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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Number of U.S. Expatriates Continues to Soar

Andrew Mitchel reports that the number of individuals renouncing their U.S. citizenship (or terminating their long-term U.S. permanent residency) and expatriating from the U.S. continued to soar in 2011 -- a 16% increase from 2010, and a 671% increase from 2008:


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From Andrew Mitchel's International Tax Blog: In 2011, the total number of expatriates was 1,781, a 16% increase from 2010.... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 3, 2012 5:50:51 AM


I wonder what number of these are "accidential Americans" -- persons born in the US to temporary residents and who have little or no real contact with the US -- who have realised that thanks to FATCA, they are going to be hit with withholding for not filing US tax returns. As an American tax professional living overseas, I come across these folks a lot.

Posted by: Anthony | Feb 3, 2012 5:15:01 AM

1781 out of 312 million is not even a blip on the screen frankly.Must be a slow news day again.

Posted by: Rich K | Feb 3, 2012 6:00:36 AM

There's a story out about James Cameron possibly leaving the US for good. He bought a farm in New Zealand. Others think it's just about making a movie. I continue to wonder about these actors who own islands, do they pay their fair share?

Posted by: Sandy P | Feb 3, 2012 6:07:14 AM

So, 1,781 people renounced U. S. citizenship/residency out of a nation of 300,000,000+.

That's less than 0.001% of the population, so who cares if it's a 600% increase from 2008? It's this sort of statistical trickery that gives statistics a bad name.

Posted by: John Q Liberty | Feb 3, 2012 6:20:49 AM

Isn't there something like 4 million Americans overseas and 200,000 tax returns filed by them. There's a lot more to go to renounce their citizenship if FATCA is the main driver.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 3, 2012 6:45:57 AM

Interesting to note that with all of the hand wringing by liberals about leaving the country if GWB got re-elected, it never came to pass. While when Obama's true colors began to show, the exodous is pretty substantial.

Posted by: Dr. K | Feb 3, 2012 6:47:32 AM

It would also be interesting to know how many are natural born Americans, and how many are merely permanent residents returning to their country of origin (India comes to mind, with its healthier economy).

Posted by: RebeccaH | Feb 3, 2012 7:02:23 AM

We need more US expats- they are the glue to international trade and help countries like China, UK, Germany immensely.

Our tax code treats them like traitors- at at least like morons.

We should have a two to three year tax holiday for expats- the Dems would hate it- no doubt some Romney's would take advantage of it (simple solution- cap it)- but it would encourage twenty- forty year olds to learn international business and open markets for US products.

Posted by: Mastro | Feb 3, 2012 7:13:17 AM

Give me a break. 1500 people. Who cares.

Posted by: Rigorous | Feb 3, 2012 7:24:49 AM

And of course the government is finding a way to make money off of this as well; they just upped the price to a 450 dollar 'fee' to give up your citizenship.

Posted by: Rusty | Feb 3, 2012 7:29:10 AM

If any Republican wins the presidency, combined with a takeover of the Senate by the GOP, my wife and I are going to expat to Vancouver. Seriously.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Feb 3, 2012 7:29:20 AM

I wonder how many of these "ExPats" are professional online poker players that had their livelihoods stolen by an agressive DOJ that wrongly used the Wire-Act and the UIGEA to threaten and ultimately steal millions from off-shore poker providers.

Posted by: Art | Feb 3, 2012 8:26:08 AM

I wonder what number of these are rich "progressives" making their escape from living under the policies they spent their lives advancing.

Posted by: Ed Nutter | Feb 3, 2012 8:44:18 AM

1700/year out of a country of 310 million? As much as I dislike our current administration this is hardly compelling.

Posted by: Kevin | Feb 3, 2012 9:22:15 AM

I wonder what number of these are the smarter rats, seeing the coming Iceberg of Fed, State, City debt, with deficits as far as the eye can see, and jumping off the Titanic while they are still within swiming distance of countries not headed for bankruptcy.

Getting out before the US imposes currency controls and savings and 401K confiscation. If I had a net worth of $50 Million, I'd be living in Lucerne Switzerland with a Cayman Islands passport, and life savings in Liechtenstein banks. If only.....

Posted by: Robert Hanson | Feb 3, 2012 9:38:59 AM

The increase from 2008 is meaningless, as is easily visible from the graph. Better would be to present the averages from the previous decade or two, and see how it compares to that.

Posted by: Rollory | Feb 3, 2012 9:56:12 AM

Well, if military folks were counted as "expats" then we have 150,000 less in Iraq than we did two years ago...

Posted by: Chap | Feb 3, 2012 10:00:37 AM

Unfortunately the referenced report does not tell us what countries these folks are choosing over the U.S. While I understand the urge to go somewhere else as the country continues in the wrong direction, I often wonder: Where would I go? Where would I go that would be better, and likely to remain better, over the long term? I don't want a socialized nation of higher taxes and more government regulation. And I don't want to live in a third-world country. It must be a very short list.

Posted by: OC Domer | Feb 3, 2012 10:01:59 AM

I do think most are folks who live abroad and have a light footprint in USA. But still a bad sign as many more wealthy are not coming or Having their kids take US status.
Never good to lose people.

Posted by: Mark | Feb 3, 2012 10:51:53 AM

In China alone there are probably tens of thousands of Americans working (teaching English, running travel agencies, opening restaurants, etc.). Presumably some number of them have decided to take advantage of the partial exclusion from US income of foreign earned income by US citizens who reside permanently abroad. It's a sad commentary on our times that the land of opportunity these days seems to be China, not the US.

Posted by: Expat in China | Feb 3, 2012 5:10:44 PM

WHAT % leaving America are rich? That's the question. While Obama is intent on running his Green Card lottery, giving citizenship to basically future welfare recips. James Camoron and other rich people move out, that's significant, even if it is 1500 a year. That is a tax base that is gone, FOREVER. No company, no jobs, no taxes, nothing! It's another hole in the dike, slowly leaking water. The rich people aren't moving in, they are moving OUT.

Posted by: Zak | Feb 5, 2012 1:13:14 AM

Number of U.S. Expatriates Continues to Soar

Andrew Mitchel reports that the number of individuals renouncing their U.S. citizenship (or terminating their long-term U.S. permanent residency) and expatriating from the U.S. continued to soar in 2011 -- a 16% increase from 2010, and a 671% increase from 2008:
My first knee jerk reaction to this is: COWARDS.

Posted by: shALEY | Feb 5, 2012 12:04:09 PM

So let's say your 12 months from an ipo that you've been working toward for 10 years?

And you take is $100,000,000.

For $15,000,000 in tax savings, you wouldn't get a cayman passport?

Posted by: Rex | Feb 5, 2012 3:32:28 PM

The real question people are asking is just what they are getting from this government in exchange for there high taxes.

It's a fair question.

Posted by: Rex | Feb 5, 2012 4:12:57 PM