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What is ACA doing to help with the “Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act of 2018 (TFAA)”

Congressman Holding has taken the first step with introduction of his legislation, Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act of 2018. 

Congressman Holding’s legislation proposes a residency-based approach to taxing Americans living and working overseas.  The basic principle of the bill mirrors the thinking behind ACA’s residency-based taxation (RBT) approach, that is, separating foreign-source and US-source income and excluding from US taxation specified foreign-source income earned when a US citizen is a qualified resident abroad. As can be seen in the bill language, the toggle switch determining whether an individual is taxable on US income – and not on foreign income – is residency. A summary outline of the bill, prepared by Rep. Holding’s office, can be found here

The Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act of 2018 (TFAA) is a critical first step in getting legislation for tax reform for Americans abroad passed.  Much work still needs to be done; hearings need to be held and more refinements to the legislation must be made.  Key concerns that the House Ways & Means Committee and legislators will be focused on will be the cost of the legislation, ideally it should be as close as possible to revenue neutrality, meaning that it doesn’t cost the Treasury anything in lost revenue, and insuring that it is tight against abuse. More education to Congress on the community of Americans abroad and their needs must be done.  All this is key in order to bring in co-sponsors to legislation and insure its passage. 


What is ACA doing? 

The New 116th Congress. ACA is keeping a close watch and monitoring the new committees assignments in the 116th Congress.  There are new faces and new players, many will need to be educated on the community of Americans living and working overseas.  This will be an important job for ACA, but with our 24/7 presence in Washington, DC, ACA is positioned to make this happen.  We are a phone call or taxi ride away from Congress, able to bring the expertise of our DC advocacy, tax and legal team directly to the offices working on tax reform legislation.

A New Bill Number. Currently the Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act of 2018 has been assigned an HR (House of Representatives) number –7358.  This number is good for the 115th Congress, however, in January of 2019 the 116th Congress began and the legislation will need to be re-introduced with a new HR number.  This is purely an administrative process that should happen shortly.

Refinements to the Bill. ACA has been deeply involved in the push to develop a legislative proposal for residency-based taxation and will continue with that work.  ACA has been working with Representative Holding’s office and providing it with our thinking and data on the community of Americans overseas. ACA’s RBT “vanilla” approach side-by-side analysis is critical for the advancement of legislation, as it highlights all the specific areas of the tax code that need to be considered for reform under a residency-based system.  The current bill is written with somewhat general language. However, the tax-writing committees will need to run through the code, item by item, to determine how income streams will be treated for taxation (see more on this below). 

The importance of ACA's past advocacy work. A key piece of knowledge for Congress will be ACA’s revenue estimates for our “vanilla” approach to RBT.  This work includes data on the makeup of the community of Americans overseas, their tax filing status and asset makeup, as well as demographic data.  The analysis was prepared by District Economics Group (DEG), a Washington, DC-based economic consulting group. This data will be invaluable when hearings on the legislation are held.  ACA is hopeful that hearings will be held so that the House Ways & Means Committee can review the proposed bill, ask questions and gather data.  ACA will continue to use the data we developed and share this with offices we meet with and stakeholders that we bring on board.

Why Hearing are needed. Having the US House Ways & Means Committee hold hearings on the wide-range of tax issues facing US citizens living and working overseas is the next step in the process. This is supported by Representative Holding and other Members of Congress. ACA is a key player in the push for hearings, advocating to offices to support hearings, collecting data and information on the problems and issues, updating current research – ACA revenue estimates – and fielding new research.

Hearings need to be held so that the committee can hear about the wide range of tax compliance issues facing the overseas Americans community from stakeholders and citizens.  With knowledge from hearings the tax writing committees and legislators will start to look at specifics of the legislation.  Specific treatment of items like Social Security income, income associated with the new “transition tax” and GILTI, and different types of PFIC income, will need more consideration and details will need to be worked out to determine how these income streams will be taxed under a new residency-based regime. 

ACA’s knowledge and data on the subject matter will be an important asset in this process.ACA has been on the forefront of getting the information on the bill out to the community and getting Representative Holding feedback from the community. An important initiative by ACA was the production of webcasts on March 13th and 14th with Representative Holding’s Tax Counsel, Matt Stross, providing detailed updates and next steps for the legislation hereACA will be hosting another webcast for the Canadian market on June 18th.

Hosting webcasts.  ACA's sister organization, Americans Citizens Abroad Global Foundation (ACAGF) is hosting a series of webcasts to inform the community and other interested parties, about the legislation and how such a legislative change would affect individual tax filing and investment strategies.  Two webcasts were held in March, 2019. Click here for full audio. ACAGF is continuing to produce these webcasts, click here for more information.

Working with stakeholders.  There are other organizations working and interested in tax reform for Americans overseas, and ACA has worked along side these groups; Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), Democrats Abroad, Republicans Overseas (RO) and various US Chambers of Commerce, notably the Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce (APCAC).  ACA has also worked with Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and we will continue to work together with everyone. We will begin bringing in new stakeholders in order to grow the consortium of advocates for tax reform.

Cultivating supporters and co-sponsors.  ACA will continue to meet with the supporters of tax reform that have already been cultivated, and ACA will begin to bring on new legislators as co-sponsors of the legislation. ACA’s position as a non-partisan organization allows us to work both sides of the aisle. This is important when educating and cultivate co-sponsors.  ACA is an independent voice on the subject and respected in Congress for bringing solutions to problems that are in the best interests of the community without political bias. 

What can you do today to support ACA and efforts for tax reform.

1. Write your Representatives in Congress and ask that the US House Ways & Means Committee hold hearings.

2. Support ACA. ACA, with no political affiliation, and working only in the interest of the community, is ideally positioned to advocate for TFAA.

Click here to see how your donation will be used to help ACA's advocacy efforts. 


Click to see ACA's past efforts on RBT:

ACA Explains "Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad (TFAA)" - Residency-based tax bill

RBT November 2018 Update

RBT and the 2018 Midterms. What’s Next?

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). What Happened? What’s Next?

RBT 2017 Update