September 2019 Congressional Door Knock Report

The DemsAbroad Tax Team had another productive week of meetings with Congressional tax writers in Washington DC the week commencing 16 September 2019.  We are continuously reminded about the importance of turning up in person to present the serious personal and financial problems that U.S. tax, banking, securities and other laws cause Americans abroad.  Not only have we - the many dedicated individuals and organizations advocating on behalf of Americans abroad - built important relationships with the members who are championing our cause (Maloney (D-NY), Holding (R-NC), Titus (D-NV), Raskin (D-MD) and Beyer (D-VA)), but we’ve firmed up our relationship with the House Ways and Means Committee (W&MC) which is so critical to progressing a bill to enact Residency Based Taxation (RBT).

RBT Bill 

We had a very interesting discussion with the W&MC team working on expat taxation legislation.  While we expected their work to be farther advanced than it is, we now have a clearer understanding of their approach to shaping the bill which has as its foundation the administration of the law once it is in place.  Their emphasis is on ensuring the law can work for the many categories of Americans abroad:  short to medium to decades-long expats; short term corporate placements; love exiles; aid workers; retirees; students of all kinds; healthcare exiles; adventurers; pensioners; and more.  We were pleased to offer our on-going advice and feedback on the design elements of the RBT bill and we are determined to keep pushing the work along.

Outreach to Congress

Aside from the in-the-weeds work on the bill, there is of course more work to be done educating members on the problems we need addressed.  As you know, our focus is on persuading members in the all-important W&MC that our problems are serious and urgent.  Aside from the five members noted earlier, we also met in the office of these W&MC members: Rep Larson (D-CT), Rep Murphy (D-FL); Rep Walorski (R-IN), Rep Pascrell (D-NJ) and Rep Westrup (R-OH).  We door-knocked 25 other W&MC members and passed our Leave Behind Pack to the legislative staff.  Our meetings on the Senate side included Sen Brown (D-OH) and Sen Portman (R-OH), both serving on the Senate Finance Committee, as well as Sen Paul (R-KY), known for his determination to block reforms to U.S. tax treaties critical to our experience navigating the intersection of U.S. and residence country taxation.

We find that the most compelling cases we present are those that profile the constituents of the offices we visit navigating these challenges: the enormous complexity and cost of U.S. tax compliance; bank lockouts; double-taxation of pensions; the obstacles to ordinary investing; and the existential threat the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “transition taxes” pose for small to medium sized business owners. 

To that end, we continue to encourage all Americans abroad suffering from the burdens of U.S. taxation to call and/or write to your elected representatives about your experience.  Use our language or use your own.  If there’s any chance you can get to Capitol Hill yourself, then deliver your message in person!  The Senate and House offices are open to all – take advantage of it!  Find your members’ office address, walk right in (after passing through ground-floor metal detectors), introduce yourself, ask for an aide who has time to speak to a constituent for 10 minutes and then tell your story.

Transition Taxes
In all of our meetings we discussed the impact the Repat and GILTI taxes have had on small and medium sized American business owners abroad. We had a particularly successful meeting in the House Committee on Small Business.  Officials there confirm that the impact of GILTI is much more widespread than they had initially thought. We will continue to engage with the Committee to keep pressure on Congress and Treasury to establish a solution.

What's Next

You can be sure that we will be back on Capitol Hill at least one more time before the end of the calendar year, working in concert with all the other Americans abroad organizations to make the case for a switch to RBT and for other legislative remedies that address the serious discrimination we suffer as non-resident citizens.

Please send comments and questions to taxationtf@democratsabroad.org.

Democratically yours,

Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force