Vote From Abroad

Voting While Abroad: What You Need to Know

The Black Expat Podcast is honored to be joined by Adrianne, who is  a member of the Democratic National Committee for Democrats Abroad, a US overseas voter advocate, and is a leader of the Get Out The Vote Team.

We also welcome Angela who is the Chair of Democrats Abroad Global Black Caucus. We  discussed American expats and how they can vote, the Black vote and it’s  powerful, voting deadlines that are approaching that expats can’t miss, and how they can help you get registered and voting. We also cover what is at stake in this election.

Angela: Chair of Democrats Abroad Global Black Caucus https://www.facebook.com/DemsabroadGBC/

Adrianne: member of the Democratic National Committee for Democrats Abroad https://www.facebook.com/AdrianneGeorgeDADNC/. And is a US overseas voter advocate.

Americans Overseas can request an absentee ballot at https://www.votefromabroad.org/ Ask for your ballot to be sent to you by email.

Have an issue with requesting a ballot? Get Live help All Day Sundays (24 hours); Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 12-4 pm EDT. Act now! Time is running out! http://qrco.de/bbh0zg

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US Senate

Klobuchar, Carper, Menendez Urge Administration to Protect Right to Vote for Americans Overseas 

For Immediate Release:

October 8, 2020

 

Contact:

Jonathan Beeton (Klobuchar), 202-573-4530

Christine Hennessey (Carper), 202-224-2441

Juan Pachon (Menendez), 202-765-5330

Klobuchar, Carper, Menendez Urge Administration to Protect Right to Vote for Americans Overseas 

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and mail delays, Senators call on officials to implement best practices from U.S. embassies to ensure that the more  than 3 million American citizens living abroad can safely vote 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight over federal elections, Senator Tom Carper, Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Administration to protect the right to vote for Americans living and serving overseas. In the face of mail delays and the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter calls on officials to provide information regarding contingency plans to ensure eligible civilian and military voters abroad can vote safely. This letter follows a previous request in July.

“We write to reiterate the importance of the Department of State taking action to ensure that Americans living overseas can safely vote during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The pandemic continues to restrict travel and mail service in many countries around the world. This could jeopardize the ability for Americans overseas, including U.S. service members and diplomats, to vote in the November election,” the lawmakers wrote.

 

“In 2016, only about seven percent of all eligible overseas voters returned a valid ballot. A deep concern remains that delays and confusion resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will make matters worse. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has warned election officials across the U.S. that the delivery of election mail may be delayed, and the situation may be even worse for many voters living overseas.

 

“Given these serious challenges and the fundamental importance of ensuring that eligible Americans are able to cast a ballot in the upcoming election, we are disturbed that it took over eleven weeks for you to respond to our letter on July 2, 2020, requesting information on the State Department plans to ensure that Americans overseas are able to vote in elections this year.”

 

In September, Klobuchar, Menendez and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) sent letters to 30 U.S. embassies in countries with high numbers of American citizens living abroad requesting information on contingency plans they are putting into place to ensure that eligible Americans  living abroad are able to vote in elections during the pandemic.

 

In September, Klobuchar sent a letter to David Beirne, the Director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) – an agency that assists military and overseas voters with voter assistance and education programs –  at the Department of Defense (DoD), urging FVAP to work with state election directors to improve access issues for military and overseas citizens.

 

In July, Klobuchar led a letter with Menendez, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and colleagues urged the State Department to take action to ensure that Americans overseas can vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

 

We write to reiterate the importance of the Department of State taking action to ensure that Americans living overseas can safely vote during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The pandemic continues to restrict travel and mail service in many countries around the world. This could jeopardize the ability for Americans overseas, including U.S. service members and diplomats, to vote in the November election.

 

More than three million U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to vote. Voting for these Americans can be difficult, and in every election, postal delivery issues and strict state deadlines mean that ballots from some voters living abroad go uncounted. Obstacles to voting, coupled with concerns that their ballots will not count, mean that many Americans living overseas will decide not to vote at all. In 2016, only about seven percent of all eligible overseas voters returned a valid ballot. A deep concern remains that delays and confusion resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will make matters worse. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has warned election officials across the U.S. that the delivery of election mail may be delayed, and the situation may be even worse for many voters living overseas.

 

Given these serious challenges and the fundamental importance of ensuring that eligible Americans are able to cast a ballot in the upcoming election, we are disturbed that it took over eleven weeks for you to respond to our letter on July 2, 2020, requesting information on the State Department plans to ensure that Americans overseas are able to vote in elections this year. Your response also failed to address many of the concerns raised in our letter. While awaiting your response, we subsequently wrote directly to 30 embassies around the world in countries with large numbers of American citizens living abroad. Their responses indicate that individual embassies are taking initiative to safeguard American’s right to vote during the pandemic. Actions taken by embassies include:

Social Media and Online Information Campaigns

Embassies outlined efforts to amplify information regarding state ballot return options through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Several embassies have established targeted social media campaigns to promote voting in the United States. These efforts include hosting virtual informational meetings over Facebook Live and Zoom to discuss voting with U.S. citizens in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Embassies have also reported using other online tools to disseminate voting information. Several embassies discussed using systems designed to reach out to overseas Americans like MASCOT (Messaging Alert System for Citizens Overseas Tool) and STEP (State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to share information regarding absentee ballots and encourage them to plan ahead with their vote.

Expanding Voter Assistance Consular Services

Despite COVID-19 restrictions requiring embassies to make significant changes to their operational procedures, the Department of State has instructed all posts to prioritize voting assistance. Several embassies allow voters to safely visit for voting questions, assistance, or ballot drop – including designating one employee to specifically oversee voting assistance efforts.

Many embassies are proactively reaching out to schools and organizations that serve the U.S. expat community to share deadlines and voting information. One embassy began integrating voting information in its orientation program for U.S. Fulbright scholars and another utilized its Public Affairs Section to repeatedly publish useful information in widely circulated English-language newspapers and an expat magazine.

Ballot Collection Initiatives and Recommended Deadlines

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all embassies that responded have provided voters the option to drop their ballots off in designated ballot drop boxes at the embassy or consulate. To protect those with the greatest health risks, some embassies are allowing voters to give their ballot to someone else to drop off on their behalf. Once collected, embassies are using diplomatic pouches to mail ballots to the United States.

Several embassies have established recommended deadlines for voters to mail their completed ballots that follow United States Postal Service (USPS) guidelines to ensure that they are counted in time. Several embassies are encouraging U.S. citizens to abide by these recommended deadlines in their communications. Each embassy is monitoring developments with the USPS to ensure that citizens are well informed about any changes to postal service that could delay the delivery of ballots.

These efforts demonstrate the commitment of many of our diplomats to ensuring that American citizens living abroad can fully participate in our democracy during the pandemic. We urge you to show similar leadership and implement these best practices across the State Department.

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American Expat Tax Due Dates and Deadlines

With so much focus on the US election for American Expats, be sure you don’t let your IRS tax filing obligations fall through the cracks.

October 15

 

Source: Taxes For Expats

If you owe money to the IRS, you might be wondering when it’s due (especially with the filing extensions granted you as an expatriate). It’s easy to be confused, as an expat, about the deadlines for U.S. taxes. In this article, we will cover the deadlines for tax returns and FBAR forms, as well as how to file for an extension if needed.

Regular Tax Filing Deadline

All Americans know “tax day” as April 15th. And while this is normally the case, the tax filing deadline will be pushed to the following Monday if the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday.

Federal Expatriate Extension, When and How it Applies

As an expat, your necessary tax documents may arrive at different times than you were accustomed to in the U.S. To accommodate you, the IRS automatically extends your filing deadline to June 15th of every year. This automatic kindness does not extend to money owed, however.

Any money you owe the IRS will still be due on April 15th (or the following Monday if April 15th lands on a weekend or a holiday). In other words – you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay federal income tax if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien without incurring late penalties.

Even though you are allowed an extension to file, you will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return (ie April 15th).

Any payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties.

Without filing, you may not be aware of how much money, if any, you will owe. Regardless, interest on the money owed will begin to accrue as of April 16th. If you expect to owe money to the IRS, it is wise to file as early as possible to avoid a higher payment at a later date.

Your first quarter estimated tax payment is also due to be made on April 15 using form 1040 ES. Please note that the underpayment of estimated taxes by as much as $1,000 or more for the year will generate an underpayment penalty – even if all payments were made on time. If your self-employment income exceeds your previous year’s income by more than 10%, contact your tax advisor to revise the estimated payment amounts.

If you do not file the necessary form to extend your personal return and end up owing taxes, failure to properly extend the form will result in a large penalty of 5% per month of the tax due up to a maximum penalty of 25% of the tax due plus interest. Best to not miss filing that extension due to this high penalty.

Extension Until Oct 15

Even with the automatic two-month extension until June, it is possible that your documents may not arrive in time. you can request an additional extension to October 15th.

Please press ‘request federal extension’ in your client profile and TFX will file it for you.

If you need to extend your expatriate return beyond that date in order to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion you need to file Form 2350, which we can also assist with.

FinCEN 114 (FBAR)

In addition to filing with the IRS, many American expats are required to file a foreign bank account report (referred to as an FBAR). The FBAR is required for any expat who has over $10,000 in foreign bank accounts at any point (even one day) during the year. Anything over $10,000 (and this figure applies to all foreign accounts combined) must be reported.

This form is due (to the Treasury, FBAR (FinCEN 114) is not filed with the IRS) by April 15th; and starting with 2017, may be extended until October.

Many expats falsely assume that they do not need to file an FBAR. Note – “Foreign financial account” is not limited to simply standard checking and savings accounts, however. You must also take into account your mutual funds, trusts, and brokerage accounts. Also, your business accounts may need to be included. Contact an international tax expert if you are unsure of how to proceed. And do not put the calculating off until the last minute. If you have multiple accounts, this can be a very complicated process.

Federal Tax Return Expat Tax Deadlines & Due Dates Only are Listed Above – Various states may have other filing deadlines – This only includes the most common filing dates and should not be relied on for all filing dates.

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sweden covid

We’re not out of the woods yet – Are you masking up?

Source: Express

 

How nation went OWN WAY to ‘lead fight against Covid-19’

A CORONAVIRUS vaccine may work but will need years to take effect if it does. Even in this best-case scenario, Covid-19 will probably never be truly eradicated.

With these beliefs, it may seem odd to find Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s lockdown free approach to dealing with the pandemic, so optimistic. Or to see Stockholm in full swing, with open bars, live music, and smiling, unmasked faces. That’s because state epidemiologist Mr. Tegnell believes that so long as people are sensible, normal life can continue.

 

Read the full story.

 



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