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Sunday, May 27, 2012

WSJ: New Taxes for 'Renouncers'?

WSJFollowing up on my prior posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal Tax Report, New Taxes for 'Renouncers'?, by Laura Saunders:

On Capitol Hill, there is new interest in connecting taxes and passports. ...

Sens. Schumer and Casey want to change the law to raise the overall penalty on renouncers, unless they can prove they didn't decamp for tax reasons. Those who can't prove otherwise would owe a new 30% tax on all future investment gains earned in the U.S., even though they no longer are citizens and no longer live here. Failure to pay the tax would keep them from re-entering the country.

Will this proposal get traction? Clint Stretch, a veteran tax expert at Deloitte Tax in Washington, doesn't think so. "There's always a tension when the IRS gets involved with affairs usually handled by the State Department, and this does that," he says. Michael Graetz, a law professor at Columbia University and former top Treasury official, hopes the proposal goes nowhere: "This is a good example of bad anecdotes making bad legislation."

A different proposal is further along in the pipeline. It would allow federal officials to revoke or deny passports to delinquent taxpayers who owe the IRS $50,000 or more. The provision passed the Senate in February and is before the House now. Revenues it generates would be used to help fund a highway-transportation bill that extends provisions set to expire on June 30.

The measure comes on the heels of a 2011 Government Accountability Office study [Potential for Using Passport Issuance to Increase Collection of Unpaid Taxes]. ... The GAO report found that for the year it studied—2008—the State Department issued passports to more than 224,000 citizens who owed about $6 billion in tax. ... Mr. Stretch says he thinks this provision has a far better chance of passage than the Schumer-Casey bill. "This is akin to shutting off the cellphone if you don't pay your bill," he says, "and it prevents the IRS from having to send folks with guns and badges to collect the money."

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I would not be shocked if the Schumer-Casey proposed rules become yet another little addition to the federal tax code. We already have laws on the books that punish individuals who exercise their right to renounce citizenship and permanent residence status.

Mr. Schumer may decry the Nazi comparisons all he wants. But, he can’t ignore the facts. The Nazi regime inherited and embraced the exit/ransom taxes in 1930s. Similar exactions were implemented by the Soviet Politburo in 1970s. Schumer’s ideas are pretty similar in substance, form and spirit. Obviously, same goes for his comrade Casey.

Posted by: Igor Krishtul | May 28, 2012 11:34:24 PM