“America’s Berlin Wall”

An interesting story, originally published on The Economist.

We all heard about people crying for American citizenship, but it turns out many people are also eager to renounce their American citizenship:

QUEUES of frustrated foreigners crowd many an American consulate around the world hoping to get into the United States. Less noticed are the heavily taxed American expatriates wanting to get out—by renouncing their citizenship.

The reason? Maybe this could explain:

Along with citizens of North Korea and a few other countries, Americans are taxed based on their citizenship, rather than where they live. So they usually pay twice—to their host country and the Internal Revenue Service.

Want to escape? Not easy:

Congress has erected large barriers to stop them jumping ship. In 1996 it forced people who renounced citizenship to continue paying income taxes for an extra ten years.

And by now in Hong Kong, the consulate office "cannot accept renunciation applications at this time", which I assume would really break some hearts, as:

Because of pending legislation on President Bush’s desk that is expected to become law by June 16th, any American who wants to surrender his passport has only a few days to do so before facing an enormous penalty.

By the way, some comments followed this article are interesting to read as well. I haven’t read all comments (hey, I am a busy PhD…), for example: "The (dis)honourable members of Congress…have seem to conveniently ignored that America is not the only country in the world…" Yes, this is so true.

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One Response to “America’s Berlin Wall”

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