Service Usage Issues
Many US government agencies are not set up for ease of use by overseas citizens.
For example, the IRS primarily communicates with overseas citizens via hard copy mail, which leads to significant delays in delivery and increased postal costs. This can result in inadvertently missed deadlines, which can have serious consequences. In addition US citizens overseas are unable to create the much needed online accounts for access to the IRS and their own personal accounts to view tax payments, tax rebates and other tax reporting information. Setting up these accounts often requires US indicia to verify identity which many US citizens living overseas no longer have
Many US government agencies do not provide foreign phone numbers for overseas citizens, requiring them to call US-based phone numbers at signifiant cost to themselves. Often, even when contacted, these agencies have limited knowledge of the servicing requests of callers and are unable to provide the correct information or direct individuals to where it can be found. This is most pronounced with interactions with the IRS.
Some US government agencies (such as the
My Social Security portal) require a US mailing address and/or phone number, which excludes overseas Americans who no longer (or who have never) have a US address or phone number.
Reduction in US State Department servicing via US Embassies and Consulates has complicated these problems. There are no longer any IRS offices located at US Embassies and Consulates as there were in the past, the last four offices of having been closed in 2011. Additionally, many Federal Benefits Units (FBU) once housed at key US Embassies and Consulates have also been closed or consolidated.
ACA advocates for expanded servicing of US citizens living and working overseas through US Embassies and Consulates and with online servicing, toll-free phone numbers and agencies and departments knowledgable in the issues and problems of the community. American citizens overseas should be able to easily access US government services as easily as Americans living in the United States.