The strange vogue in dumping U.S. citizenship

May 11, 2012

In 2005, a CUNY political science professor named Stanley Renshon compared citizenship without emotional attachment to “the civic equivalent of a one-night stand.”

Michele Bachmann’s fling with Switzerland lasted just 53 days – barely two of them public – before she came running back to Uncle Sam. That was right before Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin was found to have called it all off with the U.S, possibly for tax reasons.

Bachmann, who came out as Swiss to Politico on Tuesday, made headlines for deciding to split her allegiances – if only on paper – with a gay-friendly, abortion-happy Western European country. Her temporary Swissness made a farce of her fiery patriotic rhetoric, and added a cosmopolitan edge to her down-home image – an image she was counting on for her constituents to vote her back into office this coming term.

Yesterday, Bachmann declared that she had written to the Swiss government and asked them to withdraw her citizenship, which she’d acquired through her husband, Marcus. “I am and always have been 100% committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America,” she said in a statement. “I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen.”

Bachmann’s decision to become Swiss in the first place was a strange one – not because being a dual national is necessarily a bad thing (full disclosure: I have three passports, including one that is Swiss) but because it raised questions about the image Bachmann cultivated for years. She claimed to be naturalizing for her children’s sake, even though Swiss law does not require her to do so in order for them to acquire their own passports. She also put her eligibility for certain types of security clearance at risk, which isn’t a problem for members of Congress, but could pose complications if she ran for higher office.

That Bachmann reneged upon her decision so quickly also speaks to the troubled relationship Americans have with multiple citizenship. As citizenship scholar Peter Spiro has written, dual citizenship has been a contentious issue throughout U.S. history: In 1849, U.S. diplomat George Bancroft likened dual citizenship to polygamy, and Teddy Roosevelt called it “a self-evident absurdity” in 1915. As recently as 2006, Congress held hearings about the constitutionality of dual and birthright citizenship, during which a number of speakers decried it as unpatriotic.

This isn’t an attitude unique to the U.S, though. Europe’s nationalist movements of the 20th century wreaked havoc on the continent, yet in 1930, the League of Nations upheld the view at the Hague Convention that “it is in the interest of the international community to secure that all members should recognize that every person should have a nationality and should have one nationality only.”

Today, most countries have relaxed such attitudes. But in some places, particularly those with strong conservative or nationalist movements, the sentiment still holds. Despite the global nature of today’s economy, and the prevalence of cross-border cooperation in virtually all aspects of governance, it is still controversial for an individual to hold two passports

New proposed legislation in the Netherlands will require everyone who becomes Dutch to give up their original citizenship and force Dutch nationals who take a second citizenship to automatically lose their Dutch passports. In Egypt, a leading presidential candidate for the Salafi party, Hazem Abu Ismail, was put under immense pressure to withdraw, and was ultimately deemed ineligible to run, because his dead mother was a U.S. citizen. And last week, China Daily reported that lawmakers had spoken publicly about cracking down on dual citizenship by keeping better records. In China, dual citizenship is illegal, even though it’s estimated that over 45 million Chinese citizens live overseas, sometimes acquiring a second passport on the down low.

It’s impossible to know how many people in the world hold multiple citizenship: Roughly 100 countries, including the U.S., recognize dual citizenship in some form, but no one keeps track when citizens become naturalized elsewhere. Many people are eligible for a second passport based on ancestry alone – all Jews, for instance, can claim Israeli citizenship – and some countries even sell citizenship to complete strangers. As Eduardo Saverin shows us, renouncing one’s citizenship is also an option.

This raises questions about what citizenship even means in a globalized world. Does a passport denote a meaningful relationship between a government and an individual anymore? In theory, yes – legally speaking, blood is thicker than fondue. But as we’ve seen this week, the actual strength of Bachmann’s Swiss ties are wobbly at best. And should Michele Bachmann wake up tomorrow and discover a long-lost Iranian grandmother, she’d probably be allowed to take on Iranian citizenship, too, even though the U.S. and the Islamic Republic have been sparring politically for decades.

Recent drone strikes on U.S. citizens in the Middle East further problematize the political meaning of a citizen in an era of transnational crime and war waged by non-state actors. After Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted, civil rights activists pointed out that the U.S.-born al Qaeda member was treated like a common foreign criminal, rather than an American citizen. Did his involvement in un-American activities and his Yemeni nationality somehow dilute his birthright?

To understand the sometimes paradoxical nature of citizenship today, it is helpful to look at the way the concept of citizenship has evolved over time. As Benedict Anderson recounts in his 1983 book Imagined Communities, the entire notion of a nation-state itself is a social construct from a bygone era. Centuries ago, nation-states took over from dynasties, religions and tribes, and in doing so, became the new units with which we measured the world. Citizenship based on blood and locality was a crucial part of building the idea of a country, and it was possible because most people were born, grew up, married, had children and died not too far from where their parents did.

When people did go abroad – as when Marcus Bachmann’s parents left Thurgau for Wisconsin – they typically wouldn’t uproot themselves again a few years later to seek opportunities in Hong Kong or Dubai. They would buy a house, raise their children and assimilate. Our idea of a citizen remains tied to out-of-date lifestyles, even though people move around a lot more than they used to for professional, personal and economic reasons.

Today, people even self-identify as members of communities or countries that they do not technically belong to. Consider lifelong New Yorkers who feel more French than Yankee (Josephine Baker put it best: “j’ai deux amours / mon pays et Paris”) and the large number of undocumented immigrants who have no legal status in the U.S., yet can’t imagine living outside of Arizona.

Bachmann’s transatlantic flip-flop exemplifies how old-fashioned we are in our views about citizenship. Renshon’s analogy about the promiscuous passport holder makes no sense when we can go to sleep in Texas and wake up in Rome. Instead of seeing our countries as spouses or lovers, let us think of them as dear friends – friends with a great number of benefits.

PHOTO: U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann speaks next to Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney during a rally at Crofton Industries in Portsmouth, Virginia, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Makela


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Gee, could we get her to move out of the country? And while she is at it – take Sarah along?

Posted by Robert76 | Report as abusive

Citizenship in the US is le like being bound to a dying animal.

Posted by Blackorpheus | Report as abusive

Bah. I think you nation-free people are trifling opportunists. Michelle Bachman and Eduardo Savarin serve as cases in point. There is such a thing as “allegiance” — and if you don’t regard your US Citizenship as something more than a “dear friend with benefits” — you need to review your moral compass.

Posted by olHarley | Report as abusive

Bah. I think you nation-free people are trifling opportunists. Michelle Bachman and Eduardo Savarin serve as cases in point. There is such a thing as “allegiance” — and if you don’t regard your US Citizenship as something more than a “dear friend with benefits” — you need to review your moral compass.

Posted by olHarley | Report as abusive

This article does a fine job of pointing out the parochial attitude of the US govt and many US people regarding citizenship. For people who left the US, their country of birth, years ago to make new lives elsewhere, the parochial US attitude toward citizenship is creating extreme hardship for those simply trying to live their lives in other countries. People are free to choose their citizenship, yet the US is trying to retain/reclaim/regenerate US citizenship on hundreds of thousands of people who relinquished their US citizenship in order to become full citizens of their country of residence. Why is the US govt doing this? Well, supposedly it was to catch tax evaders and money launderers, but in reality it seems to be so they can apply draconian penalties to middle class people who live, pay taxes and save for their retirement in other countries. Check out the Isaac Brock Society site to see the true impact of this on regular people – not politicians, not millionaires, not tax evaders, not money launderers. Just regular folks.

Posted by Outragec | Report as abusive

The U.S. had the recognition of dual citizenship forced upon in 1986,by the Supreme Court after a citizen successfully argued that there was no intent to give up American citienship while taking on the citizenship of another country. Prior that his decision it was U.S. law that when one secured citizenship in another country that you automatically lost your U.S. citizenship.
Now although the U.S. Congress has been forced to accept dual citizenship it has done so only with the view that it cannot strip you of your prior citizenship or deny you taking on another citizenship. There is another level though at which the U.S. has not accepted dual citizenship and that is at the level of “functionality”.
The U.S. official position on dual citizenship is that while it may have to TOLERATE the existence of a second citizenship as far as your right to hold a competing passport it does not have to accept the existence of a second nationality when it comes to how you live your life.
In other words although a person may have Canadian and U.S. citizenship, it is the U.S. citizenship that counts when it comes to such things as travel. An example is the U.S. prhohibition on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens unless they have State Department permission. A Canadian/U.S. dual citizen may not travel to Cuba because the U.S. citizenship is seen as trumping the Canadian citizenship.
Another area comes in with tax reporting obligations. The U.S. practise of citizenship based taxation trumps the territorial taxation obligations that are the norm in every other country accept North Korea and Eritria.
Basically having dual citizenship with the U.S. is a one way street to second class citizenship in both countries.
Therefore since U.S. citizenship is so restrictive it has become easily apparent that the best thing to do is to drop it.
If there is any doubt as to the fact that the U.S. does not accept dual citizenship in any real way then I will point you to the U.S. citizenship oath which has the following statement of renounciation:

“That I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;”

Posted by Sweetiepie101 | Report as abusive

Maybe nation free is what we have to be if we want to be war free. I believe that the lack of state allegiance is what is needed to eliminate or reduce wars.
We need more people who just want to be able to live a decent and long life and it that means holding more multiple citizeships then so be it.

Posted by Sweetiepie101 | Report as abusive

Switzerland is a prosperous democracy in which citizens are legally required to purchase private health insurance in four official languages. The Swiss enjoy long life expectancies, despite easy access to beer, cannabis, brothels, physician-assisted suicide, and deep-fried-schnitzel fondue. They are also security conscious and selective about who may move there. I’m surprised they let the severely psychologically challenged United States Representative, Ms Bachmann, enter the country, let alone claim citizenship.

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

You are angry at them from getting through the system for being “nation-free” people and calling them opportunists? Really, you people are being snobs. They are working the system, so be it if they find a way. It doesn’t harm you at all so why all the hate.

It has little to do with their moral compasses and more to do adaptable arrogance. You need to hate something, so why not the rich? I love the hypocrisy. [sarcasm] Yeah.. you feel violated because they are not true Americans..sure[/sarcasm].

You people are feeling jealous of Bachman and the FB moron’s success and notoriety more likely.

Posted by johhnybgoood | Report as abusive

This puts a new spin on the old right wing rallying cry “America, love it or leave it.” I guess it has gone to the same grave as “If you get mugged, call a hippie.” I never did understand either sentiment.

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive

As much as Tea Party Republicans hate the way we run this country, it stands to reason that folks like Bachmann would work as Michelle did, to become citizens of some other country.

Posted by SandersKaufman | Report as abusive

What a relief that this tea party lady is NOT a Swiss citizen ! She is deeply old testament American.

Posted by erichheini | Report as abusive

Why people seek dual citizenship is beyond me. There is a tremendous amount of tax paperwork involved each and every year. And you can’t even open a checking account in Europe, unless you drop the US Citizenship.
About 1800 people drop their US citizenship, not because they dislike America but because of all the IRS bureaucratic paperwork. One needs to change the entire tax system to something much simpler.
If I could get Swiss Citizenship I take it any day, and move there. There is no more beautiful country, and privacy and freedom is a thousand better than the over-hype how free this Nation USA is.
We are living in a jail without bars where the government controls your life (including your private life) and the IRS breathes down your neck with a 12 million word Code which no one understands except the best of Tax Attorneys.
Not even CPA’s and Accountants know most of the code.
If she can afford living in Switzerland, more power to her. All else anyone says about her is pure jealousy and envy. Funny how humans have to justify their ignorance.

Posted by DDavid | Report as abusive

Well, some comments just proved for me, the modern “liberals” are simply timid totalitarists like Pol Pot or Hitler. The hystery about Bachmann’s would be dual citizenship shows, they are ready to close the US borders like USSR was if the Obama would succeed: rich people should pay for their liberal leasure not escape for Switzerland!
BTW, a lot of liberals sweared to escape for Canada if conservative would win. This hypocrites never mind conservative could ban dual citizenship.

Posted by Moshe1963 | Report as abusive

The nation-state paradigm is passe’.

National boundary lines are little more than a way for the rich to draw lines around ”their” property and to pen in their livestock.

Posted by DeSwiss | Report as abusive

People flee US citizenship at least partly because a US Passport is treated more as a Certificate of Title than a document of any sort of “privilege”. If you have a second Passport, the US Government does not “own” you as outright.

Once upon a time, Americans were “free” in the sense that they were not treated as chattle. Now the US Government claims that you are subject to its Law and Will wherever you go. The Government not only claims control of its territory but of all its citizens wherever they may be. It owns its People.

At the same time, it hands out citizenship as if it were stick candy without regard to how the receiver will fit into any sort of “Nation” that has ever existed. It is like getting hired by a Corporation. But if you are born here, it is a Corporation you can never quit unless you buy your freedom. This is our new “Corporate State”. You owe it. It owes you nothing. It is your owner.

This is why those of us born here get restless without a second Passport. Why is it difficult for the “poor” ( the bottom 90% by income ) to leave this behind? Once, we welcomed such people from other countries and would not cooperate with foreign States who wanted some claim on our new citizens. Now we insist that every country on the planet cooperate with our own human property claims. This is the moral “wrong”, not wanting to be free.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

Here in Australia 30% of people have more than one citizenship so it isn’t unusual at all. I felt I had an obligation to become a citizen of the country where I was living and working. I felt it was my duty to vote and fully participate in civil society. However, I was born in America and will always be American.

Taxes are a separate issue. America is one of a handful of countries who require their citizens to pay US taxes no matter where that income is earned or that citizen resides. (If I moved back to the States for example I would not be required to pay Australian tax on my income after two years.) Most countries require anyone, citizen or not, to pay tax on income earned in that country. In other words, my tax obligations did not change at all when I took Australian citizenship but would change if I gave up my USA. What worries ex-pats more than taxes are FATCA and FBAR (reporting requirements for US citizens and foreign financial institutions). I try hard to be compliant but it is more and more difficult to keep track of the rules.

I don’t take either of my citizenships lightly or think of them as “friends with benefits”. I feel an allegiance and love for both my home and adopted countries.

Posted by MackieJo | Report as abusive

Perhaps dual citizens are part of the future in which humans see themselves as world citizens rather than part of a system that fosters war

Posted by leekhat | Report as abusive

Something does not make sense why would a US elected govt. official want to have a Swiss citizenship? Something is fishy here, by the way take Sarah Pallin with you as well and a few others in your Tea party.

Posted by politicaljunkie | Report as abusive

That very rich Brazilian suffered from an American boy (the head/founder of Facebook)who wanted to squeeze him out of his part and contribution to the company. Now he got the money and good chunk of the company and all of that, he does not want the IRS this time squeeze him out of his nice stash. It is good to make money here and run somewhere else. even presidential candidates do that.

Posted by OmarMinyawi | Report as abusive

But But But, we have Obama as President, he is the great Messiah, why would anyone want to give up citizenship under his anointed leadership?

Posted by CountryPride | Report as abusive

Of course to be a citizen of any modern nation today does not mean a thing, citizenship is based on locality, language and ethnicity.

Not only the US but most countries on earth are now too big and diverse to have anything like that. And we are not missing much.

The attempt to scale-up that sense of commitment is one of the drivers of the fascist state in Europe. Based on propaganda and on an overgrown sense of their own differences to their neighbors.

Modern happily leave that behind, and for most modern states you are just a number, just a vote more, a welfare recipient or and a source of revenue more. It is a system that you join either you want it or not, by birth. By the way, US is one of the few in the world that considers its citizens as tax-payers regardless to where they live. It is like you are born on Uncle-Sams tax-farm for life. That is why people are getting interested on renouncing US citizenship.

You have your own background and whatever allegiances you have regardless of passport. Of course it is handy to have 2 passports, just ask any European running from war or any individual looking for a better job abroad.

Americans are not given much benefits on joining the group. The arrogance of your government shared by many Americans will push many great people out of the US in order to preserve their wealth and give better prospects to their children.

Posted by jcamargo | Report as abusive

What a wonderful feeling to know she is NOT a Swiss citizen !

Posted by erichheini | Report as abusive

Just a response to DDavid’s post above about not being able to open a checking account in Europe if you aren’t a citizen. I don’t know what the regulations are in other European countries but in Italy you can open bank accounts without being a citizen. In order to get a standard account you must be a resident but I believe there are also options to get non-resident accounts as well. It’s true, though, that there is a ton of paperwork involved related to U.S. taxes, as well as ever-increasing invasive paperwork (declarations related to foreign bank accounts and the new declaration on one of the voting forms asking you to declare your intention to return or never to return to the U.S. if you are living overseas).

Interesting article….

Posted by migarto | Report as abusive


An American citizen can certainly have a bank account in Europe. I don’t understand your comment. I am an American citizen and I live in Europe. Moreover, dual citizenship places no restrictions on bank accounts.

Posted by RoderickB | Report as abusive

I wonder if Michele knows how lucky she is? If Switzerland had the same rules as the US for expatriation, she would have to:

a) book an appointment at the Swiss Embassy (not just write a letter, way too easy!), go through a long process of telling the US consulate how sure you are you really do want to renounce (often split up into several appointments) and pay $450 dollars to renounce.

b) She would need to deal with the tax consequences. As the US taxes its citizens worldwide (and ONLY the US does this except for Eritrea) , she would need to prove she has filed her taxes in the US and Switzerland (paying a double tax if she earns above 95K) for the last 5 years, even though she lives and earns in the US. If her net worth is high enough (it is) she would have to pay an “exit tax”, ie, a hefty percentage of the value of her WORLDWIDE holdings as if she sold them the day before expatriation. Ouch.

c) She would be plastered all over the Swiss media as a “tax evader”, “unpatriotic”, etc. etc. (aka Saverin). How dare she leave Switzerland??? WE OWN YOU FOR LIFE!!!!!

Yes, lucky for her, Switzerland doesn’t behave like the US. In fact… no one else does, except for the above mentioned Eritrea. Amazingly, the US decided to condemn Eritrea (in association with the UN) because of their worldwide taxation policy: only-the-u-s-may-tax-its-citizens-living -abroad-u-s-condemms-use-of-disapora-tax -for-other-countries/

Boggles the mind.

Posted by xpatnhappy | Report as abusive

There have been US ex-patriots for over a century but in a time of war it is too like “rats deserting a sinking ship”.

It also throws another argument behind my suspicion – and I’m not that surprised – that those most eager for the wars of the last ten years probably never expected to have their own lives and fortunes compromised in the least. These were very much “wars lite” and very nearly on automatic.

The complaint in the comments that this country “owns its citizens”, should remember that members of the arm forces don’t have the same legal rights as civilians. They didn’t expect a decade of warfare to pinch them?

It was easy for the conservatives and a lot of the liberals (at the start) to support the wars, but now that the imperial pretensions of a lot of people have met a stone wall, they want to jump ship.

Country Pride. All the presidents tend to be considered someone’s “messiah” You’re surprised Obama is seen as one too? I haven’t believed that kind of political rhetoric since High School over 40 years ago. There is a simple way to figure how popular a president will be. If he raises taxes – he mounts the scaffold. If he lowers them, many people would want to make him a king.

It does seem that the new ex-patriots may be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Only Americans could be so ego-centric to think that their citizenship is SOOOO amazing that anyone who would want another is a traitorous fool. The era of nation-states is coming to an end (none too soon either) and for people that participate in the world, full rights in several districts of it are a must. Essentially every citizen of a EuroZone country is a citizen of all 17, and the other 14 periphery country have special rights in all 31 as well – that’s the future.

Geez, I think something like 30% of American citizens don’t even HAVE passports… way to run from the future!

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

Josephine Baker was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, went to NY after 15 and is therefore not a life long New Yorker. She is also not the best example to use in comparing love of two countries because her life in the US was very rocky.

Posted by Jonta | Report as abusive

Atossa needs to find a good photographer and get a better picture taken.

Posted by DougAnderson | Report as abusive


Posted by SeaWa | Report as abusive

@CDN_Rebel. Are we so arrogant to realize we live in one of the most solid and free countries in the world? Are we so arrogant to see one of the most stable governments in the world? Are we so arrogant to see that we have one of the most solid economies in the world?

Posted by SeaWa | Report as abusive

Stop calling ILLEGAL immigrants “undocumented immigrants”. By that stupid token you seem to claim that they are assimilating to American culture and nothing could be further from the truth. They flaunt their immigration status and want OUR rights without earning them. They are parasitic racist criminals. Screw them and their sympathizers. I never saw dual citizenship a good thing because of the taxes owed to both countries. I think it’s fun to visit but I wouldn’t want to live in many anti-American countries anyway let alone have dual citizenship there through marriage, etc.

Posted by LogicLover | Report as abusive

The right wing have always been fake patriots.

They lie, distort and wrap themselves around the flag while doing it. The simpletons eat it up.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

Those who want to go should be permitted to.

Very few who do so would want to come back, voluntarily. Outside, there is freedom. Inside, take off your shoes and bend over so that some jerk can invade any place he wants without worrying about his security. And throw in your “Insurance Contributions” to pay for it all. And your retirement plans. And just try to find an option for change on the ballot. It ain’t there and has not been for a long, long time.

I would point out that in every country on this planet, the people in league with those running the Government have a great deal of freedom indeed. The test is the freedom of those outside “the system”. Those without power. It is the very definition of “liberty”, which is sprayed liberally all over our currency. The powerful never like those who disagree with them. The measure of a country is what it does to those people.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

usagadfly – You describe most of the countries of the world. The USA is still one of the most free places to live.

Posted by SeaWa | Report as abusive

I am going down with the ship IOUSA!

Posted by minipaws | Report as abusive

What a blow to the American ego, ahem I mean eagle.

Posted by WJL | Report as abusive

Your write that most countries have relaxed their attitudes to dual citizenship – in the western world perhaps. However, throughout Asia, dual nationality is still regarded with suspicion and hostility. Unavailable in China and India, available only until age 22 in Japan. Other countries similarly resistant.

Posted by Lissandreau | Report as abusive

More evidence we need to scrap our 72,000-page tax code and start over. Make sure the 47%+ of households who paid no taxes last year actually start paying too, and stop making all the tax credits “refundable” which enables the bottom 20% to pay a NEGATIVE (-3%) tax rate.

Posted by Delphinus13 | Report as abusive

Correct. Switzerland requires all its citizens to buy health insurance. They don’t love their freedom like we do. Yet somehow their national health is much better than ours. How can this be? Maybe their government and their corporations haven’t yet gotten married yet like in the US.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

Bachman is nice looking and a completely delusional lunatic. But heck, in the US all we care about is the facade.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

Expand your thinking a little. Most african and middle east countries borders were defined by Europe. Maybe they should go back to the Tribal/ Nomad concepts and eliminate the country lines. A very definite mess as far as international commerce and banking but what about all the deaths its causing.

Posted by Slodog | Report as abusive

Much to do with tax evasion – first the coporations and now these one-percenters. Funny thing is – these folks if still alive, will beg to sneak back for better security, when global calamity hits in about 30-40 years.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Any publication that would devote space to several thousand words trying to make sense of anything Michelle Bachmann does or says must be really desperate for filler.

Posted by Art_In_Seattle | Report as abusive

@SeaWa how would you know if you’ve never been anywhere else? America is NOT one of the more free countries in the world — the presence of your security forces is nearly ubiquitous within your boundaries; your govt is so unstable that your national debt rating was downgraded because of it; your economy has had 11 straight quarters of growth, but sub-par by your own standards — and more than half the country thinks the American economy stinks. So yup, I’ll stick with my call of arrogance, a call that your tone backs up quite well.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

gee, i wish i was someone important, so when i did something not important, it would be important

Posted by running | Report as abusive

What’s the big deal?

Corporations are abandoning the US? Aren’t they citizens too?

US citizens that take dual citizenship for work elsewhere are simply taking part in the great large marketplace. Isn’t that what Free Marketers say we should be doing?

Posted by Racetothebotom | Report as abusive

When the average person chooses a neighborhood to live in they do so based on their wants/needs and economic ability. Wealthy people do the same thing except they can afford to survey a Global Neighborhood. This is not surprising. What is surprising are the deteriorating incentives for the best and brightest to come to, or remain in America.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

If you write for Reuters it is a given that you are left wing. Often, however, it is also a given that you are a starry-eyed naive displaying an almost childlike lack of grasp of the complexities of a situation. (Example: Palestinians good; Israelis bad).

Atossa (does she have a big nose or is it the picture?) completely misses the point about US citizenship that is so egregious. US taxes you whether you live in Sheboygan of the South Pole. And if there is no tax treaty between the US and where you live you often end up paying double taxes.

Under the Obama regime this has worsened so that even dual Canadian/US citizens are subject to harassment by the IRS in Canada! The only thing to do is renounce US citizenship. And even that costs you money.

No wonder people are leaving the decadent sinking ship. Not a big deal, however, within 30 years the place will be a laughable backwater peopled with Hispanics, Nigerian taxi drivers (and Obama’s relatives), Arabs, Indian motel owners and greenies in Vermont and Oregon. And the Hollywood and TV elite fawning over a US Chinese president.

The rest of us will have moved on in disgust.

Posted by eleno | Report as abusive

Actually the US does not claim taxes from citizens living abroad unless you earn over about $95,000. Needless to say this is not a large majority. I still have to report earnings, but I pay nothing.
The US has one of the most laid-back approaches to dual-citizenship of anywhere. My son was born in Europe and was instantly given US citizenship even.
I think if more people actually had the life experience of living elsewhere and earning a second passport, the country would not be populated with such a mind bending density of ignorant retards. Even the word “allegiance” is quite creepy, and drips with overtones of fascism and war making. 2 Things the US has yet to actually experience. Have a big war roll through the country and see how strong that belief is afterwards. This is where Europe has a big step in maturity over the US.

Posted by RyanC | Report as abusive

Al-Jazerah — are there now more than 3 cities in the US that can view it? And incidentally, it’s 30% of Americans who HAVE passports! Talk about insular.

Posted by ricotin10 | Report as abusive

Clarity over my comment: “US citizens can’t open a bank account” (It’s not that this applies to all banks but many banks today refuse to open an account to US Citizens.
You’ll have to research the official name, but there is an official Organization in Washington DC which represents all foreign US citizens, it works with both the IRS, The Treasury Dept and Congress.
I just read that more and more complaints are coming in from abroad that US citizens living abroad are denied any bank account due to the NEW “Foreign Bank Reporting Requirement” Foreign Banks are finding it easier to deny bank account to US Citizens than to implement these new regulations.

Sorry I don’t have the links to these, but you should find it if you use search. NYTimes, Reuters, and Wall Street Journal should have interesting articles pertaining to this subject. Or Google US Citizens abroad representative in Washington DC.

Posted by DDavid | Report as abusive

Maybe the people are taking action. Lets see…. Congress approval rating is 13%, growing government intervention into the daily lives of citizens. Just maybe the U.S. isn’t quite what it used to be.

Posted by niblick3 | Report as abusive

Actually the US DOES claim taxes from citizens living abroad as you must file a tax return even if you make a non-taxable level and must report all assets and if not there are draconian penalties far in excess of the asset values. The $95k limit is false in light of the penalties and yes actually many expats make far in excess of this limit and the punitive US taxes make US companies favor foreigners over expats overseas. This has an enormous negative effect on US exports and company image overseas and is costing the US economy hundreds of billions in lost income and jobs in the “homeland”. The Germans are cleaning up at the expense of the US slave state.

Posted by JP007 | Report as abusive

Why is most of this article a political hatchet job on Ms. Bachmann when in fact being married to a Swiss Citizen she has a perfectly normal reason to get dual citizenship and apparently not for tax reasons! Whereas the thrust of the article should be Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin who RENOUNCED (come on Atossa you can say it in the article) his US citizenship not “possibly” for tax reasons but in fact for tax avoidance under the IRS current law since he has assets more than $500k and under current IRS tax law he should be considered a tax cheat having run off the plantation and if the IRS were even handed would be pursued to the ends of the earth.
I cannot fathom the author’s hypocrisy since she holds 3 passports but seems to think others valuing freedom is a strange thing.
I do note the the article would have gotten a lot less interest without Bachmann, whom I guess the press has a symbiotic relationship with. Talk about two weak sisters, the Press and Bachmann while Saverin skates away.

Posted by JP007 | Report as abusive

Excellent article.Americans Living and Working Abroad are estimated to be around 5 to 7 million people. Yes, they do have to do their IRS Report yearly to the USA, and they do have a Earned Income Exclusion of US$92,000.00 and US Tax Credits for the taxes they pay in their countries of residence. The USA and Eritrea are the only Countries in the world that tax its citizens regardless of where they live. All other countries follow a residency based taxation, that is, people people pay taxes where they live and work. Americans Living and Working Abroad are not the same as Americans Living in the USA who hide investments in foreign banks, yet,for some unknown reason they are being placed in the same boat. Now they have to declare all their bank accounts and investments in the country where they reside and work. The great majority still do not know about this requirement, but the penalties for not sending them (FBARS) are so draconian that even the IRS Tax Adviser has protested against this. This is highly unfair to innocent, middle class people who for one reason or another (not to cheat on taxes) are working in a “foreign” country. Needs to be corrected if we want to call the USA a fair Country.

Posted by DistressedMark | Report as abusive

Multiple citizenships give tremendous benefits, and I am not talking about avoiding taxes, as it gives benefits to the multiple states as well.
In the increasingly globalized world, nationalistic single-passport-only states will lose out on the benefits of keeping a connection with families who move abroad, and do business in several countries.

On the personal level, my children have the great fortune of being able to choose where to study/work in the future with no need for a visa in Japan, USA and the EU, since they hold 3 passports(I am a bit jealous of them).

As a US military vet, I have 2 passports, and still file taxes every year for the USA. There is no way that I hide money or dodge taxes in any country. How would that make me or my children any less American?

Posted by forzaazzurri | Report as abusive

I don’t see the issue re Saverin. He was not born an American, he took on citizenship as a teenager following moving to the USA from Brazil.

He has subsequently left the USA with no intentions to live there again. Why should he have to pay a $300M tax bill…

I think most people given that reality would do the same.
Renounce your second nationality for $300M.

Posted by Global_Citizen | Report as abusive

Americans are treated as property of the US Government, no matter where they live. “Republicans” are as bad as “Democrats” on this.

The USA has a larger number of its citizens in prison than any other Government. And it wants more in prison, mostly for seeking pleasure in unapproved ways that do not directly harm anyone else. It thinks of itself as “moral”.

US citizens are not very free, as anyone who has lived outside of the USA other than under US Government auspices as either a Government employee (including military) or a US Government contractor knows. People who do not know this almost always have not experienced life in another country on their own.

The US Government grants great freedom to the wealthy and to corporations. They have no problem evading “capture” if they desire. It is the bottom 90% who are treated just like runaway slaves. They are the ones who need freedom, not the rich.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

Unless I’ve totally misunderstood every history book that has passed through my hands, dumping citizenship for tax reasons is exactly how America started.

Posted by ewilc773 | Report as abusive

As a US citizen who has been paying more taxes in Canada for 40 years I find it very upsetting that now that I am getting older and ready to downsize my home, the IRS wants to tax me on the Capital Gains. As a Canadian you can not write off mortgage interest on your home. In Canada you can not write off interest on your home but you are not taxed on the Capital Gains either. One of the few tax benefits I have as a Canadian, the IRS wants to tax. Yet my home has nothing to do with the US.

I think the US has forgotten what the Boston Tea Party was all about. The US has forgotten that the founders of the country did not think it was fair that King George was finding ways to tax them while they were no longer living in England.

Posted by gwhiteonline | Report as abusive

Most cases of dual citizenship result from marriages or immigration, and it is used mostly for convenience when entering a country. As we all have experienced, the lines are much, much longer for non-citizens when going through customs than for citizens. The other convenience is employment – no need for a work permit/visa when you are already a citizen of the country.

What Savarin did was not for any of the above reasons. It was purely for greed and no moral sense that he owes society for many of the benefits he now enjoys. For example, if Harvard was not treated as a non-profit with $100 millions of donations, grants and subsidies, I wonder if Savarin could have afforded the real market price for a Harvard degree. Plus the ability of Facefook to go public is highly reliant on the stability and regulation the US government ‘tries’ to maintain in its financial markets.

However, Savarin’s behavior is the epitome of how the super rich expect a safe, modern and convenient world without having to pay for its upkeep. With over 1/3 of the world’s wealth held off-shore (Singapore being the chief haven in Asia), the rest of the tax paying public must make up the difference. How many countries would be without any fiscal issues today if that off-shore wealth was taxed as the rest of us.

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

If savarin wants to leave, dont let the door hit him in the behind. i’m sure he could live a very comfortable and safe life in singapore.

Posted by fromthecenter | Report as abusive