Americans Helping Americans Abroad

louis velazquez XWW746i6WoM unsplashThese bills in the current session of Congress may well impact Americans living abroad

To aid its advocacy, AARO monitors legislation that is proposed in the House of Representatives and the Senate for their impact on Americans abroad. As part of our mission is to keep our members informed, we apprise you of the relevant bills and explain why we think they are important for overseas Americans. Although some of the below bills may not fully address all our issues, we still advocate for their passage as their impact would nevertheless be beneficial.

Below are our Top Bills in the 118th Congress (Jan. 2023 – Jan. 2025).

Note: Links are provided to a government website which describes the bill and includes information such as co-sponsors and progress through Congress.

H.R. 2729 – “Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act of 2023

Sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus (D. NV). This bill establishes a commission to study how Federal laws and policies affect United States citizens living in foreign countries.

Congresswoman Titus, Chair of the Americans Abroad Caucus, has taken up the mantle of former Caucus Chair, Carolyn Maloney (D, NY), in reintroducing this bill designed to ensure that the voice and interests of Americans abroad are made known and taken into account. Familiarizing congresspersons and regulators with how existing and proposed laws and policies may affect those of us who have chosen to 'make their life abroad' is at their heart of the efforts of AARO's advocacy. Establishing a commission with the very broad remit of studying how laws and policies affect us would be of enormous help in securing our rights and reducing burdens and discrimination.

Of particular note is the bill's provision that the Commission include representatives from organizations whose mission is to promote and protect the rights of Americans abroad, such as AARO, thereby ensuring that the voices of Americans overseas be truly heard.

Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act of 2023

H.R. 82 / S. 597 – “Social Security Fairness Act of 2023”

Sponsored by Rep. Garrett Graves (R. LA) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D. OH). These bills eliminate the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which in some instances reduces Social Security benefits for individuals who also receive a pension or disability benefit from an employer that did not withhold Social Security taxes. AARO supports legislation that would eliminate WEP for those with foreign pensions and welcomes the fact that these proposed Acts are not discriminatory to overseas Americans, as had been previous ones.

This proposed legislation is the same as had been proposed in the House and Senate in the 117th Congress and which had 305 cosponsors, but did not go to vote.

House Social Security Fairness Act of 2023
Senate Social Security Fairness Act of 2023

H.R. 1220 – “Bank Privacy Reform Act

Sponsored by Rep. John Rose (R. TN). This bill eliminates provisions that require financial institutions to report certain financial information to specified government agencies and would require that such records be only obtainable through a search warrant.

This bill would limit financial reporting by banks under anti-money laundering rules to situations where probable cause can be shown. This would reduce the costs to banks of maintaining accounts of customers, including non-residents, subject to “enhanced due diligence” simply because they are deemed to be “high risk.” This bill could improve access to and retention of bank accounts by non-resident Americans who are deemed “high risk” because of their foreign addresses.

Bank Privacy Reform Act

H.R. 1010 / S. 453 – “Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act

Sponsored by Rep. Drew Ferguson (R. GA) and Sen. Tim Scott (R. SC).  These bills prohibit the Department of the Treasury from imposing new requirements on financial institution to report on an account's balance, transactions, transfers, or similar information.

One could view these bills as intending to prevent a FATCA-type reporting situation in the United States. Although it is not beneficial to overseas Americans, AARO is sympathetic to a bill imposing limits to information reporting as they could highlight the burdens of FATCA reporting for accounts overseas. This could permit AARO to press for reducing existing burdens by piggyback on a wider tide of anti-reporting sentiment among the homeland population.

House Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act

Senate Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act

H.R. 3789 – “CLEAR Act of 2023

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Neguse (D. CO). This bill requires the Department of the Treasury to submit any proposed or temporary regulation, prior to its publication, to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) for comment on the impact of such regulation on taxpayer rights or taxpayer burden. Treasury must consider the comments of the NTA before prescribing any final regulation that supersedes a proposed or temporary regulation.

AARO supports and appreciates the work of NTA. If adopted, this bill would expand its role, enabling it to comment not only on legislation (a power it currently has), but also on regulations. This would further enhance the NTA's role for all taxpayers, including those living overseas.

CLEAR Act of 2023

H.R. 5432 – “Tax Simplification Act”

Sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer (D. VA). This bill creates a short form tax return to simplify the return process for certain taxpayers living abroad, takes most social benefits such as child allocations and unemployment benefits out of the US tax net by including them in the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, and consolidates the FBAR reporting into FATCA.

This bill is important to Americans overseas as it provides a framework for mitigating some of our problems.

Tax Simplification Act

H.R. 5299 – “Earned Benefits Equality and Family Reunification Act”

Sponsored by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D. NY). The bill would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to establish a demonstration program for international coverage under the Medicare program.

AARO has long advocated for portability of Medicare coverage overseas and believes that, although not ideal, this bill is a positive first step. The 10-year demonstration program is proposed to cover health care in Canada, Germany, India, Israel, South Korea, the Philippines, Panama, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and a nation in Africa. However, participants in the program would be limited to those living abroad under 6 months or residents of the U.S. who intend to relocate to a participating country.

Earned Benefits Equality and Family Reunification Act

H.R. 8873 – “Overseas Americans Financial Access Act”

Sponsored by Dina Titus (D. NV). The bill would exclude from FATCA reporting requirements financial accounts held in foreign tax homes by Americans living overseas. This would reduce reporting requirements for overseas Americans as well as the risk of penalties for banks who neglect to report accounts of overseas US persons.

AARO has long supported the “same country exception” to FATCA reporting and welcomes the resubmission by Rep. Titus of this bill, which had been sponsored in the 117th Congress by Carolyn Maloney (D. NY).

Overseas Americans Financial Access Act

H.R. 7442 – “Philippine Medicare Portability Study Act

Sponsored by James C. Moylan (R. GU At Large). The bill would require a study to assess the feasibility and financial effects of expanding coverage under Medicare to items and services furnished in the Philippines.

This is another bill in the Medicare portability area, a concept that AARO supports.

Philippine Medicare Portability Study Act

S. 4057 – “Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act

A bill originating in the Senate sponsored by Christopher A. Coons (D. DE). The bill would postpone certain tax filing deadlines for U.S. nationals and their spouses who are unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad or held hostage abroad. It also allows for a refund and abatement of penalties and fines paid by detained individuals. 

AARO believes that it is only fair that someone should not be subject to tax penalties when that person cannot file taxes due to being unlawfully or wrongfully detained.

Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act