Tax Leads Americans Abroad to Renounce U.S.

PARIS, Dec. 17 — She is a former marine, a native Californian and, now, an ex-American who prefers to remain discreet about abandoning her citizenship. After 10 years of warily considering options, she turned in her United States passport last month without ceremony, becoming an alien in the view of her homeland.

“It’s a really hard thing to do,” said the woman, a 16-year resident of Geneva who had tired of the cost and time of filing yearly United States tax returns on top of her Swiss taxes. “I just kept putting this off. But it’s my kids and the estate tax. I don’t care if I die with only one Swiss franc to my name, but the U.S. shouldn’t get money I earned here when I die.”

Historically, small numbers of Americans have turned in their passports every year for political and economic reasons, with the numbers reaching a high of about 2,000 during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.

But after Congress sharply raised taxes this year for many Americans living abroad, some international tax lawyers say they detect rising demand from citizens to renounce ties with the United States, the only developed country that taxes it citizens while they live overseas. Americans abroad are also taxed in the countries where they live.

“The administrative costs of being an American and living outside the U.S. have gone up dramatically,” said Marnin Michaels, a tax lawyer with Baker & McKenzie in Zurich.

So far this year, the Internal Revenue Service has tallied 509 Americans who have given up their citizenship, said Anthony Burke, an I.R.S. spokesman in Washington. He said complete figures were still being calculated.

Applications to renounce citizenship are on the rise at the American Embassy in Paris, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. At the embassy in London, the number of applications was reported to be fairly stable over the past two years, though it would be hard to spot a recent surge because applications are taking longer to process there than in past years. Neither embassy would disclose exact figures. A spokeswoman for the American Embassy in London, Karen Maxfield, said Americans living abroad usually took the step “because they do not have strong ties to the United States and do not believe that they will ever live there in the future.”

“All have two citizenships and generally say they would like to simplify their lives by giving up a citizenship they are not using,” she said.

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– This article is from the NY Times and they insist that folks have an ID and a PW in order to read their stuff. You can get these for free just by signing up. However, recently, a friend of mine suggested the website bugmenot.com :arrow: as an alternative to having to do these annoying sign ups. Check it out. Thx Bruce S. for the tip.

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