And yet making that one-way to NZ that much less complicated…
While a small number of Americans hand in their passports each year for political reasons, the new surge in permanent expatriations is mainly because of taxes.
Considering that an estimated 3 million to 6 million Americans reside abroad, the number of renouncements is small. But expatriate organizations say the recent increase reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the way the U.S. government treats its expats and their money: the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that taxes its overseas citizens, subjecting them to taxation in both their country of citizenship and country of residence.
“Their income and wealth are generated largely outside the U.S., so why does the U.S. get a slice of that?” says Phil Hodgen, a California-based international tax attorney who helps Americans in the expatriation process. “More and more people see no long-term benefit to retaining U.S. citizenship.”
Additionally, the U.S. government has implemented tougher rules requiring expatriates to report any foreign bank accounts exceeding $10,000, with stiff financial penalties for noncompliance. “This system is widely perceived as overly complex with multiple opportunities for accidental mistakes, and life-altering penalties for inadvertent failures,” Hodgen says.
These stringent measures were put into place to prevent Americans from stashing undeclared assets in offshore banks, but they also make life increasingly difficult for millions of law-abiding expatriates.
And because the U.S. government requires other countries to abide by its banking and financial rules when dealing with expatriates, Americans living abroad are often denied services because of the increasingly complex legalities and logistics involved in serving U.S. customers. Many U.S. expats report being turned away by banks and other institutions in their countries of residence only because they are American, according to American Citizens Abroad (ACA), a Geneva-based worldwide advocacy group for expatriate U.S. citizens.
“We have become toxic citizens,” says ACA founder Andy Sundberg. …
Relinquishing U.S. citizenship is a fairly simple process: after filling in a few forms, and in some cases, paying an exit tax (based on the applicant’s worldwide income and assets), the former citizen receives his canceled passport in the mail. But the decision can be difficult. “Cutting my ties with America hasn’t been easy,” says Ben, who as a foreigner can now spend only 90 days a year in the U.S. “My family and friends think I am a traitor. But the financial burden was killing me.”