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Reuters: Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship in droves!

April 17, 2012

On the one hand, for Reuters to run a story headlined “Special Report: Tax time pushes some Americans to take a hike” seems a touch out of character for a mainstream media outlet. Unless they’re highlighting only very, very rich people moving to the Caymans, which they’re not.

Such a negative look at the U.S. tax system. Could the Obama Magic really be wearing so thin?

On the other hand, maybe they’re ignoring the pro-Obama sentiment for a more general anti-American one. As in: “See? America isn’t so great anymore – all its people are leaving!”

But on the other hand:

Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman’s lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards.

Eighteen hundred? That’s it? That’s…what, like 0.0005% of U.S. population?

That’s a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998. It’s also almost eight times more than the number of citizens who renounced in 2008, and more than the total for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

Oh. Well. That is a lot, then. I wonder what prompted it.

… Many say they parted ways with America for tax reasons.

Ah. Well, I’m a little upset about my tax bill today, too, but renouncing my citizenship seems like a slight overreaction.

The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they’re living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April – this year, the deadline is Tuesday – an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS. For them, the deadline is June.

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Office, part of the IRS, released a report in December that details the difficulties of filing taxes from overseas. It cites heavy paperwork, a lack of online filing options and a dearth of local and foreign-language resources.

They say leaving America is about more than money; it’s about privacy and red tape.

So these are people already living overseas, who renounce their citizenship because dealing with the U.S. tax system is just too damned harsh. Note to lawmakers: that’s 1,800 taxpayers we no longer have, and will never have again.

Irony watch: I wonder how many of those people moved overseas in 2000 or 2004, to avoid the Bush presidency?

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