02/08/2009 12:35

ACA NEWS UPDATE _August 2009


The Voice of Americans Overseas

Issue 178


August 2009



ACA writes to Washington

Happy Birthday ACA!

Military and overseas voting bills on the MOVE

Overseas Vote Foundation

ACA : Xing and Facebook – take a look!

Minor American’s passport blocked by non-citizen parent?

Right to consular access (continued)

Overseas Americans – how many are we?

Study abroad legislation moving through Congress

Sunlight Foundation for rapid updates of government action

While you're surfing …

ACA Writes to Key Washington Players on Taxation and Banking

Three powerful letters were sent by American Citizens Abroad to key Washington figures in July 2009. They provide a meaty overview of overseas citizens’ problems in the areas of taxation and banking. All three letters can be found on the ACA website.

à         The first, to Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Tax-Code Review, was sent on 8 July. It outlines three fundamental reasons why the US policy of citizenship-based taxation is bad tax policy:

§         “It is unfair as it fails to meet the basic tenant of equitable taxation: taxes paid need to relate to services provided.”

§         “It is detrimental to the long-term interests of the United States because it prevents the free movement and participation of its citizens in the global economy.”

§         “It inevitably leads to double taxation of overseas Americans … due to inherent differences between tax systems.”

Appended to the letter is an annex surveying 29 tax issues highlighted by overseas Americans and tax preparers, as well as the article “Tax Reform for Americans Abroad” by Paula Singer (published in Tax Notes International).

à         The second letter, sent on 17 July 2009 to Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner, outlined the several problems related to bank accounts and overseas Americans:

§         “The proposed reinforced Qualified Intermediary (QI) regulations are so draconian that banks overseas are getting rid of American clients rather than face the administrative hassle and the perceived legal risks of complying.”

§         “The more inclusive Treasury FBAR filing requirements for foreign bank accounts … are cutting Americans off from leading positions in the global economy….”

§         Many US banks “are closing accounts of US citizens on the sole ground of their overseas addresses”.

The letter ends, “we urge you to take corrective measures so that overseas Americans can survive abroad, represent our nation and serve American interests in the global economy”.

Copies of the two above letters were sent to President Obama on 17 July, with the plea: “Mr. President, we implore you to stand by the fundamental rights of Americans abroad and we request that your team ensures that  equity and constitutional rights are respected for US citizens overseas.”


All three letters were copied to the 29 members of the House Americans Abroad Caucus. They have already been picked up by a number of publications – see the full list on the ACA website – and send us links to further articles as you find them.

Thanks to summer intern Alexander Gambaccini for the compilation of articles.


Feel strongly on this matter? Write to Washington yourself, attaching/enclosing copies of the above letters. Remember, while you remain “represented” by Congress members from your last voting district of legal residence in the US, individual members of Congress are often not well-informed about issues specific to overseas Americans. These letters provide excellent introductions to complex issues deeply affecting the lives of many Americans abroad.

ACA Turns 31, but is Definitely Not “Over the Hill”

ACA’s 31st birthday was on 10 July, and to celebrate Founding Director Andy Sundberg drafted a short history of how American Citizens Abroad came into being and of some of its aims and accomplishments over the past three decades and more.

Military and Overseas Voting Bills on the Move

The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act (S.1415) unanimously passed the Senate within 30 minutes of being introduced on July 15th. MOVE will require states to establish procedures for sending federal election materials, ensuring that overseas absentee ballots are mailed no later than 45 days before the election. It would also prohibit election officials from rejecting valid voter registration materials for failure to meet technical requirements, and would abolish requirements for notarized ballots.


Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Rules Committee chair and the chief sponsor of the bill, said: “S.1415 will amend the 1986 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act [UOCAVA] and bring it into the 21st century.” Schumer also praised the Pew Center on the States for their work on “No Time to Vote,” a report that found one-third of states do not afford enough time to vote for military voters stationed overseas.


“We believe that S.1415 clears the way for much needed modernization of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and that it will infuse new momentum into the program,” Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, Overseas Vote Foundation president and CEO said.


Meanwhile, ACA Caucus members Carolyn Maloney and Mike Honda pushed for their UOCAVA reform bill HR.1739, which would also permit voting age children of overseas American voters to vote in the same state as their parent’s last residence, and would provide grant funding for outreach of overseas voters. Reps. Maloney and Honda wrote, “By passing our Overseas Voting Practical Amendments Act this year, we can ensure that the voice of millions of American citizens who live, work or serve abroad are represented at the ballot box”.

Overseas Vote Foundation

Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) and the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation’s (OSDV) TrustTheVoteProject have announced an agreement to co-develop a new XML data model for the electronic exchange of voter registration data.


The model, to be constructed for states’ free adoption, will allow states to establish standards for the structure, organization and exchange of this data. It “will make it possible for States to electronically accept registration form data and then rapidly verify the applicant’s record with the physical signed copy as received”. Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat of OVF said, “Working the TrustTheVoteProject allows us to combine their technical expertise and our experience in handling voter registration processes from the unique perspective of overseas voting….”
See the full release on the OVF website.


The second issue of the OVF Research Newsletter features, among other things, an interesting article on the differing methods of obtaining survey data on overseas and military voters used by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Overseas Vote Foundation. It is available on the OVF website, where you can also subscribe to receive issues regularly.


Ben Henderson, ACA Country Contact in Prague, has been busy XING. What’s XING? It’s the online business network for professionals to meet and combine know-how with know-who. Already there are millions of members from more than 200 countries – delve into lively discussions with experts and like-minded people – you’re sure to find interesting people in this group.

Help Ben get started by joining the International XING ACA Group – for free!. Every contact you invite will also get one Premium month free as a welcome gift. What a perfect way to start networking together, so invite your contacts to join XING now!


American Citizen Abroad is now at 75 fans and growing, permitting ACA to get rapid feedback to various postings from Americans in Germany, Thailand, Bahrain, Sweden, Malaysia, and elsewhere. Stop by, sign up and say Hi! while keeping up with our busy schedule. Your input is important; let ACA know what you feel strongly about, what you would like to see on Facebook.

Minor Child’s Passport Application Blocked by Non-Citizen Parent?

Help may be on the way for overseas American parents whose non-citizen spouses refuse to sign an application for a minor child’s American passport.


Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) have included in their bill H.R. 3240, which deals with ensuring compliance with the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a provision which would permit an exception to the current requirement that both parents sign an application for a US passport for a child under 18, “in cases in which the child is living outside the United States, such person [the requesting parent] is a United States citizen, has joint custody over the child, and is executing the application for issuance of a passport outside the United States”.


The bill was introduced in the House on 16 July, and is currently with the House Committees on Foreign Affairs; Ways and Means; Financial Services; the Judiciary; and Oversight and Government Reform. You can follow progress on this, and other bills before Congress, via Thomas.gov and/or via ACA’s webpage list of legislation affecting overseas Americans. Thanks to reader Philip Chryst for alerting us to this bill.

Vienna Convention and the Right to Consular Access

The New York Times published an op-ed piece by John B. Bellinger III called “Lawlessness North of the Border” – referring to the United States’ failure to inform arrested foreign nationals of their right to be seen by a consular representative from their country. As mentioned in the article, the United States was judged non-compliant to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by the International Court of Justice, for failure to review the cases of more than 50 Mexicans sentenced in various states.


Mr Bellinger summarizes the ongoing situation: “President Obama now faces the same challenges as Mr. Bush in 2005: an international obligation to review the cases of those Mexicans remaining on death rows across the country; state governments that are politically unwilling or legally unable to provide this review; and a Congress that often fails to appreciate that compliance with treaty obligations is in our national interest, not an infringement of our sovereignty.”


The situation is of concern to Americans abroad due to concern that, if the US does not respect the right of consular access for non-citizens imprisoned on its territory, other countries may treat Americans arrested abroad in a similar fashion.

Government Estimate of Overseas Americans

The State Department has recently shared its current estimates of the number of US citizens not affiliated with the US Government who are resident abroad, by region. The total is the highest released to date: close to 5.25 million. Because Americans residing outside the United States are not counted in the US censuses, this estimate, as all “counts” of Americans abroad, is based on a limited amount of data combined with intelligent guesswork.


The estimated figures, by region, are: Africa: 109,600; East Asia and Pacific: 754,000; Europe: 1,488,000; Near East: 586,000; South Central Asia: 97,000; and Western Hemisphere: 2,222,000.

Thanks to Don Johnson and AARO for sharing this information.

House Approves Study Abroad Legislation

In June the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and has moved on to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a vote. The Senate version – the Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act (S.473) – was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) earlier this year.


The legislation, as part of a broader measure dealing with foreign policy – the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410) – is intended to expand the number of American students studying overseas to one million within a decade.

The bill would create an independent government entity to administer the authorized $80 million in grants to individual students, colleges, and nongovernmental institutions that provide study abroad opportunities. Who better equipped to benefit from such studies than American children raised abroad, often conversant in the targeted “non-traditional” languages and cultures? Read more at PR Newswire.

Sunlight Foundation

The Sunlight Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by Washington, DC businessman and lawyer Michael Klein and longtime Washington public interest advocate Ellen Miller, with the non-partisan mission of using the revolutionary power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens.


At OpenCongress you can easily track legislation and get the real story behind what’s happening in Congress.

while you’re surfing …

Debt Clock shows frightening numbers whizzing ever-upward, which represent the US national debt, gross domestic product, budget deficit, tax revenue, largest budget items, private debt, etc. Even as you pause to reflect about them, the numbers grow larger, and larger ….


A useful website devoted to helping Americans who live (or dream of living) in France is FrenchEntrée is chock-full of advice on taxation, administration, finding work, buying/renovating property, vacations and more.




For many American citizens living abroad it is difficult to find a

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services Americans at home and abroad.

When you invest with us, you have a broad range of

global investment opportunities available to you.


Visit www.jgam.com for further information.





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If you would like to become part of the dynamic all-volunteer team that powers ACA, there is a constant need for additional staff – especially if you can work from your home.


Especially needed are: research assistants, database managers, event planners and coordinators, tax specialists, and lawyers. Interested parties may contact ACA's Geneva office:


American Citizens Abroad (ACA)

5 rue Liotard

CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Phone and fax: +41 22 340 0233

Or send us an E-mail




Articles from this edition can be read on the ACA Website



The ACA News Update Editing and Publishing team

Editor-in-Chief: Dorothy van Schooneveld – Senior and Web Editor: Karl Jauch – Editor: Lori Hakulinen

This News Update is, like ACA itself, of, by, and for Americans abroad. ACA is staffed entirely through the efforts of volunteers, with its primary income source being membership fees and donations from concerned individuals.

Disclaimer: While ACA makes every effort to be accurate in the information it transmits, such information is not to be considered a substitute for specific and qualified professional advice.


American Citizens Abroad (ACA)
The Voice of Americans Overseas
5 Rue Liotard
1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Founded in 1978, ACA is a non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer association whose mission is to defend the rights of Americans living overseas. ACA works to represent overseas Americans interests before the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, the US Congress, the Federal Judiciary, and in the press. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with offices in Washington D.C, the association draws on more than three decades of rich experience and knowledge of laws affecting Americans living overseas. To learn more about ACA please visit our website, www.americansabroad.org

PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL.   All inquiries should be sent to:  info.aca@gmail.com

American Citizens Abroad (ACA)
The Voice of Americans Overseas
5 Rue Liotard
1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Founded in 1978, ACA is a non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer association whose mission is to defend the rights of Americans living overseas. ACA works to represent overseas Americans interests before the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, the US Congress, the Federal Judiciary, and in the press. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with offices in Washington D.C, the association draws on more than three decades of rich experience and knowledge of laws affecting Americans living overseas. To learn more about ACA please visit our website, www.americansabroad.org




American Children Abroad

Ben and Helena Henderson

Prague, Czech Republic

The Library of Congress Resources for Kids and Families

Log on,  play around,  learn something.


Read.gov  Kids

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E-learning for Kids

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