Following Karen’s recent Call to Action! post, we are starting to receive positive feedback on our Open Letter – Extra-territorial Reach of US Tax Reform Legislation from our elected representatives here in Australia. This campaign is well aligned with the core purpose of our group being advocating for the Australian Government to renegotiate the under-pinning legacy tax treaties and intergovernmental agreements to provide a fair go for all Australians.
The Open Letter seeks to draw the Australian Government’s attention to an emerging harmful consequence of US extra-territorial taxation as part of US tax reform but it also serves as an opportunity for you to open a dialogue with your elected representatives about the pressing need for Australia to address the many deficiencies in the current Tax Treaty that disadvantage Australians with US ties.
We’ll share some of the positive feedback we received, but first, we want to again remind all of our members to please write your MP / Senators about this issue. Presently, our follow-up survey suggests that only seven MPs have been contacted to-date, suggesting that only a small fraction of our membership have taken action. Most Senators from NSW, QLD, SA and VIC have received at least one letter, making a total of 44 Senators who have been contacted. We have yet to hear from anyone in ACT, NT, TAS or WA who has contacted their representatives. Without your active involvement, affecting positive change will be difficult.
If we want relief from double taxation and the other harms, we must demonstrate to our politicians that there is a broad based need for change. Fortunately, as Karen noted elsewhere, we have a better opportunity to be heard here in Australia where there is one elected representative to ~160,000 people compared to more populated US, where the ratio is more like 750,000 persons to each representative.
I personally wrote to my MP and each of the twelve senators that represent my home state. It may sound like a lot of effort but was actually quite easy given I was able to essentially reuse my letter. Not only did my short letter introduce and include a copy of the Open Letter, I went on to explain that the legacy 2001 Australia -US tax treaty leads to double taxation of individual taxpayers and subverts domestic policy, using superannuation as an example. I plan to follow-up with each representative by asking to meet with them so that I can provide details how the inadequacies of the current tax treaty impact my family and to seek their support and advice on how we might bring about corrective updates to these critical agreements.
I am starting to hear back from my representatives. Several have responded that they have forwarded the Open Letter to Treasurer Scott Morrison for his consideration and that they will be back in touch once they have received a response.
I was particularly pleased with the response received from my MP, Rebekha Sharkie, who forwarded the letter she wrote on our behalf to the Treasurer. Clearly, Ms. Sharkie “gets it” and I was quite pleased with the specific questions she asked the Treasurer. You can read her letter here.
If you haven’t already, please take action! As a reminder, the steps you need to take are listed here.
On Friday 15 December, I met with my MP, Graham Perrett (Moreton). I’ve met with him before, and he has always been sympathetic to our cause. The main achievement from the meeting was to make him aware of our efforts and establish a line of communication. I explained our main issues, focusing on the issues that can be addressed by Australia without re-negotiating the treaty. He will forward our letter to the Shadow Minister for Finance, Jim Chalmers and Shadow Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. It was also helpful to be able to give him a quick summary of the efforts in the US and other countries to address the issue of US extraterritorial taxation.
Please let us know if you receive a response to your letter(s). So far we have heard of responses from:
- Senator Doug Cameron (NSW) – forwarded letter to Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen MP
- Senator David Fawcett (SA) – forwarded letter to Treasurer Scott Morrison MP