Monday, May 14, 2012

New renunciation figures: record numbers continue

Tax Day
These suck when you're an expat
Photo by MoneyBlogNewz
The Federal Register has published their USA renunciation figures for the first quarter of 2012 (I use the XML feed. I assume they're the same). Annoyingly, I missed this then it happened a couple of weeks ago because, again, the format of the data has been changed and my software missed it. For 2011, the corresponding number was 499 renunciations listed. For this year, it's only 430, but still a huge increase over the 231 renunciations for the entirety of 2008. I've predicted that 2012 will have a record number of expatriations, so I'm down by about 69 so far, but I don't think I'm going to be too far off. Still, it's an astonishingly high number compared to historical trends.

Interestingly, it turns out that 2011 was not the highest number of renunciations on record. The year 1997 holds the record for the most US renunciations: 1,812. It appears that this is due to many Hong Kong residents giving up their US citizenship at the time Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control because China does not allow dual citizenship.

One of the names on that list of people who have renounced their citizenship is Eduardo Saverin. A Brazilian by birth, he's been an American for a little over a decade, but now lives in Singapore. However, he's also one of the founders of Facebook and Saverin renounced his US citizenship just before the Facebook IPO, a move likely to save him many millions of dollars. Unfortunately, this high-profile case overshadows the many other people who don't live in the US and are tired of being denied bank accounts, being threatened with criminal prosecution by the IRS for not knowing they were required to file Form TD F 90-22.1 with their taxes (which was never widely advertised), or simply fed up with the hassle of paying a couple of thousand dollars to prepare a tax return on which they owe no money.

I certainly can't say why most of the people on the list chose to give up their US citizenship — everything I've read has been idle speculation — but it's interesting to see this trend continue.