Many U.S. citizens died in past centuries defending the doctrine "No taxation without representation." Good news is that this doctrine is alive and well in 2012.
We have talked a lot about how U.S. citizens around the world are required to file U.S. income tax and investment account returns each year. This applies even if the person also has Canadian citizenship, and even if they have never lived in the U.S.
Pretty onerous, right?
Well, there is an offsetting benefit. U.S. citizens anywhere in the world can also vote in U.S. elections.
Everything you need to know is at www.overseasvotefoundation.org .
This site has a page to help you select your appropriate state and register to request a ballot with the appropriate candidates be sent to you. The Overseas Vote Foundation was set up by and for expatriot U.S. citizens and U.S. military.
Thanks to a reader we will call "WB" for this information. WB also points out you will need to know your last U.S. address, your parents' last U.S. address or the hospital in which you were born in order to register in the appropriate district. The website has instructions and videos that take you through the process.
Each state has a different deadline for voter registration, and they are coming up soon.
You can also go to a U.S. State Department website for information. Go to travel.state.gov/travel and click the link "Living Abroad Tips" for the "Overseas Voting" area.
If your ballot arrives late, there is an emergency write-in provision.
Make your voice heard!
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A wonderful thing happened to me yesterday morning.
The background is I spent the last year working on a book on personal finance. Many of you have encouraged me over the last 19 years (yes -- it's been 19 years of Dollars and Sense!) to publish a book, and finally I listened.
There was this fantasy that I could just compile a series of past newspaper columns in a logical order, and the book would write itself. Not so. Instead, it became an all-consuming activity for the past six months, as 90 per cent of it had to be rewritten or created from scratch. (I hear we had good weather this past summer...)
Each chapter went back and forth several times with my fabulous editor, Suzanne Wray of the Knowledge Bureau, and I added all the references and fact corrections she insisted upon, then we approved the layout, artwork, cover and other details, then sent the draft to famous people for endorsements and finally got it all off to the printers.
It seems by the time I finished that process, I had totally lost sight of why I decided to write it, why I had been convinced the world needed still another book on personal finance, what might be unique about Managing the Bull and whether it was going to be help people improve their lives.
So I am very grateful to one of the people who got an early copy this week and sent me some wonderful feedback. It reminded me why it was all worthwhile, for which I am extremely thankful.
If I may selfishly and shamelessly quote from my first "review": "David -- I picked up your book last night and thought that I'd have a 'quick' look. As I am now calling it a day at 12:30 a.m., you will be pleased to know that I read the first 116 pages -- not skimmed, but read -- the first 28 chapters. You have done a marvellous job of putting common sense into an enjoyable read. You must be pleased and proud of this significant accomplishment. Congratulations on a job well done."
That makes it all worthwhile!
Dollars and Sense is an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice. David Christianson is a fee-for-service financial planner with Wellington West Total Wealth Management Inc., a portfolio manager (restricted).