Sunday, March 8, 2015

OAW - Some personal thoughts

Here we are, the week has flown.  It's really time to write an update.  Aside from seeing our own Representatives' and Senators' offices, most of our meetings were concentrated on the tax and banking staffers of the tax, finance, and banking committees. We have also seen the National Taxpayer Advocate's staff, the Joint Committee on Taxation, Treasury,  and two of the Senate Banking Committee staff.
Will there be comprehensive tax reform soon? Unlikely. Just as residence-based-taxation is a concept that certain offices find attractive,  the consensus is that its time has not come, yet. It seems ingrained in American exceptional-ism.
Will FATCA be repealed? Well, Senator Rand Paul introduced a bill on Wednesday that would repeal at least some sections of FATCA, the sections that are an invasion of privacy.  John and Lucy met with Rand Paul's FATCA expert on Tuesday and were very impressed by him. In any event, as John says, the train has left the station. Many other countries have jumped on the FATCA bandwagon, so whether you call it FATCA or something else, automatic exchange of financial information will happen worldwide and, according to the people at Treasury, the discrimination will stop.
Could FATCA be tweaked to allow the “same country exclusion”? For the first time since we started talking about this idea (this is my third year and it was on the agenda before I started coming to DC on these OAW campaigns), it has been suggested that our local banks might not agree with it as it puts a burden on them to certify our “bona fide  residence”. We need to find out.
Can the threshold of the FBAR be raised? Who would be responsible for that? Treasury? Congress? It's a hot potato.
We are visiting the right offices. They appreciate our positions. They want us not to give up.
And what about bank discrimination on the part of US banks and brokerages against Americans with foreign addresses. Is it FATCA related? Does it have something to do with Dodd-Frank? The S.E.C.? We have never gotten an answer from the banks and brokerages. Can the Congressional offices get answers?
We do sometimes manage to slip in some of our other issues: raising the threshold of exclusion for social security income, for example, but this year is really dedicated to the tax and banking concerns.
What's next for AARO? We need to collect documentation that FATCA is the cause of discrimination against Americans with foreign accounts and we need to get documentation explaining the reason for US financial institutions discriminating against Americans with foreign addresses. We have the documents that show the discrimination, but very few say why. Send documents to 

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