The election of Barack Obama ushered in the era of “Change you can believe in”. For Americans abroad it is has resulted in the need to relinquish U.S. citizenship. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there is a constitutional right to relinquish U.S. citizenship and the 1868 “Right to Expatriate” statute is still on the books, the United States continues to impose barriers to relinquishing U.S. citizenship.
This will be a series of post designed to explain the administration (think Obama administration) and Congressional barriers (think laws) to relinquishing U.S. citizenship.
There are at least three categories of barriers. To be specific there are:
- Financial – Barriers imposed by the cost of relinquishing U.S. citizenship
- Mental – Barriers imposed by a requirement that that the potential renunciant “understand what he/she is renouncing”
- Physical – Barriers imposed by the requirement that the renunciation take place outside the United States and at a U.S. Consulate
Each of these barriers is deserving of a separate post.
Today, we will begin considering the financial barriers to renouncing U.S. citizenship.
To put it simply, it is far from “free” to relinquish the citizenship of the “Land of the Free”.
Although the administrative fee to relinquish U.S. citizenship is on only one (and for many the smallest) component of relinquishing U.S. citizenship, it imposes a barrier for many. The current fee for relinquishing U.S. citizenship is $2350 USD. As Robert Wood has discussed, the United States has the highest relinquishment of citizenship fee in the world. (Check out the comments to his article.) It is reasonable to conclude that the purpose of the fee is to discourage people from exercising their right to expatriate. It is clear, that many people Americans abroad have difficulty affording that fee. See this recent Facebook discussion at Keith Redmond’s American Expatriates group. It’s clear that many families are beginning to include “U.S. citizenship renunciation” in the family budget.
Renunciation Fund – “Put a little love in your heart” – A possible humanitarian gesture …
Next – tax compliance fees and the relinquishment of U.S. citizenship.