Support H.R. 6263: Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act

Submitted via PopVox

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Dear Rep. Vern Buchanan:

Congress is endlessly clueless about Americans living abroad and is unknowingly passing way to many laws which are causing Americans overseas unnecessary harm. As a result of this, more Americans abroad are renouncing their US citizenship than ever before in US history. The current situation is horrible. It is disgusting. It is unacceptable. Congress can only be ashamed and disgusted with itself. Congress, you have failed Americans living abroad. Under existing conditions, if you want to do anything good for Americans living overseas, then recommend that they liberate themselves from the faults of your leadership. Sadly, that is the least that Americans living abroad can request from Congress under the existing circumstances.

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No response

Letter to representation Concerning The Veterans Jobs Corps Act (S. 3457)

Submitted via PopVox

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Concerning Sec. 7345. Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Tax Delinquencies, a recent GAO Study (GAO-11-272 Passport Issuance, March 2012) noted that the constitutional, policy and practical issues involved have not been carefully studied, and this must be done as a first step, before enactment of a measure which would have such extreme effects on U.S. citizens living overseas.
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Received an automated response from Marco Rubio with another response promised.  No response to date.

Contacted Connie Mack’s staff

I called and briefly discussed some of the situations concerning Americans abroad.  Like with Keith Fitzgerald, I was told that candidates don’t have any time for Americans abroad during election periods, but elected officials also don’t have any time for Americans abroad either, so I don’t see the difference.

Letter to Staff of Congressman Vern Buchanan, requesting recommendation to renounce US citizenship

Sent via email (since, I’ve updated the latest bank situation in this post)
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Dear staff of Congressman Vern Buchanan,
I’m a middle class American citizen and US veteran registered to vote in your district, who has been living abroad in Switzerland since 2001. I moved to Switzerland to escape unemployment in the US during the Dot-Com crisis. In 2006, I was lucky enough to be able to get a mortgage to finance a condo which will need to be refinanced in February next year.
In the last few months, the situation here has deteriorated dramatically. Several weeks ago, I walked from one bank to the next only to be told that they will not refinance my mortgage simply because I am a US citizen, even though I am also a Swiss citizen. GE Moneybank, an American bank, also stated that I may not open an account with them simply because I am an American. Currently, the following banks have informed me that they will not refinance the mortgages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
  • GE Money Bank (US bank.  Doesn’t finance mortgages but refuses to provide banking services to Americans)
  • Raiffeisen (might finance Swiss citizens who live in the States)
  • Bank Coop
  • AXA Bank
  • Migros Bank (unless the minimum account balance is $250’000 or the mortgage is above $700’000)
  • NAB
  • Valiant Bank AG
  • Rothschild Bank AG (probably not, but unsure)
  • SwissLife (investment products, mortgages)
  • Hypothekarbank Lenzburg (see signature on every web page)
  • Swissquote Bank
  • FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG
  • Vontobel (Doesn’t finance mortgages, but US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
  • Bank Sarasin, finances under the condition that the mortgage is matched with assets (US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
  • Julius Baer (refuses to provide financial services to US citizens, but may refinance a mortgage for dual citizens with a minimum investment of 500’000)
  • Zuger Cantonal Bank
The following banks have not yet decided if they will finance the mortages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
The following banks have stated that they will still provide some services to Swiss-US dual citizens, for now, but many refuse to provide banking services to American citizens in Switzerland:

  • Basler Cantonal Bank (refuses to provide financial services to  US citizens)
  • Vaud Cantonal Bank (waives foreign account fees for Swiss citizens living or working abroad)
  • Aargauische Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US persons)
  • St. Galler Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US residents)
  • Zürcher Cantonal Bank (does not finance mortgages for Swiss citizens who live in the US)
  • Credit Suisse (refuses to provide financial services to  US citizens)
  • Hyposwiss Privatbank (As long as W9 is completed)
  • UBS (Baden branch, but American citizens are being denied banking services)
  • Postfinance (does not provide credit to Swiss citizens living in America). It’s partners, Valiant and Münchener Hypothekenbank don’t want US persons.
  • SwissLife (insurances)
  • AMFIE (according to CERN)
  • Credit Mutuel in St. Genis-Pouilly (according to CERN)
  • VP Bank (Lichtenstein, will have cut all ties to US customers by the end of 2012 but will finance mortgages for dual citizens if they invest around 50+k)
I have written my representation in the States on this issue, but they did not respond and took no action. I feel terribly unrepresented. Obama, Romney, Senator Bill Nelson and Vern Buchanon ignored the situation and took no action. Yet, the cause of the situation is US policy. Swiss banks are responding to US pressure.
In the United States, it is a federal crime to deny a person a mortgage based on their national origin, and yet the US government is pressuring banks to deny American citizens mortgages simply because they are US persons. I created a complaint with HUD on housing discrimination, but HUD deleted my complaint (see attachment). I called the Veterans Administration but was told that they do not help veterans who live overseas.
Yet, I’m not the only American citizen who is suffering from US policy. The US embassy in Bern stated that I was one of the lucky few who still has a bank account. I am in contact with two other American citizens who are being denied by banks the ability to refinance their mortgage. This problem is not only limited to Switzerland and is likely only going to get worse around the world.
I’ve blogged the letters to my representation and summarized the responses here: https://expatami.wordpress.com/
Americans abroad have been fighting to improve the situation for decades, but the situation has only grown worse. Since my representation has not responded, I am not going to wait for my representation to do nothing. Thus, I am working my way up my chain of representation to request a letter of recommendation to renounce my US citizenship. Sadly, this is the least that I can request, the most that America is willing to provide its citizens living abroad and it is the only way that I can ensure that my mortgage will be refinanced in February.
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Was informed on the 4th of September that the matter would be discussed, but heard nothing since.

Can America solve its international address problem? Nope.

Submitted to MittRomney.com

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Dear Romney,

A good problem to solve that others say can’t be solved and is politically beyond repair in the US of A, is your contact page.  It doesn’t allow for Americans living overseas to enter in the address where they live which is not in America.  If such a simple problem cannot be solved, then can any problem be solved?  Nope.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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No response and no action undertaken to solve the problem

Requesting letter of recommendation to renounce US citizenship from State House candidate Liz Alpert

Submitted to votelizalpert.com

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Dear Liz Alpert,

I’m a US citizen living abroad who is registered to vote in your district.

Currently, the following banks are refusing to refinance my mortgage simply because I am a US citizen, as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I have contacted VA loans and the US Department of Housing on housing discrimination but was told that they don’t help American veterans living abroad.  HUD even deleted my complaint.

While it is understandable that the US government will not help Americans who do not live in America, it is not understandable that the US government pressures banks abroad to refuse to refinance the mortgages of American citizens.

I realize that you may feel that you are busy with your campaign in dealing with local issues, but campaigns are excellent opportunities to demonstrate that one recognizes everyone whom one is fighting to represent and that one is also willing, capable and active in fighting for their rights even prior to being elected.

As such, I am requesting from you a letter of recommendation that I renounce my US citizenship.  If you have any better suggestions, then let it be heard.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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No response

Requesting letter of recommendation to renounce US citizenship from Congressman Vern Buchanan

Submitted to house.gov/buchanan using Swiss address in street address and Florida zip code

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Dear Vern Buchanan,

I just finished speaking with Keith Fitzgerald’s staff on this important issue.  I’m a US citizen living abroad who is registered to vote in your district.

Currently, the following banks are refusing to refinance my mortgage, as well as that of two other Americans, simply because we are US citizens and as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I’ve written my representation concerning issues facing American citizens living abroad, and received no response.  I also contacted VA loans and the US Department of Housing on housing discrimination but was told that they don’t help American veterans living abroad.

While it is understandable that the US government will not help Americans who do not live in America, it is not understandable that the US government pressures banks abroad to refuse to refinance the mortgages of American citizens.

As such, I am requesting from you a letter of recommendation that I renounce my US citizenship since such is currently the only means that I can refinance my mortgage with many banks.  If you have any better suggestions, then let it be heard.  Keith Fitzgerald’s staff claimed that they would take unspecified action on this if they had your job, and thus I’m writing to you to see which action you may be willing to take.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]
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No Response.  Received an unpersonalized, generic automated e-mail response, but that’s more than nothing.

Requesting letter of recommendation to renounce US citizenship from Congress candidate Keith Fitzgerald

Submitted to http://www.gofitzgo.com/contact

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Dear Keith Fitzgerald,

I’m a US citizen living abroad who is registered to vote in your district.

Currently, the following banks are refusing to refinance my mortgage simply because I am a US citizen, as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I’ve written you as well as my representation in the US concerning issues facing American citizens living abroad, and received no response.  I also contacted VA loans and the US Department of Housing on housing discrimination but was told that they don’t help American veterans living abroad.

While it is understandable that the US government will not help Americans who do not live in America, it is not understandable that the US government pressures banks abroad to refuse to refinance the mortgages of American citizens.

As such, I am requesting from you a letter of recommendation that I renounce my US citizenship.  If you have any better suggestions, then let it be heard.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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No response.  Called and left a message on 29.8.2012 11am  A staff member returned the call.  I explained the situation to him and he felt that Keith Fitzgerald would be interested in taking action after being elected but didn’t have any time right now.  I expressed concern that there was currently no indication that Keith Fitzgerald would address the matter after being elected and that expats are accustomed to not being represented.  My spouse advised to take the issue directly to Obama.

Letter to Vice President Joseph Biden

Dear Vice President Joseph Biden,

I’m an American veteran living abroad in Switzerland.  I’ve been doing my fair share of filing taxes and FBAR’s, but now the following banks are telling me that they will not refinance my mortgage simply because I’m a US person, as a result of US policy:

Raiffeisen, Bank Coop, AXA Bank, Migros Bank, NAB, Valiant Bank AG, SwissLife, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Swissquote Bank, FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG

I’ve contacted the VA Home Loans and HUD, but both informed me that they will not do anything for Americans living overseas.

Thus, please call these banks and explain to them that US policy now has changed in such a manner that they no longer have any reason to deny US persons mortgages due to US policy.  As you must know, it is a federal crime in the US to deny a person a mortgage based on their national origin and thus it is certainly unacceptable that American citizens are being denied mortgages as a result of US policy.

If you are unable to call the banks to inform them that US policy changed, then please explain to the American people why the US government is causing unnecessary harm to  Americans living abroad.

Sincerely,

[ExpatAmi]

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I got an email from Joe Biden through democrats.org, asking me to make a donation of $3 or more.

International Address concerning Americans abroad

The following letter was submitted through Junior Senator Marco Rubio’s contact page.

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Dear Junior Senator Marco Rubio,

I’m a Florida veteran and US citizen living abroad and I was wondering if your contact page could be modified so that Americans abroad can contact you using the address where they live?  You have an option for “Military Personnel” stationed outside of Florida, but what about Americans who live and work in other countries?

Regards,

[ExpatAmi]
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No response