Every year, Greenback surveys thousands of expats living around the globe about their opinions on everything from taxation to citizenship renunciation to political and ideological beliefs. As one of the only comprehensive surveys of Americans living abroad, the survey helps to raise the profile of pressing social and economic issues within the expat community.
Why Is Annual US Expat Opinion Survey Important?
Raising Awareness about Key Issues for Expats
While expat life can be an amazing experience, it comes with distinct challenges. In order to effect change, expat opinions must be shared with the media, politicians, and the American public.
Greenback’s annual survey questions collect expats’ opinions on tax filing requirements, FATCA and FBAR regulations, citizenship renunciation, recent tax reform, and more. The results of the survey convey expats’ thoughts on these key topics to the media, advocacy groups, and the expat community.
Little Data Exists on the Expat Community
Greenback’s survey is one of the few that collects expats opinions on a wide range of topics–from taxes to politics to current events. In fact, data on the expat community is so scarce, that we do not even know the exact data on the size of the expat population. While the US government does report on citizenship renunciation, the State Department does not track the number of Americans living abroad. To ensure that expats’ interests are heard and protected, it’s vital that we continue to collect and share data on their needs and preferences.
Expat Opinions Impact Real Change
Expat causes have a history of gaining traction in the US political and legal scene. In 2018, Congressman George Holding introduced a bill late called the Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act that proposed to exempt foreign income from US taxation. In 2019, a group of Accidental Americans living in France brought a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory policies of FATCA. In 2020, record numbers of Americans gave up their US citizenship.
2021 US Expat Survey Results
Greenback’s 2021 US Expat Opinion Survey took place from April 15, 2021 to May 10, 2021. Watch the video above or review the infographic for key highlights—and read on for full results!
Key findings of the 2021 survey indicate that US expats are frustrated with their representation in US government, the complexity of filing US expat taxes, and the burden of reporting their foreign financial accounts.
- 85% of expats feel they are not represented fairly in US government.
- 69% don’t think they should have to pay US taxes while living abroad.
- 72% had to file extra tax forms for financial reporting.
The events of the Coronavirus pandemic have complicated expats’ views of the US government and politics.
- 60% disapproved of how the US government handled the crisis (37% completely disapproved and 23% lightly disapproved)
- Many expats were impacted financially (4.31 out of 10 on average)
- 87% stayed abroad during the Coronavirus pandemic
- 32% say they’re more likely to live abroad after the crisis
Many expats have considered renunciation and most cite US taxation as the primary reason.
- 23% of expats are seriously considering renouncing their US citizenship (4% are planning to renounce and 18% are seriously considering it). An additional 42% wouldn’t rule out renunciation.
- 42% said the primary reason for considering renunciation was because they find filing US taxes too great of a burden
- 86% do not have plans to return to the US permanently
If you are a member of the media or an expat advocacy group, please email us at [email protected] to request more information on the survey results.
Prior US Expat Survey Results
Curious what expats had to say about taxes, citizenship renunciation, and US politics in prior years? Review past annual expat survey results to find out.
- 2020 US Expat Opinion Survey Results (Read the article, or watch a video summary by Kristin Wilson of Traveling with Kristin.)
- 2019 US Expat Opinion Survey Results
- 2018 US Expat Opinion Survey Results
- 2017 US Expat Opinion Survey Results
- 2016 US Expat Opinion Survey Results
Survey Questions and Methodology
Each year, Greenback Expat Tax Services surveys thousands of US expats living and working in countries all around the globe with various incomes and professions.
Survey questions collect data in key areas of expat life and finances, including:
- Filing US taxes
- Foreign banking laws (FBAR and FATCA)
- Citizenship renunciation
- Plans to return to the US permanently
- Reasons for living abroad
- Media consumption
- Demographic data (income level, employment type, age, and gender identity)
To qualify as a US expat, individuals need to meet the requirements of either the Physical Presence Test or the Bona Fide Residence Test.
- Qualifying via the Physical Presence test requires expats to be inside a foreign country for 330 of any 365-day period.
- Qualifying via the Bona Fide Residence test requires expats to reside outside the US for at least one full year and have no intentions of returning to the US permanently.