While politicians are focused on all the foreigners who want to become Americans, perhaps they should consider all the Americans who are becoming foreigners.
According to the latest data from the Treasury Department, spotted by Andrew Mitchel at the International Tax Blog, a record 3,415 Americans renounced their citizenship in 2014. That was up from the 2,999 in 2013 and more than triple the number for 2012.
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You can read the list of individuals who renounced here.
While some may see taxes as the main reason to flee, that’s only part of the story. The big policy change that’s causing people to give up their American citizenship is FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
It may sound wonky. But the act requires foreign banks to reveal any Americans with accounts over $50,000. Banks that don’t comply could be frozen out of U.S. markets. And Americans overseas—even those who never lived in the U.S. or have a tangential connection here—are now under far more pressure to file detailed tax returns and pay U.S. taxes on their overseas income.
The program was designed to catch more wealthy overseas tax cheats. But one of its unintended consequences is that those Americans are simply giving up on being Americans.