March 27, 2020

Dems Abroad outreach about US Govt Coronavirus Aid for Americans Abroad

Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the president has signed it into law.  Americans abroad will be interested in understanding the law's aid provisions and how they can access them.  This is a summary of key aid provisions that are or may be relevant to Americans abroad –

  • Americans abroad who meet the income eligibility criteria (adjusted gross income under $99,000) are entitled to the Recovery Rebate (up to $1,200 payment plus $500 per child)
  • Taxpayers who have provided bank account details with their tax filing will likely be receiving payments by direct deposit in the next 2-3 weeks, with others likely receiving checks or debit cards through the post
  • Treasury has been provided with flexibility in the language of the bill for providing the cash aid to citizens who have not filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019.  We will follow this closely.
  • Individuals with federal student loans automatically have their interest rate set to 0% for 60 days and can request forbearance (a suspension of payments) for 60 days.
  • Small businesses have been provided with range of supports to enable them to retain their employees and keep paying their salaries and benefits, via an existing SBA loan product whose eligibility criteria have been greatly relaxed. This MAY enable Americans abroad with small businesses to qualify for the support.

A great many questions remain about how these and the myriad other relief mechanisms in the historic $2 trillion dollar package are to be implemented.  Treasury and the IRS have a lot of work ahead of them.

CARES Act Federal Government Outreach
Democrats Abroad has written to Treasury and the IRS on behalf of Americans abroad and put a range of implementation issues and recommendations to them.  This letter was sent just after the Act was signed into law on the afternoon of Friday March 27th.  Following up the letter to chase down our recommendations will not be easy, but we intend to work through our friends on Capitol Hill and in collaboration with our colleague organisations representing Americans abroad.

Friends on Capitol Hill
We thank in advance Rep. Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Meadows (R-NC), co-chairs of the Americans Abroad Caucus, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) formerly of DA France, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) former Ambassador to Switzerland and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) a long time friend and support of Democrats Abroad for their support for the Americans Abroad community.  We know we can rely upon them to ensure Americans abroad are not forgotten in the implementation of the CARES Act.

Americans Abroad Community coalition
We draw your attention to this letter published earlier this week by American Citizens Abroad (ACA) drawing attention to a number of issues in the CARES Act relevant for Americans abroad.  In addition to the ACA Directory of U.S. tax return preparers servicing Americans abroad which we recommend, Democrats Abroad also wishes to highlight the U.S. banking product arranged by ACA for Americans abroad through the State Department Federal Credit Union that does not require a U.S. residential address.  Americans abroad eligible for the CARES Act Recovery Rebate who do not have a U.S. bank account to facilitate the efficient delivery of the payment may be interested in the accounts available through this program.

Help Us Help You
The Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force is interested in information and reporting about coronavirus aid programs enacted in other countries to support citizens through the Coronavirus lockdown.  We have be reading about support packages proposed or put in place in Germany, France, the EU in addition to the UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore.  Knowing what is accessible to Americans living abroad will be essential to making a persuasive case for further access for Americans abroad to CARES Act aid and relief mechanisms and any future aid packages.  Reports suggest there will be a 4th and 5th aid package coming.  We invite you to send to [email protected] reports about what coronavirus aid is available to citizens in the country where you live.

Please feel free to share this message and send comments and questions to: [email protected]

Do stay in, stay well and stay safe from the virus.