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Rand Paul, RNC Launch Push for Expat Vote

Image: Rand Paul, RNC Launch Push for Expat Vote

By Todd Beamon   |   Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 08:09 PM

The Republican National Committee hopes to give Democrats a dose of their own medicine by registering American voters abroad and assisting Sen. Rand Paul's fight to restore privacy rights and financial relief to them, The Washington Times reports.

"For many years, the Democrat Party used its overseas group, Democrats Abroad, as a political weapon against our candidates in elections," Bruce Ash, a committee member from Arizona, said in a letter quoted by The Times.

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"In fact, just last month when Cory Booker won his U.S. Senate contest in New Jersey, he proudly thanked Democrats Abroad, who helped him win his election," Ash said.

The committee's new effort, Republicans Overseas, will be chaired by Ash. It would register expatriates as GOP voters while the committee works to repeal a 2010 law that has driven hundreds of such individuals to renounce their U.S. citizenship, the Times reports.

In his letter, Ash said the law takes a big bite out of expatriates' finances by "seizing 30 percent of their bank deposits without due process, and by causing foreign banks to deny financial services to overseas Americans as clients in order to avoid incurring the extra costs of complying with the U.S. law."

Key committee members are backing the law's repeal — and the full RNC is scheduled to vote on it at the party's annual winter meeting next week, the Times reports.

At least 7.6 million U.S. citizens work and live abroad, according to State Department figures from last May quoted by the Times.

"The law as it stands forces U.S. citizens to make a modern-day’s 'Sophie's Choice' between their love for their country by not renouncing citizenship and their love for their families by continuing to provide for them without banking services," Solomon Yue, a committee member from Oregon, told the Times.

But unlike the RNC's effort toward full repeal of the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act of 2010, Paul, the Kentucky Republican, is fighting to reverse only some of the law's provisions, the Times reports.

The legislation, passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, requires financial institutions overseas to provide the Internal Revenue Service with annual reports on their U.S. account holders.

The law, aimed at expatriates holding $50,000 or more in their banks, was enacted to prevent Americans from evading taxes. But Americans with dual citizenship are up in arms, and have been dumping their U.S. passports at record rates, according to news reports.

Financial institutions in foreign countries face "increased costs associated with IRS reporting requirements," Ash said in his letter. "As a result, those Americans are forced to choose between their citizenship and their right to privacy and livelihood."

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