WASHINGTON, DC – Nancy Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, has responded favorably to Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Raffi Hamparian’s call for a U.S.-Armenia Social Security Totalization Agreement, eliminating the danger of double taxation of pension benefits and clarifying the obligations and entitlements of workers who divide their careers between these two friendly nations.
“We share your view that a possible totalization agreement between the United States and Armenia could benefit citizens and businesses in both countries,” wrote Acting Commissioner Berryhill in a September 24th letter, adding that the Social Security Administration “appreciates the importance of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Armenia.” Noting that Armenia would need to meet certain technical conditions before negotiations on such an accord, Berryhill shared with the ANCA that she is “directing my staff at the Social Security Administration to investigate this matter more thoroughly and determine whether Armenia meets all U.S. legal requirements.”
ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian welcomed Berryhill’s response: “It is clear that, for a growing number in our community, the future will be defined by trans-national careers, spanning Armenia and the Diaspora. Leveraging homeland and heritage, these trans-national careers hold the promise to transform our ancient nation into a global network of prosperity and power. In Washington, DC – the ANCA is putting the pieces in place to enable this vision, advocating for a Social Security Agreement that will make it easier for the growing number of young professionals dividing their work lives between the United States and Armenia.”
In a July 16th letter to Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Nancy Berryhill, 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 Social Security Totalization Agreements 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.
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.