The Democrats Abroad Austria May Newsletter

 

 

In this May 2017 issue

>Upcoming Events

Issues and Actions

DAA Review

Members’ Corner

 

Upcoming Events

  1. Young Dems Pub Night May Edition with 80's karaoke

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    You can check out Beaver Brewing Company"s Facebook event here. 

    Democrats Abroad will have their own table reserved.

    RSVP Via Facebook is also possible.

    WHEN
    Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    WHERE
    Beaver Brewing Company
    Liechtensteinstrasse 69
    Vienna, VIenna 1090
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Ashely Arreola · ashley_arreola@yahoo.com · +436503749481

  2. Solidarity Sunday #4 Grow Your Protest Rainbow Parade Outreach

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    We’re preparing to take our PROTEST to the streets, and we’re going to do it right. Join us on May 28 as we gear up our outreach for the Rainbow Parade in June.

    • We’ll forge plans to organize a peaceful, legal and powerful action.
    • Come learn ways to get involved helping LGBTIQ refugees.

    Why should you act now? The Republican Party and Trump are building a wall of RE-DISCRIMINATION against LGBT people.

    • Trump has already revoked federal contractors’ duty to prove non-discrimination, affecting millions of LBGT employees.
    • Republican congresspeople are concertedly urging Trump to sign the executive order on "religious freedom (to discriminate)" that has been waiting in the wings since February.

    The issues of marriage and immigration rights loom darkly. Get creative. Get targeted. Let's make sure Democrats Abroad has a stronger presence than ever this year. Never again Love Exiles!!!

    RSVP via Facebook Event Here 

    WHEN
    Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM - 04:00 PM
    WHERE
    Amerlinghaus
    Stiftgasse 8
    Vienna 1070
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Antje Lewis · solsun@gmx.at

  3. DAA Talks Melissa Fleming on the Plight of Refugees

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    We are pleased to announce that Melissa Fleming, Head of Communication and Chief Spokesperson at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), currently working as Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary General, and author of A HOPE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE SEA will address DAA members and friends.

    At the UNHCR, Melissa has led a media team to bring the news and stories of the world's sixty million refugees and displaced people to the public. Her discussion will highlight the stories of human suffering and resilience she has witnessed on a daily basis and bring to life the story of Doaa al Zamel, a young Syrian woman who was one of the few survivors, together with the baby she saved, of a boating disaster that killed over five hundred men, women and children who were attempting to reach the safety and promise of Europe.

    Melissa has recently written a book, A HOPE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE SEA, published by Flatiron, which details Doaa's journey from her war-ravaged country of Syria to her exile in Egypt to her nightmare on the Mediterranean Sea and finally to her new home in Sweden. The refugee crisis is one of the most pertinent topics for discussion right now. We thank Melissa for agreeing to speak with us.

    Here is a recent review of Melissa's book from The New Yorker: Written by an official in the U.N.’s refugee agency, this deeply affecting book recounts the story of a young Syrian, Doaa al Zamel. In 2011, as a shy, stubborn fifteen-year-old, she demonstrated against the regime; after fleeing to Egypt, she stitched bags in a burlap factory, hoping to get to Europe. In September, 2014, she was pulled from the Mediterranean, parched and delirious, with two small children clasped to her chest. She’d been afloat for four days, after a boat smuggling her to Europe sank, killing five hundred other passengers, including her fiancé. Fleming brings a moral urgency to the narrative. Doaa is now safe in Sweden, but Fleming pointedly asks, “Why is there no massive resettlement program for Syrians—the victims of the worst war of our times?”

    Please join us for an evening that focuses on one of the human tragedies of our day…when we become better and more personally informed, we are also perhaps better prepared to help! Go to Melissa Fleming's Linked in page for further biographical information on Melissa Fleming. 

    WHEN
    Thursday, June 08, 2017 at 06:30 PM - 08:30 PM
    WHERE
    Republikanischer Club
    Rockhgasse 1
    Vienna 1010
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Jennifer Rakow-Stepper · demsabroadaustria@gmail.com

  4. It’s just Absolutely Fabulous! Join us June 17th for Vienna's Pride Parade

    DANCING IN THE STREETS, FEATHERS, BEADS & MASKS WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO HAVE A BLAST AT THIS YEAR’S VIENNA'S PRIDE PARADE!

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    Join Democrats Abroad Austria as we march and dance at this year’s Vienna Pride Parade. Although the Pride Parade begins at 14:00 on Saturday June 17th, participants planning to join the Democrats Abroad Austria contingent in the parade should meet in Rathausplatz at 1:00 p.m. (exact line-up location is TBD). Participants may simply join the group at the beginning of the parade route, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. 

    Our parade group is open to all. We urge participants to bring signs—the more colorful and creative the better —and we encourage participants to wear colorful costumes (feathers, beads, masks, fairy tale character, glitter). 

    You can RSVP for this event using one of the methods below:

    1. RSVP at the Democrats Abroad website
    2. Email Juan
    3. Use Facebook (For current Democrats Abroad Austria Facebook Group members) 
    WHEN
    Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM
    WHERE
    Rathausplatz
    Vienna 1010
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Juan Cerda · juandcerda@gmail.com

 

Issues and Actions


There’s a Whole Big World Out There!

 

Have you ever wondered what Democrats Abroad is and does outside of the borders of your local group? You know that we help Americans register to vote, and you’re probably aware that there is more to DA than just your chapter – after all, there are 41 country committees with members in 190 countries on 5 continents. But it’s been amazing to find out just how far DA reaches!

Did you know Democrats Abroad is considered a “state” by the DNC? Despite being spread across the globe, our members are our population – the more members we have, the more delegates we get, and the more our concerns are heard. 

To this end, DA has task forces such as FATCA, Medicare Portability, Residence-Based Taxation, and others that promote topics that are important to all Americans living overseas. There are also issues and constituencies that are represented through our caucuses and councils. The LGBT, Youth, and Women’s caucuses are established while others, such as the Hispanic Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and the Veterans and Military Families Council, are still in formation. All of them are eager to hear from you!

The other day, JFK’s iconic words were brought to mind when someone remarked that it’s one thing to be a member but much more satisfying to be involved. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” is a good parallel to participation in DA – that “aha” moment when one realizes that the organization is made up entirely from members who have chosen to participate.

The subject is timely because DA global leadership elections will be happening in Washington, D.C. from May 12-15. The new international Executive Committee, as well as the Regional Vice Chairs, representing the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, Middle East and Africa, will be elected. Attending DA members will also knock on the doors of our Representatives and bring the issues that matter to us home to them.

This year, the five door-knocking topics are: Overseas Voting Rights (especially for US citizen children born abroad), FATCA, Residence-Based Taxation, Maintaining/refunding the Election Assistance Commission, and State Department budget cuts, which will affect funding for American Citizen Services, education exchange, and USAID. Last weekend our grassroots group wrote letters to be hand delivered – you can still send one to us and add it to the pile!

 Now you know DA does a whole lot more than its vital task of getting out the vote. So the next time you’re feeling discontent, disconnected or -- better yet -- inspired, we hope you’ll write a letter, join a caucus, or stop by a local event and say hello, because you are Democrats Abroad, and together we reach across borders. 

  


FATCA & FBAR: Two Big Headaches for Americans Abroad


Note: This article is reprinted from the Jan 2015 DA Germany newsletter. For up-to-date information and the latest details on the FATCA/FBAR click here

After years of discussion, the majority of Americans living abroad may have heard about or found themselves affected by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Report of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts (FBAR). While the initial intent was to smoke out rich tax evaders in foreign tax havens, for the average American citizen living abroad it has created unintended negative consequences that critics say far outweigh any intended benefits. The effects on ordinary Americans who engage in normal financial activities such as participating in a company pension plan or starting a small business can be severe in some circumstances.

FATCA and FBAR have been on the statute books for years, even if many of us were unaware of it, and thus non-compliant. If in the past tax “experts” discreetly hinted that if non-filing Americans abroad kept a low profile, they might never be “discovered,” this is no longer extremely likely. In 2014, under new bilateral agreements, foreign banks were asked to identify account holders that could be “US persons” (citizens or green card holders). Many DA members subsequently have received letters from their banks asking for information. Usually, a form W-9 “Request for Taxpayer Identification and Certification” is enclosed. This  is then forwarded by the banks to a proxy of the IRS, as the German government, among others, felt uncomfortable with forwarding information directly to the US tax collector.

There are many important things to know when trying to come to grips with what FATCA and FBAR mean. The good news is that the draconian penalties applied by the IRS to those participating in earlier amnesty programs have been dropped in favor of a “simple” explanation of why the person has not filed. Under a new “streamlined procedure,” those wishing to become compliant can do so by submitting US tax returns for the past three years and FBARs for the past six. The bad news is that those who do not complete the streamlined procedure before being found by the US will still face penalties – even if not as severe as in the past.

In a nutshell: A far larger proportion of Americans will be affected by FBAR than the wider-reaching FATCA, which concerns only those residing overseas with assets exceeding $200,000 (single filers) and $400,000 (joint filers). US citizens living abroad are required to file an FBAR with their US tax returns – every year – if they have an interest in any financial account, including bank, securities or other types of account, in a foreign country, provided the aggregate value of these accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. In addition, a person with signature authority over a foreign bank or financial account must also file an FBAR annually.

As compliance with any of the rules involves more than just listing income and other assets and calculating the foreign tax exemption, those who can afford to would be wise to hire a tax preparer, preferably a certified public accountant (CPA) registered with the IRS. This can cost upwards of €1,000 for the three tax returns and six FBARs. Democrats Abroad does not keep an official list, but those seeking names and addresses can contact this email address from DA Germany: DAG-FATCA@DemocratsAbroad.org

Since FATCA and FBAR came into effect, a dedicated Democrats Abroad task force has been working with the IRS and the US Treasury Department to address the financial reporting burden the legislation imposes on Americans living and working abroad.


Aloka Barthel, Media Contact – DAG-Press@DemocratsAbroad.org (2015)

Dede Williams, Communications Team – DAG-FATCA@DemocratsAbroad.org (2015)

 

 


 

DAA Review

 

March for Science

By Danny LoCascio

 

Democrats Abroad Austria participated in the recent March for Science held on Earth Day, April 22. About 25 DAA members carried the American flag and a DAA banner as they marched alongside scientists, students, professors, and people from all walks of life - expats and Austrians alike.

The march was just one of more than 500 satellite marches in solidarity of the March for Science in Washington, D.C.  Millions marched around the world to demonstrate in support of science, but also in protest of the recent decisions made by Donald Trump regarding science. "He has thrown a wrecking ball at institutions like the Environmental Agency," one member stated.  “He has appointed climate change deniers to his cabinet. He has publicly described climate change as a hoax. It's like putting an arsonist in charge of extinguishing a fire which they started, and we're all living in the burning house."

Scientists are now worrying about government funding for research desperately needed to undo the ravages that the misuse of science has caused.  And people all over the world are worried that climate change will continue until it is irreparable, if it isn't already. 

The march originated at Sigmund Freud Park, where people gathered, met up with friends, and got the feel of the march.  Democrats Abroad Austria set up a table for voter registration. Although rain was forecast at precisely the time of the march, it held off until the end to everyone's relief.  At Sigmund Freud Park, there was a DJ, interviews with scientists and live music provided by Danny Chicago, who performed Bob Dylan's "The Times They are a Changin" and his own socially influenced song "Runaway Train"

DAA Chair Jennifer Rakow-Stepper commented, “The organizers had posted a map with the scientific landmarks along the route and our new treasurer, Marcy Fowler, gave us her professional insights about the Iran nuclear deal as we passed by Palais Coburg, where the talks were held. Another DAA member, Lizzie Stevens, was a part of the TBA21 artwork, Jiboia (King Boa), by Ernesto Netos. Everyone had a good time for an important issue.

The march began at 2 pm and wove its way through the first district and back to the ring at Maria Theresien Platz. The entire march took roughly 90 minutes. There were hundreds of distinguished Austrian scientists who gave their signed support to the march and many of them could be seen marching in the crowd. 

Several highly respected scientists in the Austrian scientific community gave speeches in support of science such as Vice-President of the Universities' Conference and Rector of the Vienna University of Economics Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger and former President of the European Research Council (ERC) Helga Nowotny.

Two DAA members, Casey Miller and Danny LoCascio, were part of the original organizational committee. The initial organizers were Robin Gleason and Olivia Fischer, and original members included Monica LoCascio, Laura Silverstein, Sabine Montagnon and David Heuser.  The organization was later turned over to Oliver Lehmann and his support team of Petra Eckhart, Emilie Kleinszig and Claudia Spitz, and the original committee stayed active through the end of the march.

The demonstration size was estimated within the 2500 range.  It was a positive crowd with great energy, enthusiasm and a healthy mix of sending an important message while keeping a good sense of humor. The signs being carried were a varied mix of grim messages, clever science puns, angry sentiments, inspirational quotes and takeaway phrases. 

After the march, twelve members of DAA met up at Halle to rest their feet while enjoying refreshments and conversation.

 If you would like to see follow-up events and activities go to the main March for Science link.

 


Solidarity Sunday #3:  Pens Out Against FATCA & Tax Reporting Hell


Our third Solidarity Sundays Vienna event on April 30 helped to enact change - even if we didn’t manage to get Trump to disclose his tax returns. We did, however, produce an armful of cards urging our legislators to reform the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). More than 60 cards from Vienna will be hand-delivered by Democrats Abroad activists in mid-May as part of their Congressional Door Knock. And our writing action is inspiring other Democrats Abroad groups to follow suit!

All in the nick of time: after years of legislative inaction, something started moving last week. Americans Abroad Caucus Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill to reform FATCA. The Overseas Americans Financial Access Act aims both to ease the reporting burden from abroad, and to allow us again to easily open bank accounts in the countries in which we’re living and working.

Despite the long weekend, several of us gathered for good coffee and discussion, and our activism is helping to move an important political question forward. Join us for the next Solidarity Sundays Vienna event on May 28 to learn about planning peaceful, legal and powerful street action, and to support DA’s participation in this year’s Pride March. All info can be found on our Facebook page here as well as here.

 


 

Member’s Corner

Welcome, New Democrat!

Congratulations to DAA Member-at-Large and Database Manager, Caitlin Ahern, on the birth of her son Benjamin on April 8th. She is thrilled to be raising another tiny Democrat in this very parenting-friendly country!