The Wall Street Journal reports that 2013 has already set a new record for â€œexpatriations,â€ defined as citizens renouncing their citizenship or permanent residents giving back their green cards. The Journal quotes tax lawyer Andrew Mitchel, who found that there have been 2,369 expatriations as of the end of the third quarter; thatâ€™s an increase of 33 percent over all of 2011, the previous record-holder.
Expatriations are typically motivated by a desire to escape taxes, and the move is usually undertaken by Americans already living abroad. There was an uptick in expatriation at the beginning of President Obamaâ€™s first term, which has been attributed both to anticipation of more burdensome taxation policies and to increased tax enforcement against expatriates. Indeed, the Journal notes that those who renounced last year may have done so to avoid a higher capital gains tax, and also points to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which makes it tougher for Americans to hide assets in offshore accounts.
So would you renounce your citizenship just to get out of paying taxes? We put that question to our readers on Facebook, and it proved to be a divisive issue. â€œTo take advantage of the USâ€™s public services, structure and opportunities and then shirk on taxes to me is not right,â€ said one reader, Matt Gardner. But another, Jim Marrion, put family over country: â€œto protect everything that I have worked for to prepare for me and my familyâ€™s future — YES,â€ he wrote.