Friday, January 10, 2014

US renunciations passed 3,000 in 2013; Number abandoning status likely much higher

The Canadian press seems to be taking increasing notice of US citizenship issues, probably because there are so many persons with US status living and working in Canada and as the US clamps down on its citizens across the globe, the effect is deeply felt here. Patrick Cain has covered these issues before and in his latest article he reviews the murkiness surrounding the renunciation number--it is not by any means a comprehensive view of the number of people shedding their US status:
The FBI data captures only part of the total number of ex-Americans. Some people “relinquish” U.S. citizenship – for example, by taking citizenship in another country while intending to lose U.S. citizenship, then asking the State Department to document the loss. Relinquishing is more attractive for several reasons, not least because it’s free – a renunciation costs $450 US.
As Cain points out, you can FOIA all you want, you won't get a full picture of the exit door. Cain compares this to the Canadian side of things:
Between 2008 and 2012, an average of 172 Canadians renounced their citizenship each year – typically because they want to run for office in a foreign country, join a foreign country’s military or become citizens of a country that doesn’t allow dual citizenship, Citizenship and Immigration spokesperson Mary Jago explained in an e-mail.
As to "wanting to run for office in a foreign country":  a likely rare but politically interesting sub-category. Canada is of course a much smaller country than the US so we can expect the number to be accordingly much more modest, still, here it is just about 5% of the documented US number, and therefore likely a tiny fraction of the whole US picture. I expect that picture to substantially expand again in 2014.


  1. I've read elsewhere that the CBC put Canadian renunciations at 140 per year. Nevertheless, at 9X the population of Canada, Americans are renouncing at twice the rate of Canadians, if there proves to be at least 3000 renunciations this year. Homelanders will tell you that the US attracts more immigrants than what it loses through renunciation/relinquishments, in an effort to dismiss any notion that the US is not the most attractive nation on earth to live in. I believe the actual numbers will be much, much higher and will increase every year, and unless there's a switch to RBT, there will eventually be no more Americans living abroad to speak of.

  2. More likely: the donut effect, with many of the well-resourced better-off indifferent to increased compliance costs and the poor unaffected; those of modest means will be forced out. That is, I think, a great loss in the long term.

  3. Then the homelanders will be right in their notion that all Americans living abroad are rich, lol! What is that, a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'?

  4. Global Financial Integrity just put out a press blasting the RNC for wanting to repeal FATCA.

  5. I understand that they see the law as what it could or ought to be: a tool in the ongoing global fight against tax evasion, and not for what it is, a complex mess of unilateral rules designed by and for the benefit of the US exclusively, and moreover a complex mess that will not stop the really bad actors yet will entrap potentially millions of essentially honest people who do not live or work or earn or spend money in the US and therefore should not be taxed by the US at all. Reading the National Taxpayer Advocate's report would aid in this understanding immeasurably. Also the basic confusion that somehow Rand Paul is blocking treaties that would implement FATCA persists despite its complete inaccuracy. The major, overwhelming problem of the US tax system is its extraterritorial reach over individuals, which is both impractical and unjust. Repealing FATCA would not change that basic feature but it would prevent the US from enforcing it. That leaves us with the enduring problem that the taxpayer advocate notes is a fundamental morale killer and therefore injurious to the system as a whole: the basically honest who are told they must comply with an unjust system will come forward and be punished for past noncompliance and then pay dearly to stay compliant; the bad actors will stay hidden with impunity.

  6. From a different perspective here is Rick Mercer from Tuesday night talking about FATCA.

    It seems rather amazing that Rick Mercer and GFI are discussing they same exact law.

    1. oh wow. thanks for the link. putting it in a new post.