Bill Addresses Challenges Facing U.S. Expatriates

H.R. 6263, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on August 1, 2012, would establish a federal commission to examine how federal laws and policies affect U.S. citizens living abroad. The 15-member commission, with funding of $3 million for each of fiscal years 2013 and 2014, would examine issues such as:

  • Expatriates' ability to access foreign and domestic financial institutions;
  • U.S. citizenship obstacles facing an expatriate's foreign-born and foreign-residing spouse and children;
  • Ability to exercise voting rights;
  • Access to federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare;
  • Obtaining federal education loans for expatriates and their children.

The bill, which was introduced by U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Michael Honda (D-CA) and Charles Rangel (D-NY), has been referred to committee.

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As reported by the New York Times, more obstacles presented for expatriates after the September 11th attacks. For example, U.S. Treasury regulations aimed at combating money laundering have impacted expatriates' international banking usage. Moreover, the economic downturn has led to increased enforcement efforts by the Internal Revenue Service. The agency is attempting to minimize lost tax revenue, and in some cases has targeted individuals utilizing banking services in countries with enhanced customer privacy protections, e.g., Switzerland. Many expatriates report that tax filing has become burdensome and that a number of banks are wary of doing business with them.

Representative Maloney contends that no centralized focus has been trained on identifying and resolving expatriate issues, even as expatriate numbers have increased and will continue to do so. The proposal has received support from expatriate groups, which welcome the opportunity to open a dialogue concerning challenges faced by U.S. citizens living overseas.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.