July 02, 2024

International Chair Statement on Overseas Americans Financial Access Act

Democrats Abroad is delighted that our friend and ally, Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada, who serves as chair of the Americans Abroad Congress, has introduced legislation that speaks directly to the concerns of the millions of Americans residing overseas; the Overseas Americans Financial Access Act (OAFAA), legislation that would relieve the unintended burden imposed by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 (FATCA). This bill creates a same-country exception to FATCA, increasing access to basic banking services for Americans in the countries where they live..  

"Democrats Abroad, along with several other organizations, has advocated for the same-country exception for years," said the International Chair of Democrats Abroad, Martha McDevitt-Pugh.  "There is still a lot of work to do," said Rebecca Lammers, chair of DA's Taxation Task Force, "and Democrats Abroad will continue its advocacy for more comprehensive tax relief and banking access and compliance simplification."  

FATCA was designed to catch "fatcat" tax cheats who hide their wealth in foreign accounts, but since it was enacted into law, it has been ordinary Americans living and working abroad who have borne the brunt of the unpleasant and inconvenient consequences of this law.  Americans abroad have seen their accounts closed, their mortgages called in, other financial services on which they have relied for years denied, and burdensome additional compliance filings required of them..  The penalties for non-compliance are severe, both for banks and for individuals. 

"There is a significant difference between a billionaire hiding wealth in the Cayman Islands and a young professional earning a living by teaching English or working in an international company in Sao Paulo or Bangkok, or a retiree living on a fixed income in Porto. But FATCA doesn't make these distinctions," noted McDevitt-Pugh, adding that the "same-country exception introduced by Representative Titus corrects this wrong by eliminating from all FATCA reporting the accounts in their country of residence they use to pay bills and save for the future."

Americans living abroad experience a number of inequities in the federal tax code and financial regulations, and the OAFAA seeks to address just one important injustice. "Every little bit of regulatory relief is greatly appreciated by American citizens abroad," said McDevitt-Pugh, adding that "there is much more work to be done, but this bill is a start.   We will be advocating for its passage, and urging Congress to recognize the particular needs and concerns of Americans abroad, who vote in every congressional district."

Democrats Abroad thanks Representative Titus for her ongoing support and advocacy for the issues that matter most to American citizens residing abroad.