International Representative for Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

INTRODUCING THE INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON THE TAXPAYER ADVOCACY PANEL

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, or TAP (http://www.improveirs.org/about-us/), is comprised of approximately 80 members from across the United States, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and now an international representative, who volunteer to serve a three-year term. 

Shelby Lyon is the new TAP member for international taxpayers and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Volunteers generally spend between 200 and 300 hours per year on member activities that further TAP’s mission to improve the IRS. The job of the volunteers is to listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers’ issues and make suggestions for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction. 

Although other areas of the organization deal with legislative and specific taxpayer issues, the TAP deals with issues that affect large groups of taxpayers in regards to existing IRS products and services (systemic issues). If you want more information on how to get help with an individual issue, have a look here: http://www.improveirs.org/taxpayer-resources/

If you feel you have an issue that affects a large group of taxpayers, you can log it on the SAMS system: http://www.irs.gov/Advocate/Systemic-Advocacy-Management-System-SAMS 

The SAMS system is used, in addition to items collected during the volunteers outreach efforts, for selecting issues for the TAP to analyse and then provide recommendations to the IRS for improvements.

 

Banking problems? Contact your legislators!

Many Americans abroad are having trouble maintaining and opening bank accounts in the US and in their country of residence, due to FATCA, the Patriot Act, and current IRS policy.  AARO is asking organizations of Americans abroad to send their members the attached model letter to their legislators concerning banking problems they may be having, to be adapted if they wish to their own situations.

The new Congress will be considering tax reform early in 2015 and it is very important that they hear from a maximum of Americans abroad on these issues, before it is too late.  Too often, overseas Americans are forgotten in the legislative drafting process. We hope you and other American associations can prevent that from happening this time! We will be in Washington at the beginning of March: all messages received by then can only help our efforts there!

The AARO model letter has instructions on how to adapt and send it.  It also has a link to the results of a 2008 study with estimates on the state-by-state population of overseas voters. Finally, it has a list of the key committee members (with their districts).

You can find the names, addresses, fax numbers and websites of your legislators at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov. Members of the key committees are listed at the end of the model letter.

Many thanks for any assistance you can provide. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

 

Letter to the IRS on offices soon to be closed

We have learned to our distress that the last of the international offices of the Internal Revenue Service will be closed before the end of this year.  This means that all overseas Americans (and non-Americans residing abroad) who are under the obligation to file a U.S. tax declaration (whether or not they owe taxes) will have to contact the Philadelphia office of the IRS for assistance or use the services of a tax professional abroad.  

The news comes at a time when the IRS Commissioner has deplored recent budget cuts which are deteriorating service and leaving many people on the wrong end of an unanswered phone call.  The situation affects not only Americans living abroad but also great numbers of non-Americans.  It is difficult to agree with the IRS statement reported in Tax Notes Today on January 15, which says it is "forced to make tough choices during this period of fiscal austerity and these closures have relatively little impact on taxpayers and treaty partners."

AARO and FAWCO have written a joint letter of protest to IRS Commissioner Koskinen which can be accessed here.  We urge all Americans to contact their Congresspersons (because it is the House that holds the purse strings) to let them know the predicament this puts us in.  You can find your Representative’s website at www.house.gov.  Be sure to give your U.S. voting address anytime you write to Washington!

National Law Review cites AARO FBAR survey

The National Law Review has just published an article reporting and commenting on the results of the AARO survey on e-filing of the FBAR.

We are gratified to see that they suppport our recommendation that the filing threshold be raised: "We agree and suggest the threshold be pegged to the consumer price index. $10,000 in 1970 dollars equates to $60,864 today."

We understand their feeling that our other recommendation regarding "same coutry" accounts is unlikely to garner support in Washington, but will continue to press that case.

The article does not cite other specific recommendations regarding FinCEN Form 114 itself, but those are now being forwarded to decision-makers in Washington and we shall advocate for them in Washington in March.

See the National Law Review article here.

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