Americans Are Giving Up Their Citizenship at Record Rates, but not because of Trump

By 22 February 2017Fortune

According to Fortune, US government statistics show record numbers of people that are renouncing their U.S. citizenship, but not because of president Trump, it’s because of American taxes.

The IRS publishes the names of each American who gives up his or her citizenship. Last year, a record 4,279 people renounced their citizenship. Why are US citizens saying so long to Uncle Sam?

It is not because of president Trump: It’s because of American taxes. A lot of U.S. persons are tired of the hassle and expense of complying with US tax rules. Most of them are U.S. citizens who have been living abroad for a longtime and weren’t even aware they had to file American taxes.


Because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that was supposed to “detect, deter and discourage” tax evasion through offshore bank accounts, foreign banks are required to report whether their clients are U.S. citizens.

Unlike nearly every other country in the world, the U.S. taxes individuals based on their citizenship and not their place of residence. This means that many longtime expats can face reporting and payment obligations. While tax payments to a foreign country can offset U.S. tax obligations, US persons sometimes owe additional taxes based on capital gains related to a their home or other assets.

In addition the penalty for not complying is high. That has caused plenty of consternation among foreign banks, some of which have closed accounts belonging to US citizens as a result.

The regulations also created new filing requirements for individuals with assets overseas and increased fines for missing a tax form. The penalty for failing to file is $10,000 per form. The consequences are even steeper for intentionally not filing a document known as the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, which could result in a fine of $100,000 or 50 percent of what’s in the bank account.

Renounce US citizenship

People get worried and terrified. They don’t want to have anything to do with the IRS and consequently want to renounce their US citizenship.

Many of these Americans living abroad have been paying taxes in the country where they live and may not have bothered filing a U.S. return. Most countries in the world expect you to pay taxes only when you live inside their borders. But two nations —the United States and Eritrea —require its citizens to pay taxes on income while living in other countries.

For example: A Dutch American living in the Netherlands sold his house with a profit. In the Netherlands he was not required to pay taxes on this, but under US tax law he is required to file a tax return and pay taxes.

Renouncing is not cheap or easy

People ask themselves the question: Is my U.S. citizenship worth hundreds or thousands of U.S. dollars? America may be the land of the free, but leaving it isn’t, and neither is it cheap. Those who renounce their citizenship could be subject to an exit tax on all of their assets.

For those who choose to throw in the towel and renounce, even that process is not easy or cheap. Those who want to cut ties must pay back taxes for five years, plus an exit tax in some cases, They then have to make an appointment at the U.S. consulate to formally give up  their citizenship. You have to come clean with the U.S. before you can give up your citizenship, and you can’t put the blame on Trump for this one.

Americans Overseas


Americans Overseas helps Americans living abroad to become US tax compliant in an organised way and avoid unnecessary double taxation. Based on your personal situation, we introduce you to the appropriate US tax advisor in our AOS network. They will make you a tailor-made offer to help with your tax filings. Free of charge and free of any obligations.

  • Doc No

    Isn’t it ironic? Americans fought and detached from Britain due to ridiculous taxation and now Americans are leaving America due to ridiculous taxation.

  • Honesty2012

    Some of us HAVE indeed renounced over Trump and the level of national ignorance that allowed him to succeed during the campaign in the first place.

    • RwG_Dime

      Because a traitorous, lying c*nt was a better alternative? Neither candidate was worthy of office, the whole of America got screwed in this last election. As Doc No pointed out above, we as Americans parted from Britain due to over taxation and yet we’re now the most over taxed nation on earth. I think I’ll just say screw it and move else where. America has lost it’s way.

      • Honesty2012

        Better than a racist sexist ignorant meglomaniac. Buy agreed, neither was a good option. I am lucky to have lived elsewhere virtually mu whole life and have other nationality. This election result was my last straw. I have renounced and just got my expatriation confirmed last week. I am free! Good luck to you!

      • Don Carlin

        “…a traitorous, lying…”
        Surely that applies to both candidates, especially after the Helsinki summit. Anyway, I agree with you, any smart American needs to have an “exit strategy” from the US. After FATCA, it will probably get worse. I’m only half-joking when I tell people that in the future, we Americans will need an exit visa just to go abroad.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    Just another nail in the coffin!

  • Don Carlin

    The very fact that the United States government has an “exit tax” in place proves they know their tax code is overbearing. They already anticipated citizens would want to escape it. The US tax code is by far the most overreaching I’ve encountered. Other countries I may of had a higher tax bracket, but what I needed to declare and ultimately taxed on was less than what I have to declare for the IRS. Ten times so when you are an American living overseas, the 2555 reads like an interrogation.