Being a US Expat could happen to any US citizen
One of the major problems we as face as we try to help guide a fair change to tax reform is the lack of empathy: many people don't care all that about US expats overseas. Which is what makes the story of our guest, Mark, so compelling. His story is very common and shows how a temporary work assignment overseas can lead to an entire life change.
US Expats must choose between their US citizenship and their life they are living
Mark and others like him aren't being dramatic. They US tax code is literally making them choose between tax compliance that they can't afford and their US citizenship.
Anne was born in Oklahoma, Mark was born in Texas. The two met in Louisiana and they married in 1985. They had a son in 1988. Mark was a star employee and was offered a temporary relocation to Geneva Switzerland in 1999 when his company consolidated operations. They had a daughter in 2000. The dot com bubble saw all of Mark friends in the US lose their job. So what supposed to be a temporary, stated to look more permanent — they had a great life in Switzerland, meanwhile had they stayed in the US, things would have been a lot worse for them.
In 2006, they realize that the US tax laws are a bit terrible to comply with. They thought about going back to the US, but Mark had no prospects, so they kept living a great life. And the hopes of going back to the US were further dashed by the economic collapse in 2008 – there were no positions to be had in the US.
Also, the two realized that their children have only known Switzerland. Moving back to the US would not be easy. However, as Democrats, the two were optimistic that a new president, Barack Obama would impose a better tax treatment for expatriates. However, these hopes were dashed after a a Democrats Abroad meeting in 2010, which we chaired by future vice-presidential nominee, Tim Kaine. A fellow attendee brought up what was then just a proposed law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and that it posed a huge danger for expats. The FATCA discussion was tabled for healthcare reform talk much to the chagrin of the audience. Why was FATCA necessary? What would FATCA do? Would it be as bad as this one attendee claimed?
These questions would be answered in 2013 when their Swiss bank quarantined their accounts because they are US persons. They allowed their mortgage and checking account to be active, but nothing else.
In 2014, Mark was offered a relocation to Germany but declined. One reason is that they would realize a gain on their home they would not be able pay the taxes on, and second they fully realized that their children were more Swiss, than American. They were fully integrated in Geneva. This is their life.
In 2015, Mark tried self-employment, but he found as an American, he was not wanted. He overhead HR professionals remark that Americans are more trouble than they are worth thank to FATCA. the stress the FATCA was causing was intense. He developed stenosis of the esophagus from the inescapable stress.
In 2016, his son facing extreme humiliation as he was US person who is shut out of the banking system. His son wanted to renounce. Mark convinced his son to wait out until the tax reform package was signed. After tax reform let them down, and had a territorial system for corporations but not individuals, Mark's son renounced.
Mark, his wife and his daughter are waiting to see if The Saving US Citizenship Act is passed. If the Act is passed with bipartisan support, they will continue to vote Democrat. If it is not, they will never vote for another Democrat in their lives as it will be impossible due to their upcoming lack of US citizenship.
Show your support and…act!
Get engaged. The first link below shows the social media contact information for key Repeal FATCA and Saving US Citizenship Act players. Get engaged right now!