Expats Speak Out on Taxes, Coronavirus, and Voting in 2020 Survey

Every year, we ask expats to weigh in on key aspects of life abroad. This year, over 4,000 US citizens living in 125 countries shared their opinions on US taxes, voting, the Coronavirus pandemic, and more. What did we find out? Following the unique events of 2020, expats are ready to make their voices heard.

Key Findings from Greenback’s 2020 Expat Opinion Survey

Anyone who has lived abroad for long knows that expat life comes with rewards and challenges. In previous years, we’ve seen that nearly three quarters of expats do not believe they should have to pay taxes abroad. As a result, citizenship renunciation has been on the rise, with many citing taxes as a primary factor in their decision to renounce. The majority of expats feel underrepresented or ignored by the US government.

On top of these frustrations, expats have faced unprecedented obstacles due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This November, US citizens around the world will have the opportunity to make their voices heard by voting in the US presidential election. So where do expats stand on key issues in 2020?

Expats Feel Frustrated with US Taxation & Financial Reporting Requirements

  • 70% of US expats do not feel they should be required to file US taxes while living abroad.
  • 28% of expats owed taxes to the US government last year.
  • When asked what they would like to change about US expat taxation, 51% said they would like to repeal citizenship-based taxation.
  • 41% of expats are impacted by Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). 33% need to file additional forms for FATCA and 8% have had trouble banking abroad due to this reporting requirement.
  • 5% of expats were not familiar with Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR), putting half a million Americans at risk of prosecution for noncompliance.

How Have Expats Been Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic?

  • 81% disapproved of how the US government has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • 91% of the expats stayed abroad during the Coronavirus crisis while only 9% returned to the US.
  • 63% said the US government’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made them more likely to want to live abroad long term.
  • 46% felt their host country had better healthcare and/or was managing the crisis better.
  • 27% had concerns about safety/civil unrest in the US during the Coronavirus pandemic.

About 1 in 4 US Expats Is Considering Citizenship Renunciation

  • 89% of expats feel their concerns are less likely to be addressed than those of Americans living in the US.
  • 23% of expats are seriously considering renouncing their US citizenship or already have plans to renounce.
  • 37% said their decision to renounce was based on the burden of filing US taxes each year.
  • 23% said they were interested in citizenship renunciation because they were disappointed with the direction of the US government—a 6% increase from last year.

Record Numbers of Expats Plan to Vote in the 2020 US Presidential Election

  • 82% of US expats plan to vote in the upcoming US Presidential election, compared to 73% in 2016.
  • Of those who did not plan to vote, 22% did not feel that any of the candidates represented their interests.
  • 24% of expats who do not plan to vote did not know how or thought the process was too complex. 32% did not think their vote was important or would make a difference.

What Does the Future Look Like?

The 2020 survey results predict high voter turnout this November for the 9 million US expats living outside the United States. Together, this diverse group of Americans has the potential to impact the 2020 presidential election and the future of US politics. Leaders in the United States have a lot to gain by acknowledging and advocating for expats’ needs and interests in the years to come.