AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES NEWSLETTER – MARCH 2008

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U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
March 2008

The U.S. Embassy is transmitting the following monthly newsletter via its warden system as a public service to U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea.  Please feel free to disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your organizations or to other Americans you know.

In this issue:

1. IRS Tax Advisor at Embassy Seoul, March 17-19
2. Voting Assistance Workshop on March 11, 2008
3. Louisiana to Hold Two Special Elections on March 8
4. Indiana to Hold Special Congressional Primary Elections
5. Ten Ways to Help Ensure That Your Absentee Vote Is Counted
6. Overseas Vote Foundation
7. Increases to U.S. Passport Fees and New Parental Signature Requirements for U.S. Minors
8. Visa Rules for Foreign Instructors
9. Recent Travel Warnings and Announcements
10. Embassy Contact Information

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1. IRS TAX ADVISOR AT EMBASSY SEOUL, MARCH 17-19
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An IRS representative will be at the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services office on March 17, 18, and 19 to answer your tax questions.  Appointments are required.  Appointments will be scheduled in ten-minute increments during the hours below, so please come prepared with concise questions.

Monday, March 17

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. (phone appointments)
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 18

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. (phone appointments)
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 19

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. (phone appointments)
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

You can request an appointment by email (Seoul_ACS@state.gov) or by fax at (02) 397-4101.  In order for us to receive your email, please put “RESEND IRS” in your email subject line and indicate which hour you would prefer.  Include your email address, office or home telephone number, and cell phone number.

If you cannot come to the Embassy for an appointment, the IRS representative may be able to talk with you over the phone.  Please send your telephone number by fax or email as described above, and specify that you would like a telephone appointment, as well as your preferred day.  All phone appointments will be conducted between 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

PLEASE NOTE that all appointments are first-come, first-served.

Tax assistance for people affiliated with USFK is available on USFK bases.  Contact your legal office for details.

FORMS:  We recommend that you obtain your tax forms online at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html.  Please note that the IRS no longer compiles the “1040 Overseas Filers Package,” so there will be no packages available at the U.S. Embassy for the 2007 tax year.  All forms from the package are available for download from the IRS website.

FURTHER INFORMATION: For more information on U.S. taxes, please consult the list of websites and telephone numbers below to help find the forms and answers you need.

Main IRS website: www.irs.gov
IRS tax forms and publications: http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html
U.S. Embassy Seoul tax information page: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/tax_information.html
Tax guidance for U.S. citizens abroad: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=97324,00.html
Tax guidance for persons in the military:  http://www.irs.gov/individuals/military/index.html
Electronic payment website:  http://www.eftps.gov/ Refund information:  Go to http://www.irs.gov/, click on “Where’s my refund?”

Phone Services:

Individuals                             1-800-829-1040
Businesses                                      1-800-829-4933
Customer Service Phone Number           1-215-516-2000
Refund Inquiries                                1-800-829-4477
TeleTax                                         1-800-829-4477
ITINs after 6 weeks                     1-800-829-1040
Exempt Organization Help Desk           1-877-829-5500
Tax Offset Program (TOP) Help Desk      1-800-304-3107
E-Services Help Desk                    1-512-416-7750

DUE DATES FOR OVERSEAS FILERS:  A tax return delivered by the U.S. mail or a designated delivery service that is postmarked or dated by the delivery service on or before the due date is considered to have been filed on or before that date.  You can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the “timely mailing as timely filing/paying” rule for tax returns and payments.  See your Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions for a list of designated delivery services.

Revenue Ruling 2002-23, 2002-18 IRB 811 provides that federal tax returns mailed by taxpayers in foreign countries will be accepted as timely filed if they bear an official postmark dated on or before midnight of the last date prescribed for filing, including any extension of time for such filing.

Individuals will be able to use a single IRS form (Form 4868) to get an automatic six-month extension of time to file.  The due date without extension for individual income tax returns is April 15.  Taxpayers residing overseas are allowed an automatic extension to June 15 without filing Form 4868.  A tax-filing extension does not extend the tax-payment deadline.  Visit the IRS website for more information at http://www.irs.gov.

STATE TAX RETURNS:  For individual state income tax information, visit http://www.taxadmin.org/.  The Embassy does not have state tax forms or state tax information.

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2. VOTING ASSISTANCE WORKSHOP ON MARCH 11, 2008
———————————————–

The Pentagon’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) office will be giving a Voting Assistance Workshop for American citizens living in South Korea who are interested in helping fellow citizens with the voting process.  The workshop will be held on Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison in Seoul.  It will be a hands-on training session designed to provide information and resources for anyone who wishes to act as a voting assistance officer overseas.  If you are interested in attending this workshop, please RSVP to Seoul_ACS@state.gov with the following information:
•       Full Name
•       Citizenship
•       Passport Number

Please note that space is limited, so we encourage you to RSVP as soon as possible.  Additional details will be sent to you by email after you RSVP.

—————————————————–
3. LOUISIANA TO HOLD TWO SPECIAL ELECTIONS ON MARCH 8
—————————————————–

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, there will be two special primary elections in the state of Louisiana.

•       1st closed party primary: March 8, 2008
•       2nd closed party primary: April 5, 2008
•       General: May 3, 2008

The first closed primary on March 8, 2008, will be in the 1st Congressional District of Louisiana to fill the seat for Representative Jindal, who resigned in order to become Governor of Louisiana.  The 1st Congressional District includes the parishes of Jefferson (part), Orleans (part), St. Charles (part), St. Tammany (all), Tanigpahoa (all), and Washington (all).

The second closed primary on March 8, 2008, will be in the 6th Congressional District of Louisiana to fill the seat for Representative Baker, which is currently vacant.  The 6th Congressional District includes the parishes of Ascension (part), East Baton Rouge (all), East Feliciana (all), Iberville (part), Livingston (all), Pointe Coupee (part), St. Helena (all), West Baton Rouge (all), and West Feliciana (all).

To determine if your legal residence is in the 1st or 6th Congressional District, please go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website, where you can click on “Communicating with Your Elected Officials” then “Who is my Representative?”

All members of the U.S. Uniformed Services, their family members and citizens residing outside the U.S. who are Louisiana residents from the 1st and 6th Districts should request a ballot for this special primary election by completing and submitting a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), SF-76, as soon as possible, if you have not done so already in calendar year 2008.  The online version of the FPCA is available from the FVAP website.  Specific instructions for Louisiana are available on this online page (PDF). Voters who are Louisiana residents from the 1st or 6th District and have already requested a ballot for the Presidential and State Primary on February 9, 2008, will automatically receive this ballot, and need not take any further action.

The Parish Registrar of Voters must receive requests for absentee ballots not later than Friday, March 7, 2008.  Louisiana allows Uniformed Services and overseas citizen voters to send the FPCA for ballot request by fax.  After faxing, submit the original FPCA by mail.  Use the following toll-free fax numbers for the U.S. and Canada: 1-800-368-8683, (703) 693-5527 or DSN 223-5527 (military).  Louisiana allows return of the voted ballot by fax.

———————————————————-
4. INDIANA TO HOLD SPECIAL CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY ELECTIONS
———————————————————-

On Tuesday, March 11, 2008, there will be a special election in the 7th Congressional District of Indiana to fill the seat of Representative Julia M. Carson.

The Marion County Board of Voter Registration must receive requests for absentee ballots not later than Monday, March 3, 2008.

When returned, your ballot will be counted if it arrives at the appropriate board of elections not later than noon, March 11, 2008, for military voters in the U.S., and by noon on March 21, 2008, for voters outside the U.S., if postmarked by election day.  Indiana allows return of the voted ballot by fax, or by electronic mail through the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Electronic Transmission Service, ets@fvap.ncr.gov.

————————————————————-
5. TEN WAYS TO HELP ENSURE THAT YOUR ABSENTEE VOTE IS COUNTED
————————————————————-

(1) Start by contacting your Embassy or military unit Voting Assistance Officer for help in absentee registration and voting.  The Embassy’s Voting Assistance officer is available at VoteSeoul@state.gov.
(2) Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website at www.fvap.gov for information on the absentee registration and voting process.
(3) Ensure that you have applied for your absentee ballot using the hard copy or on-line versions of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) form.
(4) Make sure your local election official has your current mailing address.
(5) Sign and date all election materials.
(6) Fulfill your state’s witness/notary requirements (if required).
(7) Ensure that your ballot or FPCA is postmarked.
(8) Register to vote and request your ballot in a timely manner – not later than September 2008.
(9) VOTE – mail your ballot not later than October 15th of the election year.
(10) Use the Federal Write In Absentee Ballot if you are overseas and your State absentee ballot does not arrive in time to be mailed back by your state’s deadline.

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6. OVERSEAS VOTE FOUNDATION
—————————

The Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) helps overseas and military voters participate in federal elections by providing public access to innovative voter registration tools and services.  If you are an overseas or military voter, OVF’s goal is to make it easy for you to get your ballot and vote.  Overseas American citizens vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and can all register to vote from abroad using OVF’s services.
OVF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan public charity incorporated in Delaware.  Their website is  https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/home.

————————————————————-
7. INCREASES TO U.S. PASSPORT FEES AND NEW PARENTAL SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. MINORS
————————————————————-

As of February 1, 2008, the U.S. Government increased fees for certain U.S. citizen passport services.  For adult applicants renewing a passport, the total fee is now $75.  For first-time applicants age 16 and over, the total fee is now $100.  The fee for minors under 16 years of age is now $85.

Effective February 1, 2008, passport applicants who are U.S. citizen minors under the age of 16 must appear personally with their parents to establish identity, proof of citizenship, and proof of relationship.   For parental application permission, both parents must appear together and sign, or one parent may appear to sign and submit the other parent’s notarized statement, or one parent may appear, sign, and submit primary evidence of sole authority.  Minors age 16 and 17 may apply in person with their own identification, but for security reasons, parental consent may be required.  If your child does not have identification of his or her own, a parent will be required to accompany the child and present identification.

Please refer to the Department of State’s website at www.travel.state.govfor complete information on all new requirements, including downloadable revised forms that must be used as of February 1.  Also please see the U.S. Embassy’s website at www.asktheconsul.org for complete U.S. passport application instructions.

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8. VISA RULES FOR FOREIGN INSTRUCTORS
————————————-

The Korean Ministry of Justice announced that as of December 15, 2007, foreigners will have to submit medical and criminal background checks when applying for a visa to become a foreign language teacher in South Korea.  The U.S. Embassy cannot provide a background check or fingerprinting service, and we cannot notarize, certify, or verify the authenticity of background checks or diplomas.

As we understand the new requirements, E-2 visa applicants who are U.S. citizens can obtain the necessary criminal background check either by submitting their fingerprints to the FBI or by applying for a local police check where they last resided in the U.S.  Procedures for obtaining criminal background checks in the U.S. are explained on our website at http://www.asktheconsul.org/E2ec07.htm.  Local police stations in the Republic of Korea are able to take fingerprints that can be sent to the FBI for a background check.  U.S. Embassies are, unfortunately, prohibited from taking fingerprints for these purposes.

As we receive updated information on the Korean visa requirements, we will post it on our website.  The U.S. Embassy website will also continue to be the best source of information about the services that we are able to provide under U.S. law and regulation, but we cannot state with full authority what the Korean regulations are.  If you have further questions, we suggest that you contact the office responsible for the new requirements, the Korea Immigration Service, Border Control Division, at 500-9116, 500-9117, or 500-9118, or consult their website at http://seoul.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/index.do or the Ministry of Justice website (in Korean only) at
http://moj.korea.kr/moj/jsp/moj1_branch.jsp?_action=news_view&_property=p_sec_1&_id=155250149.
——————————————-
9. RECENT TRAVEL WARNINGS AND TRAVEL ALERTS
——————————————-

The U.S. Department of State has recently issued travel warnings or public announcements for the following countries and regions:

Afghanistan     02/06/2008
Cameroon        02/28/2008
Chad            02/20/2008
Colombia        02/05/2008
Guyana          02/26/2008
Kenya           02/08/2008
Mali            02/12/2008
Nepal           02/25/2008
Philippines     02/13/2008
Serbia          02/22/2008
Sri Lanka       02/08/2008
Tajikistan      02/07/2008
Timor-Leste     02/15/2008
Zimbabwe        02/15/2008

For additional information about these travel warnings and alerts, click on this link:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html

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10. EMBASSY CONTACT INFORMATION
——————————-

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
32, Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Korea

– or –

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy, Seoul
Unit #15550
APO AP 96205-5550

Tel: 02-397-4114
Fax: 02-397-4101
DSN: 721-4114
English:  http://www.asktheconsul.org/
Korean:  http://www.usavisas.org/
E-mail:  seoul_acs@state.gov

End of newsletter text.

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