There are an estimated 7.6 million Americans living abroad and a new survey by Greenback Expat Tax Services found that 58% voted in the last Presidential election. Called U.S. expats, this block of voters could have an influential voice in the next Presidential election. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they don’t feel well-represented by the U.S. government and may use their voice through voting to advocate for change.
“U.S. expats represent a larger community than the entire populations of Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming combined,” said David McKeegan, Co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, which prepares U.S. Federal Tax Returns for thousands of Americans living overseas. “This is a significant voting population that could have a real, material impact on the upcoming Presidential election.”
The respondents who said that they did not vote in the 2012 election, gave the following reasons why: 15% didn’t know how to vote while living abroad, 9% didn’t feel their vote would make a difference and 10% didn’t feel that voting as an expat was important. This highlights a clear need for education on the voting process for U.S. expats with clear communication as to why and how their vote truly can make a difference in the U.S. government.
“Our survey indicates that with the major issues U.S. expats are facing, including tax compliancy, FATCA and FBAR reporting regulations and a feeling of being under-represented, it stands to reason that they may be more inclined to vote if a candidate actively addresses their concerns and lobbies for positive change on their behalf,” McKeegan says.
Greenback Expat Tax Services conducted this survey with over 1,800 expats in cooperation with the American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation (ACAGF), a section 501(c)(3) charitable organization focusing principally on educational matters to promote the interests of Americans abroad.
Both organizations intended for the survey to gather the opinions of overseas Americans on the issues that impact them most. One clear message the data reflected was the growing frustration with U.S. tax laws, such as Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a major U.S. initiative to uncover U.S. taxpayers hiding money overseas to avoid paying American taxes. FATCA requires individuals to report their offshore assets if they exceed certain thresholds and foreign financial institutions are now required to report information about the accounts of their American clients to the U.S. IRS. This reportedly is resulting in banking issues for U.S. expats, as some foreign financial institutions are choosing not to do business with Americans to avoid the hassle of FATCA’s special due diligence and reporting requirements.
On the controversial financial regulations, only 34% of U.S. expats surveyed are not currently affected by FATCA, while 36% of respondents will need to file additional tax forms due to FATCA regulations. Thirteen percent (13%) of our respondents cited issues with their foreign bank, but it’s difficult to pinpoint how much of the problem rests with FATCA and how much with other non-tax U.S. and non-U.S. regulatory rules.
“The results of the survey are very important to the work that ACAGF and American Citizens Abroad, Inc. are doing on behalf of Americans living and working overseas. Identifying the problem areas and the concerns of this community helps our organizations better formulate policy and supports ACA, Inc.’s advocacy efforts with the legislature,” said Marylouise Serrato, Executive Director, American Citizens Abroad (ACA, Inc.), a sister section 501(c)(4) organization to American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation (ACAGF), a publicly-supported charity under section 501(c)(3).
Credit: Globe News Wire, http://globenewswire.com