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Expatriates Consider Giving Up Citizenship in Face of Tax Change

[Monday, July 28th, 2014]

A majority of Americans living overseas are considering giving up their citizenship since new tax laws took effect July 1 of this year.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was designed to ensure that financial assets overseas are properly reported to the Internal Revenue Service. But expatriates are largely angry about the tax law enforcement, according to the deVere Group, a financial wealth management group that specializes in dealing with high net worth clients. The group advises 80,000 expatriate clients worldwide.

In July, the deVere Group asked 414 Americans living overseas whether they were considering renouncing their citizenship based on FACTA. Seventy-nine percent said they were considering it or have explored the options. Only 14% said they are not considering it and would not it in the future. Seven percent were unsure.

Number of expats considering jumping ship has jumped 11%

Last November, the deVere Group did the same survey. The number of respondents who said they’d consider giving up their U.S. citizenship then was only 68%.

Nigel Green, the group’s founder and CEO, said, “The 11 per cent jump in the number of Americans who are tempted to sever official ties with the United States highlights how the true scope of FATCA’s adverse effects is now really hitting U.S. citizens who live and/or work overseas.”

He speculated that the increase was at least partly caused by hassles with things like opening bank accounts in the countries where they live, red tape associated with FATCA compliance, and other financial headaches of being an expatriate. In addition, Green said some survey respondents indicated they “felt they were now under suspicion by the IRS, even though there was no question of any wrongdoing or having any taxes owing.”

Americans don’t want to give up citizenship

The U.S. Treasury Department statistics showed that passport relinquishment had risen by 220% from 2012 to 2013. Estimates show that there are 7.6 million Americans living overseas. But Green said his group has found that most expatriate clients do not want to give up their U.S. citizenship. Even when facing burdens like taxes, they are eager to explore their options before deciding on a drastic step like relinquishing U.S. citizenship.

The deVere Group offers financial counseling to clients who want to hang on to U.S. citizenship while still easing any perceived negative personal financial impact of FATCA.

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