President Joe Biden declared in April that COVID-19 vaccinations are available to all American adults at no cost. But who the POTUS failed to include in his statement about “all Americans” are the nearly 9 million Americans (excluding military) living abroad, where the COVID-19 vaccine still isn’t available.
Taxpayers fund the U.S. government, including expats that pay tax on worldwide income regardless of where they live. Eritrea is the only other country to tax its citizens abroad on their worldwide income—at a flat 2 percent tax. American citizens must pay taxes in the States as they supposedly still receive the benefits of U.S. citizenship, but the vaccine rollout proves that’s a farce.
Expats pay taxes in exchange for support during an emergency—certainly a global pandemic counts as an emergency. Although expats paid for the vaccines through tax dollars, they still cannot get vaccinated at U.S. embassies or consulates. “I believe the U.S. should vaccinate citizens abroad since we’re paying taxes. We could argue it would create political tensions, but embassies and consulates act as safe havens as if we’re on U.S. soil. They’d be the perfect place to vaccine private citizens,” Aitza Burgess Reynolds, an English language assistant in Spain, says.
Taxation extends across borders, so should benefits. Otherwise, taxation without vaccination seems like theft. Alexandra Schmidt is a digital marketing specialist in Croatia who feels like she’s being neglected by the American government. “I wish the embassies would help citizens abroad get vaccinated in their country of residence or even provide assistance with getting back to the U.S. to get vaccinated,” she says. “The American government should be doing more to help us get vaccinated abroad, especially when we’re still paying taxes on foreign income.”
Taxation extends across borders, so should benefits. Otherwise, taxation without vaccination seems like theft.
Around 190,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed to 220 posts around the world for members of the State Department. It’s excellent that they included those Americans in Biden’s plan to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to “all” American adults. As vaccines are physically transferrable, the U.S. government should vaccinate all citizens at consulates, embassies and military bases across the globe.
Americans overseas must risk infection by flying to get vaccinated, which is extremely costly considering quarantine and testing requirements. The CDC states that “cost isn’t an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19’”but it’s an obstacle for Americans who have to pay for flights to the States to access the vaccine. Raychelle Heath is a freelance writer in Mexico who plans to go Stateside to get her vaccine. “It’s frustrating that there isn’t a way to get vaccinated without going back to the U.S. I’d love to be able to show up to a U.S. embassy with my passport and get vaccinated,” she says.
Kesi Irvin lives in Hungary and plans to fly back to the U.S. for the vaccine, since as a traveler it’s important to her that she get a globally accepted vaccine. “I wish I could contact the U.S. embassy to find a way to be vaccinated, especially since all my American friends back home can easily be vaccinated,” the travel blogger says.