What FAWCO does for us:
Conference report 2013
This report only touches on some of the most important events of the Bern Conference. To get full information, plus videos, presentations and updates, go to the FAWCO website (www.fawco.org) and click on Conference 2013.
FAWCO give us the chance to give
We were thrilled to hear that FAWCO clubs voted for AWC Denmark’s nominee to receive the “Skills for Life” Development Grant. This means that $4,500 will go to the Women’s Vocational College at Vision Peoples in Mission (VPM), Korogocho, Kenya, to train young women to become tailors (and thus avoid dangerous and unhealthy sex work, the main employment option for women in the Korogocho slum). Thanks to AWC member Fiona Thomas, who introduced us to VPM and helped write the grant proposal. More information about this and other grants is available on the FAWCO Foundation website (http://www.fawcofoundation.org).
Finally, FAWCO celebrated the completion of its first Target Program – a three-year project addressing one issue: in this case, water. Everyone at the Bern Conference was delighted to hear that FAWCO’s 73 clubs (including AWC Denmark and AWC Arhus) had raised a total of $162,590 (more than twice the original target). This money was spent through the Tabitha Foundation to build wells serving 1541 families in Cambodia. In thanks, Tabitha wishes FAWCO “long life, good complexion, safety, great strength and cleverness”. For further information, see “FAWCO raised nearly $165,000 for water”.
FAWCO gives to us
As usual, the FAWCO Foundation awarded scholarships at the Conference. All members and their children are eligible for these scholarships, which support high-school, college and continuing education. Don’t miss the chance to apply – see the Foundation website for further information. The son of an AWC member won a scholarship some years ago – let’s do it again!
Banking and tax issues
Lucy Laederich (FAWCO’s US Liaison) and Mary Stewart Burgher (Chair, Voting from Overseas) ran a Conference session on US issues, focusing particularly on banking and tax issues for overseas Americans. With other expats’ organizations, FAWCO continues to lobby Congress, the IRS and the Treasury Department to try to reduce the extra burdens imposed on overseas Americans by US taxation and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), due to come fully into force in 2014. At the session on US issues, Lucy particularly urged club members:
Further, FAWCO’s sponsor, US Tax & Financial Services, urged Americans who are not yet tax compliant (i.e. not filing tax returns), to become so before FATCA comes into force: “there will never be a better time” to do this. For more information see the sections below on tax update, HR 597,and FATCA.
In between sessions with keynote speakers, sessions to elect the FAWCO and Foundation boards, and sessions for club presidents and FAWCO reps to share ideas, the clubs in Region 2 (Scandinavia) got together for lunch, to discuss the next regional meeting (September in Gothenburg – mark your calendar) and some possible joint events.
Catching your own case of FAWCO fever
Devotees always say that a conference is the best place to catch “FAWCO fever” – the desire to take part in FAWCO’s work for people the world over, but especially women and children. If you haven’t yet got FAWCO fever, consider attending the 2014 conference, to be held in Brussels, Belgium on 12–16 March.
US tax update
Don’t forget that overseas Americans need to file a tax return by June 15. This is an “automatic 2-month extension” (compared to the usual April 15 deadline); however you must remember to include a letter explaining your eligibility for the extension; in addition, please note that calculation of interest on any taxes due is not postponed. And remember that all Americans must submit a report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR – form TDF 90-22.1) by June 30.
Tell your Congressperson to support HR 597
Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), longstanding champion of overseas Americans, introduced HR 597, a bill to create a bipartisan federal commission to look at the issues facing Americans overseas, including the military, and make concrete recommendations to Congress for solutions. HR 597 turns a spotlight on the everyday problems of most concern to Americans living abroad. See the list of co-sponsors and if your Representative is one of them, write to say “thank you!”. If he or she is not, forward the letter Congresswoman Maloney and her colleague Mike Honda sent to their colleagues in the House, asking for their support and urge him/her to sign on as a co-sponsor
FAWCO talks with IRS and Treasury about FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act)
On 13 November 2012, US Liaison Lucy Laederich joined AARO, ACA and Democrats Abroad at a follow-up meeting in Washington at the invitation of the Treasury Department/IRS to discuss some progress made with respect to FATCA legislation and to make recommendations for the immediate future. The delegation learned promising things.
Treasury and the IRS want to help solve the problems overseas citizens have with setting up and retaining US bank accounts, and the extra burdens imposed by reporting requirements on overseas accounts.
“FreeFile” (with document upload) has been available to overseas Americans since about January; look on IRS web site. While the IRS hopes that e-filing will become the norm in a very short time, the overseas delegation pointed out the difficulty of e-filing in many parts of the world where internet access cannot be taken for granted.
In all, the meeting must be seen as positive: not only have certain steps been actually taken in response to overseas concerns but also it appears clear that Treasury and the IRS are willing to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their overseas constituency, the goal being maximum compliance.