We are Australian!

Too often, when members of our government refer to the problems caused by FATCA or US CBT, they speak of “Americans residing in Australia”. This fails to recognise that many of us are Australian citizens, with all the rights that citizenship confers. This also fails to recognise that all Australians have a stake in this issue as FATCA and CBT drain money from the Australian economy, both in the form of US tax paid and as excess compliance costs forced on Australian financial institutions  (and paid for by all account holders through higher fees).

As I’ve said elsewhere, there are two fronts to the battle against US extra-territorial taxation: 1) the US and 2) the countries that allow the US to steal from their tax base.

If we are to pursue this struggle on the Australian front, we do it as Australians (which is not to diminish any connection we may still have to our American heritage).

So, how do we frame our letters and communication with our MPs and others to avoid having them frame the issue as one of “Americans in Australia”?

My opinion is that we need to confront this head-on. Here’s a paragraph I used in a letter we sent our MP earlier this year (sent before I renounced my US citizenship):

We are not ‘U.S. citizens’ whinging about U.S. policies.  We are Australian citizens, concerned about U.S. intrusion into Australian affairs, and the one-way nature of U.S. tax imperialism.  We have learned a lot about this issue over these two years.  We would like to share that knowledge with you.  We hope that by educating Australian lawmakers about the injustices of this U.S. grab for tax revenue our government will do a better job of protecting Australian sovereignty from the bullying of the U.S. government in future.

I think it is also important to make sure our MPs know that we are not just temporary transplants, that we have a commitment to Australia. Citizenship demonstrates that commitment, as do long-term residence and relationships (both personal and in the community). Mentioning these things in our correspondence with our MPs can only help.

9 thoughts on “We are Australian!”

  1. Excellent blog, Karen. I fully agree. Australia is a country of immigrants; willingly accepting people from around the world to become Australians as long as we become part of community, respect our fellow cirtizens and give it a fair go.

    I took my Australain citizenship oath seriously:

    From this time forward,
    I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
    whose democratic beliefs I share,
    whose rights and liberties I respect, and
    whose laws I will uphold and obey.

    In return, I expect my elected representatives to uphold my rights the same as any other citizen. Why should I be not allowed to take advantage of Australian policy towards saving towards a self funded retirement? By accepting US reach into Australia, my government creates a disadvantaged sub-class of citizens and allows their domestic policies to be undermined.

    1. Excellent points, Carl. I think we need to politely, but forcefully, make this point in our communications with our elected representatives. We are Australian citizens. Allowing FATCA and US taxation of superannuation makes AU/US dual citizens into second-class Australians.

      Do you think we also need to educate them on the difficulty/impossibility of renouncing US citizenship for some? The other reaction I frequently hear is “if you don’t like the obligations of remaining a US citizen, then renounce”. As you know, it’s not that easy. The US has trapped many of its expats in a manner that violates their human right to expatriate.

  2. I have lived in Australia for decades. Yet when I speak the US accent comes out (yet of course with certain “Australian” words and phrases that tend not to be said in the US, with such language subtleties lost on Australians).

    As part of friendly conversation I get asked where I am from. Some comment that it sounds like I have a ‘very American accent.’ It seems like some expect their impression of the accent to diminish the longer a person lives in Australia.

    I say I don’t get paid a movie star salary to drop the accent. I think this a bit cleaver as there are a number Australians – Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, etc. – who adapt convincingly the US accent on the big screen for American films.

    Some think that because of my accent that I just got here (or am only here for a short time and likely to go back). Perhaps there is this view more of US persons (than for persons from any other country) that you will likely go back. Many Australians have visited the US, or want to visit the US, or imagine working in the US. Some recognise that for the pinnacle of some fields that the US is where the opportunities lie.

    Australia has some lifestyle and other advantages compared to the US perhaps less appreciated by most Australians. It is not just about advantages or disadvantages yet also perhaps more significantly about ‘the journey of life’ that perhaps led one to Australia to “try it out” and then ‘this led to that’ and decades later…

    To help head off this impression that I might be in Australia for a short time, I tell people I call Australia home. These few words have an emotional resonance among Australians whoever says them: “I call Australia Home”. Or, for a group or family, “we call Australia Home.”

    Yet the reflex of the Australian Government, and the compliance industry is to give us this label: United States Citizens living in Australia, as if we will likely flit back to the US at any moment.

    The above is why I suggested that the title of the homepage for this website should be: We Call Australia Home!

    1. Even my daughter, who was 7 when we moved to Australia over 20 years ago, is still asked where she’s from. My accent will never go away. Because of it, I will be asked to prove that I am no longer a US citizen every time I open a bank account.

      When asked where I’m from, my answer is always (suburb I live in). Then when they press, I admit to having been raised in the states, but stress that I’m Australian now.

        1. Not if they know Canada very well. Yanks do NOT sound Canadian. There are noticeable things outside the accent that are giveaways. Americans say “We went to the hospital” whereas a Canadian will say “We went to hospital.” College in Canada means a two-year diploma whereas where I come from (OH) college is interchangeable with university. Maybe you could fool them in Australia but it won’t fly here!

          1. In Australia one hears this nicety regularly: Are you Canadian? They do that to avoid the feigned offense from Canadians being called Americans.

  3. Anyone donated to your local member’s campaign or to an Australian political party? If so was it a foreign U.S. donation??? Is citizenship (Australian generated income on Australian soil by Australians) the issue here? Time to tell the yanks to butt out!!.

    1. The purpose here is to get the Australian government to tell the yanks to butt out and to defend Australian residents in their tax code (Australian-US tax code and FATCA IGA).

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