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Record Number Renounce U.S. Citizenship in 2016

Friday, February 10, 2017 18:11
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by Deidre McPhillips, US News:

A record number of individuals renounced their U.S. citizenship or chose to expatriate in 2016, according to data published by the Internal Revenue Service today.

The government agency, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, publishes the names of those individuals in a list each quarter, in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. Before 2011, less than 1,000 individuals chose to expatriate each year, according to the lists published on the Federal Register. More than 2,300 expatriated in the last quarter of 2016 alone, and this year’s total of 5,411 individuals is 26 percent more than last year’s 4,279.

The connection between the list of expatriates and the IRS implies a link to tax policy. The U.S. is one of a very small number of countries that tax based on nationality, not residency, leaving Americans living abroad to face double taxation. “The escalation of offshore penalties over the last 20 years is likely contributing to the increased incidence of expatriation,” according to the tax attorneys at Andrew Mitchel LLC who track the expatriate data on their International Tax Blog.

U.S.-born British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson – who has spoken out against the U.S. tax code, The Guardian reports – appears on this quarter’s list, which was initially released on Wednesday and published online on Thursday.

However, today’s list that covers the last quarter of 2016 – the time period after Donald Trump was elected president – is nearly twice as long as the list from the last quarter of 2015.

Leading up to the U.S. election, a number of high-profile individuals, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and actor Bryan Cranston said, jokingly or otherwise, that they would leave the country if Trump was elected. A number of countries, including Canada and New Zealand, also launched campaigns promoting themselves as destinations for Americans looking to leave the country after the election.

The IRS reports include the names of expatriated individuals for which the Treasury secretary has received information, which is subject to logistical delay, but the annual totals of individuals choosing to expatriate has been steadily rising since 2012.

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