American Empire: your citizens are bailing

One of the signs that not all is well in our American Empire is the number of people bailing out of it. My friend Andy Sundberg, who is with American Citizens Abroad has written a great piece on the recent rise in Americans giving up their citizenship. I quote with permission his post in full. [my emphasis are in bold]


By Andy Sundberg, Secretary and Fellow of the Overseas American Academy, Geneva, Switzerland, 1 December 2010.

The IRS has finally revealed the names of the individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship during the second quarter of 2010. Although internal documents show that this information was already available in early August, it was not published in the Federal Register until November 10th.  Could there have been a little bit of nervousness about the possible impact of such news on a tight and contentious Congressional election coming up soon?

In any case, whatever might have been the reason for this unusual publication delay, these latest figures on the number of citizenship renunciations in 2010 are rather impressive.

The 562 renunciations during Q2-2010 are the largest number of such renunciations during an annual Second Quarter since 1997, and are the equivalent of 75% of the total annual renunciations during the entire year in 2009. They are also greater than 100% of the total renunciations for the entire years of 2006, 2007, and 2008!

For those who live overseas, this comes as no big surprise.

The U.S. Government during the last two years has unleashed some of the most harsh, expensive and legally dangerous new rules and regulations for overseas Americans in the private sector that we have ever seen, and from recent articles in the press, it would appear that some of the leaders of the forthcoming 112th Congress have plans to make things even worse next year.

It is interesting to also observe that the waiting list for an interview to formally renounce U.S. citizenship at the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland has grown so large that appointments now stretch far into the Spring of 2012, and this backlog just keeps on growing.

No other major trading nation in the world has ever treated its private sector overseas citizens as badly as the United States does today.  And it is hardly a coincidence that the United States has today the world’s largest and most chronic trade deficit too, currently accumulating at a rate in excess of $1 billion per day.

The United States has not had a positive trade balance in more than thirty-five years, and the cumulative trade deficit over this period now exceeds $7.5 trillion.  This is also the same period that has seen such an enormous growth in the size and complexity of the U.S. Tax Code which has increased from 19,500 pages in 1975 to more than 71,000 pages today. Hidden in this ever morphing compendium of obscurity and complexity are myriad changes that cost ever more time and money for compliance and shove overseas Americans ever farther away from a level playing field in foreign markets.

When he was running for office in the summer of 2008, Barack Obama appeared willing to address this problem head on. He actually promised he would start talking to overseas Americans on a regular basis, he would solicit our inputs to U.S. policy, and he would help get us back on a level playing field all over the world.  What he has actually done, however, since taking office in January 2009, is to pull the rug out from under us ever more abruptly.  We have never before been in such a dire situation as the one we face today, but he stubbornly refuses to tell us why it has to be this way, and how this is supposed to be helping our country.

And, to top this all off, more and more U.S. and foreign banks are now reading the growing numbers of these lethal tax leaves very carefully and concluding that having an overseas U.S. citizen client is probably just not worth the risk of major legal and financial problems that could inevitably arise with the U.S. Government in the future. So more and more of these banks are protecting themselves by simply getting rid of their overseas U.S. citizen customers, and shutting their accounts.

Such folly is simply suicidal for our country. But who cares?  And who is actually responsible for overseeing how the U.S. Government treats its overseas citizens?

Believe it or not, as far as we have been able to determine, there is not a single identifiable individual anywhere in the U.S. Government today, at the legislative or executive level, whose task it is to look at the international competitive situation and evaluate whether the laws and regulations of the United States that apply to overseas Americans help or harm the economy of the United States, help or harm employment at home and abroad, and strengthen or weaken the competitive status of U.S. citizens on the world trade playing fields.

On those very rare occasions when such analyses were actually carried out three decades ago, by both the GAO and the President’s Export Council, they both concluded that these uniquely self-destructive practices of the U.S. Government were harming trade and destroying jobs at home and abroad. This led both of these prestigious entities to recommend ending these harmful practices as soon as possible. Nobody listed then, and numerous new laws and regulations enacted during the subsequent years have only made things worse. The curiosity is not only long gone but it also seems to now have become politically incorrect to even ask such questions any more.

Mighty empires slip on the banana skins of their own hubris.  This is surely a classic example.

What do you think should be done about this?  What are you willing to try to do about this??

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