Can’t sign up for President Obama’s Dashboard

When entering the zip code and address on  President Obama’s Dashboard for where I live, I’m told:

We couldn’t find a team near this address. Please try with a different address, or try again later.

Guess the system wasn’t designed for Americans living abroad, so I don’t have to bother with it.  I clicked on the Dashboard support, but it returns an invalid certificate warning:

This Connection is Untrusted… uses an invalid security certificate.


Did you hear the President today?

“Today the President laid out a very different vision, one where everyone—no matter who you are, where you’re from, or how big your bank account is—pitches in together to rebuild the foundations of our country and economy.”
Did you hear the President today?

While this sounds, in theory, to be a noble idea worthy of taking into consideration, it is, in practice, troubled with a number of significant hurdles which need to be overcome.

Around 6.2 million American citizens abroad already pitch in together to rebuild the foundations of the countries and economies where they reside outside of America, as explained in Taxation of Americans Abroad.  Asking them to do the same for two countries and two economies puts a greater burden on them than any other group of people, with the exception of the totalitarian nation of Eritrea.

“Congress could amend the Tax Code to end the discriminatory practice of taxing U.S. citizens with a bona-fide residence abroad. However, this appears highly unlikely—U.S. citizens living abroad have essentially zero influence in Congress.”
100 Year Legacy of Expatriation Due to Taxes

In a totalitarian regime, citizens living abroad have essentially zero influence in Congress. America is likely not defined as being a totalitarian regime, and yet Americans abroad are told that they can’t vote when they attempt to register with their address or documents where they live.  To register, they have to ask someone in the US if they can use their address for that purpose. For example, the Massachusetts Voter Registration Form Request requires a US address.  The same applies to Americans abroad who attempt to get an id card or drivers license, as further explained in “Your are an Invalid Resident!

“Approximately 6 to 7 percent of civilians living abroad voted in the 2008 election.  There is evidence that a large portion of the population was not successful in its attempt to participate. The largest problem for Americans abroad is not having their ballot rejected, but ensuring that their ballot is returned on time.”
Overseas Vote Foundation

Even if they can register to vote, they are told that they can’t vote locally or their vote doesn’t count.  Americans abroad are further compensated with their lack of political representation with an up to 50% slash to their US Social Security benefits through the Windfall Elimination Provision.  If they lose their employment abroad, they will be denied unemployment benefits in the US.

“The U.S. Government does not offer an unemployment insurance plan in which overseas Americans could voluntarily enroll to protect themselves upon their return to the United States.”
American Citizens Abroad

The idea of  being together seems to stop at the border, such as with Medicare, or State Farm which writes:

“Each of the investment products and services referred to on the State Farm Mutual Funds web site is intended to be made available to customers or prospective customers residing in the United States. The customer’s U.S. permanent residence address must be a street address.”
State Farm

Yet, it doesn’t end there.  When Americans apply for some bank accounts abroad or even banking services in the States, they may be rejected or treated differently from other Americans.

“As a direct result of existing and newly proposed U.S. regulations, many U.S. and overseas banks have closed accounts held by U.S. citizens living outside of the U.S., and many banking institutions outside the U.S. now refuse to open any new accounts for Americans. Recently enacted legislation from the Treasury and Congress will only worsen this situation.”
Banking Services Denied to U.S. Citizens Abroad

Of course, there are other issues as well, such as Americans abroad being the target of terrorist attacks responding to US foreign policy.  Americans abroad may also be denied residential tuition rates at US colleges.  We can’t even sign up for an American Sweepstakes, get a credit report from, buy an app from Barnes & Nobel, watch a video at Amazon or subscribe to Netflix.  Yet, the most serious issue is the excessive government spending on that which does not “rebuild the foundations of our country and economy”:

“Uncle Sam is like the neighborhood wastrel who buys everyone a drink and cosigns everyone’s loans even though he is unemployed. When faced with bankruptcy, he immediately goes down to the bar and buys another round for the road.”
Solving The Debt Crisis: A Military Budget For A Republic

America does not need to be a super power.  Rather, It needs to cut its spending to repay its debts to “rebuild the foundations of our country and economy”.  A 50% slash on Social Security Benefits for all Americans rather than singling out Americans abroad, would qualify under the concept of “pitching in together” and cut spending by $407 billion.  One could even work together more and stop Medicare within the US border too for all Americans, pitching in a few more billion.

Did you hear the President today?  Sadly, I heard no mention of residency-based taxation or even representation for Americans abroad in the House and Senate.  What I did hear appeared to be a collection of bipartisan chatter which stopped in relevance at the border.  Maybe the President should hear Americans today for a change?

The website is not currently available at your location. is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law.

Well, that’s great, except that Americans abroad can’t access it:

The website is not currently available at your location.
Visit to learn how you can request your free U.S. credit report by mail.

Fox News writes:

Every American is entitled to a free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. Get yours at

This should be corrected to:
Every American is entitled to a free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. Unless you are an American citizen abroad, get yours at

The Expat Sweepstakes Exclusion

Every so often, such as today, I get an email or read an advertisement which states that US citizens can enter a Sweepstakes and possibly win, asking me to sign up and participate with no purchase necessary.  This used to sound cool until I read the small print which excludes American citizens working abroad:

Do not enter this Sweepstakes if you are not, at the time of entry (i) a legal U.S. resident located in the U.S.

Well, I’m a legal US resident and a legal US citizen, I guess, but I’m not “in” the US.  Why should I be?  I could be on the moon too, or even Mars!  I suppose that any American representative could explain that one in a jiffy, but I can’t seem to find a single one willing to do so since my address is not “in” the US.

The Sweepstakes “welcoming” letter writes:

You signed up to receive updates and offers about products, services and promotions that may be of interest to you.

Well, if one figures that this might be of interest to me, then is the exclusion necessary?  I doubt that one has to be a rocket scientist to figure that US citizens buy US products and services even when they don’t live in the US.  Is that a crime?

Letter to Ron Paul concerning country box on contact page

Honorable Congressman Ron Paul,

I’m a middle class American veteran living abroad. I’ve been working abroad since I lost my job and home in America many years ago.  Last week, I registered to vote and was informed that I cannot vote in local elections since my US address forwards my mail to where I live abroad. As such, I’m currently wondering if I have any political representation and I’m writing to you because I learned that I can actually write to you using the address where I live, unlike with most or all other politicians. While I understand that your web site states that you will not respond to Americans abroad if they enter the address where they live, I’m writing to you nonetheless with the hope that maybe you can add a country box to your contact page to make it more clear to Americans that they can contact you even if they don’t have a US address and even if you won’t reply. This would help to show that, even though you may not talk to Americans abroad, that you at least recognize that we do not live in America and may not have a US address. My mother was a loyal fan of yours before she passed away, I have a lot of respect for your political platform and I am tempted to vote for you even if you don’t want to be the next US president. I hope that your political message will become more welcomed by Americans abroad and that the oceans between us will become smaller in the future.

Kind regards,



I sent this to Ron Paul using my non-US address through his contact page, and received the following submission response:

Dear [SwissPinoy], Thank you for contacting Congressman Paul’s office using the Internet. Your message has been sent to the Congressman. Sincerely, The Office of US Representative Paul

US Expatriate Foreign Pension Plans Continued…

Last week while I was visiting the US, I was informed that someone had tried to call me.  Upon returning the call, I spoke with a technician working for the IRS who was unable to send me an email.  The problem was that my email address, last name and phone number were all entered incorrectly in the system.  This is partially understandable since my last name is not English and since my phone number is in a State that I have never lived in.  So, we corrected my records but the email still didn’t arrive.  So, I called back today and learned that the system had had some technical difficulties.  This time, the email arrived with this response:

When reporting worldwide income, you must include any income that is received. Since the income is deferred from your pay until a future date, you would not include that amount in your gross income for the year. The money that you are contributing to the pension plan funded solely by you and not your employer would not be deducted from your tax return. Instead, any contributions to that plan would be included in income and treated as cost basis when distributions are made from the plan at a later date.

So, the foreign pension plan is excluded as I had assumed and done so far, contrary to some claims made on the internet.  Yet, I’m not sure if I understand the last part.  It seems to suggest that retirement savings could be taxed twice by the US government and once by foreign governments.  This could mean that my personal retirement savings might be triple-taxed.  Let’s double-check with Social Security to see if my monthly retirement “benefit” will be $247.5 after the expat penalty, as estimated.  Well, Social security said that my benefit would not be hit with the expat penalty, leaving me with $613/month upon retirement.  Yet, since some financial experts argue that expat social security does get hit with the expat penalty, so I guess that I have yet to learn if my possibly triple-taxed retirement savings may be assisted with a possibly expat-penalized social security and double-taxed foreign pension plan.

“You are an invalid resident!”

“You are an invalid resident!”, I was told.  I had called a State government office to inquire on my status since I had been denied services by some American companies even though I was a US citizen.  I then learned that I would become a “valid resident” once I got an id card.  Yet, I couldn’t get this id card at the local embassy.  Instead, I was told that I must fly to the US to process the paperwork.  That sounds a bit unusual, but what must be done must be done.  So, the next time that I had a good reason to fly to the US, I purchased a ticket and flew over to a State where I was considered as being a “non-resident” rather than an “invalid resident”.  To become a “valid resident” in the “non-resident” State, I was told that I needed to have a mailing address in that State.  So, I called a mail forwarder and got a mailing address in that State.  I then filled out the Declaration of Domicile using my new address, got it approved and headed down to the voters registration office.  There, I was informed that “you can’t vote from a business address”.  Another employee asked: “How can you live at a business address?”.  I explained to them that I’m an American abroad, that this is currently my only address in  America, and that the address simply forwards my mail to where I live abroad.  They then responded by telling me that they cannot register me to vote since the system won’t allow it and that I would have to come back when I have a different address.  I then explained to them that it could be years before I returned to the States again, that I’m not allowed to do this at the embassy abroad and that I need an id card since American businesses were denying me services without it.  The employee then went to inquire the matter with the supervisor.  The supervisor stated that I had done everything that was required of me and that the clerk would have to override the system and manually enter in my address.  After lots of going back and forth, I finally got registered to vote under the condition that I “do not vote in local elections”, I got the new id card and changed my status to “valid resident” (I think) but in a different State.  The folks at the voters registration seemed rather unhappy about this, but I had no reason or motive to become a “valid resident” in the State where I was defined as being “invalid”, while my new status fits much better in terms of climate, location, politics and long-term planning.

To get an id card, a US representative may spend about $40 for the trolley fare and government fees.  For Americans abroad, the cost may be over $2000 for airfare, hotel, car rental, food and government fees.  Unless US representatives want to get their id cards in China under the same conditions as any other American, one would think that they would fight for embassies or consulates to provide id card services like that done by any other nation other than the US.

Letter to John F. Tierney concerning Foreign Pension Plan Filings

Dear Congressman John F. Tierney,

I’m a member of the American working middle class writing to you again concerning your so-called “Middle Class Fairness Act of 2011”, H.R. 2495, which seeks to double tax the already taxed foreign earned income of around 6 million working middle class Americans, who do not live in America, regardless of their circumstances abroad.  I have not yet received a response from the many other messages that I have written to you, and so I’m writing to you again with more updates on Americans abroad which are relevant to your political interests.

The following is an update on my inquiry for filing foreign pension plans:
US Expatriate Foreign Pension Plans

As before, I am writing to you using your city and your zip code in the contact section of your web page, since its address section still fails to acknowledge that not all Americans live in America and that Americans abroad may choose to be residents of your state while living abroad or when they return to the US.  One would thus think that it would be logical for you to communicate with your American working middle class voter that you seem to claim to represent.

Kind regards,

Your American working middle class friend abroad

US Expatriate Foreign Pension Plans Continued…

The IRS called and left a message while I was at work.  The message stated that it was a one-time attempt to reach me and I was not given a number to return the call.  So, I called the IRS to see if I could return the call.  After holding for about 25 minutes, I spoke with an agent who began making a referral for my referral until I learned that referral responses are mailed out if the one call attempt fails, and that one can expect to receive the (e)mailed response up to 15 days from when the request was made.  The response might be mailed to a US address from which it will then have to be manually forwarded abroad, meaning that it might take up to a month for me to gain more information on how to file a foreign pension plan.  I could have provided the abroad address, but such would be a greater financial burden to the US taxpayer.  While waiting on the phone, I glanced through Publication 575 again, but still didn’t find an answer to my question that I can comprehend.

I suspect that the agent who called me is the same agent that I spoke with concerning an inquiry on how expats can invest into Roth accounts.  While the advice that I got from the agent about  Roth savings was outstanding, I hope that this expert is not the only agent who services 6+ million expats on their retirement savings questions.

A 32 minute long distance international call to the IRS may cost around $3.3, depending upon locality and exchange rates.  This, I believe, is currently not tax deductible but is much less than it used to be.