Last week the Taxation Task Force led a hardy delegation of Democrats Abroad through the halls of Congress to talk about expat tax reform. Our Leave Behind Pack attached herewith profiles our discussion agenda nicely.
So here are our takeaways.
· Residency Based Taxation – is generating some genuine action! In the office of Rep George Holding (R-NC) we received a short description of an RBT proposal hewn from discussions with a range of Americans abroad organisations. It needs development in order to generate support from, for example, those frightened by the prospect of inadequate anti- tax avoidance provisions. We learned this in subsequent discussions = Congressional reality check!
So our work to persuade Congress that RBT is a justified policy shift that can be implemented responsibly has taken yet another step forward.
· Tax Cuts and Jobs Act transition taxes - the serious problems being caused by the Repatriation Tax and GILTI Tax regime (for an explanation see here) are being brought to lawmakers’ attention by many frightened and angry business owners abroad, thank goodness.
The good news is that, despite the new provisions being exceedingly complex and difficult to explain, the need for a “fix” is well understood.
The bad, sad, sorry news is that it is on a long list of TC&JA flaws that will not be fixed in the short term.
Congress must pass an Omnibus appropriations bill no later than 23 March and the halls of Congress are filled with people pleading for urgent remedies for parts of the law that hurt themselves or their industry. The vast majority will go away empty-handed.
But SEE BELOW for what to do next about Repatriation and GILTI Taxes.
· FATCA Reform – we continue to talk about HR 2136, the “Overseas Americans Financial Access Act” as a remedy for the problems caused by FATCA, whose problems we no longer need to explain. We did, however, find ourselves briefing Congress on the FATCA judicial challenge. Despite Senator Rand Paul being a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging FATCA on constitutional grounds, awareness of the case, Crawford et al v US Treasury, is very low.
As you may know from previous Task Force reports, the Crawford plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to review the decision of the lower courts to reject the case for lack of standing. The parties have now filed their pleadings to the Supreme Court. You can find them here.
For the sake of clarity, Democrats Abroad would be pleased for the U.S. Supreme Court to review Crawford et al on its merits and, once and for all, bring clarity to the question of whether FATCA is constitutional in regards to the fourth amendment (unreasonable searches and seizures), fifth amendment (equal protection) and eighth amendment (excessive fines), as well as the Intergovernmental Agreements.
· WEP repeal – we continue to promote sponsorship of HR1205, the “Social Security Fairness Act” which would eliminate the impact of the Windfall Eliminations Provision (WEP). The law has 176 co-sponsors and robust awareness. We will keep pushing.
We also keep pushing HR 2710, the act that would establish a Commission on Americans Abroad and perhaps prevent the establishment of laws and regulations that unintentionally hurt Americans abroad. Which brings us back to the newest law that, because of hasty drafting and inadequate consideration, has unintended adverse consequences for some Americans abroad -
REPATRIATION/GILTI TAX: HURTS BUSINESS OWNERS ABROAD - ACTION REQUIRED!
Because Congress will not act urgently to enact a remedy, a diverse group of Americans abroad organisations is asking the Treasury/IRS to delay the law’s implementation. If you are a business owner abroad you are encouraged to participate in this grassroots campaign urging Treasury/IRS to issue a Notice that:
1. Delays Repatriation Tax payment until the IRS issues adequate guidance.
2. Provides an exemption from the Repatriation and GILTI taxes for Section 911 (non-resident) Americans.
The email-writing campaign outreach is aimed at relevant persons at Treasury and the IRS plus the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. You should also send this message to your elected representatives in both Houses regardless of their committee assignments. Please contact us with any questions.
BACK TO THE DOOR KNOCK
We also discussed –
· Accidental Americans and the need for relief from the tax burdens inherent in renouncing US citizenship.
· Disenfranchised Americans born abroad – there are still 13 states which deny the UOCOVA right to vote to citizens who are born abroad and have never lived in the state. It shocks me how little concern this raises in many Congressional offices where aides respond that it is an issue that should be taken up with the state.
· Americans Abroad Caucus – we’re not even certain the caucus has been re-certified in the 115th Congress and it is more than half over! This caucus is suffering from neglect and may need an urgent re-boot.
A big thank you to Chip Seward, Becca Young, Jeffrey Cheng, Ken Sherman, Connie Borde and Martha McDevitt-Pugh for door knocking Congress with the DA tax team last week. You guys were great!
A big thank you also to those who contributed to the Door Knock preparation and materials (attached).
Thanks again to all of who continue to support the work of the Taxation Task Force.
Please contact us at any time with questions.
DA Taxation Task Force
Julia Bryan - ex officio (Czech Republic)
Jennifer Cederwall (Sweden)
DeeDee Gierow (Sweden)
Rebecca Lammers (UK)
Carmelan Polce - Chair (Australia and New York)
Michael Ramos (Australia)
Joseph Smallhoover (France)
Orlando Vidal (UAE)
Please save this date: Saturday, March 24, 2018, at 11:00 AM to 1 PM, Casa Convento Concepción 4a calle oriente, # 41, La Antigua, Guatemala.
A quorum of 25 members is required to conduct business. We hope you can be physically present. If you cannot attend in person, then please give your proxy to someone who will be attending by completing the attached proxy form Here and returning it either to our Secretary, Lyn Totino, or to our events chairperson, Kee Kalwara (instructions are on the form). All you need to do is download the proxy form into WORD, type in your information, save it with your name, for example, DA_Guatemala_Proxy_John Doe, and return it to Lyn or Kee as an email attachment. It is best to mark your proxy GENERAL, and TRANSFERABLE.
Proxy form here:
Secretary’s Report – 2017 Minutes Approval
Treasurer’s Report and 2017 Accounts Approval
Chairperson’s Report of 2017
Communications Media Contact Report – 2017 activities
Events Coordinator Report for 2017
Events Coordinator – events and activities for 2018
Recognition of significant donors
Appointment of Communications Media Contact 2018-2019
Report on Americas Regional Meeting, January 25-27, 2018
DPCA Global Meeting Tokyo, Japan, May 25-27, 2018
Get Out The Vote 2018 – Commit to voting: www.IWillVote.com
Other items and recommendations from the floor
Coffee, soft drinks and cookies will be available. DA members and U.S. Citizens invited. Information: John Chudy at: 7832-4581, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Power is where power goes: LBJ
Through a series of flashbacks, the film follows LBJ’s career from 1959 – 1963 – his time in Congress, as Vice President, to the assassination of JFK and his swearing in as President on Air Force One. It then focuses almost entirely on the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is not a biopic of Johnson’s life, nor of his entire Presidency, but provides insight into his personal and political struggles. 2017, 1hr 36min, Rated R.
Q20 Suggested Donation
Bring Your Own Drinks
Thursday, March 15, 2018
POTLUCK Starts at 5:30pm The movie starts promptly at 6:30pm
Dave’s and Kee’s
Calle de Los Duelos Casa 19 Colonia Virey 4170-5537
Plenty of Secure Parking
Open to Members of DAGT and Guests Discussion Group Following the Movie
Letter from Washington
To Democrats Abroad
28 February 2018
Executive Director Emeritus
You Americans abroad are likely to be a lot safer than us Americans at home.
Seventeen people were murdered and 14 more wounded on February 14 by a 19 year old white man in Parkland Florida using a military style assault gun. Our plague of gun violence has hit the front pages again as it did in 2012 after the murder of 28 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. What is it that is finally getting political attention when the 15,000 gun deaths and 31,200 gun woundings last year did not stir a political ripple?
That makes the United States Number 1 in gun deaths per 100,000 residents among the 162 sovereign states? Our neighbor Canada is Number 10, the UK is Number 82 and Japan is Number 162.
About half of us see gun violence as a very big problem in the US. What to do about it depends on your political leanings. Democrats want gun control. Republicans don’t.
Hey! Guns R Us!
Thirty percent of us own a gun and 42% of us live in a household with a gun. Three quarters of gun owners could never see themselves not owning a gun. And, just as many believe that the right to own guns is an essential freedom - like free speech, the right to vote, freedom of religion. This is also a white, less educated guy thing. About half of white men own a gun as do white men without a bachelor’s degree. There is also a rural - urban divide. Almost half (46%) of rural residents own a gun compared with only 19% in urban areas. More than half (54%) of men who own guns say all or most of their friends do too. These gun owners (67%) say they have a gun for protection and about 40% of them say they always have a loaded gun within easy reach.
Since a majority believe that gun violence is a national problem, what should be done to contain it? Preventing the mentally ill and those on a no-fly list from gun purchase is generally agreed by both owners and non-gun owners. That’s about as far as agreement goes. Not on creating a federal gun purchase data base, banning assault weapons or high capacity magazines or allowing teachers to be armed, or shortening the waiting period to buy a gun or allowing concealed weapons without a permit.
The partisan split spans the whole range of gun control measures. Except for preventing the mentally ill from buying guns, Democrats and Republicans are far apart. Trump has proposed arming teachers. That resonates with 81% of Republicans but only half as many Democrats. With teachers, not so much. Maybe that has to do with gun ownership. About 44% of Republicans are gun owners compared to half that many Democrats.
The Florida killings have focused attention on the National Rifle Association, the NRA. It is the national defender of our merchants of death. It spent almost $52 million in 2016 in support of the election of Trump including almost $20 million to defeat Hillary Clinton. No wonder Trump and the NRA have a love affair. He explained it all last April speaking to the NRA’s national convention:
“You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you. The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”
That was before February 28.
Yesterday, Trump astonished Democrats and horrified Republicans in a meeting with both when he called for “strong measures” to impose background checks on gun buyers, greater police power to seize weapons from the mentally disturbed, banning of bump stocks and raising the age limit for the purchase of assault weapons.
That is the Republican President. It remains to be seen whether he actually goes to bat for these measures in the face of NRA and Republican opposition. Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House, rejects banning the sale of assault weapons: “"We shouldn't be banning guns for law abiding citizens.” The most that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would support is improving the system of background checks.
Among the 54 Republican Senators, 22 took NRA money (sometimes minor sums) and 32 took none. Only one of 49 Democratic Senators did so. Some 307 House Republicans received NRA money in 2018 and only 6 did not. Of the 193 Democratic members of the House, only 23 took NRA money.
More than 167 Democrats introduced the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2018" on 26 February. It would make it “unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.” It specifically names at least 205 guns that fit the description, including the AK-47 and the AR-15, the latter of which was used by Nikolas Cruz when he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month and killed 17 people.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed a similar bill last year. Her bill has 26 co-sponsors including three Democrats who have signed on since the school shooting this month in Parkland. But, it will go nowhere in the Republican controlled Senate.
Does gun control work?
States with the most strict gun controls have the lowest rates of gun deaths (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York) while those with the most lax laws (Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana) have the highest.
Take Connecticut. After the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, it enacted tough control measures. It expanded its ban on assault weapons, prohibited the sale of large capacity magazines, required the registration of existing assault weapons and large capacity magazines, required background checks for all firearms sales and created a registry of weapons offenders.The number of firearms deaths (homicides, suicides and accidents) fell from 226 in 2012 to 164 in 2016.
New York passed even tougher controls a month after Sandy Hook.. It ranks 48th in gun death rates after Connecticut at 46th..
The prospects for enacting any meaningful national gun control legislation depends on a Democratic majority in the House. The November election for the entire House will be our next chance to get the votes needed to do something to curb our plague of gun violence.
How that turns out may be very much influenced by a surprising new player: kids.
So many of the children who survived the Parkland killings are standing up to demand gun control. Their facility with social media and their political maturity in a democratic society means that they can mobilize public support for reform and that as they become adults they will have the political power to turn back our “Guns R Us” culture.
That can’t come a moment too soon. 30
Dear Fellow DNC Member,
A year ago this weekend, when you elected me as your new chair, President Trump responded the way he always does: on Twitter, mocking our party. In response, deputy DNC chair Keith Ellison and I made a promise: we would unite Democrats across the country to become his worst nightmare. And we did — by winning some of the biggest races in 2017.
It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight. In less than a year, we got back to basics and started organizing. We invested in our state parties almost immediately through our Resistance Summer program and hired organizers in over 40 states. We made unprecedented investments in our state parties through our Every ZIP Code Counts program; now each state party gets $10,000 per month, which is a 33% increase from base funding levels in 2016 and a 100% increase from 2015.
We didn’t just focus on the sexy races at the top of the ticket. We lifted up Democrats across the board. And by investing early, organizing everywhere, and working together with all of you, we won more than 100 elections and flipped 37 state legislative seats from red to blue. Please take a moment to read my latest piece in USA Today about all of the progress we’ve made over the last year.
One of those red-to-blue flips came this week in Kentucky, where Democrat Linda Belcher won a seat by a whopping 36 points in a district that Trump won by 49 points in 2016.
The DNC is proud to stand with Linda and the Kentucky Democratic Party as they work to build a brighter future for hardworking families across Kentucky.
Democrats are winning again because of the strong grassroots support of Democratic donors across the country. This week, the DNC announced it raised nearly $7 million, including nearly $1 million from the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, in January. The total represents a 40% increase over last January’s total and is the DNC’s best January since Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
Not only is last month’s haul more than the DNC raised in the past five Januaries, it’s more than the organization raised in January 2006 and January 2008, both of which were major Democratic wave election years. The DNC also finished the month of January with more cash on hand than it had at the same point in 2016 and 2014.
This week, we also continued to see the inspiring activism and resilience of the students at Stoneman Douglas. They have channeled their pain and passion into progress and challenged our lawmakers to finally take meaningful action that will reduce gun violence.
Our digital team put together this video highlighting the stories and voices of these courageous students. Deputy Chair Keith Ellison also spoke to Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, and Sarah Clements, the daughter of a second grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, about these issues on this week’s episode of Democrats Live. You can watch their discussion here.
The Democratic Party is committed to fighting for sensible gun laws. We will not accept that we are too powerless to make progress, or that the NRA is too powerful to defeat. In a country as great as ours, no child should be afraid to go to school or walk around their neighborhood. No spouse should be afraid to come home at night. No American should be afraid to go to work or their place of worship. No human being should be afraid to go to a shopping mall or baseball field, nightclub or movie theater, concert or college campus.
I joined DNC Member Yasmine Taeb, a graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School, in penning an open letter to the students in Florida about how our party is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them as we work to make progress on these issues. You can read our letter in Daily Kos here.
Finally, as we head into the weekend, all of us should remember the incredible campaign led by Memphis sanitation workers, who began marching 50 years ago this month for higher wages, safer working conditions, the right to be part of a union and the recognition of the dignity of their work. Their cause drew Dr. King to Memphis for what proved to be his final campaign.
While we’ve made incredible progress since then, we still have a lot of work to do. We know that when unions succeed, America succeeds. And with the Supreme Court beginning oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case next week, it’s critically important that we unite to protect workers’ rights.
This Saturday, working people across America will join hands to protect our freedoms and fight back against those trying to rig the economy for corporations and the 1%. You can join an event near you here.
Democratic National Committee
WE WILL ASSIST ALL US VOTERS IN REGISTERING TO VOTE AND COMPLETING THEIR FEDERAL POST CARD APPLICATION (FPCA) FOR THE UPCOMING USA ELECTIONS. THE FPCA IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE AN OVERSEAS ABSENTEE BALLOT. YOU SHOULD COMPLETE A NEW FPCA EVERY YEAR!
This event, hosted by Democrats Abroad Guatemala, is open to all US voters – Democrats, Republicans, Independents and all others.
Registration Guatemala City
Building G Apt. 201 (G201)
Entrance around the corner from Casa Escobar restaurant
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Watch for additional dates in Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala City and other locations. For more information, contact Kee Kalwara email@example.com (Antigua), Traci Styner at firstname.lastname@example.org (Lake Atitlan), Rachael Shenyo (Quetzaltenango) at email@example.com, or Hyungjoon Jin (Guatemala City) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s Tiny Action asks members to call their senators and demand they adopt common sense gun reform. Members are contacting us at a tremendous rate, asking about events planned around the topic, so please let us know if you're planning a March for Our Lives event, and we'll help pass the news along.
As part of our efforts to multiply our get out the vote impact this year, I have just submitted a draft proposal to the DNC, requesting funding to support our goals for the year.
I am also in the process of putting together a State Outreach team, and am looking for volunteers interested in acting as liaisons to several states. If you are interested in working on this outreach, please get in touch.
I'm excited to announce that DNC Chair Tom Perez will join DA for a reception in London in April. Many thanks to Giulia Marchiori Ceresa (UK) for helping make this happen and to Inge Kjemtrup (UK) for her support as well. More details soon, but save the date - April 26th.
The LGBT Caucus is hosting a call with Earl Fowlkes, Chair of the DNC LGBT Caucus, on February 28th. RSVP today and hear about the various issues facing the LGBTQIA community under the current Administration, and how the Democratic Party is addressing these issues.
The Comms Team has launched weekly “office hours”. Stop by the Webex call (password dems) between 8 and 9am EST with your comms related questions.
In other announcements, AP regional leadership has had a reshuffle. Long time leader Kat Allikian (NZ) is now the RVC of AP, while Shaun Barnes (HK), has stepped back and will become a deputy RVC. Samantha Wong (CN) is also joining the team as a deputy RVC, while Kari Hiepko-Odermann (IN) stays on in that role. Many thanks to these leaders for all the work they are doing in the region and particular thanks to Shaun for his past work on the DPCA Excom.
Thank you to all the country committees who met the DPCA compliance deadline and sent in all your documentation this week. Jeffrey Chen, our International Secretary, worked mightily hard to make sure no one missed the deadline - thank you Jeffrey!
Our next ExCom meeting is today at 8am DC time. Our Excom meetings are on Thursdays at 8am DC time unless otherwise noted. As always we'd be delighted to have you join as a guest. If you're interested, get in touch with Jeffrey at email@example.com
Thank you for all that you do!
International Chair, Democrats Abroad
Mark your calendars
Black History Month – February 1-28
Earl Fowlkes webinar – February 28th, 2pm DC time
Tom Perez reception – April 26 (London)
Annual General Meeting – May 25 - 27th (Tokyo)
**Democrats Abroad issues Tiny Actions like the one below every week. We thought you may all be interested in this one. Want to receive our weekly actions in your inbox? Click Subscribe from the Tiny Actions main page. If you don't see the Subscribe button, you'll need to sign in first.**
Democrats Abroad has long been in support of gun safety reform. We have called for legislative reform in the past, have addressed this issue in our platform, but Congress has offered little more than thoughts and prayers. This is not enough.
The resilience of the students in Florida have inspired the March for Our Lives movement that is rapidly spreading across the country. We stand with them today (our statement here) and we will stand with them to help take the March 24 national day of action, and the March 14 national school walk out day, into a global call for change.
This week’s #TinyAction: Demand that Senate pass common sense gun legislation and start making your plans for March 24.
1. Can you volunteer to help your local Dems Abroad organize a “March for our Lives" on or around March 24?
We’ll be organizing an online action to support the events in the US (stay tuned!), but there are also many people who would like to join an event in person. This requires organizing. If you live in an area where this might be possible, and if you’d be able to help organize, reach out to your local Dems Abroad team to let them know.
Not sure who to contact? Visit https://www.democratsabroad.
2. Call on your Senators to take immediate, urgent action.
“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [VOTING STATE/ZIP]. I’m calling today to ask Senator [NAME] to take action to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
This is not a states rights or second amendment issue. This is a safety issue that has plagued our nation for far too long and must be addressed urgently. Specifically, I ask that the Senator move to
- Close the loophole that lets people buy guns at shows and through private sellers without background checks
- Institute universal background checks for ammo and gun buyers
- Vote in favor of S.2095, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017
- Remove the Dickey Rider from the federal budget and finally allow the CDC to research gun violence prevention
I’m also incredibly disturbed that H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed the House, and it’s essential that the Senate stop it from becoming law. I’d like to see the Senator commit immediately to opposing this legislation. It’s as important as ever not to weaken gun safety standards, and prevent firearms from falling into dangerous hands. This is why every major law enforcement agency has opposed this bill.
As an American voter living abroad, I know that it doesn’t have to be this way. The US must be a positive example to the world, not the opposite. We cannot afford to wait any longer to protect innocent lives from gun massacres. Thank you.”
As always, our aim is to turn tiny actions into big results, so we hope we can continue to count on your help! Please send suggestions for our next tiny action to info at democratsabroad dot org.