Working Group of Americans in Switzerland Sends Report to Congress and the Administration on U.S. Government Policies with Severe Negative Effects on Americans Living and Working Abroad

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A group of American citizen organizations based in Switzerland has just sent a report to every member of Congress and the Administration highlighting how U.S. Government policies and actions are negatively affecting the millions of U.S. citizens who live abroad. The report is based on a series of well-attended Town Hall Meetings, held in 2012 in five different Swiss cities, which brought together hundreds of Americans living in all parts of Switzerland. These meetings were organized by the leaders of several organizations, including American Citizens Abroad (ACA), the Overseas American Academy and the Swiss branches of both the Democratic and Republican parties of the U.S. Personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Bern were invited and attended each of the meetings. The report sent to Congress proposes several specific remedies to the dire situation of Americans living outside of the U.S., including the need for the United States to shift to a residence-based rather than citizenship-based tax system, the need for direct representation for overseas citizens in Congress so their concerns can be addressed, and the need for an Ombudsman for Americans Abroad to review and respond to challenges currently facing individual Americans living outside of the United States today.

A group of American citizen organizations based in Switzerland, including Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad, has just sent a report to every member of Congress and the Administration highlighting how U.S. Government policies and actions are negatively affecting the millions of U.S. citizens who live abroad. The report is based on a series of well-attended Town Hall Meetings, held in 2012 in five different Swiss cities, which brought together hundreds of Americans living in all parts of Switzerland. These meetings were organized by the leaders of several organizations, including American Citizens Abroad (ACA), the Overseas American Academy and the Swiss branches of both the Democratic and Republican parties of the U.S.    Personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Bern were invited and attended each of the meetings.

The report sent to Congress by the Americans in Switzerland Working Group – AMISWG --states that the most urgent motivation for the Town Hall Meetings was the unintended consequences and deplorable collateral damage caused to Americans living abroad by the pending implementation of the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) legislation. MaryLouise Serrato, Executive Director of ACA, explained, “many of the attendees at the meetings are finding that banks overseas are applying FATCA in a way that makes life very difficult for average, law-abiding American citizens who live and work overseas.” She continued, “tragically, bi-national marriages overseas are coming under great stress because the non-American partner is understandably reluctant to share joint account information with the IRS.”

Maya Samara, Chair of Democrats Abroad in Switzerland, said “accidental Americans, those who were born in the United States to non-American parents, are discovering the severe penalties they can incur because they didn’t know they had to file tax returns with the IRS”.

“The heart of the problem, “ explained Ed Karr, Director of Republicans Abroad in Switzerland, “is the U.S. Government’s unique policy of citizenship-based taxation, which has extremely adverse effects on U.S. exports and on the entire U.S. economy”.

The report sent to Congress proposes several specific remedies to this dire situation, including the need for the United States to shift to a residence-based rather than citizenship-based tax system, the need for direct representation for overseas citizens in Congress so their concerns can be addressed, and the need for an Ombudsman for Americans Abroad to review and respond to challenges currently facing individual Americans living outside of the United States today.

A copy of the report can be found on the web site of The Americans in Switzerland Working Group at http://www.amiswg.org/uploads/AMISWG_Cover_Letter_and_Report__September__3_2012.pdf

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MaryLouise Serrato
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