Why ‘Accidental Americans’ Are Desperate to Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship #FATCA

For those arguing for citizenship-based taxation, the ongoing US experience with FATCA should provide a note of caution (“found Americans” in contrast to “lost Canadians”):

Ever since the Top Salon opened its doors in 1988, it has done solid business styling hair for the residents of Harkema, in the north-west Netherlands. Yet it might soon be giving its last haircuts. “The bank wants to close my account by January 1,” says the salon owner Annie Brouwer-Hoogsteen, 53, who launched her business when she was just 21. “If they do, we cannot buy supplies, we cannot pay three hairdressers, we cannot do anything.”

Brouwer-Hoogsteen’s business is not failing, and she is not a criminal. Instead, she is being targeted because of her ties to the United States. She received automatic citizenship by being born on U.S. soil, but has no other connection to the country, having left as a baby. Like countless others around the world she is an “Accidental American,” and is now being forced to pay a price for it.

Source: Why ‘Accidental Americans’ Are Desperate to Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship

Analysis | U.S. Expats Can’t Renounce Their Citizenship Fast Enough

The most in-depth article and analysis of the data regarding Americans renouncing their citizenship:

The swearing in of new citizens often makes news in the U.S., especially if it happens in unusual circumstances such as one party’s national convention. Much less reported are the many citizenship renunciations by Americans, and the travails leading up to these life decisions. Almost all those giving up their U.S. nationality are expats. And for each renouncer going through the ordeal, there are countless others thinking about it. Why?

One recent press release in particular has caused quite a stir. It suggested that, after “a steep decline” in recent years, renunciations in the first half of this year soared to 5,816, more than twice as many as gave up their passport in all of 2019. The implication, as reported breathlessly in the American media, was that expats, already fed up with President Donald Trump, finally despaired over his mishandling of Covid-19 and quit. Other factors were cited as merely secondary.

But these renunciation numbers are notoriously flawed. They’re based on a list of names of renouncers published every quarter by the Internal Revenue Service — experts call this a form of “doxxing.” That list lags in time and jumbles data. In reality, most embassies and consulates stopped making renunciation appointments this spring, owing to the pandemic. And the dip in prior years, according to experts, was due to backlogs and underreporting.

By the best estimates (see chart), renunciations have been rising since 2010, when the Obama administration passed the notorious Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), inflicting misery on U.S. expats everywhere. In 2014, the government raised the renunciation fee from $450 to $2,350. Undeterred, expats kept at it. The American bureaucracy then indirectly slowed the pace with red tape in the first three Trump years. But we’re back on trend in 2020.

Now, it may be true that most expats aren’t crazy about Trump. Americans abroad tend to be cosmopolitan professionals, often married to foreigners or following international career paths. Watching their home country in their host nation’s news, or talking about it at local dinner parties, has stopped being fun. The images occasionally evoke a banana republic succumbing to pestilence while arming for civil war.

But that’s clearly not the reason why so many expats have been trying to drop their nationality for the past decade. Instead, as I described last year, it’s the nightmare of American tax and financial reporting, in which any accounts or assets deemed in Washington, D.C. to be “foreign” are automatically suspect, requiring extra disclosures that can be ruinous in time, expense and peace of mind.

The U.S. is almost unique in the world in taxing based on citizenship rather than residency. It’s also uniquely parochial in being unable or unwilling to distinguish between, say, a rich American living stateside and stashing money offshore and, for example, a middle-class American married to a German and teaching elementary school in Berlin. The hell starts with that conflation.

Before 2010 America’s citizen-based taxation didn’t necessarily disrupt the lives of expats like this school teacher. That’s because few expats even knew about the horrendously complex reporting rules or bothered with them. But FATCA required them to make new and redundant disclosures or face the prospect of tens of thousands of dollars in fines or even prison. It also required their foreign banks, brokers and insurers to report on them to the IRS, or face draconian sanctions.

Unsurprisingly, many foreign banks and brokers therefore stopped taking “U.S. persons” or green-card holders as customers. So American expats have increasingly been locked out of retail finance in their host countries.

Worse, the European Union then started passing laws with bureaucratically sublime names such as MiFID II and PRIIPs that imposed new rules on everything from mutual funds to life insurance. This scared the U.S. banks and brokers of American expats living in Europe, so they also started kicking out their customers with foreign addresses. Many Americans overseas are financially marooned.

In their desperation, several have been taking their struggle to the courts. Fabien Lehagre, a French citizen who is also an “accidental American” because he was born in California, wants to invoke the EU’s data-privacy laws to have FATCA declared illegal in Europe. A U.S.-British dual citizen calling herself “Jenny” is trying to crowdfund a legal odyssey to do something similar in the U.K. Another challenge is underway in Canada. Occasionally, there are even small victories.

But on the whole, Americans abroad feel ostracized by their own country. Like their fellow citizens back home, they’re caught up in the tribal clash between Republicans and Democrats. But when it comes to acknowledging the hardship of expats, the Democrats have mostly refused to listen. The GOP has since 2016 called for the abolition of FATCA and citizenship-based taxation in its platform. But the few Republicans who’ve tried to effect change have so far failed.

If the estimated 9 million Americans living abroad were recognized as a political geography, they would rank ahead of 40 states by population. Their ill treatment by the U.S. tax and compliance regime would be headline news, and probably solved in a bipartisan tweak of common sense. But they’re not a bloc. Like much about American democracy, this discrimination seems unfair. And yet, these millions of voices must be heard.

#FATCA Accidental Americans ask US to cut fees for renouncing citizenship

More on FATCA and renunciation fees:

The Accidental Americans Association (AAA) has written a letter to the US Secretary of State, asking the country to reduce the costs of renouncing American citizenship.

Many accidental Americans would like to give up their US citizenship to avoid having tax obligations to a country most have never even lived in. However, the waiver procedure alone costs $2,350 and the final sum could run to thousands of dollars since they also need to pay the Internal Revenue Service any tax obligations from the previous five years.

“$2,350 is an exorbitant sum and does not correspond at all to the real cost of the procedure,” Fabien Lehagre, president of the Accidental Americans Association wrote in the letter addressed to Mike Pompeo.

$2,350 is an exorbitant sum and does not correspond at all to the real cost of the procedure”

According to a recent report by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Executive Office of the President, State Department calculations show the cost of the procedure is just $20.25 per person.

“Therefore, on behalf of the accidental Americans I have been representing around the world for the past five years, I would ask you to kindly instruct your administration to reduce the costs associated with the renunciation procedure drastically, so that accidental Americans can get rid of their unwanted [American] nationality if they so wish,” Lehagre added.

The EU has urged the US to cut the $2,350 (£1,785) bill for renouncing American citizenship, and to simplify tax filing requirements.

The US is the only country aside from Eritrea that taxes non-resident citizens on their global income.

Accidental Americans is the name given to individuals who are citizens of countries other than the United States, but who are deemed also to be a US citizen, by virtue of the fact that they were born there to non-American parents, but typically only discovered this fact recently, as FATCA came into force.

FATCA was passed in 2010 and forces banks wanting to operate in the US to report any assets held by American citizens overseas. While the measure is aimed at tax avoidance, it has created problems for many American expats and dual nationals who have been rejected by retail banks seeking to avoid hassle and risk.

Dutch banks have started freezing the accounts of dozens of ‘accidental’ Americans in the Netherlands because they have failed to provide them with their US tax information numbers (TINs), a requirement under FATCA.

French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire has said that failure to comply with the FATCA TIN requirement is not cause for banks operating in the country to immediately close the accounts of French-American taxpayers. However banks are nervous about what to do.

It is estimated that over 9 million Americans live overseas, not including accidental Americans.

Source: Accidental Americans ask US to cut fees for renouncing citizenship

FATCA: U.S. tax rules raising the stakes for Canadian residents with American citizenship

The ongoing saga of compliance with US tax law and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) following the end of the grace period January 1:

Many Canadian residents with U.S. citizenship could risk fines or the closure of their banking or investment accounts in the coming months if they don’t provide financial institutions with U.S. identification numbers, officials warn.

Experts say that in some cases, financial institutions may close accounts rather than face fines for not providing U.S. social security or taxpayer identification numbers for clients who could be subject to U.S. income tax, such as dual citizens.

That means the stakes are about to get higher for those who haven’t been filing returns and for “accidental Americans” — Canadians with U.S. citizenship (from being born in the U.S. or to an American parent) who did not realize that, as American citizens, they’re obliged to file U.S. tax returns.

The changes won’t affect those who are already filing income tax returns to both Canada and the United States and who already have provided their financial institutions with U.S. identification numbers.Unlike most countries, which levy income tax based on where taxpayers live, the United States requires all those with U.S. citizenship to file income tax returns, regardless of where they live or how much time they’ve spent in the U.S.

The Canada Revenue Agency, not the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, will be enforcing the requirement and levying any fines.

How FACTA works

In 2010, the United States adopted the controversial Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in a bid to curb offshore tax evasion. Under FATCA, financial institutions outside the United States are obliged to search their files for customers who could be subject to U.S. income tax and report information about those accounts.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government negotiated an agreement that tasks the Canada Revenue Agency with collecting that information from financial institutions for the IRS.

In September 2019, the CRA sent 900,000 financial records belonging to Canadian residents to the IRS — nearly a third more than it sent the previous year. The records were for the 2018 tax year.

The arrangement with the IRS included a ‘grace period’ that allowed financial institutions to send on records that were missing valid U.S. social security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) without being fined. That grace period ended Jan. 1.

The CRA says it expects the records it receives from banks, mutual funds, credit unions and other institutions for the 2020 tax year to include that information. Those records will be sent to the IRS in September, 2021.

CRA has authority to fine

If the social security or taxpayer identification number is missing or invalid, the IRS would flag it to the CRA and the CRA would notify the financial institution, which would have 120 days to get the information. The CRA has the authority to levy fines for non-compliance, although it can also exercise discretion. Officials said that there would be an 18-month delay before the CRA issued a notice of non-compliance to a financial institution.

Canada Revenue Agency officials held a meeting Jan. 29 with more than 200 representatives of financial institutions to discuss a proposed guidance document on how they should proceed. Some industry insiders said they expect that guidance, which should be out by the end of March, to say financial institutions can close accounts if they can’t get the information after making reasonable efforts.

No one seems to know how many Canadian residents’ tax files are missing the relevant information. The CRA says it doesn’t know how many files it has transmitted to the IRS without the identifying information and that its compliance efforts are in the early stages.

The CRA and financial institutions are not obliged to inform account holders before their records are shared with the IRS. That means many Canadian account holders may not know that information about their banking or investment accounts is already in the hands of the IRS.

Higher stakes in Canada

Mathieu Labreche, spokesman for the Canadian Bankers Association, said the association is waiting for more information from the CRA before commenting. He said the banks send to the CRA only what Canadian law requires.

Alexandra Jacobs of the Canadian Credit Union Association said the association is working with stakeholders to ensure that credit unions meet their compliance obligations.

Grace Pereira is senior counsel with the BLG law firm in Toronto, specializing in advising investment funds. She said the stakes are higher in Canada than in many other countries.

“We did have the largest number of accounts with missing TINs,” she said. “I think we’re in this lull where we don’t know what is going to happen to those particular account holders.

“I have a lot of empathy for the financial institutions because, at the end of the day, how can they force somebody to get a Taxpayer Identification Number? … Which is essentially sticking up your hand and saying, ‘Yeah, I’ve not been complying for all these years.'”

Kevyn Nightingale, a partner with the accounting firm MNP, said his contacts in financial institutions have told him that they’re already implementing the new rules. He said he expects banks to start refusing to open accounts for those who may be subject to U.S. income tax but who can’t provide a taxpayer identification number.

“The big guys, to my understanding, have not turned people away yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s ultimately where they go because it’s just easier to do that than deal with the hassle of a recalcitrant U.S. taxpayer,” he said.He said some institutions could accept a client while remitting money to the IRS on the account holder’s behalf, said Nightingale.

While income taxes paid in Canada usually wipe out the taxes due in the U.S., Nightingale said the two systems have different provisions and individuals sometimes still end up owing U.S. tax.

“The choice is now down to either lying about your U.S. status to the financial institutions that you deal with or telling the truth,” he said. “If you tell the truth and don’t provide a social security number, you’re either going to have withholding or they simply won’t accept you. If you provide a social security number, then eventually you’re going to get letters from the IRS that will become gradually more and more insistent.

“And if you continue to ignore those, then it may no longer be feasible to enter the United States.”

Nightingale said the IRS has a program for those who didn’t realize they were supposed to file U.S. income tax returns. Under the program, a taxpayer can come back into compliance by filing three years worth of tax returns and six years of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts reports.

Source: U.S. tax rules raising the stakes for Canadian residents with American citizenship

Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

The latest numbers (some debate on Twitter for the reasons):

For the first time in five years, the number of Americans who renounced their citizenship fell slightly in 2017 (5,133) from the previous year (5,411), which had been a record. The total for the first quarter of 2018 was 1,099. In recent years there has been a marked upswing in expatriations, and tax considerations are often at least a part of the equation. Moreover, these published numbers are probably lower than the actual number of those who expatriated. How complete these lists are remains unclear. Despite the official list, many leavers are not counted, and both the IRS and FBI track Americans who renounce

The figures for recent years show an important trend. The total for calendar year 2016 was 5,411, up 26% from 2015, which had 4,279 published expatriates. The 2015 total was 58% more than in 2014. The reasons for renouncing can be family, tax and legal complications, and some renouncers write why they gave up their U.S. citizenship. Expats have long clamored for tax relief. One law motivating some is FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA has been ramped up worldwide, and requiring an annual Form 8938 filing if your foreign assets meet a threshold.

FATCA was enacted in 2010, and over five years, was painstakingly implemented worldwide by the U.S. Treasury Department. In now spans the globe with an unparalleled network of reporting. America requires foreign banks and governments to hand over secret bank data about depositors. Non-U.S. banks and financial institutions around the world must reveal American account details or risk big penalties. Some renounce because of global tax reporting and FATCA. Dual citizenship is not always possible, as this infographic  shows. America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws can be a burden, especially for U.S. persons living abroad. Their American status can make them untouchable by many banks.

Americans living and working abroad must generally report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S., where reporting is based on their worldwide income. A foreign tax credit often does not eliminate double taxes. Moreover, enforcement fears are palpable for the annual foreign bank account reports called FBARs. They carry big civil and even potential criminal penalties. The civil penalties alone can consume the entire balance of an account.

Ironically, even leaving America can be costly. America charges $2,350 to hand in your passport, a fee that is more than twenty times the average of other high-income countries. The U.S. hiked the fee to renounce by 422%, as previously there was a $450 fee to renounce, and no fee to relinquish. Now, there is a $2,350 fee either way. The State Department said raising the fee was about demand and paperwork, but the number of American expatriations kept increasing. Moreover, to exit, one generally must prove 5 years of IRS tax compliance. And getting into IRS compliance can be expensive and worrisome. For some, a reason to get into compliance is to renounce.

However, if you have a net worth greater than $2 million, or have average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $162,000 or more, you can pay an exit tax. It is a capital gain tax, calculated as if you sold your property when you left. A long-term resident giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the exit tax too. Sometimes, planning and valuations can reduce or eliminate the tax, but the tax worry can be real, even for those who will not face it.

Source: Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

Fewer Americans gave up their citizenship in 2017 | New York Post

The latest numbers:

For the first time in five years, the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship decreased in 2017, government records show.

Renunciations for the year fell 5.1 percent, to 5,133 — after a four-year climb to a record 5,411 in 2016, according to the IRS.

But the real story lies in the fourth quarter, when the number of renunciations tumbled 71 percent from the same period in 2016.

While a direct cause for the decline is not known, it was in the fourth quarter that buzz began to build around a tax cut.

Taxes, and the fact that citizens living abroad still owe the IRS, are often cited by those giving up their citizenship as the reason for the move. President Trump signed the tax overhaul bill into law on Dec. 22.

Fewer Americans feel they must employ the life-altering tactics of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, pop star Tina Turner and socialite-songwriter Denise Rich — all of whom cut their US tax liabilities by renouncing their US citizenship.

The departures so angered Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he introduced the Ex-Patriot Act in 2012, aka the Saverin Bill, in an unsuccessful attempt to keep tax dodgers from stepping on US soil again.

Marc J. Strohl of international tax firm Protax Consulting Services, sympathizes with Schumer.

“We have every right to be upset with Americans who walk out of here with millions in their pockets,” Strohl said.

The CPA also noted that since 2010 the number of expatriates exceeded 1,000 in every year but one.

“Most everyone who wanted to leave has already left,” he concluded.

via Fewer Americans gave up their citizenship in 2017 | New York Post

US expat groups vow to continue fight to end citizenship-based tax regime, repeal FATCA

Despite the efforts, too small an interest group, and not domestically-based, to effect change to date:

After the US Senate voted early on Saturday morning to approve a version of a major tax reform bill that failed to include certain fiercely-fought-for changes that would have benefited expatriate Americans, spokespeople for some of the organisations that lobbied on behalf of these changes said they didn’t regard the battle as over – and that in any event, the fight would go on.

They also stressed that much had been achieved in terms of educating Americans at home and abroad to the issues, and organising and building groups that will continue to work for a change. Said Marylouise Serrato, executive director of the American Citizens Abroad, one of the organisations at the centre of the campaign: “Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the awareness and interest in the topic of residency-based/territorial taxation for Americans overseas is the highest its ever been.”

As reported,  the ACA, along with such other organisations as the Republicans Overseas, the Democrats Abroad, Americans for Tax Reform, the Heritage Foundation and a number of American chambers of commerce have fought hard for months to convince US lawmakers to do away with the current US system of citizenship-based taxation.

Some of these and others, including the Campaign to Repeal FATCA, and certain members of Congress such as Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, have been campaigning for the US to get rid of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which has made life difficult for expatriate Americans since it was signed into law by president Obama in 2010.

Saturday’s Senate vote saw 51 Republican lawmakers vote to approve the Senate version of the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and 49 senators – all Democrats – voting against it.  Neither a proposal to replace the current citizenship-based tax regime nor one that would have called for the repeal  of FATCA was included in the version that was passed, even though, as reported, such key lawmakers as the Republican head of the House Ways and Means committee, Kevin Brady, had publicly indicated that Washington officials were taking “seriously” the call for a shift away from the citizenship-based income tax system.

via US expat groups vow to continue fight to end citizenship-based tax regime, repeal FATCA

A potentially historic number of people are giving up their U.S. citizenship – The Washington Post

More on the increasing number of American expats renouncing citizenship for tax reasons (FATCA), not Trump. Again, while the increase is dramatic, still small in relation to the number of expatriates (State department estimates between three and eight million):

It can be difficult to become a U.S. citizen. A lot of people put a large amount of time, effort and money into the process of gaining an American passport or, failing that, the right to permanent residency.

But to some people, U.S. citizenship can apparently be a burden. And it’s a burden that people seem to be shaking off in increasing numbers. This week, the Treasury Department released its quarterly list of individuals who had chosen to “expatriate” — i.e., renounced their U.S. citizenship or gave up their rights to permanent residence.

The list is notable for a couple of reasons. First off, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is on it. This means that Johnson, a dual-national who was born in New York City, has finally renounced his citizenship (as he had long promised he would). Secondly — and far more importantly in the grand scheme of things — the list shows that Johnson is just one of a total 5,411 individuals to expatriate in 2016.

The number of people giving up their U.S. citizenship may in fact be higher. Ryan Dunn, a lawyer with Andrew Mitchel LLC, explained via email that his firm has suspicions that the lists released by Treasury are incomplete. However, this would not change the trend. America is seeing what is likely a historically high level of expatriation. And it seems only likely to rise further.

“Given that we’ve seen year-over-year increases in expatriation since 2012, we speculate that the trend will continue,” Dunn explained.

But why would anyone renounce their citizenship to the United States? Dunn said that in his firm’s experience, it wasn’t usually political. “We have not been contacted by anyone saying that they wanted to give up their citizenship because Trump won the election,” he said. Instead the motivation was simpler: money.

The United States is one of the only countries in the world that requires its citizens and permanent residents to file taxes even when they live abroad. Eritrea is the only other country to have a similar policy. This unusual policy a relic of the Civil War and the Revenue Act of 1862, which called for the taxing of U.S. citizens abroad — in part to punish men who fled the country to avoid joining the Union army.

This is no new policy — Americans abroad have always been covered by federal tax laws. However, things changed in 2010, when the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted. This law essentially requires foreign financial institutions to check whether an account holder is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In some cases, Dunn said, they would ask for proof that the account holder is not a U.S. citizen.

The end result here is that whereas in the past a U.S. citizen abroad might be able to get away with not filing their U.S. taxes, that has become vastly less likely under these new circumstances. In some cases, this can be extremely costly: Johnson was known to have racked up a large U.S. tax bill for the sale of his home in London, even though he had not lived in Britain since he was a small child.

But even for those without Johnson’s wealth, it can be tricky. “FATCA is a dirty word to Americans abroad,” Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor and the author of “At Home in Two Countries: The Past and Future of Dual Citizenship,” explained. “Think lots of extra forms that have to be filed even by citizens who aren’t wealthy by any standard. Americans abroad used to be able to do their taxes just like Americans at home. Now they have to hire expensive accountants.”

Giving up your citizenship isn’t necessarily cheap either. It can take a long time to get an appointment in some places, and the processing fee is around $2,350. More important, Dunn said, was the “exit tax” that some high-earning or high-net-worth individuals have to pay — and also some people who forget to file their forms correctly too. But evidently, for some people it’s worth it. (Green-card holders have a simpler and cheaper process.)

Source: A potentially historic number of people are giving up their U.S. citizenship – The Washington Post

Why Americans are giving up citizenship in record numbers – The Washington Post

Latest data:

And indeed, government statistics show record numbers of people are renouncing their U.S. citizenship. But it’s not Trump that has persuaded them to go. It’s taxes.

The IRS publishes the names of each American who gives up his or her citizenship. The list comes out every three months, and international tax lawyer Andrew Mitchel has tallied them up. In the first quarter of this year, 1,158 people expatriated — more than 10 times the number in the first quarter of 2008, when Mitchel began his count. Last year, a record 4,279 people renounced their citizenship.

Expatriations have grown steadily since 2008 but began to spike in 2013. That timing undermines the theory that Trump is responsible. (Back then, he was busy suing talk-show host and comedian Bill Maher for calling him the spawn of an orangutan.) But the increase dovetails with the implementation of new federal reporting requirements and penalties for assets held overseas by U.S. citizens.

The rules were passed back in 2010 as part of legislation intended to encourage businesses to hire more employees and jump-start the nation’s economic recovery. Attached to the law was a provision called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that was supposed to “detect, deter and discourage” tax evasion through offshore bank accounts.

Source: Why Americans are giving up citizenship in record numbers – The Washington Post

Record Numbers Renounce Their U.S. Citizenship – Forbes

Virtually none of the reporting I have seen situates this increase in the context of the total number of American expatriates. Estimates vary between 2 and 7 million, meaning that the 4,300 expatriations are tiny in relation to the expatriate population, between 0.2 and 0.06 percent.

Notwithstanding this, Victoria Ferauge, whose blog The Franco-American Flophouse I highly recommend for her insightful posts on citizenship issues, notes that the small numbers do not mean that it is unimportant.

For American expatriates affected by FATCA, it is.

More broadly,given the wide attention placed on citizenship renunciation in American media, it appears to strike a chord with many Americans who wonder why any American would voluntarily renounce their citizenship.

The numbers are less important perhaps than the symbolism, and the implications of a more instrumental view of citizenship than American citizenship having an intrinsic value by itself:

Once again, the number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship has gone up, up 560% from its Bush administration high. In 2015, there were approximately 4,300 expatriations according to the published names of individuals who renounced. The name and shame list is published quarterly, with the most recent three-month total being 1,058. That brings the total to 4,279 for 2015.

These numbers seem tiny compared to the influx of immigrants. Yet expatriations have historically been much lower. Moreover, the published list is also incomplete, with many not counted. Surprisingly, no one seems to know exactly how big the real number is, even though the IRS and FBI both track Americans who renounce citizenship. There is no single explanation, though with global tax reporting and FATCA, the list of the individuals who renounce keeps increasing,

(Photo credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

2014 was also a record year with 3,415 published expatriates. The reasons that Americans renouncing citizenship is at an all-time high can be over family, tax and legal complications. Dual citizenship isn’t always possible, as this infographic from MoveHub shows. Some countries make citizens pay a fee to hand in their passport. Some countries have no fee, but America’s $2,350 fee is more than twenty times the average level in other high-income countries.

Source: Record Numbers Renounce Their U.S. Citizenship – Forbes