Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Record Numbers US Citizens Living Abroad Are Renouncing Citizenship

A year ago, in Action Comics, Superman declared plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

"'Truth, justice, and the American way' — it's not enough anymore," the comic book superhero said, after both the Iranian and American governments criticized him for joining a peaceful anti-government protest in Tehran.

Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman's lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards. That's a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998. It's also almost eight times more than the number of citizens who renounced in 2008, and more than the total for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

But not everyone's motivations are as lofty as Superman's. Many say they parted ways with America for tax reasons.

The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they're living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April — this year, the deadline is Tuesday — an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS. For them, the deadline is June.

The National Taxpayer Advocate's Office, part of the IRS, released a report in December that details the difficulties of filing taxes from overseas. It cites heavy paperwork, a lack of online filing options and a dearth of local and foreign-language resources.

For those wishing to legally escape the filing requirements, the only way is to formally renounce their U.S. citizenship. Last year, IRS records show that at least 1,788 people did, and that's likely an underestimate. The IRS publishes in the Federal Register the names of those who give up their citizenship, and some who renounced say they haven't seen their name on the list yet.
Read the rest here.


Eurasleep said...

I find it fascinating how those who left their countries during the course of the last 200+ years to become US citizens are hailed as "patriots" today. However when people choose to leave the US due to what they perceive as similar or worse tyranny by the government, they are suddenly put on a "shame list" and called "traitors" and "quitters" by the country they leave behind. Last time I checked, people were free to choose their own path in life, and not be bullied or shamed into following the herd.

Conchúr said...

How does the tax thing work for dual citizens?

Jon Marc said...

How very odd. I grew up abroad and my friends and acquaintances growing up would never give up a citizenship unless they absolutely had to - the more the merrier, especially if you need to do business in countries not on good terms with the West, or are from one of those countries and need to work in the West. Having two or more citizenships is just good sense, whereas giving one up voluntarily is poor planning for the future.