other member of their party running in the national elections because of FATCA and their support for IRS efforts to hunt down hard-working Americans overseas. If you are not willing to do this, then contact them anyway and express your deep concern about this issue. Tell them that you will give them your support if they are willing to publicly take a stand on this issue (FATCA, FBAR, “amnesty programs”) Here are the websites of the overseas branches of the two major parties: Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad.
2. Contact friends and family in the U.S.: Maybe you can’t vote for some reason in the 2012 elections but they can. Send them a copy of the National Taxpayer Advocate report. If you haven’t already, tell them how this is impacting you and encourage them to write letters to the local paper or to contact their representatives. Be personal and specific and demonstrate how this will effect them. “Would you like to continue to have your American grand-children visit you during the summer? Or “Are you OK with the fact that we are so scared that we may not be coming to see you in the U.S. in the foreseeable future?” Nasty? No, this is reality for a lot of people. I told my friends and family who I was NOT voting for in 2012 and got some really angry mail back. “You can’t do that!” Well, actually I can and will.
3. Register to vote: I know, I know, I know that some people are scared to do this or they think it’s a waste of time and I’m not going to criticize anyone who prefers not to. I’d just point out that, in my humble opinion, the time for hiding our heads in the sand has come and gone. If FATCA goes forward and, since there are more and more international data-sharing initiatives, the chances of being found are dramatically increasing every year. Do we all want to sit back and watch our accounts in our host countries being closed (and just try living in the EU with nothing but cash)? The 2012 elections will be tight and so few people vote in the U.S. anyway that I think large numbers of requests for absentee ballots coming in from overseas will make them sit up and take notice. And, trust me, it isn’t even that hard to do – the states are REQUIRED to mail you a ballot anywhere you are in the world (see UOCAVA and the MOVE act. There are several organizations out there that have wizards that will guide you through the process. I’m convinced that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by voting.