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U.S. Citizenship Renounced by Wealthy Americans

1,780 Americans gave up their citizenship in 2011

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Do you make an extraordinary amount of money? Are you tired of having your wealth slowly sucked dry by the American tax system? If so, there’s a simple solution to this problem: Renounce your citizenship. Move to another country, relinquish your passport, and officially become an expatriate. It may sound like an extreme solution to a problem most of us will never have to deal with, but it’s an increasingly popular way to save some money.

The United States is the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that continues to tax its citizens after they relocate to another nation. In order to escape taxation and retain the meat of their bloated bank accounts, wealthy Americans living abroad are officially renouncing their nationality. The process, believe it or not, isn’t nearly as complicated as one might imagine.

According to Geneva‚Äôs Overseas American Academy, 1,780 Americans permanently coughed up their passports in 2011. That may not sound like a staggering number, but when compared to the 235 individuals who did the exact same thing in 2008, it’s quite significant. Instead of sticking around to be gouged by the IRS, wealthy individuals would rather cease being citizens of the United States. Presently, there are 6 million Americans living abroad, many of which are wondering why they continue to pay American taxes, I’m sure.

So how does one go about renouncing their citizenship, you ask? In Switzerland, a country frequented by rich folks looking for a tax break, the process is relatively painless. After attending a renunciation ceremony, potential ex-pats are asked a series of questions to determine that they thoroughly understand what happens when the process has been completed. One relatively small fee later, folks are officially cleansed of their American nationality. More importantly, they are no longer required to give away their money to the United States government.

And that, as they say, is a clean getaway.

How do you feel about renouncing citizenship to avoid paying taxes? Let us know in the comments section.

U.S. Citizenship Renounced by Wealthy Americans
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  • Ash

    I heard this lady renounce her U.S. citinzenship in an U.S. Embassy abroad because she didn’t feel like she really belonged to her European country and I thought it was the most ignorant thing a person could do for safety reasons. The questions they ask you aren’t complicated, unless you’re extremely patriotic, an American flag wearing, boot stomping American, then you’re like yes I know I’m no longer American bla bla bla….

    • Bill

      What does your comment have to do with wealthy people renouncing their citizenship beacuse of high taxes? – Now getting back to the article, taxes should be low. We work for and own our money, we do not work for the government and then let them decide how much we keep!!!!

    • Max

      Ash, your comment makes no sense…maybe u should re-read and then re-post…

  • wb in Iowa

    I’m sure the founding fathers of this country did not intend for this great greed of a goverment out of control and raping it’s citizens hard earned money away from them. I say more power to them for leaving and giving up their citizenship! Imigrants, illeagal or legal, should take heed of this information before comming here to get finacially raped for the privalige to be an american citizen, what a joke this nation has become! A sick joke at that!

  • Jay

    The numbers speak volumes here – that a 750% increase in 3 years!! The question is, are these part of the 1% or not? If so, you have a shrinking tax pool (the most important tax contributors) that is growing in scope. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the government taxes you to death on renouncing your citizenship!

    Like the Eagles said, “You can stay buy you can never leave”

    • Pat Joseph

      Perhaps you meant to quote Hotel California by the Eagles.

      “You can checkout anytime you like, but you can never leave.”

    • Norm

      You want to excuse these selfish tools from any responsibility to the country that gave them these opportunities? By the way, after loopholes the 1% pay damned little. That’s why the middle-class is hurting…

      • Sam Malone

        You’re cut off, Norm. Stick to Kool-Aid from now on, it’s obvious you thrive on it.

  • http://anewconstitution.us Luke Schneider

    The image of rats leaving a sinking ship comes to mind. I’m not the captain. I’m just another galley slave whose read Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” too. Those rats look pretty damn smart to me.

  • Ricardo Hunter

    I heard Romney paid less taxes than his secretary, I dont know but maybe his secretary is wealthy too. The rich are not paying their fair share of taxes, they are just greedy. Most rich get rich because the vast middle and poor utilize their product, and the poor that work for them are underpaid. Let them renounce it, but do not let them back when the chips are down and they want back in.

    • Norm

      Yup, you summed it up.

    • Danny

      Romney and “rich folk” don’t pay the same taxes because they don’t work for anybody. They make money off of their investments. Totally different tax scale and laws. That’s exactly why I invest. You have the EXACT investment opportunities as anybody else. Educate yourself and quit blaming the “rich”.

  • http://NotApplicable Emily Richards

    May 3, 2012

    I am just a plain Jane Citizen who works for a living and pay my taxes. I guess when you have loads, and I mean, truck loads of money, all of a sudden, renouncing your citizenship looks like a walk in the park. The lure of not having to pay taxes is just too tempting for those ultra rich people out there.

    That said, since I can only speak for myself; I cannot even fathom the idea of surrendering my Citizenship to any country. While I am fully aware that the U.S. is no Paradise, I am also fully aware that no matter how bad the economy can get in here; it will never be as bad as it is in other countries. Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

    The way I look at it, those Stars and Stripes on the well-recognized American Flag have a meaning. They are not just mere decorations. The Star Spangled Banner also has a meaning. And anything Americana on the Fourth of July also has a meaning. Our servicemen and servicewomen who day by day risk their lives abroad to preserve our democracy and with it, our freedom, it is well worth the taxes I pay.

    Go ahead, call me old fashion if you wish; but, at the end of the day, after everything is said and done, I am elated to be an American and to be a part, even if it is just minuscule; of this great country.

    Regards,

    Emily

  • Jesse

    As most of these people that have renounced their citizenship,made their money in America they should pay taxes. If they want to renounce their citizenship ,let them also give up their fortunes and companies that have made them wealthy.
    There are immigrants coming to this country every day to have the freedom to pursue wealth and be treated equally. Ask them about the value of American citizenship and renouncing it for greed.

    • Rob

      What you are missing here is that they have payed taxes on what they made, and at hight rates. what they are tired of and esscaping is the doupble and tripple taxing of their money. they are escaping an abusive tax code that they dont belive will ever be reformed. I dont agree with it nut I understand there views.

    • http://NotApplicable Emily Richards

      May 3, 2012

      Jesse:

      I couldn’t agree more. Were it not for this country, which is were the rich people got rich in the first place; do not fully realize what they have until they lose it.

      Have you heard the case of the Chinese dissident who wants to immigrate to the U.S. because he no longer feels safe in China? What does it say for China, and what does it say for us? His case is still pending due to the complex legalities involved. But, then again; doesn’t this case speak loudly of us? The sole fact that this Chinese National wants to immigrate to the U.S. sure does say a lot about what this country has to offer. Otherwise, why would anyone would want to immigrate to the U.S.?

      Regards,

      Emily

  • Norm

    A major point here is that the American super rich who do this have to pick safe tax havens. There are few havens worth living in unless you have tons of money to build a life-style around you and travel a lot.

    Most civilized, attractive countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia have taxes….that’s what pays for the civilized life-style for 95% of the rest of us….

  • Barbara

    Fine with me. If you are going to be an American, call yourself American, then you have to pony up like the rest of us.

    Nobody likes to pay taxes…no matter how much or little you make. But, the fact is, if you want services, electricity, decent roads, bridges, dams, schools, police and other emergency services; if you want to live in a country where you have freedoms and success is a possibility…you have to pay for it.

    If you wish to move to Timbuktu to avoid taxes…and renounce your citizenship, you are free to do so.

    Goodbye…..we don’t need you…..

    Don’t let the door hit you in the behind on your way out.

    Our country is only for those who WANT to be here…and be a “united” country. The rest can leave.

    • http://NotApplicable Emily Richards

      May 3, 2012

      Barbara:

      I just love the way you so succintly put it.

      I have always felt that way. If there is anyone out there, citizen or not, who does not like the U.S., our freedom, our high taxes, our civilized commodities and high living standards, please feel free to leave at any time. That’s one of the many options we offer as a free country.

      Just don’t come back crying foul when things don’t go your way.

      Regards,

      Emily

  • John

    The point is if you live in a different country, you ay taxes in the country you live in. On top of these taxes the U.S. Govt. also wants you to pay taxes to them… Double jepordy.

    • Susan Blanton

      spelled jeopardy

  • Robert

    I agree, giving up US citizenship is not in itself especially complicated. It’s what comes after with the data the Treasury wants from you to determine if you need to pay tax on your assets. I gave up my US citizenship with great sorrow, but I simply could not take the government paperwork any longer. I’m not wealthy, but a 67 page tax return that I was incapable of doing myself and had to pay a couple of thousand dollars each year to have it done for me was a burden. I also had to give information on every bank account, and where the money goes. No bank in my adopted country wants to deal with Americans as clients, and no bank in the US wants me as a client as I do not have a US address. Then an IRS audit that cost me around $5,000 to translate all documents and have the support of an accounting firm to get through the regulations and rules. I have always paid my full tax due, have no”secret” bank accounts, etc. As an American living overseas I have no representation in Congress, no one to assist me in dealing with issues. I am viewed by American embassy officials as a “whining expat”. So, I no longer have American citizenship, but you can be certain I am an American and will always be an American. Unfortunately I had simply had enough and wanted to enjoy my life without the US government requiring information not asked of Americans living in the country. Oh yes, and why am I lining here? I fell in love with a wonderful woman with whom I have been with for 44 years and this is her country. Love can be great, but trying to work through US Treasury forms is not! 8,000 American citizens living overseas–not a big issue for the US Congress.

  • jandgaspin

    You people don’t know what you’re talking about or even commenting about. Whether you have lots of money or not, the US government has imposed taxes on US citizens living abroad that puts them in a position of double taxation and imposes such restrictions on where they can put their investments that it impedes their ability to save for their retirement. It is criminal what they have imposed through FATCA and it is completely the opposite of what this country stands for and what the Constitution states ‘no taxation without representation’. I do not agree with rich people hiding their money abroad. Particularly if they are in residence here, but if you are a normal middle income family who lives abroad because of marriage, sadly the government has made this for some, their only choice. It makes me sick that I am even considering this, but with current law, I feel I have no choice.

  • Sam Malone

    Here’s a clue for all of you: It isn’t only the “rich” who are renouncing citizenship. I live half the year in Ecuador and Panama — for business — and know quite a few expats. Most are retirees, living on their pensions. Why there? The cost of living is 35% to 60% less than here in the USA.

    And just so you know, the rich and “super rich” can be hit with a so-called “exit tax” before renunciation is complete. Further, under the US Code, you are liable for all income taxes for a period of ten years after renunciation.

    Don’t depend upon one source for your information.

    • http://NotApplicable Emily Richards

      May 3, 2012

      Sam:

      I am an American Citizen who was born in Panama and lived there for many years. I finally returned to the U.S. for good in 1984 and never looked back. Though I still have family in Panama, mostly extended family, I wound’t renounce my U.S. Citizenship for anything in the world.

      Panama is a beautiful country where taxes are about half of what they are in here. And yes, you are right when you say that there are expatriates living in Panama. They are mostly retirees who want to stretch their savings. However, this “deal” would never work for me as I cannot even contemplate life outside the U.S.

      I have been to Panama several times to visit, but, when it comes time to leave; I have no problem in reminding my family that I belong in the U.S. and that’s were I want to be.

      Regards,

      Emily

  • Blamo50

    I’ve worked for a few 1%ers over many years and while being there with my pie hole colsed this is what I hear most often, remember this is just repeating the words of others.

    People with more than 250 million say it is better to stay in the U.S. and keep a home address in certian states like Georgia. Because the govnerment is slanted in their favor regular folks pay for the super rich to stay here. One of my employers was a billionare, his lawer bragged to his buddies many times how much money swindled out of the state and county this way and that.
    Now none of the family realy lived here and they made buckets of our tax dollars. this was over 20 years ago. I do not belive anything has changed, it is still the same. Oh, and to the law firm in NW ATL

  • Bren

    I am sure these wealthy individuals thought through this carefully. They are renouncing the resources that this great country provides.eg. The Navy Seal coming for you if a problem arises in the country you are residing. Just a thought!

  • Susan Blanton

    Our country has some of the best infrastructure in the world, coast to coast highways, national parks, roadside clean up, public schools, etc. This all costs money. I am sure that these rich people enjoyed the fruits of living in America while they resided here. If they no longer plan to drive our roads and take advantage of the many benefits of living in America, then by all means feel free to leave this country, quit paying taxes and never return. If you move to Mexico, I hope you enjoy driving dirt roads or paved roads with wheel breaking potholes. If you move to Italy, I hope you enjoy driving the narrow streets and the risks they pose. If you move to Scandanavia, I hope you enjoy the winter weather and darkness, instead of opting to be a snowbird without a passport hassle. Finally, if you move to another country, I hope you speak the language, because the number one way people lose money is by being taken advantage of because they don’t understand all of the documents they read.

    • USA guy in Europe

      Actually America needs ONE TRILLION in new infrastructure. This should have been done these past 4 years when materials were cheaper and people needed jobs. What happened to that??? Remember that I-35West Bridge Collapse in 2007. That’s when we knew we had a problem.

      Also what about trains?!? More American jobs in creating more passenger trains. At least Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago should be connected by high speed passenger trains. Lets start there. We are only 5 years late.
      China spent one trillion already in infrastructure in the last 3 years. Yes some of the money was wasted and/or stolen but they now have their new infrastructure. They stayed focused and got it done. Hmm America must have taught them to do this. Funny that we as Americans forgot how to get he job done.

  • John Whiz

    I’m a thriving worker. So,I’ve to stay with my family and get support and assistance from Uncle Sam such as; housing allowance, food stamps, free education, free tax, free healthcare & etc..I like a Socialist U.S.A.. I love America and land of the FREE!

  • American working in Asia

    I am an American living in Asia.
    I lower the American unemployment rate by living overseas and pay tax to the US government but AMERICANS LIVING OVERSEAS CANNOT CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIAL SECURITY !!! We are not allowed. So the money we make outside of America is taxed twice and then we have not American benefits. So if this fair ???
    I pay tax twice. I pay tax on my income in Asia and Tax to America even though I have not made my income in America and my company does not do business in America. My non American wife does not want an American passport but the American IRS wants her income and tax records too. She has her own company and has never even been in America. What right does the IRS have for demanding her tax and company information including bank accounts???
    Once again… the sheep in American are being directed by the press and government to focus on the wrong story and create the wrong laws.

    Americans are all over Asia now because there are not enough good jobs in the USA. Then we have to pay taxes twice, then our non American wives/husbands personal info is required by the IRS and then we as Americans that live and work outside of America are not allowed to contribute to Social Security. WE ARE NOT ALLOWED.

    Most of us are just average Americans with a passport and a dream. We wanted the American dream but we don’t have time to wait for America to fix itself.

    I voted for you OBAMA and to vote for you in Asia was quite a complicated ordeal and what did we get??? We got a person that has done alright but can do so much more and he knows it. As for you republicans… you should have put BUSH in jail and cleaned up your reputation. The stop standing in the way of progress and bring forward a leader that can lead by example and stop the hate.

    Companies like APPLE and SKYPE (their headquarters is now in Europe) are allowed to keep their overseas incomes tax free and they keep that revenue overseas to create more jobs and opportunities for non Americans. This is what needs to be focused on. The US companies have the US government in their pocket and the American press just wants ratings by using sensationalism and stirring the pot. Americans of all kinds then loose focus on what really needs to be done to make America better than ever. WE CAN DO IT PEOPLE if we keep our eye on the ball.

    Multinational American companies need to stop hiding their income overseas but first the government has to change the laws that protect them. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars annually people. This is the “ball”.

    • USA guy in Europe

      Its true. I am working in Europe and i pay tax in America and Europe but without any American benefits. I have to make sure to save extra so that i have something to retire on.
      I pay American taxes so i can complain as much as i want about them. We pay American tax so why can’t we contribute to social security?!?
      Now banks here in Europe do not want American customers because we “Are too Much trouble.”
      Thank you for telling people whats really going on!
      American working in Europe

    • jandgaspin

      Well said. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Obama needs to rejig this policy…its unconstitutional!!!

  • Arize Nwofor

    I am proudly Nigerian and will remain so forever. But pray, why would anyone in his right mind renounce citizenship of a country regarded as the greatest experiment ever attempted by the human race?

    • http://NotApplicable Emily Richards

      May 3, 2012

      Arize:

      It is great that you feel so proud of your Nigerian Citizenship.

      I am not sure I can fully answer your question as to why anyone in his right mind would want to renounce citizenship of a country regarded as the greatest experiment ever attempted by the human race. That is quite a compliment.

      As a proud American I can only say that unfortunately, greed is part of the equation. The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness is one of the many things that make this country great. Above all, I believe freedom is our greatest asset. That’s why so many people like the U.S.

      Unfortunately, there are those few individuals who are not happy with our way of life and believe that they can be happy somewhere else. I believe this is only a mirage. Sometimes money in excess can thwart reality to the point in which you are willing to give up your American Citizenship. Generally speaking, those who choose to live abroad and renounce their American Citizenship because they don’t want to be taxed are just exchanging their freedom for money. Yes, freedom is not free; I agree. But, from my very honest point of view; you cannot buy freedom nor put a ransom on it. Those who elect to live elsewhere erroneously believe that they can buy their freedom because they have money to burn. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

      As I have said before. Our servicemen and servicewomen put their lifes on the line to preserve our freedom and our way of life. They fight to the death if necessary for all of us who cannot fight for themselves (myself included). And you just cannot put a price on that.

      I hope that as an outsider, you are able to see that.

      God bless you.

      Regards,

      Emily

  • Geraldine

    Since they gave up their US citizenship then put out the NOT WELCOME MAT & stop them from entering the US as persona non-Grata.

  • Robert

    Hike the exit tax to 75%, as the French are taxing the ultra rich at that rate, and revoke ALL privileges. Including visiting any part of the us or it’s territories.

    BLACK LIST THEM.

  • http://FACEBOOK JOHN CABOT

    I DON’T EVER SEE ME RENOUNCING MY CITIZENSHIP! IT’S A BLESSING YOU JUST HAVE TO VOTE FOR ROMNEY AND HE WILL FIX IT OR I WILL HAVE TO RUN IN 2016 JOHN CABOT FOR PRESIDENT 2016! ROMNEY WILL LOWER THE TAXES AND CUT SPENDING. HE NEEDS TO FIX OBAMA CARE BECAUSE IT WILL COST AMERICANS 2 TRILLION IN ADDITION TO THE 1 TRILLION WE HAVE ALREADY IN OUR DEFICIT! GOD AWAKEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SO THEY WILL VOTE FOR ROMNEY! OBAMA MAYBE A CHRISTIAN BUT AT LEASE ROMNEY WON’T STEAL AND HAS RUN SOMETHING AND TRUELY CARES ABOUT AMERICA NOT LIKE THAT COMI OBAMA WHO NEEDS TO GO BACK TO CHICAGO OR HAWAII OR BETTER YET THE BUSH IN KENYA WITH HIS COMI KIN! JOHN CABOT FOR PRESIDENT 2016! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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