From Little Things, Big Things Grow – Annual Report

“…but this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow”

From Little Things, Big Things Grow,  Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, 1991

Let’s Fix the Tax Treaty! seeks to be an open, transparent and effective advocacy group.  As part of this commitment, not only do we, the Steering Committee, believe it is good practice to set annual objectives as part of our action planning, it is also useful to look back and reflect on what was achieved with the resources available to us.

2017 was our first full year of existence and much of the year was spent building the foundations upon which we intend to build activity, momentum and scale over the coming years.   Key milestones along the way included publishing our Strategy Roadmap, creating and implementing a Wiki framework for knowledge capture and ongoing membership development and support.

Many of you will recall that we prepared a 2017 Scorecard which we issued as part of the Strategy Roadmap document.  How did we do?  See the table below this post.  Although not everything was achieved, we believe we made solid steps towards our goals.  Currently, we are finalising our 2018 objectives which will inform our efforts over the coming year.

As always, we value your feedback and comments.  Most of all, we value your involvement.  Are we moving too slow?  Do you want us to go in new or different directions?  Get involved!

Karen, Carl & Caroline

Continue reading “From Little Things, Big Things Grow – Annual Report”

Behind the Scenes

It’s been almost three months since Carl posted our revised Strategy Roadmap. In that time, the Steering Committee (Karen Alpert, Carl Greenstreet, and Caroline Day) have been working behind the scenes on creating a package of materials to support organised action. I’ve written a “Talking Points” paper and am working on a more detailed Issues paper. We also plan to boil this down into one or more single-page briefs that can be used to help inform members of Parliament, policy-makers and other key decision-makers and influencers. We have a series of questions that we would like to ask the appropriate government agencies under Freedom of Information and Carl is preparing FOI requests.  The bottom line is that we need to have both well-documented evidence and a clear objective before we start any campaign to inform policy-makers.

As we have said before, many hands make light work. There are several areas where we could use some help. Please read through this list and consider what you might be able to help with:

  • Steering Committee (see section 2 of the Strategy Roadmap) – we are still looking for two more members to fill the vacant positions (see page 9 of the document)
  • Developing and organising our evidence base – We are creating a wiki to organise and index information from this website and others. Even if you don’t feel up to adding original content to the wiki, consider becoming a wiki editor to help populate the wiki with links to other resources.
  • Branding – Do you have graphic design skills? If you would like to design a logo for us, let us know via our contact form.



Following on from Carl’s post, I think the main issues have been obvious since this site was started. What we need now is to set specific goals and objectives. We can divide these into two broad groups – Tax Treaty goals and FATCA goals. The purpose of this post is to list the goals so that we can prioritise action. Continue reading “Priorities”

Plan to Succeed

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Many of us would recall this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin.  I believe this statement also holds true for an advocacy group like Let’s Fix the Tax Treaty!   To address this, I have been working with Karen to help develop a draft Advocacy Strategy and Action Plan for our group.   Before too long, we will be tabling a draft plan for your comments and feedback.  But first, I wanted to set the stage so that everyone understands the importance of going through this process and getting it right.

When I discovered Let’s Fix the Tax Treaty! I was immediately attracted to this group as it 1) focused on finding solutions to the unfair USG CBT taxation issue that I am passionate about, 2) targeted its efforts in my home country of Australia (rather than a country located on the other side of the world that I left 26 years ago and where I have struggled to be heard) and 3) provided a vehicle for organised collective action.

However, the first time I read through LFTT! website,  I immediately had many questions on the next level of detail.   What are our specific priorities?   How will we go about achieving our aims in an organised fashion?  Okay, if we want to press the Australian Government to amend the underlying tax treaty and intergovernmental agreements, has anyone actually written down what needs to be changed and why?  What are our the strongest arguments in our favour?  What activities should we do and why?  So many questions…

This is where a written Advocacy Strategy and Action Plan comes in.  A good advocacy plan will help our group decide where to spend time and effort to achieve our goals and assist us to be as effective as possible with our limited resources.  The plan should be a key reference document that is updated as we progress towards achieving our goals.

Fortunately, there are a number of great templates available online to assist groups in developing an effective Advocacy Strategy and Action Plan.   Some of the better ones are here, here and here.   I personally found the planning exercise to be very familiar as the process is very similar to business strategic planning which I have been involved with for many years.



Developing an Advocacy Strategy and Action Plan is a fairly straight-forward process that requires the group to consider key questions:

  • What is our goal?
  • What are the specific objectives that will lead us to achieving your goal?
  • What are our arguments and evidence?
  • Who can we collaborate or partner with?
  • Who do we need to influence?
  • What are our messages? How will we deliver these messages?
  • How will we approach this? Public / Private / Direct / Indirect?
  • What key activities should be undertaken?
  • What are our priorities and timings?
  • How will we organise and manage our group?

You can see that there is quite a bit to think about and work through which is what Karen and I have been working on offline.  We are happy to take early feedback in the comments below or on our FB group regarding your thoughts on the answers to these key questions.

I firmly believe that this front-end effort will pay off through better focused and organised efforts, leading to better results.  That said, we won’t get anywhere without broad involvement by impacted persons who are willing to pitch in to bring about positive change; so I remind you once again to spread the word and to get involved!

Steering Committee

If we’re going to have any real impact, we need a plan. To that end, I am gathering together a Steering Committee to assist in strategy and action. I have already asked some people to join the Steering Committee and will introduce members to the group (both on the blog and on Facebook) as they agree to serve. Current Steering Committee members are Karen Alpert and Carl Greenstreet.

The committee will ideally consist of 4-6 individuals from around the country. With Carl’s feedback, I have put together a Steering Committee Charter that describes the roles and responsibilities of Steering Committee members. Subcommittees will assist the Steering Committee with Education, Blog posts, Legislative Action, Allied Action, News, and Media.

If you would like to volunteer for one of the subcommittees, please complete this form


Welcome to Let’s Fix the Australia/US Tax Treaty!

This site is a volunteer effort. We are not lawyers or tax professionals. Everything published on the site is based on our layperson’s understanding of the complex interaction between two sets of tax laws – an interaction that frequently leads to unjust results.

So, why are we here? Since the passage of FATCA in 2010, more and more US citizens living in Australia (and elsewhere outside the US) have been learning about their (previously unknown for many) obligation to pay US taxes on their worldwide income. Taxation of non-resident US citizens is not a new law; it dates from the US Civil War. But FATCA ushered in a new era of enforcement, with every bank on the planet being enlisted to identify US taxpayers and report them (directly or indirectly) to the IRS.

As the level of compliance by US expats rises, the inequity and injustice of the interaction between US tax rules and Australian tax rules has become more apparent.

Continue reading “Welcome”