Could Expats Decide the 2016 Presidential Election?
NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — In past years, the Democratic party had a virtual stronghold on the expat community vote in presidential elections. This year may be different. The Republican National Committee (RNC) is making a strong case for US expats living abroad to vote Republican. The party has begun a campaign to repeal FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which is causing an uproar throughout the world.
FATCA was originally created in 2010 to uncover tax cheats who are hiding funds in overseas accounts. The Act requires individuals to report on their assets abroad if they exceed certain thresholds, and is also now requiring foreign banks and financial institutions to report on the accounts of their American clients. This has been an uphill battle for the US, as many overseas financial institutions pride themselves on their banking secrecy laws. The additional reporting requirements of FATCA have prompted many foreign banks to refuse new American clients, and even close the accounts of the existing ones.
The RNC believes FATCA violates American citizens’ right to privacy. The resolution to repeal FATCA gained full support of the RNC Resolution Committee, as well as 26 co-sponsors, which virtually guarantees it will pass when voted on at the party’s winter meeting later this month.
According to a Washington Times article, Solomon Yue, a prominent RNC member from Oregon who is leading the charge on the issue, said “The law as it stands forces US citizens to make a modern day’s ‘Sophie’s choice’ between their love for their country by not renouncing citizenship and their love for their families by continuing to provide for them without banking services.”
The RNC believes the privacy rights infringed upon by FATCA is unfairly targeting innocent expats, not tax dodgers as the bill is designed to catch. The hope is that American expats feel strongly enough about this issue that they will be inclined to change their vote to possibly improve their lives abroad.
Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the Democratic Party for US citizens abroad, have traditionally won the support of expats. With offices in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the support of the presidential office, their extensive presence has helped them solidify the expat vote.
Republican Senator Rand Paul led the charge against FATCA when he introduced legislation to repeal certain parts of FATCA. The RNC is taking it one step further and attempting to eliminate it altogether. If the RNC is successful in gaining the expat community vote, it very well may have a significant impact on the 2016 presidential election.
“FATCA is a major issue for expats and it is quite possible that they would be willing to change their vote in the hopes that FATCA will be repealed,” commented David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services. “Our past surveys reveal that expats feel like they lack a significant voice in the US government, and this may be the perfect opportunity for them to take a stand and be heard.”
To be fair, Democrats Abroad has also called for sweeping changes to FATCA and other reporting requirements for expats, so while I applaud the RNC initiative it’s hardly likely to encourage me to vote for a GOP candidate. Not, at least, until the GOP finally accepts responsible adulthood!