More and more Americans living overseas are renouncing their U.S. citizenship due to tax and banking considerations.
While the number is relatively small, about 502 of the total 5.2 million Americans living abroad saying "See Ya" to their passports during the last quarter of 2009, it was the largest quarterly figure in years and more than twice the total for all 2008, the New York Times reports.
“What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,” says Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva.
“Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.”
American expats often complain that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income.
Plus banking laws are making it harder for expatriates to keep money in U.S. accounts as well as abroad.
“This is not something I did lightly or happily, but I saw no other choice,” says Chicago native Ben, a businessman who became an Australian citizen two years ago and did not want to reveal his last name, according to Time Magazine.
Others are considering following in Ben's footsteps.
“Giving up my U.S. citizenship is a genuine option,” says John, an Ohio native in Switzerland who also didn't want to reveal his last name.
“I am at a breaking point — being American costs me time [and] money, but mostly aggravation.”
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