The Associated Press, in what seems like an attempt to write a U.S.-bashing article, notes breathlessly that in 2013, almost 3,000 Americans either renounced their citizenship or terminated their permanent residency in the U.S. Those 3,000 people comprise less than .00001% of American citizens, but AP uses that paltry number to try to impugn America for more than just high taxes. Although AP states, ” …. most are widely assumed to be driven by a desire to avoid paying taxes on hidden wealth,” the very next sentence reads, “The reality, though, is more complicated.”
Just to hammer home the point, the article adds, “But some of those surrendering citizenship say their reasons are as much about life as about taxes, particularly since the U.S. government does not tax Americans abroad on their first $96,600 in yearly income.” According to John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer who advises people on expatriation, the decisions to give up American citizenship “are driven by a whole range of emotional considerations. … You’ve got anger, you’ve got fear, you’ve got a strong sense of indignation. For many of these people, this is not a tax issue at all.”
What are some of the reasons AP delineates as cause for renouncing citizenship?
- Ostensible reason: America is a nation of rampant income inequality. AP cites Norman Heinrichs-Gale, who moved to Austria with his wife and children. Which quote does AP use to illustrate his desire to eschew his American identity? Try this: when he visited America, “I never forget going into a grocery store and just being stunned by my choice of cereals. I was stunned by just the pace of life compared to what we have here, stunned by the extremes of wealth and poverty that I encountered.” Possible real reason: “The family was tired of renewing visas and work permits.”
- Ostensible reason: Racism. Quincy Davis III’s played professional basketball in Europe, then later was offered a job playing for a Taiwanese pro team. What’s the quote AP uses from him? “When you think about who I am as a black guy in the U.S., I didn’t have opportunities. You get discriminated against over there in the South. Here everyone is so nice. They invite you into their homes, they’re so hospitable. … There’s no crime, no guns. I can’t help but love this place.” Possible reason: Wasn’t offered a job playing basketball for enough money in the U.S.
Of course, AP has to acknowledge the obvious: that for most of those people renouncing their U.S. citizenship, the reason is indeed high taxes. The article admits, The government’s pursuit of tax evaders among Americans living abroad is indeed driving the jump in abandoned citizenship, experts say.”
Of course it is; the federal government, with the help of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, is tracking down those who live overseas and do not report their assets to the IRS. That effort is triggering the renunciation of American citizenship by more people. But in order to reflect its anti-American values, AP seizes the isolated few with grudges against the U.S. to attack a country that welcomed more than 7,800 new citizens in July of 2013.