Congressional Progressive Caucus “Budget For All” would end Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, one of the larger Democratic Party caucuses, has proposed to end the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion in their 2013 “Budget For All”, details of which were revealed yesterday following a vague press release last week. As U.S. persons abroad have already learned, when American homelanders use words like “all” and “us”, we are decidedly not included, except when they want money from us. Indeed, with this latest budget proposal, even members of the Americans Abroad Caucus have come out in support of eliminating the FEIE.

This one appears to be the brainchild of Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the CPC’s co-chair Correction: the “Budget For All” is the brainchild of Mike Honda (D-CA), chairman of the CPC’s Budget Taskforce and a member of the Americans Abroad Caucus. John Tierney (D-MA), whose so-called Tax Equity And Middle Class Fairness Act proposed the same thing in July 2011, is also a CPC member. Both Grijalva and the other CPC co-chair Keith Ellison (D-MN) were supporters of Tierney’s earlier bill. Details are very sketchy at this point, but in the CPC’s “executive summary” they give a one-line mention of eliminating the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion at page 3 under the heading “Individual Income Tax Policies”. Then at page 17 they repeat the tired old projection that eliminating the FEIE would raise $71 billion over 10 years, starting from $4 billion in 2013 and growing to $9 billion.

This projection ignores the obvious fact that people respond to new taxes by changing their behaviour. We U.S. persons outside of the U.S. have many options, none of which contribute to Grijalva’s goals. We may increase our use of the Foreign Tax Credit, thus incurring far greater tax preparation costs due to the higher complexity of Form 1116, leading to new Ferraris and island vacations for accountants, but little additional revenue for the Treasury. We may return home and add to the ranks of the U.S. job-seekers just like our predecessors did a generation ago, the last time Congress eliminated the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion in the 1970s before hastily restoring it three years later — though not before U.S. exports had collapsed as American businesspeople abroad abandoned emerging markets to German and Japanese competitors. Or we may renounce U.S. citizenship and get away from a government and a public which shows no understanding that we are already taxed where we live, which keeps making it more difficult for us to live normal lives abroad, and which sees us as nothing more than easy pickings for further plunder.

The CPC claims that their budget “asks those who have benefited most from our economy to pay a sensible share”. This principle makes perfect sense to me. All I ask in return is a sensible share of federal highway and educational funding given the location where I reside. The definition of “sensible” that two hundred other countries and territories in the world use would suggest both those “shares” should be zero. The CPC definition of “sensible”, on the other hand, would suggest that they’d better get busy on building me an interstate highway. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip to Hawaii.

Honda’s contact details can be found here if you would like to tell him what you think of his plan. He is also on Twitter: @RepMikeHonda

Update: One other thing worth noting. The membership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus includes the head of the Americans Abroad Caucus along with eight other AAC members. That’s fully a third of the AAC’s membership. The list:

  • Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
  • Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • Andre Carson (D-IN)
  • Donna Christensen (D-VI; non-voting)
  • Steven Cohen (D-TN)
  • Mike Honda (D-CA) — chairman of the CPC’s Budget Taskforce which produced the “Budget For All”
  • Jim McGovern (D-MA)
  • Jim Moran (D-VA)
  • Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) — spoke out in support of the “Budget For All” in a YouTube video
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74 thoughts on “Congressional Progressive Caucus “Budget For All” would end Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

  1. John Tierney is a real sweetheart. His sister’s family was embroiled in an illegal internet gambling operation see – http://cnhinews.com/node/2042

    However John claims no knowledge – so he never questioned where is brother-in-law’s income came from? This goes back to the old story of Massachusetts politicians and corruption. Let’s remember the ex-speaker of the Mass House, Sal DiMasi, is serving time in the federal pen as we speak.

    John….collecting ex-pat money is expensive and doesn’t create the revenues needed by the federal government – start voting for taxes that are collectible within the borders of the US!

  2. Good. It’s time for FEIE to go.

    It is akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” in that it masks the problem by sheltering 81% of Americans abroad from the egregious double-tax-system of Foreign Tax Credit.

    When I speak to my compatriots, they are either completely unaware (which covers more than 50% of them) or they are lulled into complacency because FEIE hides the vicious truths.

    At a Democrats Abroad meeting with Tim Kaine, just before FATCA was signed, members pleaded with him to stop the craziness. The leadership and many of the members asked people to stop talking taxes so that we could hear more about Reconciliation strategy for health care and what the Democrats will do to combat Fox News.

    One of the officials said “these issues don’t affect me and I would appreciate it if we can talk more about party issues”. That person is a UN employee and pays no local tax and because of FEIE, pays no US tax.

    Until we are in this together, we will be fighting alone. Killing FEIE is the best thing the Democrats can do for us – even if their intentions were driven by greed.

  3. One more thing – it gives on-shore Americans an excuse to look the other way… and they use that excuse all the time to justify their complacency.

  4. “Grijalva claims that his budget “asks those who have benefited most from our economy to pay a sensible share”.

    How any one can argue that “those who have benefited most from the economy includes US persons who live and work overseas, some of whom may never have set foot in the US, is beyond me.

  5. What do you mean when you say that she doesn’t pay any local tax? Do people working for the UN pay their taxes back to the UN budget or nothing at all? What rate are they taxed at?

    As to the article, what always bothers me the most about these changes in US law is not what they actually want to do, but rather how they always portray the situation:

    “Grijalva claims that his budget “asks those who have benefited most from our economy to pay a sensible share””

    I don’t know about others here, but when I lived briefly in the US my schooling was paid for entirely by my parents (they sent me to a European school because they were rightly worried about how US qualifications would transfer back home) and the last time I checked the US government did not cover any of my medical care whilst I was here. I have benfitted and continue to benefit from the EU and Belgium, who have both supported my education, training, health and so on. This is where I pay my taxes Mr. Grijalva and where I receive my benefits. Whatever benefits I received from the US whilst a resident I paid when I was resident. I do not live in the US anymore and do not use any US services or receive any benefits whatsoever from the US or from holding US citizenship. Take note.

  6. One of the reasons some type of protest in Windsor is so appealing to me is that if some of your don’t already know Carl Levin’s brother is a left wind congressman from Michigan too and his sister is a Federal judge in Detroit. So there is a bit of Levin family dynasty in Michigan.

  7. @all- how does living abroad equate with having gotten some disproportionate benefit from America? Even if we had why is it okay to wage “class warfare” against one segment of American society?
    Living abroad is a right and not a privilige. Paying taxes where we live is obedience to the laws of the governments under which we live and derieve our livelihood.
    We cost them nothing so we owe them nothing. All that they want to do is to spread America’s dysfuntional legislative system beyond their borders.

  8. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is my impression that there are international agreements that exempt all employees of certain international organizations from being subject to income tax either by their home country or their country of residence.

    Also, US govenment employes (diplomats and others) by virtue of their diplomatic passports, are never subject to taxation by their foreign country of residence and the same is true of foreign diplomats in th US. US govenment diplomats and other Federal Government employees abroad do not benefit from the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion but are subject to US tax on their full Federal salaries. Unlike priviate US citizens employed abroad, they are not subject to US tax on reimbursements for such things as private school tuition, cost of living allowances, government provided automobiles and private security, employer (the government) provided housing or housing allowances, home leave transportation for themselves and their families and the savings they enjoy as a result of being able to purchase their daily necessities from government provided PX facilities which are not subject to tax by local governments.

    I don’t know about this latest bill to abolish the FEIE, but some prior bills would also ablolish the tax free status of these reimbursements and ‘in kind’ income for Government employees abroad.. I suspect this would result in some cases of diplomats ending up with tax obligations that exceed their salaries so you can bet your bottom dollar such a measure would be fought tooth and nail by US dimplmats and others abroad on the Federal payroll.

  9. End of the FEIE would end all semblance of supposed income tax relief for USP’s abroad, and would strengthen our argument against the abomination of US tax policy (although make the life of some currently compliant individuals impossible in certain foreign countries). The FTC is often not enough to eliminate double taxation. The result is that people may be taxed at a higher rate than their corresponding purchasing power. Persons should be taxed at the same rate as their neighbors who have the same income, same deductions, and same purchasing power.

    Imagine a USP who has several children whose spouse does not or cannot work or whose spouse has a very low income. Imagine that such a family lives in a country with a high cost of living but a lower local effective tax rate for their income, when adjusted for the current exchange rate of the US Dollar. If they fall into a higher US tax bracket, despite the lower foreign tax, they would be required to pay additional tax to the US. This not only discriminates economically against such a hypothetical family, but also robs funds out of the local economy where the family lives. Such a situation might result in the inability of the family to pay it’s bills.

    One could also imagine a family as above, but where the foreign spouse works, but cannot pay the family expenses alone without the USP’s contribution. The foreign spouse’s share of local tax would not be deductible under current US tax regulations, possibly resulting in a US tax burden rendering life impossible for the family.

    All of this having been said, despite the current FEIE, some families are already in an impossible situation, and some individual “compliant” USP’s are already economically disadvantaged compared to their neighbors who pay only local tax.

    Double taxation of foreign earned income by citizens abroad has been denounced by the US through UN Resolution (in the case of Eritrea).

  10. Here is the link to the US Government website which describes the taxation and non-taxation of diplomats and employees of international organizaions and how these apply to US citizens deployed abroad.
    Lots of loops to jump through, but some indeed to escape taxation by any country.

    link.

  11. @Roger US government employees can’t take the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion against wages they earned from the government. So US consular staff sent abroad are tax-exempt where they are stationed, but pay normal US taxes instead as if they lived in DC. In contrast, UN employees are also exempt from tax in the countries where they are stationed (part of the treaty on rights and privileges of UN employees which all UN members have signed), but unlike US diplomats they are not US government employees and so do get the foreign earned income exclusion. Hence they can live entirely tax free.

    One odd consequence of the tax exemption for UN employees is that one cannot be a US green-card holder and a UN employee at the same time. I wrote a post about the history of that policy on my personal blog a few weeks ago for those who are interested.

  12. One thing the FEIE does is make US companies more competitive when bidding on foreign contracts. Canada has something similar, the Overseas Employment Tax Credit (although it is only applicable primarily in resource and construction projects).

    Repeal of the FEIE is shooting oneself in the foot. Surprise!!!

  13. It was the massive cutback of the FEIE and the court decision that classified company reimburesements as taxable income back in 1976 that destroyed US domination of the turnkey engineering and project construciton business in the middle east. It is not that the FEIE gives US copanies an advantage over foreign competitors in labor intensive projects abroad, but it reduces their non-competiveness, since no other country in the world subjects its citizens who are bona-filde residents of a foreign country to any home country income tax at all on their foreign income. Other countries have in effect what is an unlimited foreign earned income excluson. US companies with these projects quickly disappeared from the International competition for these contracts, and along with the loss of this foreign revenue, US exports nosedived because the foreign companies that took over this market sourced the goods to implement these projects from their own national suppliers rather than from the US.

    Total elimination of the FEIE exclusion will nearly totally destroy the ability of US citizens to live in work in those countries of the world which do not raise their rvenues through an income tax, or where their tax rates are signficantly below those of the US.

    Those in Congress who are bound determined to eliminate this FEIE “revenue expenditure” will find that the results fall far short of expectations if this legislation is enacted, but they wlll not bother to ask why or do anything to rectify this mistake.

    Any percentage tax rate on zero income is still zero.

  14. @Hazy

    The Overseas Employment Tax Credit is for people who are tax residents of Canada. The vast majority of Canadian citizens working overseas are not tax residents of Canada. Now there can be issues with determining tax residency in Canada that are bit tricky but my sense is the Canadian system works far better than the American one.

  15. @hazy2- and there is the rub. Canada’s FEIE is used by those who are working abroad without giving up their Canadian residence or financial interests. If you are a Canadian citizen who has move abroad to live- an emigrant- then you are not taxed by Canada at all because Canada has territorial based taxation.
    In contrast to this the U.S. puts all of its citizens under the same taxation regime without regard to whether or not a citizen has actually emigrated. The U.S. assumes that we are all temporarily absent and that we may want to return.
    In this regard I liken U.S. citizenship to being a barnacle. It attaches itself to a moving object and then easily feeds off of the food that its unwilling host stirs up as it moves through the seas. The only difference between the barnacle and U.S. citizenship being is that at least the barnacle does no harm in exchange for its free ride. Whereas U.S. citizenship actually is parasitical and functions more like a tick or flea.

  16. @recalcitrantexpat: The US citizenship based tax policy is even worse than you describe. You are taxed not because of where you live, but because you have US citizenship. Even if you were born abroad to just one US citizen parent, don’t speak a word of English, have never held a US passport nor ever even once set foot on US territory, you are a US citizen and are taxed in the same way as the person born in the US who has never been out of the city where he was born. Not only that the American abroad must maintain much more detailed records, use accurate exchange rates in converting foreign currency values into dollars, file additional forms that are so complex that they can’t possibly do it without competent and therefore expensive professional assistance, or fall into the trap of non-compliance penalties that will totally destroy him. And he must pay his US tax in US dollars even though his income is in a foreign currency in a country which may both prohibit the conversion of that currency into dollars and their removal from that country to pay taxes to a foreign government which, in accordance with the laws of that country, has no authority to either levy or collect taxes from residents of that country.

    Your description of the parasitical characteric of the citizenship barnacle hits the bullseye.

  17. @recalcitrantexpat, re; “The only difference between the barnacle and U.S. citizenship being is that at least the barnacle does no harm in exchange for its free ride. Whereas U.S. citizenship actually is parasitical and functions more like a tick or flea.” – I had to laugh when the full image hit me.

  18. Characterizing U.S. citizenship as a tick or flea is a bit too benign for my tastes. It’s more like a full-on facehugger from the Alien films:

  19. I actually hope they get ridf the FEIE because finally, then, will the majority of U.S. persons abroad be forced to get their heads out of the sand. Many of the USPAs I know think that filing U.S. taxes is no problem, but that is only because they lump all of their income under the FEIE (even unearned income). If everyone is forced to use the 1016 then maybe there will be more of an uproar.

  20. @Hazy2 – you need to think out of the US domestic box:
    “One thing the FEIE does is make US companies more competitive when bidding on foreign contracts.”
    should read:
    “One thing the FEIE does is make US companies less uncompetitive when bidding on foreign contracts.”

  21. @redgrad, Even today lumping all foreign income, both earned and unearned and classifying it as Earned is fraudulent tax evasion.

  22. I just found out something absolutely ridiculous. This “Budget for All” was not written by Raul Grijalvas (I mistakenly assumed that because it was on his website). Actually it was written by Mike Honda (D-CA). Mike Honda is a member of the Americans Abroad Caucus. The fact that an Americans Abroad Caucus member would propose eliminating the FEIE demonstrates very clearly how seriously he takes his membership in the caucus, and how “devoted” this caucus is to promoting our interests.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_20253586/rep-mike-honda-presents-his-budget-all-counter?source=rss

    I updated the post to reflect this information.

  23. @Roger: I know that, but many USPAs have no clue about how to properly report foreign income. Hell, many of them still have no idea that they’re supposed to file!

  24. @Eric

    The Am Abroad Caucus reminds me of the “photography club” in high school. 90% of its members are there because it looks good on a college application.

  25. We are like pin cushions for these politicians. They can say anything they want to to look good because we can say nothing back.

  26. @eric- too bad this isn’t a court case because then at least clients could pead that a new trial be granted under the claim of “ineffective representation”.
    It is indeed obvious that they are not interested in or capable of giving their constituents the most effective representation possible. Bascially they are entering a plea of guilty.

  27. We need some sort of tax protest that will catch the eye of the US media. The FBAR protest has been mentioned in other blogs.

    Unless we find people who are immune from the IRS to start, what all these blogs are doing is p*ssi*ng in the wind. That’s what the IRS thinks.

    Dual citizens should try to put political and legal roadblocks in the way where possible. The US Congress is certainly not going to listen.

  28. I guess since I am not working overseas, and considered retired, then from a self centered stand point I don’t care if they eliminate the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. I think, there are many retirees in Latin America, like Mexico and Costa Rica that pay no attention to these issues, as they think it doesn’t affect them. Some are about to be woke up with the form 8938 when they only raised a siesta eye towards the FBAR and yawned.

    So, in some ways I hope the Democrats they are stupid enough to eliminate it, as it might focus some attention on how destructive this entire subject of Citizenship taxation is.

    The point of this proposed change, is like so many tax related issues, is that Congress is constantly changing the rules, and what you are relying today, might be entirely different tomorrow. Maybe it will take elimination of sending Social Security checks to people residing outside of America (as that is not fair, is it?) to get those with their heads out of the sand to wake up to the issues and how America continues to engage in self mutilation when it comes to fiscal and trade deficit issues.

  29. @Roger

    Your comment:

    “Total elimination of the FEIE exclusion will nearly totally destroy the ability of US citizens to live in work in those countries of the world which do not raise their rvenues through an income tax, or where their tax rates are signficantly below those of the US.”

    is very astute.

    Furthermore, this comment of yours is worth a second read by all:

    http://isaacbrocksociety.com/2012/03/27/congressional-progressive-caucus-budget-for-all-would-end-foreign-earned-income-exclusion/#comment-11065

    __________________________________

    Part of the problem is that most countries use consumption taxes in a big way. From time to time Petros has suggested that the Foreign Tax Credit (since it is restricted to income taxes) is not a very fair way to design a tax credit. It doesn’t adequately provide for a credit for taxes actually paid in Canada. U.S. citizens are seriously disadvantaged in any country that raises tax revenue in ways other than the income tax.

    I don’t think that (other than the paperwork) that elimination of the FEIE will make much difference to people living in Canada who have the benefit of the tax treaty. U.S. persons living in countries that don’t have tax treaty are finished – plain and simple. Just plain finished. That aside, elimination of the FEIE is one more stupid proposal. In fact, the Isaac Brock Society should write a play about “American Exceptionalism”. This proposal is of “exceptional calibre”.

    Somebody should pick up the phone and say:

    Hi, we see that you are desperate to eliminate something. Do yourselves a favor and eliminate citizenship-based taxation! You would be surprised how much good it will do you.

  30. So if I understand this correctly, the Americans Abroad Caucus:

    http://aaro.org/lobbying/americans-abroad-caucus

    is proposing to repeal the only piece of legislation, the FEIE, that provides at least a token amount of relief for Americans living and working abroad.

    Who elected these people and what is their purpose?

    From what is written on the AARO website, they seem to be self-appointed and not accountable in any way to the people they claim to represent.

    So what is in it for these AAC people besides justifying some all-expense paid pleasure trips abroad?

    The only thing they seem to be accomplishing is selling out the people they are pretending to represent.

    The only thing worse than taxation without representation is taxation with make-believe representation—and still no benefits in return.

    The psychosis of these people is incomprehensible.

  31. @John “We need some sort of tax protest that will catch the eye of the US media. The FBAR protest has been mentioned in other blogs. ”

    The US wants you to play their game exactly or renounce. No fudging or cheating, or anything in between. The SAFEST route for anyone NOT living in the US is to renounce, unfortunately.

    Renouncing is unfortunate, but options are scarce, just two! And to be 100% compliant is next-to-impossible, given that accounting standards and actual taxation differs between countries.

    If you want the media to catch onto our “plight” – you might as well sit down because you’ll be waiting for a long time. Doesn’t anyone ever think it ODD that stuff like this never appears in the media?? It’s almost as if things that don’t copy the government line to the T are excluded.

  32. @all- have any of you ever heard of a Congressman or Senator who ever proposed a bill that asked the federal government to raise the taxes on his/her constituents? This just shows of how little importance an expat is to the political process.
    Israel has more representation in Washington than does an expat and Israel isn’t even a State.

  33. @recalcitrantexpat

    I hate to point out the obvious, but Israel has ALWAYs had more representation in Congress than ANYONE else. I don’t know why we don’t just annex them make them the 51st State. They are truly the tail that wags the dog, so maybe they have annexed us. It is what it is.

  34. @JustMe

    To be fair though I don’t think Israel or Dual Israeli-American citizens have any more influence on US tax policy than anyone else

  35. @tim- my comment was not made with reference to Israel’s influence on American tax policy but in relationship to Israel’s very powerful Washington lobby and the fact that politicians in Washington covet being seen as supporters of Israel.
    This is in total contrast to their deafening silence and outright hostility when it comes to expat Americans and what would be best for them.

  36. @Tim

    I think I read somewhere that Israeli banks started closing the larger accounts of any possible Dual Israeli-American citizens in the very early days of FATCA. Maybe the Israeli banks are just smarter than the rest of us.

    Those dual citizens may have just moved their money into hard assets instead of keeping money in a bank account. If you don’t consider yourself a dual citizen which alot of Israelis might not, then they wouldn’t be reporting their assets to the IRS.

    Because of how Israeli citizenship works, renouncing US citizenship even back when it was automatic upon taking the oath of another country wouldn’t work for them. Remember they don’t have to apply for Israeli citizenship, it’s automatically given to them.

  37. @all, You can see how important expats are to the Democratic Progressive Council. Eliminating the FEIE willl mean” just a little” increase in taxes for those living abroad – only $19,627, which is the tax on $92.500 of income.

    What these guys assume is that changes in taxation do not have the effect of changing their behavior. The Joint Tax Commission of the House and Senate, which determines the reveue effect of tax changes, assume that there will be no behavioral change by those affected. Why? Since they don’t know what or how much that change would be, for their tax revenue calculations they always assume there would be no change, and that those affected will just shell out the additonal tax as if they have endless resoureces Particulary in countries where there is a low income tax rate, or no income tax at all, what will really happen is a good many will throw in the towel and come home. Those with dual citizenship will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, give serious consideration to renouning their US citizenship; painful as that may be. .

    It won’t affect retires though, because retirement income is not classed as Earned Income It is passive income and already fully subject to US income tax.

  38. @omghesstillanamerican, as a possible point of interest , the Treasury Department’s official figures for 2006, which are the most recent available, disclose that 8,966 Form 2555 “Foreign Earned Income Excluson” tax forms were filed showing addresses in Israel for those filing the forms.

    That compres with 30,087 in Canada.and 6,112 in Mexico. With these low numbers it is easy to understand why the minnows as well as the whales are targets of FATCA, FBAR and everything else.

  39. @Tim,

    I have often wondered with as many dual citizens as there must be in Israel, and many of them with positions of influence in Israel and in the US, how many of them are effected by all these Citizenship Tax related issues? How many entered the OVDP/OVDI? How many have filed FBARS? How many will FATCA affect? How many are non compliant with their US tax obligations, or as @omghesstillanamerican says, how many have moved money into hard assets somewhere else already. Wonder what if any lobbying is being done to crave out exceptions, exclusions, special considerations, etc. With the lobby influence that AIPAC asserts, which is not inconsiderable when you see the line up of US politicians at their yearly conference, I can’t help but think that it must be an agenda item on the table somewhere. Would love to know.

  40. Pingback: One-third of Americans Abroad Caucus supports passport-confiscation “highway” bill | The Isaac Brock Society

  41. This is thread is about the Progressive Caucus…, I wonder if someone would want to sponsor a petition on the Progressive Web site http://front.moveon.org/ ???

    It might shake them up a bit, if a bunch of progressives made this an issue on their own petition program they have started.

    I reference this information that was sent to me. Read it over, and see what you think…

    “Have you ever heard the story of how MoveOn started? In 1998, when Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress were focusing all of their efforts on impeaching President Clinton over a sex scandal, we started a simple online petition: “Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation.”

    We had no past political experience, but we felt passionately about our message and shared the petition with as many of our friends as we could think of. Within days, the petition went viral, and we had hundreds of thousands of signatures. And from the list of people who signed that original petition grew MoveOn.org—an organization of well over 5 million members and a powerful progressive force in American politics.

    Because we’ve seen firsthand how regular people can make a difference, we’re thrilled that MoveOn has launched a new website called SignOn.org where anyone can start their own online petitions. MoveOn will even email out the most popular petitions to help build support for your cause—and as always we’ll never ever sell your personal information to anyone.”

    Here is the link:
    http://www.signon.org/create_start.html?add_id=1&id=39851-12778461-SFEE7qx

    As always, thanks for all you do.

    –Wes Boyd & Joan Blades
    Founders of MoveOn.org

    QUESTION: Does anyone want to discuss this idea, and come up with a petition wording that represents as broad a spectrum of Americans Abroad as we can get, and then one of us put it up under our name, rather than have many of these circulating? (or maybe none circulating.)

    The subject would relate to petitioning to end Citizenship Taxation and replace with a Territorial one.

    What does anyone think, whether you are Left, Right or Center?! Doesn’t matter.

    It won’t offend me if no one is interested. I don’t have any passionate feelings one way. I am not sure that any of these internet petitions could or would have one iota of impact. Just thrashing around and willing to try anything for attention.

    Input requested. Thnx

  42. @Just me

    Brainstorming is always welcome, especially from you.

    I don’t think it will be possible to obtain a significant amount of signatures for a petition because many of the expats will probably just try to drop off the radar screen, which is easy to do for anyone with a place of birth outside the US.

    Four things are already happening:

    1. I think continuing to bring the issue to the attention of journalists, particularly expat journalists, will have an effect provided they are able to get the story straight. Atossa’s story was a great start.

    2. The continuous rise in expatriations (FATCA and other coercive measures are provoking) will also keep the issue interesting as time progresses because it exposes the American dream for what it really is, only a dream. I would not underestimate the effect of mass renunciations.

    3. ACA is already doing a great job (the best it can) lobbying through the channels of US officialdom.

    4. ACA, ARRO, Isaac Brock Society and others that we are not aware of should try to communicate more between one another and coordinate activities, to include lobbying the governments where expats have permanent residency or citizenship and giving interviews to journalists.

    All four of these approaches are happening by themselves. It is just a matter of coordination to increase their effectiveness.

    American expats will eventually be free, its just a matter of how and when.

    If the USG has any brains (which I am not optimistic about), they will change policy before too many good people cut their ties entirely and forever.

    The paradox of imperialism is that it brings upon itself isolationism.

  43. I should have also included some sort of class action lawsuit via the Institute for Justice or any other organization. I think it is a really good idea and a major headline grabber. But it will take a lot of energy and commitment. In addition, going to the European Court of Justice or some other supranational body could also be great.

    I think we have one heck of a good case for any human rights lawyers that want to make an international name for themselves.

  44. @Ben Franklin, you make a good point for indeed it is a human rights issue. If it is a Human Rights issue that Eritrea taxes its diaspora, as was confirmed by the UN Security Concil’s resolution condemning this policy of that country in December 2011, I do not see why the fact that the US does exactrly the same thing is not also a human rights issue. It certainly limits the right of US citizens to freely leave there own country, and that is the litmus test of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  45. @Roger

    I think expats have a lot of legitimate grievances on the international human rights front.

    It is just a matter of finding the right lawyers to work on it. Something perhaps ACA would consider taking on since they are well organized and located in Geneva.

  46. @Ben Franklin,

    You make good points. I appreciate them.

    The petition thing is probably not going to be effective, as it doesn’t touch enough progressive people in the homeland to get enough signatures to make a difference. I watched the quixotic attempt of one person to get a lot of signatures on the “Repeal FATCA” petition, and he was struggling to get 2000 signatures, so I full understand the point.

    http://www.signon.org/sign/repeal-fatca?source=c.em.cp&r_by=188650

    Good for Rami Schandall for trying!!

    Like I said, I don’t have a lot of passion for it, but if you were to try and get the issue in front of the progressives, this might be an avenue. They seem pretty passive on doing anything that might appear to be in opposition to Obama in an election year.

    This might be a route that would get some of those progressives attention, if crafted right, even if the petition just withered away and died. Tie it to Gay rights, or a Woman’s right to choose, if you have to… LOL. Somewhere there is a hook, I just don’t know what it is.

    Anyway, as you can see, I am not rushing out to do one, but if anyone did want to, this one might be as good as any for the progressive side of the house.

  47. @Just me

    I think the progressives will be the toughest nut to crack. They seem to dislike expats the most. I could be wrong but I think most of the anti-expat legislation has come from the Democrats, except of course anti-expat Grassley, who probably doesn’t even have a passport.

    I think the mainstream Republicans could potentially be very receptive to the need of expats for boosting exports. Gingrich even wrote an article about it a while back.

    The Libertarians (maybe 10% of population) dislike the government in general and the movers and shakers within the Ron Paul movement such as Lew Rockwell and Dan Mitchell have written several articles in support of expatriation.

    So why not work on the ones that are most likely to be receptive rather than burning LCUs on the toughest nuts to crack?

  48. @Just Me

    My sense is any petition has to be targetted at a specific person or group persons. Unfortionately no one seems to want to drop the dime on whoever is Mr. FBAR or Mr. FATCA in Congress. One thing that annoys me about about Democrats Abroad and ACA is the refuse to say who exactly in Congress are the strongest backers of FATCA something they clearly do know from the advocacy activities in DC.

    I also noticed recently that a group called U.S. PIRG recently held a press conference with Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Lloyd Doggett calling for “faster” implementation of FATCA. Given the staff at US PIRG seems to be fairly accessable I am going to send them some info on what “progressive” politicians in Canada are saying about FATCA before I call for them to be completely blown out of water. PIRG is a legitimate grassroots organization no corporate donors.

    http://uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/picking-tab

  49. @tim. I suspect that ACA has been trying to find out who supports FATCA and who might be amenable to withdrawing support. Remember that it passed as an add-on to the HIRE Act which passed with an overwhelming majority vote. FATCA was tacked on at the last minute and was part of the HIRE package so it was not voted on separately.

    Hopefully we will be getting some solid feedback shortly from the ACA AARO folks who are about now just returning from Washingto.n

  50. I know one of the more prominent co-sponsors was Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. I have come very close to calling for all anti FBAR anti FATCA activities to be directed solely towards him. However, I also suspect given his background he might be someone friendly to ACA so I have held off until I hear more from ACA. I was actually thinking of an anti FATCA spinoff site from IBS that would be directed specifically at Kerry. This is along the lines of what social conservatives historically did in the US where they targetted all the resources at defeating a single member of Congress they opposed thus sending a message to other members they might be next. My sense is Kerry is more vunerable in Massachusetts on the issue that someone like Grassley would be in Iowa. There are also some unique ways Canada could make Kerry’s constituents in Massachusetts miserable something my possible future blog would go into.

  51. @Ben Franklin.

    The only reason to burn LCUs on the progressives, is for Citizenship taxation to change, it will have to be a bi-partisan effort. There is probably a big portion of the very Conservative Republicans that think that US Citizens living abroad are unpatriotic and think they should give up their citizenship or come home. So, if this nut is ever to be cracked, we need broad base support, in my opinion.

  52. @Tim…

    Well, I understood that the Biggest mover and shaker on FATCA was Senator Carl Levin. I constantly target him on many of the twitter messages I send out. Thanks for the link to that group that is against Corporate Loopholes. They might be one to target too. Think I will read about who they are and what they think they are trying to do. Obviously want to balance the Corporate “buy your rate” lobbying in Congress. BTW, did you ever get a chance to listen to that Planet Money podcast called “Take the Money and run for Congress?

    http://isaacbrocksociety.com/2012/04/03/take-the-money-and-run-for-office/

    It didn’t get much discussion so figure not many had the time to listen to it, but it is sure telling about how the money game works in DC. You know it has power, but a lot of it is still gobsmacking.

  53. @JustMe

    I am probably going to send US PIRG the FATCA statements from MP Jean Crowder and MP Denise Savoie along with the letter to Jim Flaherty from the entire British Colombia NDP Caucus.

    I agree Carl Levin is a major player but I don’t believe he is the final decisionmaker on this issue. That is why I continue to look at Senator John Kerry(who was a co-sponsor of FATCA) out of the corner of my eye. I believe Carl Levin is too personally entrenched in his support of FATCA to be persuaded otherwise you need some like Kerry that pressure can be applied to.

  54. A visit to Congressman Tierney’s web site helps to show that he doesn’t know much about the American working middle class abroad. On the contact section of his web page, he expects that all Americans live in America or have a US-based address:
    https://forms.house.gov/tierney/webform/issue_subscribe.htm

    Another possibility is that he figures that Americans abroad won’t bother contacting him due to his extreme position.

  55. @Daniel Kuettel, with respect to not being able to contact Congressman Tierney by email using his website, this is common to all US senators and congressmen. Not one of them has a website that allows a voting consitituent who lives outside of the US has a contact format that will allow such persons to contact them. As a matter of fact, most congressmen block the sending of emails via their websites from anyone who does not reside in the state which they represent.

    This just reflects the universal disdain that legislators in Washington have for each and every one of their “tratorous” US citizen-constituents who has the unmittigated gall to actually reside outside of the United States. The message is “don’t waste my time. I have absolutely no interest in you, your opinions or your problems if you call yourself an American but don’t live in the good old USA.

  56. @danielkuettel- he isn’t the only one. Jessie Jackson Jr.’s website was structured the same way the last time that I was on it. I’ve also encountered other Congressional sites that had similar limitations.
    The fact is that the Constitution of the U.S. doesn’t apply outside of U.S. borders so I don’t believe that these Congress men and women really can acknowledge expat residents as legitimate constituents unless they have a U.S. residence.
    All of this just goes to underscore the point that expats have no representation at the federal level. Not even if they try to go through D.C. I understand that D.C. does not respond to outside addresses either even though expats are made forcible residents of the District.

  57. I thought very briefly about contacting Casey, who is from my home state of Pennsylvania. I quickly discarded the idea because that could serve to defeat my strongly-held position that I have not been a US citizen since relinquishing 40 years ago–even though I don’t have a CLN to prove it.

  58. @Joe: That has proven to be a total waste of time and energy. My Conservative MP hasn’t acknowledged my e-mails and letters. Well, except after Don Davies, Foreign Affairs critic, (whose riding is 3,000 miles from me) called me personally. Then my own MP sent me a fact sheet about FBAR with no mention of FATCA.

    I have also had no acknowledgment or reply from Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    As I posted on another thread, since his form letter to me several months ago, Flaherty has also not acknowledged or responded to three e-mails I have sincee sent asking him to advise Canadian banks they must adhere to Canadian law and assure Canadians that Canadian laws will not be changed to accommodate a foreign government.

    Responses from Canadian Bankers Association also leave a lot to be desired.

  59. @Joe: I could do that. I didn’t include him in my original correspondence because the NDP didn’t have a permanent leader then. I have been happy with the responses from Don Davies and the actions of Hoang Mai, NDP Revenue Critic.

    However, it seems they all have been silent for a while now. Very concerning.

  60. RE contacting congressmen: I’m not even an American and I easily contacted Dennis Kucinich by e-mail. He even provides an alternative snail mail address because congressional mail is slow. It has to go through bomb/anthrax screening first. I’m going to miss Dennis Kucinich in the House of Representatives and I hope he finds a good outlet for his words after his term is finished.

  61. @Em, Dennis must be the only exception. None of the rest that have tried to contact on-line have any provisons for entering a non-address on their Emial-wesbsite address format. Dennis got de-elected as a result of the last census becuase the populaiton of Ohio dropped and his Congressional district was consolidated with another distrct, and I believe he lost the primary election. Dennis is one I never tried to contact.

  62. @ Roger
    Yes I know about the redistricting disgrace. I have seen the boundaries of districts which boggle the mind. What a puzzling political “system” the USA has. I will never understand the primaries and the electoral college either.

  63. @Em: A ten year old Canadian girl said to me four years ago: “You mean all these elections are about who is going to be in the real election?” I replied “Yes.”

    All the adult Canadians in the room looked at the 10 year old and me with dismay.. Trying to explain the Electoral College the year of Bush, Gore and the Florida Hanging Chads was impossible. (But then, I think it was impossible for most Americans to understand, either.)

    Of course, in Canada, we have our own Robo-Calls election to deal with!.

  64. @ Blaze
    Wow, from the mouths of babes. 🙂 I understand political dirty tricks (I see ghosts … voting). It’s just the legal and complex political process which is confusing. I don’t condone dirty tricks BTW, I can just figure them out is all.

  65. Thanks Tim. I did say to another Brocker over the weekend that quiet negotiations may very well be going on behind the scenes. But, at the same time, Canadians need reassurance of our government that: 1. Canadian banks are expected to adhere to Canadian laws and 2. Canadian laws will not be changed to accommodate demands of a foreign government.

    In terms of quiet diplomacy, nothing about Volcker, IRS or FATCA has been either quiet or diplomatic. Instead, US has been loud, strong, demanding, intimidating and threatening. I’m glad Flaherty wasn’t quiet initially. I just wish he would get noisier again.

    I’m tired of being told Canadians should be calm, quiet and polite when we are dealing with obnoxious bullies. (and to think I was encouraging others earlier today not to resort to name-calling!).

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