Expatriates are often affected by domestic laws that aim to address other issues, a side effect that six upcoming bills could help mitigate.
The Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), a non-partisan organisation based in Paris, has unveiled them as its 'Top Bills' for the 118th Congress of the United States.
Doris Speer, AARO President, told The Connexion: “The goal of this list is to inform our members as to what could help make their lives better.
“People have to know what bills are being proposed so that they can contact their Representatives and Senators to try and get them passed.”
With just over a year remaining in this legislative term, all six have been referred to congressional committees that will decide whether or not they advance to the full chambers for further deliberation.
What is in these six bills?
Two bills, proposed by Democratic lawmakers, explicitly target Americans living abroad:
- The Tax Simplification for Americans Abroad Act
Aims to simplify the filing process for some overseas taxpayers, expand the types of foreign income excludable from US tax, and raise the threshold for reporting overseas assets to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
- The Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act
Aims to establish a bipartisan panel to study how federal laws and policies affect Americans overseas.
Republicans also proposed two bills which could be beneficial for expats:
- The Bank Privacy Reform Act
- The Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act
Both could help mitigate the side effects of policies intended to combat tax evasion and money laundering.
They would help eliminate or limit the reporting requirements for US financial institutions, which the AARO says may help non-resident Americans keep their US bank accounts.
At present, this can be difficult because account holders with foreign addresses face heightened regulatory scrutiny which banks say increases their costs.
- The CLEAR ACT
This would require the Department of the Treasury to consult the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) concerning new regulations.
The NTA is appointed by the Secretary of Treasury at the head of an independent organisation within the Internal Revenue Service responsible for assisting and advocating for US taxpayers.
- The Social Security Fairness Act
Proposed by both major parties, this would eliminate the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which is a policy that reduces Social Security benefits for individuals with pensions from non-Social Security taxed employment, such as foreign employment.
How can I contact my Congresspeople?
Americans in France can contact the lawmakers in the US district where they vote.
If you have never voted from abroad, you are eligible to vote from the address where you last resided in the US. If you have not resided in the US, you may vote from the address where your US parent(s) last resided.
A phone call often carries more weight than an email, and far more than a Facebook post or tweet. Mailing a letter is the next best thing.
When calling your Congresspersons remember to identify yourself as a constituent by providing the address from where you are registered to vote.
“Overseas Americans need to band together,” Ms Speer said. “Everybody needs to speak to their Congresspeople on these bills.”