The Escape from America Continues

Recently by Bob Bauman: China in Talks to Build Panama Canal Rival

The latest news reports reconfirm a continuing trend we at the Sovereign Society have observed since our founding in 1997; the most recent U.S. State Department figures for 2010 show the total number of U.S. citizens formally ending their citizenship is rising at double previous rates.

According to one web site, the 2010 figure was 1,485, but Bloomberg News lists 1,534. In both cases, the 2010 figure appears to be about double that for any year since 2003.

We at the Sovereign Society have noted sadly that each year hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and resident aliens have left America to make a new home in other nations, even though most of them do not renounced U.S citizenship. Admittedly, that number pales against the millions clamoring to get into the U.S., legally and otherwise.

But there’s a huge difference in the economic status of these two groups.

Although the current recession has slowed the pace, those seeking admission (or just illegally crossing our borders) are, by and large, poverty stricken persons desperately trying to better their lot with a new life in the Promised Land. They’ll settle for low-paying jobs, welfare, free education for their kids, and U.S. taxpayer subsidized housing and health care.

Those leaving are the wealthy and the talented – those who have had enough, thank you.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., a leading libertarian, speaks for me when he says: “Let’s be clear about something. A person who decides to give up his U.S. citizenship is not guilty of disloyalty to America; quite the opposite. He could very well be more loyal to American principles than the regime is willing to tolerate. It also does not mean that he is giving up hope for liberty; he may have great hope for liberty, in a different way and in a different place.”

Historic Exodus

My friend, whom I have often quoted, John Gaver, who edits the conservative web site Action America looks at this from a different angle: “What these lists fail to show is the vast and increasing numbers of wealthy U.S. citizens who are just ‘dropping out’ – taking all of their wealth and leaving the U.S. without renouncing. They just disappear off the U.S. tax rolls and appear on some other country’s tax rolls.”

Based on data in polls conducted between 2005 and 2007 suggest perhaps 3 million U.S. citizens each year go abroad to live. That number, if true, is a big increase over previous years. Of special interest, the largest number of relocating households is not those with people approaching retirement, but rather those with young adults ranging from 25 to 34 years old., a site maintained by and for people considering giving up U.S. citizenship, points out a number of errors in the State Department figures. They say it safe to assume the figures are higher based on discrepancies.

In 1996 the U.S. State Department began publishing in The Federal Register the names of those who renounce. The figures reflect only completed requests, not pending demands. There are long waiting periods at many U.S. embassies in places such as Paris and London.

For example, currently at the U.S. embassy in Bern, Switzerland, no appointments are available for 18 months until August 2012. These numbers have skyrocketed despite a State Department administrative fee of $450 imposed in July 2010. Renouncing citizenship had previously been free of charge.

Joint IRS-State Department Demands

I have previously explained the onerous 2008 “exit tax” the U.S. Congress and George Bush imposed on those who exercise their constitutional right to end citizenship. The only other countries that imposed a tax on those citizens who sought to expatriate were Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and apartheid South Africa.

Now the ever-vigilant U.S. Internal Revenue Service has joined with the State Department for the first time, linking new and renewable passport applications to the IRS. New forms for renewing a U.S. passport state that as part of the Privacy Act information that data will be provided to the U.S. Treasury and the IRS.

“Your Social Security Number will be provided to Treasury, used in connection with debt collection and checked against lists of persons ineligible or potentially ineligible to receive a US passport, among other unauthorized uses.”

It appears that IRS tax compliance demands are also a major factor in slowing down what the State Department calls the “renunciation” process. For those who want to join the line to “renounce” citizenship, an added complication is a demand for proof that a person is “compliant” with all U.S. taxes concerned.

Reprinted with permission from the Sovereign Society.

Robert E. Bauman is a former Member of the United States House of Representatives from Maryland, (1973–1981). He is also a former federal official and state legislator; Member, Washington, DC Bar; Graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (1964) and the School of Foreign Service (1959), Washington, DC. Robert currently serves as legal counsel for the Sovereign Society.