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For the approximately 2,300 US citizens living in Luxembourg, the presidential elections are just as important and controversial as for those residing in the states.
Sharon March, honorary president and treasurer of Republicans Overseas Luxembourg, and Paul Moody, a US citizen living in Luxembourg and identifying as a Democrat, spoke to Delano about why they support their candidates.
March said about her support for Trump: “he has listened to the stomach troubles of the nation. He put his ear to the ground and said ‘what is wrong with my country?’. The other candidate has not done that. He has heard their wails of pain, of ‘we don’t like this, we’re hungry, we need jobs, there is something wrong with our education system, our taxation is too heavy.’ Trump is vocalising the problems of America and that is why he attracts both sides.”
When asked about any drawbacks of her candidate, she defends Trump: “I see nothing wrong with what he says, he is telling the truth, he hasn’t told one single lie. I like that he speaks the language of the people. He doesn’t call half of the nation deplorable. His only sin is that he is the last man standing and I don’t see anything wrong with that. He won the vote of the people. He represents everything the American people want, so I don’t see any drawback.”
Moody, on the other hand, supports Clinton because of her “psychological stability. This is an important attribute of a president. You have to weigh things and cannot just respond. When Bush took the decision to invade Afghanistan, he weighed the issues, and it was not a knee jerk reaction. This is a vital requirement for president. Clinton has just like Trump a few drawbacks, but I would say [one is] lack of transparency. I don’t mean it at the political level, but at the personal level. I have my own theory of the email leaks: I don’t think she trusted the system to protect her information and how she did business. This lack of transparency is a trap and a weakness. You have to trust the system even if you get slapped with it.”
But there was some common ground between the two US expats: double taxation, and especially the administrative burden of filing several tax declarations, is an issue that annoys Americans living in Luxembourg (and who earn over $101,300 a year in 2016). Moody commented wryly: “It was probably the biggest reduction of power that someone could have internationally without firing a shot and the US did it to themselves.”
Furthermore, having to vote in the last state of residence means the vote of expats is diluted, as Moody said. Between 7m and 9m Americans live abroad and all are taxed in the US as well. Their combined voting power is equivalent, if not bigger, than the State of Washington. But they don’t have their own political representation.
March noted that the Republicans are considering the repeal of these taxation laws under the condition that the person can demonstrate that they pay taxes in her country of residence. The Democrats have promised to review the laws. One of the consequences of this double taxation is that the number of Americans applying to give up their citizenship has climbed to a record high.
CORRECTION: This article previously stated that the repeal of FATCA, the foreign tax reporting law, was not yet part of the Republican party platform. In fact, it was adopted in July (PDF, see page 13).