NB: While ADCT respects ACA’s positions and appreciates their lobbying efforts, this post in no way serves as an endorsement of their submission regarding RBT.

It bears repeating that no group approached Congress during the tax reform process and specifically requested RBT. Many chose to support RO’s effort (TTFI) assuming it more likely to succeed given Congress was clearly intent upon changing corporations to a territorial model.

ACA’s approach to RBT has been described by some as CBT with a carve-out (for those who are already compliant). It does not address the issues of Accidental Americans; becoming compliant for the express purpose of renunciation, etc.
 
 

TAX REFORM BILL AND AMERICANS ABROAD: WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT’S NEXT?
 

by Charles M Bruce
ACA’s Legal Counsel and Of Counsel to Bonnard Lawson-Lausanne

with contributions from Jonathan Lachowitz, Chairman, ACA, Marylouise Serrato,
Executive Director, ACA, and Jacqueline Bugnion, Former Director, ACA.

On the day President Trump signed the The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) , Mr. Bruce issued this letter (found on the ACA website).

EXCERPTS:

What happened?
 
Changes in the basic rules for Americans abroad were not made.
There are strong indications that Congress will soon return to the subject of tax law changes to make corrections in what was done and to address issues that were postponed. A couple of days ago Chairman Brady said, “I’m going to recommend that we do have some form of tax reconciliation in future budgets because there are still areas of the tax code I think . . . can be improved, including retirement savings, education, and streamlining,” Brady said. “And we had a number of good ideas from our members we weren’t able to accommodate. Plus, I think we’ll have to continue to modify the international code over time.”

What has not changed?
 

  • The basic foreign earned income and housing cost amount exclusion (FEIE) has not changed
  • The 3.8% net investment income tax to fund Medicare and The Affordable Care Act, remains in place and continues to apply in a way that, for Americans abroad, exposes them to double taxation because they are not allowed to credit foreign taxes against it.

 
There are some serious problems.
 
(a) The new participation exemption system adversely affects Americans abroad by not providing the dividends received deduction and yet taxing an individual on the deemed distribution.

(b) Special reduced rates for so-called “passthroughs” do not benefit Americans abroad that earn from a passthrough foreign income.

(c) Foreign real property taxes can no longer be deducted under the Act.
 
What are the good points?
 
Overall, the visibility of the subject of taxation of Americans abroad has greatly increased. The House Republican Blueprint for tax changes, developed early on, said that legislators would consider “appropriate treatment of individuals living and working abroad in today’s globally integrated economy.” Ways and Means Chairman Brady said that Congress is thinking about changes in the way American individuals abroad are taxed. Lawmakers, he added, take seriously the call for a shift from a citizen-based income tax system to a residence-based system that would only tax people on the income they earn in the U.S. Finance Committee
Chairman Hatch’s corporate integration proposal called for reconsideration of the taxation of nonresident citizens. Individual Members, such as, Representative Holding (Republican-North Carolina), have said that changing the way Americans overseas are taxed is high on their list of priorities. Late in the process, there was a very good floor colloquy between Representative Holding and Chairman Brady on the need to take up this subject afresh in the near future.

One of the most positive things that happened was that ACA successfully developed the best, most comprehensive baseline set of data for detailing the taxation of Americans abroad. This baseline information did not previously exist. It required five months of work by ACA and its independent revenue estimator, District Economics Group (DEG). Utilizing this information, ACA has been able to greatly refine its description of a possible approach to changes in the law and
to run revenue estimates. All of this shows that enactment of RBT can be made revenue neutral. This is an extremely important outcome. ACA has always said that for RBT to be adopted, it must be revenue neutral, tough against abuse, and fair for everyone, meaning among other things that no one would be worse off. ACA’s numbers-crunching shows that RBT can be adopted and the, at the same time, section 911 can be left in place.
 
What’s next?
 
Congress did not consider RBT and reject it. It’s noteworthy that no Member or committee arrived at the point where an RBT/territoriality-for-individuals proposal was put by a Member on the table, drafted in legislative language and “scored” for its revenue effects.Republican interest groups, as well as other groups such as Democrats Abroad, AARO, and FAWCO, all talked with many Members and “knocked on many doors”. They deserve great credit for their efforts……. However, the big, high-visibility subjects, including changes in the international tax rules for corporations, commanded most of the attention of decision-makers.Also, the approaches to these subjects, including the various versions of proposed changes in the corporate tax rules, resulted in a constantly changing landscape and made it difficult to insert residency-based taxation alongside them.
The effect of work on the other subjects can be seen from the fact that many effects on Americans abroad were simply overlooked or not fully appreciated until very late in the game, if it (sic) all.

ACA believes that Members, including Chairman Brady, Chairman Hatch, Representative Holding, and others, are sincere in saying that they want to change the tax rules for Americans abroad. We don’t think they would’ve made the statements they did if this was not the case.

In light of what was not addressed in TCJA and some of the overlooked outcomes, ACA strongly believes NOW IS THE TIME FOR CONGRESS TO HOLD HEARINGS ON THE TAX TREATMENT OF AMERICANS ABROAD. These can lay out the existing rules, including the rules added by TCJA. The Joint Committee on Taxation, the lead committee on matters having to do with tax, can construct its own baseline for dealing with the subject. ACA is making the results of the ACA/DEG study available. Hearings can also identify the key topics, including, for example, treatment of tax havens, various anti-abuse topics, etc. All the interested parties can present their views. It’s an opportunity for everyone generally to “get on the same page” or say why they choose not to be on that page. Of course, there will be differences in opinion as to what changes should be made. ACA suggests that the hearings be held by the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy. It looks to Members, both Republicans and Democrats, who have historically taken an interest in the subject to support hearings.
 
*******
 
On the Transition Tax:

The Merry-go-Round of Unintended Consequences
No Evidence of Intent to Apply the Transition Tax to Small Business Corporations of #Americansabroad
ADSC-ADCT Letter to US Congress
Seven Simple Points to be made re Transition Tax and CFCs
It’s the Subpart F Rules Stupid

ACA Papers:

submission to the Senate Finance Committee April 2015

Side-By-Side Analysis: Current Law; Residency-Based Taxation

Representative Holding’s comments:

ACA confers Eugene Abrams Citizenship Award for 2017 on Jackie Bugnion

THE EUGENE ABRAMS CITIZENSHIP AWARD 2017 WINNER

Jackie Bugnion

excerpts from the ACA site:

American Citizens Abroad, Inc. (ACA, Inc.) is proud to confer its Eugene Abrams Award for 2017 on Jackie Bugnion.

The Abrams Award, named for Eugene B. Abrams, ACA Executive Director from 1992-1994, honors Americans abroad who have contributed outstanding volunteer service to their community. This year, it is being presented to an American abroad who has been of invaluable service to the overseas American community around the world.

Mrs. Bugnion served on the ACA Board and Executive Committee for 12 years, from 2003 to 2015, and she was the driving force behind the development of Residency-Based Taxation (RBT), writing detailed RBT proposals, visiting lawmakers and giving speeches on several different continents. She was instrumental in creating relationships with key legislators and the tax writing committees on Capitol Hill, and she wrote policy papers which helped establish ACA as the premier thought-leader on issues affecting the community of Americans living and working overseas.
…….ACA and ACAGF owe a great debt of gratitude to Mrs. Bugnion for her years of service to the organization. She always had excellent insight into the problems facing Americans overseas and worked tirelessly to find practical solutions to these problems. Jackie’s dedication and commitment to the cause of Americans overseas and her committed focus to the issues of overseas taxation and compliancy issues helped bring RBT to the forefront of discussions in Washington.

The following are a set of videos, interviews and reports that demonstrate how clearly Jackie understands the problems of Americans abroad and her no-nonsense approach to fixing them.

CFA SOCIETY SWITZERLAND SPONSORS DEBATE – FATCA, THE WORLDWIDE END OF BANK SECRECY? JUNE 25-26, 2012 GENEVA & ZURICH

The CFA Society, Switzerland sponsored debates on June 25 & 26, 2012 in Geneva & Zurich. Of particular interest is listening to the architect of FATCA, J. Richard (Dick) Harvey, Jr. For a fine review of this by Wellington (a Brocker who attended the debate in Zurich) please see callousness of Mr Harvey & the U.S. government .


full debate – 2 hours

 
ACA DIRECTOR JACKIE BUGNION TALKS ABOUT #FATCA WITH JENNIFER CORDINGLEY OF DUKASCOPY TV – NOVEMBER 15, 2012

This short interview with Jennifer Cordingley of Dukascopy is very concise and you won’t find a better one anywhere. This is the one to convince your family and friends-no hysterics or complaining, just, “this is what it is” (and “oh by the way, its terrible“).

There is no direct representation in Congress or in the Administration for Americans residing overseas in Washington D.C., yet U.S. law seriously impacts the lives of Americans overseas through rules related to transmission of citizenship to children born overseas, through specific penalizing measures related to Social Security payments, and, in particular, through its unique citizenship-based taxation whereby the United States continues to impose its tax regime on Americans living outside of the country, even though they pay taxes where they reside. Most recently, in 2010, Congress passed the FATCA legislation (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which makes it very difficult for Americans abroad to maintain bank accounts in the country where they live.

 

5 minutes
 

ACA DIRECTOR JACKIE BUGNION TALKS ABOUT OVERSEAS AMERICAN WEEK ON DUKASCOPY TV – MARCH 6, 2013

Jackie is in the studio with Dukascopy TV journalist Natalie MacDonald to discuss Overseas American Week (OAW). In addition to describing the purpose of OAW, she outlines major issues for expats; tax, banking-(specifically, inability to obtain U.S. accounts while having a foreign address due to the Patriot Act), citizenship and voting. She also delves into the lack of representation due to low percentages of concentration in districts, with the only additional support of the Americans Abroad Caucus headed by Rep. Christine Maloney. The attempt (HR 597) to set up a presidential, bi-partisan committee to address all of these issues is mentioned. As well as the fact that as of the video (March 2013), there has not been a study done concerning overseas issues, in over 35 years. In that time-frame, the issues have become far more complex. She also points out problems with Social Security & WEP and Medicare; as well as the fact that if arrested overseas, Americans do not have the protections of the Vienna Convention; no right to legal counsel, etc, in spite of the fact that the U.S. signed the Convention.
 

8 minutes
 

JACKIE BUGNION SUBMISSION TO INTERNATIONAL TAX REFORM WORKING GROUP (W&M) APRIL 10, 2013

Jackie Bugnion writes the best arguments against citizenship-taxation ever

ACA DIRECTOR JACKIE BUGNION TALKS ABOUT UPDATES ON RESIDENCE-BASED TAXATION (RBT) ON DUKASCOPY TV (JULY 2013)

This interview with Monica Gibson (Dukascoy) focuses on RBT highlights; if adopted, RBT would produce more revenue than the current CBT system; it would reduce costs to the IRS and would be better for US business by increasing competitiveness abroad. The fact that a US employee costs two times the cost of hiring a foreigner hurts the U.S. in this global economy and she asks “who better is there to represent the interests of American than Americans themselves”?
The possibility of tax reform is mentioned due to the Ways and Means request for submissions. ACA’s report as well as a very supportive report from JCT as well as the SFC paper,
INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS -Senate Finance Committee Staff Tax Reform Options for Discussion
all point to a strong case for RBT.

In this video Jackie speaks passionately about the fact that lives are being destroyed; that “destroyed” is not too strong a word to use. She in fact claims that the situation is “very dramatic.” It is amazing that persons like herself, Nina Olson etc are incredibly clear about this and someone like Mr. Stack claims that such aspects/effects of FATCA are “myths.”
 

7 minutes

 

JACKIE BUGNION SPEAKS ABOUT THE FOREIGN EARNED INCOME EXCLUSION WITH BENJAMIN JONES ON DUKASCOPY TV JAN 9 2014

Here Jackie discusses what the FEIE really is (a “fix” for CBT) and tries to clear up common, stubborn misconceptions (i.e., that Americans abroad get a “tax break”). The FEIE is “low-hanging fruit” and always in jeopardy. Making the case for FEIE is simple; without it, anyone in a low tax country will be severely affected and those in high-tax countries (where 80-90% of Americans abroad live) will simply switch to the FTC. She discusses what happened when the FEIE was repealed due to The Tax Reform Act of 1976. Tens of thousands of Americans in the Middle East, particularly in engineering and the oil fields, received tax bills that were higher than the income they made. Consequently they came home, businesses were lost and the export markets were lost. Though the legislation was repealed retroactively, the damage had been done. This was discussed often by Roger Conklin most effectively in his submission to the Ways & Means Committee .For the first time in nearly 100 years, the trade balance turned negative. The reality is that the low-tax people would leave and enter the unemployment rolls in the U.S. and the U.S. would not receive an extra penny from the high-tax people. Jackie mentions an ACA paper The 911 Mirage .
Another complication has developed due to the Net Investment Income Tax (funds for the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”). Here one has to ask whether this was a deliberate act of Congress to punish Americans abroad. This 3.8% tax on passive income is a Chapter 2 tax (from the Internal Revenue Code) rather than a Chapter 1 tax. Chapter 2 taxes are ineligible for the FTC. This is clearly sheer discrimination that Homelanders do not face. Also, those who are self-employed are required to remit 0.9% of their income for Social Security; may sound minuscule but represents an actual 6% rise in social security taxes. There is a reference made to the new expansion of ACA into the United States as the ACA Global Foundation.
 


12 min

 
ACA’s TAXATION OF AMERICANS ABROAD IN THE 21ST CENTURY:CITIZENSHIP-BASED TAXATION VS RESIDENCE-BASED TAXATION
TORONTO ONTARIO CANADA MAY 2 2014

We were lucky to meet Jackie at ACA’s Taxation of Americans Abroad in the 21st Century:
Citizenship-Based Taxation vs. Residence-Based Taxation
held in Toronto on May 2, 2014. The Isaac Brock Society posted live comments from Brockers present during the meeting. Dr.Stephen J. Kish was academic host for the meeting and John Richardson was the moderator for the debate.
She was delightful to work with and I am glad I had the chance to meet her. A video was made of the actual debate between Prof. Michael S. Kirsch & Dr. Bernard Schneider, “Citizenship-Based Taxation vs. Residence-Based Taxation
video is 2 hours
 
TAX ANALYSTS PUBLISHES “CONCERNS ABOUT THE TAXATION OF AMERICANS RESIDENT ABROAD” by JACKIE BUGNION AUG 24, 2015

“Permission is contingent on properly crediting the article to the author and to Tax Analysts as the original publisher. Using the PDF attached above covers proper attribution.”

“Concerns About the Taxation of Americans Resident Abroad” This article is a “must-read.” You will not find a clearer or better description anywhere.
 
 
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH GOLDSTEIN ON GELT – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EXPAT TAXES, WITH JACKIE BUGNION SEP 13 2015


14 minutes

JACKIE BUGNION RETIRES FROM ACA – SPRING 2015

John Richardson comments on his reaction to the news that Jackie was retiring:

On May 7, 2015 I received notification that Jackie Bugnion had submitted her resignation to the Board of ACA “American Citizens Abroad“. I read the notification with a combination of sadness and total appreciation for the incredible efforts that Jackie has made in advocating for the rights of Americans Abroad. Jackie was largely responsible for organizing the “Citizenship Taxation Conference” (featuring the debate between Michael Kirsch and Bernard Schneider) that took place in Toronto on May 2, 2014. Some of you may have had the privilege of meeting her there. It’s unlikely that she could be replaced by any one individual.

In my humble opinion Jackie has done more than any single individual in both:

  • Helping Americans Abroad in day-to-day practical ways; and
  • Leading the broader educational initiative which I believe will lead to the United States transitioning from CBT to RBT.

Jackie’s reflection:

While the task is far from over, I am pleased to know that ACA has managed to get RBT on the table of tax reform. As you know the Senate Finance Committee has taken a positive stand on this. The number of public submissions on tax reform to the Senate Finance Committee in April 2015 showed significant input from Americans abroad. There were 350 submissions to the “international” group compared to 450 for the “personal” group. When related to the interested populations – 7 million vs 250 million, this demonstrates a major input from overseas. Congress is sensitive to this level of participation.

 
Last but not least, some quotes from those who have worked with Jackie, all appreciative of her long service to Americans abroad via ACA. Some of us perhaps, have not really been around long enough (i.e., we were just Americans living in our new countries, completely oblivious to all this…….) to truly appreciate all that people such as Andy Sundberg, (boy, was he ever handsome), Roger Conklin (a very kind soul) and now Jackie have done for us. The best thing we can do is learn from their examples; of putting our all into getting this situation reconciled so our kids and grandkids will not have to deal with this………..

Jackie is a real worker. There are projects that require a big effort and a great deal of attention to detail, and Jackie would commit big blocks of time to working on something and making it a success. This was true of the Residency-Based Taxation project and the Canadian conference a few years ago. Things don’t happen by themselves. Jackie made things happen, and I was always amazed and appreciative.

— Charles Bruce, Chairman, American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation

Jackie has a brilliant mind and an incredible command of detail, and I’ve been present in meetings where she blew away legislators with her detailed knowledge of the issues. Her proposals were always incredibly well researched and totally pragmatic. ACA would not be where we are today without Jackie’s expertise.

— Anne Hornung-Soukup, Director, American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation

Jackie selflessly invested in developing the deep subject knowledge needed to propose improvements that now benefit millions of people she will never meet. She embodies the altruism upon which the United States was founded.

— Roland Crim, Director, American Citizens Abroad, Inc.

Jackie:

Your work for “American Citizens Abroad”, as an organization, has been tireless, relentless, purposeful and generous. Your contribution to ACA’s many achievements has been extraordinary. Your influence will continue long after your retirement. But, that’s on the ACA organizational level.

For individual Americans abroad, your contributions have far exceeded your many accomplishments on the ACA level. Your greatest contributions have not been what you have done. Rather your greatest contribution has been who you are as in individual.

As an individual you have represented the finest of American values: a generosity of spirit, a beacon of hope and a consistent and stable compassion.

To put it simply, you have cared. It’s who you are.

On behalf of all American citizens living outside the United States, I thank you.

—-John Richardson, Toronto, Canada