What We Do

Who we represent

The United States has no official count of how many US citizens live and work overseas. ACA's independent research by ACA Global Foundation and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) counts the community (military included) at between 5 to 6 million Americans. ACA's recent research estimates the non-military size of the community to be 4 million, with military and government employees making up an additional 1.2 million (5.2 million total).

US citizens living outside of the United States are sometimes referred to as Americans abroad, Americans overseas or "expatriates." Although US citizens live outside of the United States they are still US citizens; they can still vote in federal (and some state) elections, they still pay taxes and they still form part of the United States population. Despite this, US citizens living and working overseas face a range of difficulties and challenges that are unique to them, and many of these problems are exacerbated by tax legislation and regulations.

How we work

ACA is uniquely positioned to advocate given our longstanding reputation in Washington, DC, our professionalism and our proximity to Capitol Hill, legislators and stakeholders. 

One of the key difficulties with representing US citizens overseas is the lack of knowledge about them and the problems they face. We conduct research through the ACA Global Foundation and by surveying our members to help inform and educate policymakers. ACA’s headquartered offices are Washington, D.C.-based allowing the organization to regularly access Congress and educate and advocate directly with legislators on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.  ACA regularly updates and works with the Americans Abroad Caucus. This legislative body has supported efforts to advance legislation and regulatory treatment of many of the problems facing US citizens living and working overseas.

ACA has a large grassroots membership and supporters who we leverage in our advocacy efforts in particular with our write-in campaigns which help support of efforts on Capitol Hill.  ACA maintains ongoing relationships with key media outlets and journalists to keep focus on the issues. 

ACA also recognizes individuals in government, the media and in the private section who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support US citizens overseas through our awards.

What are the issues?


The United States taxes citizens on the basis of citizenship (citizenship-based taxation, or CBT), rather than on where the income is earned, often referred to as residence-based taxation (RBT). This makes the United States one of only two countries in the world to do so. This means that US citizens are taxed on their worldwide income regardless of where it was earned, where they live and whether they have already been taxed on it.


US citizens are required to file an annual tax return regardless of where they live if they meet certain thresholds. They are also required to report all foreign financial assets over a certain value threshold along with their annual tax filings (as a result of the Financial Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), passed in 2010), in addition to filing an additional bank report form, a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR).


US citizens overseas often run into difficulties with their financial investments. This most often happens when investing in foreign mutual funds and in some foreign pensions (many state-mandated) which may be taxed as PFICs or Passive Foreign Investment Companies. Currency fluctuations also present an issue for US citizens who are not sourcing US dollars for their investments and are working in local currencies. 

Voting & Representation

Not all US citizens living overseas are able to vote, in particular those who were born overseas and never lived in the United States. Although a majority of US citizens overseas are able to register and vote, their voice within any one Congressional district or State is limited due to the size of the constituency. US citizens abroad lack "direct" representation, unlike many other countries which have a representative in government that directly represents the interest of its citizens living abroad.

Social Security

US citizens overseas may have their US Social Security reduced because they are drawing on foreign pensions as well as US Social Security benefits.  This is due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). US citizens overseas also lack dedicated support from the Social Security Administration for accessing their benefits.  Most individuals need to deal with Federal Benefits Units (FBU) located in US Embassies and Consulates overseas. Many of these FBU have been consolidated and centralized resulting in a reduction of staffing and often lack on-site assistance.

Medicare & Healthcare

Medicare benefits are not dispensed to US citizens outside the United States. US citizens who are eligible for Medicare benefits and live overseas can only access these benefits if they return to the United States for medical care. The Coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that emergency medical services, paid for through taxpayer dollars, are not provided to US citizens living overseas.


Every year about 60,000 children are born overseas to a US citizen parent. Of these, 90% acquire US citizenship at birth while 10% do not. These are children born abroad who are not able to claim citizenship because their parent or parents have not met the “residence” and/or “presence” requirements. The right to a nationality at birth is one of the most fundamental of human rights, as it opens the door to membership in our society and all other related rights. It is obvious that 6,000 children each year deserve better treatment.

Access to US Government Services

Many US Government services are not set up to be used by US citizens living overseas, notably online services with the IRS and Social Security Administration. The US government has no proactive engagement with US citizens overseas.   There is little outreach to US citizens overseas from the US Government or the US State Department and no proactive engagement by the US with its expatriate citizens. 

In this Section


ACA's Submissions to Congress

ACA Global Foundation & Research


Voting & Representation

Social Security

ACA in Washington, D.C.

Access to US Government Services Abroad