American Citizens Abroad (ACA) has urged all American citizens living overseas who have had difficulties opening or maintaining bank accounts in the U.S. or overseas, to send an account of their experiences to the House Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Last month, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) asked this committee to hold hearings on the difficulties Americans are having with bank accounts worldwide, as a result of complex and punitive U.S. legislation. The letter they sent can be found on the following website: http://www.facebook.com/l/feb2c;maloney.house.gov/documents/govreform/overseasamericans/042110FSCHearingRequest_overseasbanking.pdf ).
Maloney and Wilson are co-chairs of the Americans Abroad Caucus in the House, and they made their formal request for hearings during the recent Overseas Americans Week (OAW) in April. During this week, delegates from three different organizations of Americans living abroad held over 100 meetings with members of Congress and of the U.S. administration, on issues of concern to U.S. citizens overseas. The meetings focused on the key issues of bank accounts, taxation, citizenship, and voting.
The organizations which participated were AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas), ACA (American Citizens Abroad) and FAWCO (Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas). These organizations represent some of the estimated 7 million U.S. citizens living outside of the United States.
The bank account issue was a hot topic at this year's OAW. Banks in the United States are closing even longstanding accounts of Americans who live abroad. These banks claim that they cannot properly check the identity of clients who have a non-U.S. address.
At the same time, banks overseas are closing accounts of U.S. citizens, or refusing to open new accounts, because of laws and regulations imposed by the U.S. government, which banks and clients alike consider complex, intrusive and punitive. In some cases, complying with the new U.S. rules would require Americans overseas to break the law in their country of residence. Articles have appeared recently in Time magazine and in the New York Times explaining the details of this onerous legislation.
ACA urges Americans overseas to contact the House Financial Services Committee with comments and stories of personal experiences, to emphasize how serious the problem has become. Go to the following website and complete the form to send a message to the Committee: http://www.facebook.com/l/feb2c;financialservices.house.gov/contact.html. Under "city" and "state", either fill in your voting residence in the United States, or your place of residence overseas.
Written by Anne Hornung-Soukup and Jackie Bugnion, directors of ACA.© Japan Today