Americans Helping Americans Abroad

Extensive survey reveals …

AARO conducted a survey in October/November, 2020 to aid us in our advocacy efforts. The results of the survey have been very informative and give us fuller insights into your issues, which will better help us advocate for you to the new Congress and the Biden administration.

We plan to communicate the results to you via a series of short articles, addressing one topic at a time.

AARO would like to thank all of its members who took part in the survey. We had an excellent response: a total of 440 persons, 337 of whom were AARO members. This is a great response rate – more than 30% of our membership – which is higher than many similar surveys. We also appreciate the thousands of specific comments you wrote; these rich details, real human stories, will be very important to our advocacy.

Article #1: The Top 3 Issues (plus a 4th!)

We asked respondents to choose their three most important issues and to rank them in order of importance. FATCA reporting was the overall choice, followed by taxation and banking. However representation and recognition in Congress also ranked high.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 1: The Top 3 Issues (plus a 4th!)

Article #2: We are Fed Up with FATCA and FBAR!

Many survey respondents find the FATCA filings tedious and redundant with FBAR and that non-compliance with financial reporting requirements triggers "insane" penalties.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 2: We are Fed Up with FATCA and FBAR!

Article #3: Americans Who Consider Renouncing Citizenship

A significant minority, 34%, of our respondents told us that they have considered renouncing their US citizenship. This group tends to suffer more from double taxation, as well as from complex tax reporting, FATCA and bank regulatory issues. But many will likely not renounce for many reasons, including the exit tax and their fear of being stopped at the border on visits.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 3: Renunciation

Article #4: Outing the U.S. Banks: Which Ones Dump Us and Why?

40-45% of our respondents have told us that U.S. banks and financial institutions have refused their business, specifically naming 33 of them. U.S. banks and financial institutions do this in order to reduce their legal and financial exposure due to banking laws in the U.S. expat's country of residence, as well as U.S. anti-money laundering (“know your customer") rules.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 4: Outing the US Banks

Article #5: Voting from Overseas

This article addresses the overseas voting experience of our respondents, who vote in 40 States, plus Washington DC. Although only 63% believe their vote counts, your vote does matter more than you think. Finally, a total of 73% found the voting process either not a problem or manageable.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 5: Voting

Article #6: Taxation and Banking: We Are Caught Between Two Systems

This wide-ranging article addresses how overseas Americans are hopelessly caught between two incompatible systems, limiting us to what we can do in our lives and subjecting us to the worst of each system. Our survey shows that 85% of you believe that you are caught between two systems.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 6: Taxation and Banking

Article #7: Outing the Local Banks: They Don’t Want Us! Why Not?

Banks in the country of residence have refused the business of 28% of our survey respondents. You have specifically named 34 such institutions. The reason cited by far (and also evident by implication) is FATCA, although 10% of the banks did cite anti-money laundering rules. Limited solutions are available for some of you.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 7: Outing the Local Banks: They Don’t Want Us! Why Not?

Article #8: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Part 1

This article addresses our respondents' views on CBT. Our survey shows that 90% of you would like to eliminate CBT, citing unfairness; double/punitive taxation; FATCA reporting complications; investment and retirement account issues; and taxation without representation or benefit.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 8: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Part 1

Article #9: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Part 2

We continue our focus on CBT, looking in more detail at your taxation views from the angle of where your income is sourced. This analysis shows that there are quite differing views amongst our respondents, but also confirms our conclusion from Article 8, that 90% of you would like to eliminate CBT.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 9: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Part 2

Article #10: It's So Difficult to Save for Retirement!

Overseas Americans face many difficulties with their defined contribution retirement vehicles in both the US and their country of residence. We step through the issues through the eyes of a hypothetical American in mid-career who wishes to move overseas to work for a non-US employer, concluding that the amounts in her US 401(k) and IRA would likely be much smaller at retirement than if she had stayed stateside and that her retirement planning overseas would be handicapped by the extraterritorial application of US laws to non-US retirement accounts, creating onerous reporting, high tax preparation costs, and penalizing taxation.

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 10: It's So Difficult to Save for Retirement!

Article #11: My Social Security Was Reduced! It’s called WEP.

In this eleventh, and final, installment of our Survey Series, we conclude our focus on the difficulties overseas Americans face with retirement, covering Social Security and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which 39% of our respondents are not familiar with. We first explain how Social Security is calculated and then we step through the ABC’s of WEP: What is WEP? Why does it exist? Who is subject to WEP? What are the exceptions?

Download the PDF: pdfArticle 11: My Social Security Was Reduced! It’s called WEP.