Totalization Accord would Benefit Workers and Retirees who Divide their Careers between the U.S. and Armenia
WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America Monday called upon the Social Security Administration to explore a Social Security Totalization Agreement with Armenia eliminating the danger of double taxation of pension benefits and, more broadly, clarifying the obligations and entitlements of workers who divide their careers between the United States and Armenia.
In a July 16 letter to Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Nancy Berryhill, ANCA Chairman Raff Hamparian noted that: “In addition to providing material benefits to workers and greater clarity for employers, such an agreement will strengthen the bonds between America and Armenia, fostering a more conducive environment for even closer commercial relations and more effective cooperation across a broad array of international challenges.” He added that the ANCA is: “particularly mindful of the mutual advantages that such an accord would hold for ex-pats and self-employed workers, and also in the areas of retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.”
The U.S. currently has a Social Security Totalization Agreement in force with more than two dozen nations, listed in date order: Italy (1978), Germany (1979), Switzerland (1980), Belgium (1984), Norway (1984), Canada ((1984), United Kingdom (1985), Sweden (1987), Spain (1988), France (1988), Portugal (1989), Netherlands (1990), Austria (1991), Finland (1992), Ireland (1993), Luxembourg (1993), Greece (1994), South Korea (2001), Chile (2001), Australia (2002), Japan (2005), Denmark (2008), Czech Republic (2009), Poland (2009), Slovak Republic (2014), and Hungary (2016). A Totalization Agreement is a convention between two countries preventing duplicate Social Security contributions for the same income – effectively eliminating dual coverage and dual contributions (taxes) for the same work. Generally speaking, such accords ensure that workers only need to pay social security taxes to one country.
The United States and the Republic of Armenia periodically convene the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (USATF) and have negotiated a broad range of economic accords, including a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), an Agreement on Trade Relations, an Investment Incentive Agreement, and a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Armenia has been designated as a beneficiary country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, under which a range of Armenian exports are eligible for duty-free entry to the United States. Armenia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2003, and was granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status in 2005.
In addition to a Social Security Totalization Agreement, the ANCA is encouraging the Administration to negotiate a long overdue bilateral Double Tax Treaty to eliminate dual taxation, and – longer term – a U.S.-Armenia Free Trade Agreement.
Text of ANCA Letter to Social Security Administration Acting Commission Berryhill
Dear Commissioner Berryhill:
I am writing to share our interest in helping American and Armenian workers realize the considerable economic, cultural, and social benefits of a Social Security Totalization Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Armenia.
As an organization representing Americans of Armenian heritage – many with strong family, business, and other ties to Armenia – we are particularly interested, first and foremost, in eliminating the danger of dual Social Security taxation, and also filling gaps in the benefit protection of employees who have divided their careers between the U.S. and Armenia. We are particularly mindful of the mutual advantages that such an accord would hold in the areas of retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.
As you know, many friendly countries, like Armenia, with vibrant diaspora communities in the United States, have such agreements, among them Italy, Ireland, Greece, Poland, and South Korea. In addition to providing material benefits to workers and greater clarity for employers, such an agreement will strengthen the bonds between America and Armenia, fostering a more conducive environment for even closer commercial relations and more effective cooperation across a broad array of international challenges.
Our organization looks forward to engaging with the Social Security Administration and our many friends across the Legislative and Executive branches of government in support of a Social Security Totalization Agreement with Armenia. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your team to start the process toward a finalized and fully functioning agreement.
Raffi Haig Hamparian