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.