19 April 2012

How to Renounce US Citizenship, just in case you wondered...

Weird topic, right?

Even weirder, is I never had thought about it, and then twice in the same day it came into my life.  The Huffington Post reported that 1,800 US Citizens living abroad have renounced their citizenship this year... the reason they claim is because of taxes (not really sure how they gathered the information, but I'll go with it.)

It got me thinking, so "WAIT? US CITIZENS dont want to be citizens anymore??!!"  With the very constant topic of immigration reform, the increase in deportations, the tragic stories of families ripped apart, and here we have a case of US Citizens saying "no thanks, don't want that anymore."  Why is this happening?  I'm perplexed.  From the articles I read, it seems that its primarily financially motivated.  I suppose these US Citizens living abroad are content with their life where they are and financially would prefer not to be paying additional taxes that they can't collect on. So... how exactly would one go about, getting rid of US Citizenship?

A friend of mine mentioned to me that its actually REALLY hard to get rid of US Citizenship, like practically impossible! So, I turned to my trusty research companion - Google.  And apparently there is an eHow article on exactly this... How to Get Rid of US Citizenship.  There are "6 simple steps," Great! Let's see...  here we go...

  1. Leave the country - cool fair enough, that makes sense. 
  2. Make an appointment with the US Embassy - got it, seems fair
  3. Sign and Oath of Renunciation freely and voluntarily - ok, this sounds very government-y, sounds reasonable
  4. Join the military of another country - WHAT?  The only listed way to "perform an expatriating act" EXCUSE ME? Are there other options? I don't like choice A, what else is there? 
  5. Take an oath of allegiance to a foreign country - Right, that makes sense, but wait... do I still have to do #4?!?
  6. Commit an act of treason. - Um... did I hear this right?  As if this is not already rediculous enough, here is the ever-so-comforting-clarification: "even though treason is punishable by death: before a traitor is executed, he is formally stripped of U.S. citizenship."  Oh, how convenient. 
There you have it.  In "Six Simple Steps" you can renounce your citizenship... by way of joining the military and committing treason.  Beyond this... one can still be obligated to pay taxes for up to TEN YEARS after completing this process. 

It gets worse, the United States is the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD that does this to its citizens. Excuse me?  The Business Insider reports here... 
"The USA is the only country on the planet that taxes your entire worldwide income, regardless of where you live.  If you’re a US citizen who has lived in Australia for 20 years, you will still have to file taxes and probably pay taxes to the good old USA every year. Japan used to have this policy as well. But they got rid of it several years ago due to the burden it caused its citizens." More here


  1. For foreign-earned income, you do not necessarily have to pay US taxes on it.

    For example, I work for a Mexican company. I have to file taxes every year for my Mexican income, but I do not have to pay taxes on it unless it exceeds some number around $90,000 US.

    Not sure how that works with self-earned income abroad, though.

  2. Another interesting and relevent article