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Friday, September 27, 2013

The BBC: Why Americans are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

OK, our collective time out is over now.

The lead story today at the BBC's News Magazine is The ex-Americans: Why people are renouncing US citizenship by Tom Geoghegan reporting from Washington, D.C.

Full disclosure:  I am one of those interviewed for the story.  In all honesty this sort of thing scares the hell out of me.  It feels like I'm putting my neck on the block and waiting for Madame Guillotine to fall.

It came down to this for me:  I could go out quietly by simply relinquishing my U.S. passport  (I am so far under the threshold for the U.S. exit tax, it makes me wonder how I will ever retire) or I could stand and fight.  What made me choose the latter?  All the other people who are out there telling their stories, commenting on on-line articles, writing their Congressional representatives and now demonstrating.  If they can be that brave, I said to myself, so can I.

As individuals, we are not much - most of us aren't important or rich or have great connections - but together every little thing we do adds up to something pretty powerful.  The buzzing is now loud enough that Public Radio International, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and now the BBC, are taking notice.

I got an anonymous letter in the mail yesterday from someone facing the very same dilemma that I, you, and so many Americans abroad are struggling with. It was a beautiful letter and I am so grateful to the person who sent it.  This person expressed his/her feelings so poignantly that I read and re-read it several times.

I think the final paragraph will resonate with many of us and so I give you his/her words as an end to today's post:
"I have lived long enough in a foreign land to lose any illusions about another culture being "better."  Different?  Yes.  I still do love America.  I hate the trip but I love being home.  If I had to renounce my American citizenship, I would flood the consulate with my tears."

4 comments:

P. Moore said...

Victoria,
While many people actively post their thoughts on-line, write to government officials, etc., regarding this whole mess, I have to say you and Lynne are getting to real leaders in this fight. Who knows where it all will end, but I think some progress is being made. It takes a lot of effort, however.

The BBC article mentions Mr. Stack's now infamous "myth" piece which was posted on the Treasury's website and reproduced on fsitaxposts.com (http://www.fsitaxposts.com/2013/09/25/myth-vs-fatca-truth-treasurys-effort-combat-offshore-tax-evasion/#comment-291). To me it looks like a sign of desperation in the face of growing criticism.

I think all these efforts are useful and words can get to be pretty powerful.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Pat, One of the great things about this movement is that there isn't really a center - no one leader or organization - just a loose alliance and everyone is doing his or her part.

The goal here (at least in my mind) is not to make the US government mad or to make homeland Americans feel bad.

What I want is an acknowledgment that this law affects millions of regular people all around the world in some pretty ugly ways.

That doesn't mean stopping efforts to combat tax evasion - it just means limiting the collateral damage. I believe there are ways to fix what's wrong here.

But in order to do that we need the US government to LISTEN. If we could talk to each other then we just might be able to come up with something we all can live with.

Just Me said...

Congratulations Victoria, and thanks for being willing to face the exposure. Not an easy decision, I know..

Unfortunately, I fear, that reason will not prevail with America. They have such a hard time adjusting to errors of "good intention" unless some really big organizations and Corporations get behind it like they did when they struck down all the 1099 nonsense that was in Obamacare originally.

That doesn't mean I won't stay in the fight as the mosquito annoyingly debunking the FATCA myths, http://bit.ly/1hb24uO but as I was told, I will have zero consequence in the macro sense, and frankly, they could be right. It is really hard to stop a rising GATCA tsunami which makes no distinction on what it destroys as it roars ashore.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Marvin, I need to send you a copy of Unknown Ambassadors. Give you a much better idea of what one mosquito can do when she is passionate and persistent - two qualities I know you have in spades.