Vote. It’s Your Right, Your Privilege and Your Obligation
Mistakenly, I watch the news every day and inevitably I get angry. The news, even on national French TV news carries a good portion of U.S. news because it’s so important to France and the rest of the world. The U.S. drives the direction the world takes on all major issues, so the person in charge is literally the most important and influential person in the world, too. Who we American elect to represent us affects everything and everyone from pole to pole.
It seems that a day doesn’t go by without something coming from the White House that sends me reeling. The latest comments made about U.S. veterans as reported in The Atlantic was one more straw to break my back and while I can’t do much other than to complain. There is one thing for sure I can do, from the U.S. or abroad…vote.
We made the mistake four years ago when those who didn’t like either candidate didn’t vote at all. I understand their reasoning, but it’s our right and obligation to make a choice. As a result, the Electoral College kicked in, kicking out the candidate who actually won the popular vote. That’s how the system works, like or not, fair or not. There was a reason for the system at the time it was implemented, but even if we don’t think it fits today’s world, there is little we can do about that, except for one thing…vote.
That can’t happen this time. It just can’t and it shouldn’t. We all have to vote, even if that vote is not for someone you want to vote for, but for someone you need to vote against. You have to make a choice. If you want the incumbent re-elected, then you better get out and there and vote, too, because you can count on the turn-out to vote being the biggest one the U.S. may ever experience. At least I hope so.
Don’t even think of telling me that because I have lived in France I shouldn’t care what happens in the U.S. As an American citizen who reports and pays taxes to the U.S. regardless of my residency, everything that happens in the U.S. continues to affect me and the world around me. The hard part is that Americans living abroad have it tougher to vote. We can’t just show up at the polls. We have to vote absentee. At least we can do that and it’s not complicated…just one more thing to add to our “to-do” lists. And this year, more than ever before, we have to have our voice.
I have often wondered what actually happens with our ballots. It doesn’t feel quite as sure as going into the poll booth and casting it, but according to the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislators) absentee ballots are handled with special kid gloves:
“In many states, processing of absentee ballots can begin before they are actually counted. ‘Processing’ means different things in different states, but typically the first step is comparing the affidavit signature on the outside of the return envelope against the voter’s signature on record to ensure a match, or otherwise verify the voter’s identity. See the section titled, ‘Processing, Verifying, and Counting Absentee Ballots.’ In some states once the signature is verified the envelope can then be opened and the ballot prepared for tabulation. In essence, states that begin processing before Election Day can ‘tee up’ absentee ballots so that they are ready to be counted as soon as the law allows. By permitting election officials to do a lot of the work ahead of time, the counting process on Election Day (and election results reporting) are quicker. Results are not released ahead of time.” (See more here)
Here’s your chance to make sure your vote counts. Democrats Abroad says: Don’t wait to make sure you are registered and ready to vote, visit VotefromAbroad.org.
Some states require your ballot to be returned by postal mail. Using the Backup Ballot—the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot—is the best way to ensure your vote is received on time in the following states: Arkansas (AR), Connecticut (CT), Georgia (GA), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Kentucky (KY), Maryland (MD), Michigan (MI), Minnesota (MN), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Ohio (OH), Pennsylvania (PA), South Dakota (SD), Tennessee (TN), Texas (TX), Vermont (VT), Virginia (VA), and Wisconsin (WI).
You can also attend one of the In-Person events sponsored by Democrats Abroad if you need assistance with voter registration, requesting a ballot, or voting with a Backup Ballot. They will have volunteers on hand to answer your questions and make sure your vote counts! Or you can attend one of the Voter Registration events via Zoom on Sundays (all day) and Tuesdays (6 to 10 p.m.)
And, to become a member of Democrats Abroad, visit their website today!
AMERICANS HELPING AMERICANS ABROAD…
Association of Americans Resident OverseasOn another note, about how Americans are badly treated by financial institutions across the globe, thanks to the FATCA regulations (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas) is addressing their members who have experienced a loss or a denial of financial services in Europe, encouraging them to respond to a survey from the European Banking Authority (EBA).
The EBA has emerged as the lead agency in Europe for dealing with anti-money laundering issues. It wants to hear about people’s experience with “de-risking” by financial institutions and its impact on access to financial services. The online questionnaire is easy to use and questions are rather specific. It is designed mainly for organizations although there is space for individuals to participate as “Other” in questions 6-11. So, don’t be afraid to have a voice on this issue as well.
The deadline for submitting responses is Friday, September 11th, so don’t waste time. This link provides both background and the questionnaire.
For more information or to be come a member, visit aaro.org.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE AMERICAN EXPAT FINANCIAL NEWS JOURNAL ABOUT TRANSITION TAX
The following text was written by Helen Burggraf, Editor:
Presidential contenders Joe Biden and Donald Trump could at last be forced to address the major issues American expatriates have been struggling with for years, if the Republicans Overseas has its way.
The organization that represents members of the Republican party outside of the U.S. has written a letter to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to call on President Trump to use his authority, as president, to begin to make some of the changes Americans resident outside of the U.S. have long been calling for, but which Congress has thus far failed to address.
In their letter, dated September 1, 2020 and apparently hand-delivered to the White House, the Republicans Overseas urged Meadows—a Republican Party stalwart who is a well-known opponent of FATCA—to ask the president to issue executive orders that, among other things, would “exempt overseas small businesses from having to comply with the Transition Tax and GILTI tax” (global intangible low-taxed income), which were contained in Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and “create a commission on Americans overseas to investigate the burdens caused by citizenship-based taxation and onerous regulation.”
Transition Tax directly affects me. As a U.S. citizen with ownership in a French company, I am obligated to pay the U.S. a tax based on the French company’s earnings, even though it has nothing to do with the U.S. The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world to tax individuals based on citizenship. This is a topic of much contention by expatriates. I never mind paying fair taxes, but this one is beyond reasonable and it’s being battled by both political parties because it affects all U.S. citizens who happen to have an interest in a foreign corporation.
For those of you Americans thinking of relocating to France, keep in mind that fortunately there is a tax treaty between the U.S. and France so that in almost all cases, there is not double taxation. And I can tell you, that dollar-for-dollar, euro-for-euro, I get a lot more benefit out of the the taxes I pay in France than those I pay in the U.S.
If you want to learn more, contact us (we are not tax experts, but we have years of experience based on the reality of the pros and cons) or consult a financial advisor who can assess your personal situation. And remember the most important thing: having more money doesn’t necessarily improve your quality of life…something that you can’t buy, but can have living in France.
P.S. We have developed relationships with a number of financial and tax experts to assist our clients. For more information, please visit our Global Money Services page today.