Why Americans Abroad are Giving Up Their Citizenship


“US citizens abroad are being treated more like criminals than ambassadors. And now thousands of Americans are forced to give up their passports with no or little tax return benefit to the US Treasury,” says Elaine Knuth, an American author, who has lived abroad for more than 20 years, most recently in Qatar.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world to tax the income of its citizens based on nationality rather than residency. Citizens who earn below $97,600 annually can claim an exclusion, but the complexity of the tax laws means that most expats need the help of an accountant, a yearly expense that can easily run into thousands even when no tax is owed.

"I went to this US expat meeting, and they warned me about all these fines? Thousands of dollars or even jail time? if I do anything wrong," says Sandy Opravil, an Indiana-born housewife who now lives in Switzerland. "I could become a criminal by mistake. It was presented in such a terrifying way. So I needed to decide who I am and where I live."

Opravil eventually relinquished her US citizenship in February 2014. The bank told us: when your mortgage comes up for renewal, we can't guarantee we'll still be doing business with Americans. "The message was pretty clear, you're in an insecure position. Since I've been here for 30 years and all my ties are here, I decided to renounce my citizenship and live in one country."

It's no wonder that people are seeking to divorce the US government. To address this topic we’ve prepared for International Man readers a free report called The American Expatriation Guide—How to Divorce the US Government. This report will guide you through the process of renunciation in amazing detail. To get a copy, simply log in to the International Man site and then go to the Free Guides & Resources section to download the PDF.

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