Tag Archives: renounce US citizenship

Canadian citizenship: When citizenship in one country affords rights of access to another country

Part I – Citizenship in the 21st century

In the 20th century few people thought much about citizenship. Few people thought about the value of multiple citizenships.

In the 21st century people think about citizenships. People are beginning to see the value of having more than one citizenship. They are also (because of the awareness (caused by FATCA) of U.S. citizenship taxation) beginning to see the value of NOT being a U.S. citizen. (Interestingly U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is claiming that dual citizenship provides enhanced opportunities for tax evasion.)

When people renounce U.S. citizenship they will experience the following changes:

1. For U.S. immigration purposes they cease to be U.S. citizens and are treated by the United States like all other citizens of their country of citizenship; and

2. For U.S. tax purposes they cease to be “U.S. Persons” and become “nonresident aliens”. (This loss of U.S. citizenship may or may not be a benefit depending on their individual circumstances). The definitions of “U.S. Person” and “nonresident alien” are found in “26 U.S. Code § 7701 – Definitions“.

When citizenship may afford enhanced rights of access to other countries

Those with more than one citizenship will remember situations where citizenship in one country provided benefits that citizenship in another country did not. Sometimes the benefits are mundane (citizens of one country paying less for an entry visa than citizens of another country). Sometimes citizenship is a condition for various kinds of “enhanced entry programs” (think the U.S. Global Entry programs that include NEXUS.) Sometimes the benefits are more substantive (visa free access for citizens of country A and no visa free access for citizens of country B). Sometimes citizenship in one country gives the right to live in other countries (think citizenship in EU countries). Sometimes citizenship in one country gives the right to seek specific employment in other countries (think Canada-US-Mexico TN visas.) Sometimes there are tax advantages (the France U.S. tax treaty affords interesting tax benefits for U.S. citizens living in France). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from extradition requests (civil law countries are reluctant to allow their citizens to be extradited). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from tax enforcement claims from another country (the U.S./Canada tax treaty affords certain protections to individuals based on citizenship status). Sometimes citizenship can protect a person from certain kinds of taxation (Canada’s “Underused Housing Tax” and the BC “Speculation and Vacancy Tax” are recent examples). The point is that citizenship may (and often does) afford benefits that extend beyond the right to live and work in a country. When considering whether to seek various citizenships or renounce various citizenships it is important to think beyond the basic right to live in a country.

Conclusion: ANY change in your citizenship (whether renouncing U.S. citizenship or acquiring an additional citizenship) should consider the issues raised above!!

Part II – What about Canadian citizenship? What do Canadians give up by renouncing U.S. citizenship? What are the reasons (there are many) why Permanent Residents of Canada should naturalize as Canadian citizens?

Because of generous and easy access to the United States, Canadian citizens who renounce U.S. citizenship give up far less than citizens of many other countries. Furthermore, becoming a Canadian citizen affords many privileges vis-a-vis the United States and Canada.

Rather than list the reasons individually I am pleased (with his kind permission) to refer you to a recent post by Los Angeles based immigration lawyer Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq. The post – Six Benefits of Canadian Citizenship for Access to the U.S. Market – is referenced in the following tweet.

The post has its origins in a recent twitter exchange and begins as follows:

Does being a Canadian citizen offer unique benefits of access to the United States market?

This is more-or-less the question I read on twitter from U.S. citizenship renunciation expert John Richardson last week on the last day of 2023.

“Question on @Quora: Is the only real advantage in being a Canadian in accessing the US market, six months visa free stays & a limited range of professions on the TN visa list which also does not lead do a Green Card? No special concessions or fast track ..”

The author provides an excellent, well researched summary. It not only demonstrates why Canadians give up less by renouncing U.S. citizenship but also why Canadian citizenship is valuable to have.

I encourage you to read the complete post here …

https://www.malakoutilaw.com/six-benefits-of-canadian-citizenship-for-access-to-the-u-s-market

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Americans Abroad Aren’t Denouncing Because They Want To. They Are Renouncing Because They Feel They Have To

Introduction/background:

Denunciation of U.S. Citizenship – From the perspective from a U.S. Senator

Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship – From the perspective of a U.S. journalist

It’s hard to have a discussion about why Americans abroad are renouncing U.S. citizenship. There are many different perspectives about renunciation. There is very little “shared reality”. Tax academics (who have the resources to know better), “pensioned intellectuals”, politicians and most journalists see this from a “U.S. resident perspective”. They don’t understand the reality of the lives of Americans abroad. But, Americans abroad are NOT a monolith. The ONLY thing they have in common is that they live outside the United States. Their circumstances vary widely. There is little “shared reality” among Americans abroad of what the issues are. AT the risk of oversimplification, I have attempted to divide “Americans abroad” into four categories (as defined below). The categorization will explain why different groups of “Americans abroad” experience the U.S. extra-territorial tax regime differently.

Hint: Americans abroad aren’t renouncing U.S. citizenship because they want to. They are renouncing U.S. citizenship because they feel they have to.

Politicians, tax academics, “pensioned intellectuals” and many journalists deal in the world of opinions. The opinions they hold are often “myths”. They are not “facts”. They are entitled to their opinions (as misguided and ignorant as they may be). They are NOT entitled to their “facts”.

This post is to describe the facts about how the extra-territorial application of the Internal Revenue Code and the Bank Secrecy Act pressure many Americans abroad to renounce U.S. citizenship. Interestingly a large percentage of those renouncing owe ZERO taxes to the U.S. government. They renounce anyway!

First, a bit of background to the problem – what is the problem and who is affected?

They do NOT meet the test of being “nonresident aliens” under the Internal Revenue Code

As SEAT cofounder, Dr. Laura Snyder explains, in the first of her 16 “working papers” describing the problems of Americans abroad:

The people most affected by the U.S. extraterritorial tax system are not a monolithic group. Some left the United States recently, some left years or decades ago. Some left as adults (some young, some middle-aged, and some retirees), while others left as children (with their families), and some have never lived in the United States (they are U.S. citizens by virtue of the U.S. citizenship of at least one parent). Some intend to live in the United States (again) in the near or distant future, while others do not intend to ever live in the United States (again). Some identify as Americans while others do not. Many are also citizens of the country where they live (dual citizens) while others hold triple or even quadruple citizenships. In referring to this group, there is no one term that sufficiently reflects its full diversity. What unites them is that they do not meet the test of “nonresident alien” under the Internal Revenue Code. Depending upon the context, this series of papers will use terms such as “persons,” “individuals,” “affected individuals,” and “overseas Americans.” The latter term has a drawback, however: it emphasizes connections to the United States while minimizing the important connections that such persons have to the countries and communities where they live.

That said, what divides Americans abroad may be greater than what unites Americans abroad!

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American expats urged to comment on State Dept fee reduction plan by 1st Nov deadline

October 29, 2023 By Helen BurggrafAmerican Expat Financial News Journal

Advocates for fairer tax treatment of American expats by their government, including both the Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad, are urging such expats not to hesitate in posting comments on a U.S. State Department proposal to lower the fee currently charged those seeking to renounce their U.S. citizenships, the deadline for which expires in less than three days. 

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Official Notice Of Proposed Rule Change: To Lower The Cost Of The CLN Issued Upon Renouncing US Citizenship From $2350 To $450

Prologue

October 2, 2023 – Notice of Proposed Rule Change

Okay, it’s official. Here is a link to the proposed rule change which is necessary to reduce the renunciation fee from $2350 to $450. Officially, the fee is NOT a fee to expatriate. Rather it is a fee to issue the “Certificate Of Loss Of. Nationality”. also known as a CLN.

There is a 32. day comment period and I strongly suggest that you DO comment!

I encourage you to read the Notice in. its entirety. But, I note that it includes the following:

In the years since the fee was increased, members of the public have continued to raise concerns about the cost of the fee and the impact of the fee on their ability to renounce their citizenship. While there is no legal requirement for individuals to declare their motivation for renouncing U.S. citizenship, anecdotal evidence suggests that difficulties due at least in part to stricter financial reporting requirements imposed by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Public Law 111–147, on foreign financial institutions with whom U.S. nationals have an account or accounts may well be a factor.

After significant deliberation, taking into account both the affected public’s concerns regarding the cost of the fee and the not insignificant anecdotal evidence regarding the difficulties many U.S. nationals residing abroad are encountering at least in part because of FATCA, the Department has made a policy decision to help alleviate at least the cost burden for those individuals who decide for whatever reason to request CLN services by returning to the below-cost fee of $450. Although the prior fee of $450 represents a fraction of the cost of providing CLN services, this change will better align the fee for CLN services with other fees for services provided to U.S. citizens abroad, including, for example, applications for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, which all are set significantly below cost, even as the costs of providing these services have fluctuated over time.

If you go to the following link you can submit a comment (and even email this to a friend).

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/10/02/2023-21559/schedule-of-fees-for-consular-services-administrative-processing-of-request-for-certificate-of-loss

Here is a pdf version:

Federal Register Schedule of Fees for Consular Services-Administrative Processing of Request for Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN) Fee

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Biden 2024 Green Book: Message To Accidental Americans – Either comply or renounce!

Part I – Summary of post:

The proposals for Americans abroad include:

1. A provision to (and presumption of) heighten enforcement of the 877A exit tax through changes in the Internal Revenue Code

2. A possible “carve out” from the 877A exit tax for certain Americans abroad with limited ties to the United States (under rules prescribed by the Treasury Secretary)

3. NO RELIEF whatsoever from U.S. citizenship taxation and the way that the rules apply to Americans abroad. This assumes a continuation of U.S. citizenship taxation with no evidence of change.

In other words: Either comply or renounce!

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State Department Announces Intention To Reduce Fee To Issue Certificates Of Loss Of Nationality From $2350 To $450

Introduction And General Context

On Friday January 6, 2023 the State Department announced its intention to reduce the administrative fee for issuing CLNs (“Certificates Of Loss Of Nationality”) for US citizenship relinquishments from the current $2350 to $450. Notably in 2015 the State Department increased the fee from $450 to $2350.

The precise language found in the Declaration of Assistant Secretary For Consular Affairs Reena Bitter was:

3. Under 31 U.S.C. 9701, 22 U.S.C. § 4219, and Executive Order 10718, the Department has the authority to establish fees to be charged for official services provided by U.S. embassies and consulates. The Department intends to pursue rulemaking to reduce the fee for processing CLN requests from the current amount of $2350 to the previous fee of $450, as set in 75 FR 36522 on June 28, 2010. The Department will consider any necessary changes to this fee, as appropriate, in a future rulemaking.

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The reduction was announced in conjunction with a lawsuit launched by the Association Of Accidental Americans arguing that the $2350 renunciation fee is unconstitutional. The announcement and general context is described in the article at the American Expat Finance News Journal.

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Those wishing to better understand the lawsuit might be interested in a 2020 podcast I did with the lawyer Marc Zell.

Should you delay your renunciation until the new fee is in effect?

On January 9, 2022 there was a live hearing in Washington, DC exploring issues related to the lawsuit. During the hearing the Judge questioned the State Department lawyer about the plans to reduce the fee from $2350 to $450. It is apparent that:

1. There is no clear date on which the reduced fee will take effect.

2. There is no evidence that those who paid $2350 will be entitled to any kind of refund.

In many countries the waiting list to renounce or relinquish US citizenship continues to be long. Some of those waiting are dangerously close to being “covered expatriates” (based on the net worth test). “Covered expatriates” are generally subject to the 877A expatriation tax rules.

In most cases, those seeking to renounce US citizenship are probably best to avail themselves of the opportunity to renounce regardless of the fee on their renunciation date.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Afroyim v. Rusk – A New Perspective: Do The Specific Rules Of US Citizenship Taxation Result In The Forcible Destruction Of US citizenship?

Prologue

The United States of America is the ONLY country in the world that both:

1. Confers citizenship by birth inside the country; AND

2. Imposes worldwide taxation and regulation based on citizenship.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that:

US citizenship is the world’s only true “taxation-based citizenship”.

Afroyim – Should extending constitutional status to US citizenship be understood as a new gift or exacerbating an old curse?

US Citizenship Stripping Before 1967 – The Significance Of Afroyim

The US government was stripping US citizens of their citizenship if they committed various “expatriating” acts. This was codified in statutes that mandated that certain kinds of conduct would result in the loss of US citizenship. At various times the expatriating conduct included (but was not limited to): naturalizing as a citizen of another country, voting in a foreign election, serving in the armed forces of a foreign country and even marrying a non-citizen.

US Citizenship Stripping After 1967 – Afroyim

The 1967 US Supreme Court decision in Afroyim clarified that Congress lacked the power to strip US citizens (who were born or naturalized in the United States) of their citizenship. The Afroyim ruling clarified that:

1. US citizenship belonged to the citizen and could be lost by the citizen only if the citizen voluntarily relinquished US citizenship by voluntarily committing an expatriating act with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship; and

2. Congress cannot enact laws or engage in practices that result in the forcible destruction of citizenship.

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New Location: John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

John Richardson – Information Session – London, UK – Thursday Oct. 13/22 – 19:30 – 21:30

What: John Richardson informal information and discussion session for those impacted by US extraterritorial overreach

When: Thursday October 13, 2022 – 19:30 – 21:30

Where: Sutton Arms – Wine Room
6 Carthusian Street, London, EC1M 6EB

Cost: No charge for the session. You may wish to purchase a beverage at the location.

How to get there: There is a map at the bottom of the home page of the Sutton Arms Site:

https://www.sutton-arms.co.uk/

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Those Who Renounced US Citizenship Or Abandoned Green Cards NOT Eligible For Biden Pardon

Synopsis

Introduction

On October 6, 2022 President Biden pardoned certain individuals (prospectively and retrospectively) for the simple possession of marijuana (whatever that means). The full text of the pardon is here.

A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana

Acting pursuant to the grant of authority in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the United States, I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1), on or before the date of this proclamation, regardless of whether they have been charged with or prosecuted for this offense on or before the date of this proclamation; and (2) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1); which pardon shall restore to them full political, civil, and other rights.

My intent by this proclamation is to pardon only the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of Federal law or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1), and not any other offenses related to marijuana or other controlled substances. No language herein shall be construed to pardon any person for any other offense, including possession of other controlled substances, whether committed prior, subsequent, or contemporaneous to the pardoned offense of simple possession of marijuana. This pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense.

Pursuant to this proclamation, the Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall administer and effectuate the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible applicants who have been charged or convicted for the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as currently codified at 21 U.S.C. 844 and as previously codified elsewhere in the United States Code, or in violation of D.C. Code 48–904.01(d)(1). The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, is directed to develop and announce application procedures for certificates of pardon and to begin accepting applications in accordance with such procedures as soon as reasonably practicable. The Attorney General, acting through the Pardon Attorney, shall review all properly submitted applications and shall issue certificates of pardon to eligible applicants in due course.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

The Winners

Notably the pardon is available ONLY to those who are “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents”. Clearly a former US citizen who is not a Green Card holder would NOT be eligible.

The Losers

The pardon is NOT AVAILABLE to:

– former US citizens who relinquished their US citizenship

– possibly (depending on interpretation) former lawful permanent residents who abandoned their Green Card

– US Nationals who are NOT US citizens

– non-citizens currently lawfully present in the United Staes under a visa who are NOT current Green Card holders

– current US citizens or lawful permanent residents who were NOT “lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense” (think undocumented aliens)

And to be very clear

Regardless of current status, if one was not legally present in the United States at the time of offense then one is NOT eligible for the pardon. (Think undocumented aliens at the time of the offense.)

Why should the “status” of the person matter when offering this pardon?

An excellent twitter thread from David Bier discusses this issue …

It’s very clear that in 2022 no person should be convicted of a criminal offense for the mere possession of marijuana. The pardon is offered in recognition of that sentiment. Possession of marijuana is simply not conduct which should be deemed to be a criminal offense. Since the conduct should NOT be deemed a criminal offense, why should the pardon be restricted to those who are:

current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents

The ONLY possible explanation is that ONLY “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents” are deserving of fair treatment. Who cares about the rest of them?

Let’s put it this way:

Assuming possession of marijuana should not be a crime, it’s still okay to punish those who are NOT “current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents”.

The pardon should apply prospectively and retrospectively to ANY individual who violates this unreasonable law. Why condition the pardon on status?

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw