Integrity Legal

9th May 2016

In a recently published article on CNN’s official website it was noted that based upon published data from 2015 the number of renunciations of United States Citizenship appears to be rising:

The number of citizens and long-term residents cutting their official ties to Uncle Sam jumped more than 20% last year to 4,279, according to a CNNMoney analysis of the latest government data.

First, let’s take note of a nuanced facet of this issue that the article quoted above does not delve into: Lawful Permanent Residence. The article used figures which showed the number of those renouncing U.S. Citizenship along with those surrendering their green card. These are two very different legal issues. The renunciation of one’s citizenship results in an inability to obtain a United States passport, enjoy all of the legal benefits of U.S. law, and the an inability to obtain various services at United States Embassies and Consulates abroad, to name just a few things. Lawful Permanent Residents of the USA, aka Green Card holders, presumably have an underlying nationality. Many of those who surrender their green card do so in connection with a return to their native country. The motivations behind citizenship renunciation and green card surrender are often very different.

To some, this renunciation trend is rather alarming. For those Americans who have lived abroad for a significant period of time the information above is unlikely to be a surprise. With recent changes to the laws regarding the reporting of financial information pertaining to Americans residing abroad and the fact that American citizens are supposed to pay taxes on their world wide income the recent increase in renunciations of United States Citizenship does not seem as bizarre as it may seem at first glance as the aforementioned article goes on to elucidate:

Many of those severing links are Americans living overseas who are tired of dealing with complicated tax paperwork, a headache that has worsened since new regulations came into effect…Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, no matter where it’s earned or where they live. For Americans living abroad, that results in a mountain of paperwork so complex that they are often forced to seek professional help…

To be clear, renunciation of United States citizenship is a very serious matter. In this blogger’s personal opinion one should not renounce one’s citizenship unless one has taken a significant period of time to seriously contemplate such an endeavor. In many cases, renunciation of US citizenship could result in new unforeseen tax liability. Meanwhile there are those who are under the impression that they must renounce their citizenship when in fact a renunciation is not required.

If one is thinking of giving up their US citizenship simply for reasons related to taxation, then prior consultation with a tax expert would be wise. Those thinking generally about renouncing their United States Citizenship should consult with a legal professional prior to making any irrevocable decisions as renunciation of one’s citizenship could have dire consequences.


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