UPDATE: ACA has a web page where you can directly submit your story about the Voluntary Disclosure Program so your voice can be heard in Washington DC. Go to http://www.aca.ch/persexp.php.
I have received the following from Jackie Bugnion, a member of the Executive Committee of American Citizens Abroad.
Get your story heard
The ACA is soliciting personal tax stories. If you want to tell your story about the Voluntary Disclosure Program, you might consider contacting ACA. They will be making a field trip to Washington DC in April, 2011 to meet with various politicians and civil servants, as part of Overseas Americans Week 2011.
Your story can help convey a real-world sense of what the IRS is doing. I think it is safe to say that 99.5% of the populace is completely unaware of the Voluntary Disclosure Program and wreckage it is creating.
“I am writing to you as head of the ACA tax team following a discussion with several members of the ACA Executive Committee. While ACA has been working hard to develop serious documents on the issues of taxation affecting Americans abroad, we have come to realize that this is not enough. We need to gather information on specific cases from professional tax preparers to bring not only the human side to the story, but to have concrete issues and practical real-life examples to illustrate the extent of the damage.
From the series of complaints that we receive at the ACA office, it appears that the personal instances of tax discrimination can be really overwhelming. Also appearing is a systematic pattern of IRS abuse in imposing extremely harsh, if not confiscatory penalties on overseas Americans who either have not filed all of the documents accurately for the 1040 according to IRS interpretation or who have not been filing either the 1040, or the FBAR, or both and have tried to enter the system through the Voluntary Disclosure Program.”
The ACA is interested in receiving case stories of IRS practices and penalties in the Voluntary Disclosure Program. Jackie writes:
“Of course all names . . . would be changed to ensure confidentiality. An immediate short-term goal for ACA would be to use this material to create a document for Overseas Americans Week, the week of April 11th 2011, when we are in Washington DC to inform members of Congress and the Administration of our tax issues. Hopefully, we will be able to encourage policy change. ACA would also envision a series of press releases on the issue to increase general awareness of the abuse issue. . . .”
What to do
If you are interested in telling your story, please contact the ACA by sending an email to email@example.com.
If you are concerned about anonymity, create a throw-away email account on Yahoo or Gmail or Hotmail, then send your email. If you are represented by a lawyer or accountant, run it by that person.
When you write up your story, take out all of the personally identifying information, figuring that your story will float around the hills of Washington DC.
Someone from ACA will be in touch with you.
Jackie wanted a cc to her personal email address but I’m not going to post it visibly on the web. If you want to contact Jackie directly, email me and I will put you in touch with her. I don’t want Jackie’s email address to be harvested by spambots.
I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice. You are a grown-up and can make your own decisions. Talk to your own independent legal counsel or tax advisor if you have any questions about this.
This is not a solicitation of business. Seriously. We’re up to our eyeballs here.
Remember that ACA is a group of concerned Americans. Whatever you tell them will not be covered by the attorney-client privilege. They’re not lawyers, and they are not YOUR lawyers.
The ACA will take this story to Congress. Yay.