Becoming Unamerican

passportFrom the Financial Times, a trend that the U.S. Government would prefer to keep quiet (so of course we’re featuring it here):

At the US Embassy in London, there is a waiting list that none of the officials likes to discuss. On the list are Americans hoping to give up their citizenship, as they seek shelter from the Internal Revenue Service.

One lawyer fighting for her clients’ right to do so is Suzanne Reisman, a former civil rights campaigner, who is now a private-client lawyer in Mayfair, central London.

“You make a lot of sacrifices when you have to pay US taxes and live outside the country for a long time. But you also make a lot of sacrifices when you give up your passport,” she says.

Having lived in London since 1998, Ms Reisman herself has considered giving up her US passport. But she probably won’t. “I don’t think I want to die in the UK,” she says.

With many executives living away from their countries of origin, the reasons to change citizenship range from clarifying tax status, making it easier to cross borders, particularly in the case of passport holders from emerging markets who find themselves working in countries such as the US for a prolonged period of time, or discovering that over time their allegiances have changed.

While any individual will need to weigh the pros and cons of any change in status, both in terms of the hassle it can entail but also the long-term consequences, it also poses challenges for employers.

The backlog at the US Embassy, where no appointments are available until February, stems from a rise in the number of American expatriates living in the UK who have been seeking to escape paying US tax on their worldwide income and capital gains since the simplification of US tax laws in 2008.

The rules are far less complicated than they were. A one-off exit tax is levied on all income and capital gains – this applies to those holding assets of more than $2m and includes pensions, deferred compensation, unrealised gains from properties and investments and interests in foreign trusts…

[continues in the Financial Times]

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