ACA participates in two day Congressional events on Capitol Hill
On June 14th and June 15th, ACA participated in two events hosted by Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV), Chairwoman of the Americans Abroad Caucus. The June 14th event was a Roundtable panel discussion, and the June 15th event was a Press Conference. ACA thanks Congresswoman Titus and the sponsors of the two events for inviting ACA to present and speak.
On June 14th, Congresswoman Titus hosted a Roundtable panel discussion aimed at debunking the myths about US citizens living and working overseas and offered suggestions to simplify the complex tax issues facing everyday US citizens. The event was held on Capitol Hill in a conference room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Opening the panel discussion for Congresswoman Titus was Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), a longtime supporter of the community of US citizens living and working overseas and a member of the Americans Abroad Caucus. Congressman Beyer cited his experience as US Ambassador to Switzerland (2009-2013) where he learned about many of the tax and compliance issues facing US citizens living and working overseas, noting the work of American Citizens Abroad (ACA) and our educational and advocacy efforts, having met often with ACA and ACA’s management during his time in Switzerland and in Washington, DC.
Congressman Beyer spoke at length about the issues he learned about from his experience overseas, from ACA and other advocacy organizations, and currently from his constituents. He spoke about The Tax Simplification for Americans Abroad Act, the legislation he introduced in the last Congress (117th) that begins to address some of the basic issues - cost and complexity of filing from overseas. The legislation would simplify filing for taxpayers overseas, and Congressman Beyer noted that his office plans on reintroducing the legislation in this Congress (118th). Congressman Beyer is also a co-sponsor of Congresswoman Titus's Commission Bill (more on this below). ACA awarded Congressman Beyer with the Thomas Jefferson award in 2013 in acknowledgement of his service to the community of US citizens living and working overseas. Congressman Beyer also spoke of the need continue to advance on legislation and regulations that will further address the tax and compliance problems, noting his support to do more on these issues and that his legislation is a first step in the process.
The event was well attended with approximately 50 to 60 attendees. The Roundtable panel discussion was moderated by Rebecca Lammers. Marylouise Serrato, Executive Director of ACA, was asked to comment on the concerns and problems the organization hears about from its membership and supporters, as well as comment on possible solutions to these problems. It should come as no surprise that ACA highlighted the cost and complexity of filing from overseas, the instances of double taxation, the fallout issues from FATCA legislation and the unfairness of the current system of Citizenship-based taxation. ACA explained its support for Residence-based taxation (RBT) and regulatory fixes like Same Country Exemption (SCE) and highlighted its research in support of RBT, research that has been presented to ALL the tax writing committees and numerous Representatives in Congress, in particular those who have shown interest in doing "something" for US citizens overseas - and there are many! Other organizations present, Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), Democrats Abroad (DA) and SEATnow, were asked similar questions and spoke to the issues and presented their advocacy efforts.
After the panel presentation, questions were fielded from the audience. Many in the audience spoke directly to the problems as they themselves had lived overseas or were planning on moving overseas. This is important to note as ACA has seen an increase in knowledge about, and interest in, the issues of overseas US citizens in many Congressional offices because staff in those offices experienced problems personally or come from families who immigrated to the US and still have ties to foreign countries. This was particularly evident when several staffers came up to the dais post-Q&A to discuss with ACA the problems their families have had with holding and reporting of foreign financial accounts and their personal experiences living overseas. When a staffer that can speak directly and personally with their boss, have support of ACA's work on the subject and our "first in class" research, the perfect cocktail has been created for advancing Congressional support on these issues. ACA is following up on contacts made at the event and will be meeting with those offices in Congress to further educate them on issues.
The events in support of US citizens overseas continued the next day, June 15th, with a Press Conference held by Congresswoman Titus at the House Triangle - that famous spot where the US Capitol is visible behind speakers at the podium. In recognition of June 15th as "US Expat Tax Filing Deadline," Congresswoman Titus spoke to the press about the overseas tax and compliance issues she hears about directly from her constituents and acknowledged the work of the advocacy organizations present: AARO, ACA, DA and SEATnow.
The purpose of the Press Conference was for Congresswoman Titus to speak about her legislation recently introduced into Congress, The Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act of 2023 (H.R. 2729). The bill calls on Congress to create a Commission to study how Federal laws and policies affect US citizens living in foreign countries. In her remarks, Congresswoman Titus noted that interest in these issues is growing in Congress, stating that the Caucus and her office in particular have been working on the problems for a long time and sense momentum and optimism. Top on the list of issues is obviously taxation and compliance and financial access lock-out, all of which Congresswoman Titus mentioned in her remarks.
After Congresswoman Titus's remarks, each of the organizations was asked to speak- see ACA's remarks here. An article written by one of the journalists attending the press conference, Andrew Verlarde of Tax Notes International, was published later that day recapping the event and also noting the announcement of the creation of ACA's Political Action Committee (PAC) which ACA has launched to help with advocacy efforts in support of RBT.
In summary, the two days of events were a great step forward for ACA's advocacy and for building awareness and interest in Congress on the issues of importance to US citizens living and working overseas. ACA again thanks Congresswoman Titus for inviting ACA to speak and present at the two day events. We appreciate the opportunity to further highlight and educate Congress and the public on the issues and concerns of the community and on ACA's advocacy. Congresswoman Titus and Congressman Beyer are committed to doing everything they can to advance on these issues. It is fantastic to have their support in Congress and have them building support with their colleagues; which was evidenced by the attendance at the Roundtable panel discussion. Their acknowledgement as well of the good work that ACA and other organizations are doing and the importance of having good data and information for advocacy efforts is greatly appreciated. ACA's research, which supports that Residence-based taxation (RBT) can be adopted, and importantly, can be revenue neutral and tight against abuse, is essential to further garnering Congressional support. When ACA advocates up on Capitol Hill in offices that are supportive of advancing tax reform for US citizens overseas, the first questions we are asked concern cost and ease of abuse in adopting an RBT style taxation regime. This Congressional concern will not go away and will only grow in importance as support increases.
ACA will continue to update the community on the introduction of Congressman Beyer's legislation and how Congresswoman Titus's Commission legislation advances in Congress. However, in the meantime, you can help efforts by supporting Congresswoman Titus's bill with ACA's write-in campaign (Support Congresswoman Titus' efforts on behalf of US citizens overseas advocacy) and ACA's write-in campaign calling on The House Ways & Means Committee to hold hearings on the tax and compliance issues of US citizens living and working overseas (Write to Your Representatives in Congress).