No Civilized Country Would Ever Banish Eduardo Saverin

This article appeared today in the American Thinker:  No Civilized Country Would Ever Banish Eduardo Saverin, by Peter W. Dunn

The Ex-Patriot Act introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey is a bill of attainder which would result in cruel and unusual punishment.

Eduardo Saverin’s renunciation of U.S. citizenship has angered many people in the United States.  I write as one who has also relinquished U.S. citizenship.  As a blogger who openly writes about the experience, I’ve attracted some media attention, including an article by Dow Jones columnist Al Lewis.  Lewis starts by saying that I renounced my citizenship to avoid the IRS.  So now, Saverin and I have joined the ranks of the most hated people in America — so much so that Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey want to banish the likes of us from the United States forever.  To that end, they have proposed a new law, the Ex-Patriot Act.  But would such treatment of former citizens be in accordance with the rule of law?  I would like to argue that it would be a bill of attainder, forbidden by the US Constitution.

The late Chief Justice Rehnquist explains a bill of attainder as follows (emphasis mine):

These clauses of the Constitution are not of the broad, general nature of the Due Process Clause, but refer to rather precise legal terms which had a meaning under English law at the time the Constitution was adopted.  A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial.  Such actions were regarded as odious by the framers of the Constitution because it was the traditional role of a court, judging an individual case, to impose punishment.

The United States already has the rarely enforced Reed Amendment, which imposes exile and ten years of taxation on those who expatriate to avoid U.S. taxation.  Senators Bob Casey and Chuck Schumer want to harden this law with the “Ex-Patriot Act”; it will exile any wealthy person who relinquishes citizenship to avoid taxation, and it will single such people out for special treatment as compared to other non-resident aliens.  Here are some of the tax details:

Any ex-pat with either a net worth of over $2 million, or an average income tax liability of at least $148,000 over the last five years, “will be presumed to have renounced their citizenship for tax avoidance purposes.” The ex-pat will have to demonstrate to the IRS that this is not the case if it is not. If there is a “legitimate reason” for that person living outside the U.S. no penalties will apply. But if the IRS finds that someone gave up their passport for tax purposes, they will impose a tax on that individual’s investment gains “no matter where he or she resides.”

The rate of that capital gains tax will be 30 percent — the same that non-resident aliens currently pay on dividends and interest earnings.  The tax detailed [in] this act, if approved, will backdate for 10 years after its approval.

Now the Constitution absolutely prohibits ex post facto laws.  But these illustrious senators also have no grasp of history.  Historically, banishment is a form punishment.  Permanent exile is a vicious and vindictive form of punishment often exacted in lieu of execution.  But what for?  Eduardo Saverin has only exercised a fundamental human right.  Thus, far from committing a crime, he and I have done nothing wrong except to assert our right to leave the United States to avoid extra-territorial tyranny in the form of tax and bank account filing requirements; this is not so different from the thirteen colonies fighting a war against the mother country to avoid taxation without representation and whole host of other abuses.

This Ex-Patriot Act and the Reed Amendment are thus bills of attainder, which apply punishment and the seizure of a person’s of wealth without the benefit of a criminal trial.  Banishment is terrible and inhumane; it is in principle a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which permits no cruel and unusual punishment.  Even Professor Bruce Ackerman at Yale Law, who called for banning Saverin in the LA Times, understands this and would therefore allow an exception for those who would need to visit a family member who is dying or in hospital.

Exile is torture, and torture is universally condemned around the world.  The Ex-Patriot Act would permanently separate persons from their heritage and their families — children from parents, brothers from sisters, nieces and nephews from beloved aunts and uncles.  It tears people away from communities and friends.  Exile would destroy their lives.  It is psychological warfare, condemning people to years of regret, bitterness, and rage.  Saverin is lucky to be originally from Brazil.  But many thousands of those who have relinquished and will relinquish citizenship are citizens by birth and have loved ones still living in the United States.

Exile also punishes those who remain in the country who may never again see their loved one, unless they are able to travel to see him or her in exile.  What if my father, an octogenarian, were to fall sick, and I couldn’t visit him?  Whom are Schumer and Casey punishing now?  Both me and my father.  But it is wrong to punish people without a trial.  This has been the case since laws were first invented.  No truly civilized country ever punishes people without the benefit of a trial and the right to defend themselves before an impartial jury.  This is why bills of attainder are odious.  Schumer and Casey, however, must know that such a punishment could hardly pass the scrutiny of jurisprudence, and so it is better only to allow a hearing rather than bringing criminal charges and requiring the involvement of the Justice Department, grand juries, petite juries, and media attention.  No, let the law declare the expats guilty.  Let the law itself banish them.  I.e., it is indeed a bill of attainder.

The United States must not ban persons who would normally have permission to enter the country lawfully as a visitor or on a visa.  The United States must treat former citizens in the same way as all other people from their country of citizenship.  Other Canadians may visit the United States for up to six months without a visa.  To single out former U.S. citizens for special treatment is vicious and vindictive, and it is not becoming of a constitutional democracy.  I cite the Expatriation Act of 1868, which shows that the United States expects other countries to treat its naturalized citizens with fairness and respect:

And be it further enacted, That all naturalized citizens of the United States, while in foreign states, shall be entitled to, and shall receive from this government, the same protection of persons and property that is accorded to native-born citizens in like situations and circumstances.

The principle of reciprocity requires that the United States treat other nations’ naturalized citizens in the same manner as native-born citizens of their countries.  As the Apostle Paul says, “You then who teach others, will you not teach yourself?”  To punish ex-Americans would also be a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 15, 2): “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”

The problem with many lawmakers in the United States is that they don’t understand the first thing about freedom, justice, or fundamental human rights.  Schumer and Casey are stuck on stupid.  Yet it is not these two senators alone.  This Ex-Patriot Act is different from the Reed Amendment not in kind, but only in severity.  It is demagoguery.  It is an affront to all who cherish liberty.

But should we be surprised?  Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The United States is for now still the most powerful nation in the world; this power has clearly corrupted some of its leaders, who are now drunk with arrogance and pride.  They obviously believe that they are above the Constitution.

Peter W. Dunn is a DIY investor, a scholar of Early Christianity, and a former United States citizen who blogs on the discrimination of United States persons abroad at the Isaac Brock Society under the alias “Petros.”


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88 thoughts on “No Civilized Country Would Ever Banish Eduardo Saverin

  1. Great article – can’t agree more with the conclusions.

    Also can’t wait to read the comments 🙂

  2. “Schumer and Casey are stuck on stupid.”

    You got that right, Peter. Actually you got it all right. It’s a very good article. So far, for the most part, the comments are good too. I particularly like those written by someone called Petros Telos. 😉

    Now I finally understand “bill of attainder” — another plus.

  3. @Em “Petros” is Greek for “Rock”, i.e., Peter. “Telos” means “end” or “goal”. It is a pun on “Dunn”; i.e., “done”–having reached the end. Now the inside joke is out.

  4. I can relate to the “Rock” bit which you will understand from my e-mails. I wondered about the “Telos” but now I get that too.

  5. Thanks for writing this article. Petros. As an American who relinquished U.S. citizenship over 40 years ago, I have been watching the U.S. slip and falter in their attempts to maintain their position. It is never wise to “burn your bridges”. Alienating former citizens is a bad idea.

  6. The US may be the most powerful military force at present, but who pays for it. America’s people pay through because the Republicans want to maintain the same level of military spend and keep the Bush tax cuts.

    You see it everytime you visit the US with the growing number of tired low income people desperate to get out of the US rat race.

    The US believes that it’s better to keep them poor and hungry then it’s easier to management the populous.

  7. Great article, Petros.
    I still hope that, in a near future, the peoples of the democratic nations of the world will remember and restore the principles of freedom and justice on which their countries were founded.

  8. @Petros,

    As always, thank you for being our spokesperson. What else can I say — I respect you and what you’re doing out in the open immensely!

  9. Also this from The Hill…

    Boehner: New law to punish tax-dodgers for renouncing citizenship ‘unnecessary’

    They insist in putting the “Tax Dodger” pejorative in the headline, while no one at “The Hill” knows that is the intention of Saverin. Avoiding Tax complexity, for sure, but “Dodging?” Hard to “dodge” that Exit tax. I think that the broader implication of dodging requires some burden of proof, but never mind.

    Made a quick comment there too. Shutting down, and getting back on the freeway! 🙂

  10. Has anyone seen this yet?

    http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/228139-sen-hatch-tax-code-at-fault-for-facebook-founder-renouncing-citizenship-
    “The root cause of the problem — an archaic tax code and massive tax burden that incentivizes people to do something like this — must be fixed,”
    “Tax reform would not only be a more effective way of discouraging people from emigrating from the United States, but would also ensure that the United States remains competitive in the global economy.”

    Finally someone in Congress understands! Orrin Hatch seems powerful as he is the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee. The most senior Republican senator currently, Richard Lugar, has lost the primary election, so if Orrin Hatch is re-elected, he will become the most senior Republican senator. This means that he will also become President pro tempore of the Senate, if the Republican Party obtains a majority of the Senate in this election.

  11. @Just Me: That Accounting Today article is a big disappointment Cohn seems to have cribbed Schumer’s press release and rearranged a few sentences while keeping all the same basic wording. Right down to the bizarre description of emigrants as “fleeing” the United States and the fallacious argument that the 30% capital gains rate is “in keeping with the rate that is already applied on non-resident aliens for dividends and interest earnings” (NRAs don’t pay cap gains tax).

  12. Wouldn’t it be much more simple to just tax capital gains of US assets held by foreigners? This way, there would be no need for an exit tax, no way for a renunciant to avoid US taxes (and thus no assumption that renunciation was based on tax avoidance), no bill of attainder, no ex post facto law, no exclusion of former citizens, and gains on all US assets would be treated the same way regardless of the status of the owner. And as a bonus, more tax revenue to the US, without the risk of losing foreign investment because most foreign investors can use the US tax paid as a credit to the usually higher taxes in their countries. What is currently happening is that foreign investors pay the entire tax on capital gains to their country of residence, while the US doesn’t excercise its right to tax income generated in the US. Why can’t Congress see this?

  13. Could Accounting Today perhaps have a vested interest in keeping tax laws too complex and penalties too draconian for average people to do their own taxes and accounting? Considering who would subscribe and who advertises on their site?

  14. @Shadow: “Wouldn’t it be much more simple to just tax capital gains of US assets held by foreigners?”

    Your “as a bonus, more tax revenue to the US” is a clue to the problem here. For the US to gain, someone else must lose. That would be either the investor, or the investor’s government. Many, many countries don’t have a capital gains tax. Or have allowances that minimize them (the UK, for example, allows the first £10k or so of annual capital gains before CGT kicks in). Such a move would make US capital markets very unattractive to many foreigners. And the US relies on foreign money to keep it afloat.

  15. @Watcher: “And the US relies on foreign money to keep it afloat.”
    So isn’t it ironic that they penalize Americans abroad who earn money which they often sink into US investments, send money to the US, and would happily repatriate their foreign funds if they wanted to come back? Ironic that they only encourage the flight of US talent by taxing business income when it is repatriated, although apparently many countries do that. You’d think they would recognize the value of welcoming people and their money into the US, where most of their money is likely to be spent and invested.

  16. “The United States must not ban persons who would normally have permission to enter the country lawfully as a visitor or on a visa. The United States must treat former citizens in the same way as all other people from their country of citizenship.”

    When you sever your connection to the United States giving up your citizenship you lose the automatic right to re-enter the country, your permission is now completely up to the desire and whim of the US Government. I don’t think any of you would agree to removing the ability of your new home country’s to prevent someone from entering would you? Then why are you so upset about the US Government’s desire to control our borders?

    I totally agree the law is draconian and extremely harsh, but I also think there should be consequences to actions, so the US isn’t right for you and you’ve made your life elsewhere that is completely fine, but don’t expect to have your cake and eat it too.

  17. and therefore anyone who has emigrated to the USA is now banned from their native land…

  18. Is the 30% tax on capital gains proposed in this new bill limited to U.S. sourced income, or does it apply to all gains that a renunciant earns regardless of the source?

  19. @WhoaIt’sSteve
    ‘but I also think there should be consequences to actions, so the US isn’t right for you……,but don’t expect to have your cake and eat it too’
    Based on that comment, your belief must be that if an individual happens to establish roots in another country (might have married someone while sojourning in that country), then it is okay if the consequences are they can never return to the country of their birth. Isn’t that a bit narcissistic in attitude?

    I married a Canadian, had four children here in Canada, contributed to Canadian society, paid taxes here, voted here – so I should never be allowed to return to the U.S. Expecting to be allowed to return to US for visits to family, is not in my opinion asking for the right to have my cake and eat it too.

  20. and therefore banned from spending $$ in the US.

    How backwards can a (punitive) law be? How disliked does the US want to be?

    Stuck on stupid is correct.

  21. @Whoa: “…but don’t expect to have your cake and eat it too.”

    Interesting comment. Thanks for making it.

    I don’t think renunciants are looking for, or should expect, special treatment here. No automatic right to enter. Just the same treatment as any other non-citizen. Apply for a visa, that sort of thing.

    No matter if it’s cruel, draconian, or even downright mediaeval, the US can of course deny entry to anyone. For any reason. Or even for no reason. But using the threat of an automatic entry bar, where it would not otherwise exist, as a barrier to expatriation is where this borders on the unconstitutional.

    In any case, the Reed Amendment is actually a relatively empty threat for many. Folk who have decided to leave the US will often genuinely not care if they never return. And ironically, it may even spur more expatriations. To stay connected, rather than leave individually expatriates will be motivated to move their whole families, taking perhaps multiple generations with them as they go.

    It’s a bit mysterious that the country should have to protect itself from people who might, you know, come back and start another successful company in the US. But hey, think of the children.

  22. I left posts, but under another name…
    Thank you Petros.
    @Steve, George Bush’s 2008 introduction of the exit tax removed the restrictions former US citizens had on the length of time they could spend visiting the US, putting them on equal footing with the countrymen of their adopted countries. This is just spiteful and mean.

  23. @WhoaIt’sSteve Suppose Canada exiled the following list of celebrities, who have moved to the United States and some of whom have likely taken up US citizenship (I don’t know which ones): William Shatner, Steve Nash, Pamela Anderson, Jim Carey, and Wayne Gretzky. These people owe everything that they are to our education system, our health system, our roads, our military that protected them in their childhood, our RCMP, and yet in the citizenship oath of the United States, they must repudiated Canada (any of them who became American, that is). It is only fair to ban them forever from Canada because they now pay taxes to and live in the US? Right?

    What? That would make us extremely vindictive, petty, cruel and uncivilized to ban them from ever entering Canada again? Really? Who’da thunk?

  24. @Watcher, I guess I exaggerated when I said that most foreigners could use the US tax paid on capital gains as a tax credit to their countries. I did a little research and I found out that tax rates on capital gains vary widely around the world. Some countries don’t tax capital gains at all (Singapore), some don’t tax them if they are from foreign sources (Costa Rica), some tax them at rates lower than regular income (most of Europe), some tax them at rates higher than regular income (Mexico), some tax them only from residents (United States, Brazil), some tax them at higher rates for non-residents (Russia). And many countries have exemptions, as you mentioned. My conclusion is that there is no consensus regarding how to tax capital gains, so there is a valid reason for the US not to tax them from foreigners. Nevertheless, I think that the current exit tax is more than enough to ensure that renunciants pay the tax on capital gains they accumulate while US citizens. The new proposal is unnecessary, and taxes should not be a reason to ban entry into the country.

    @Titus, according to the summary of the bill, it “only taxes capital gains earned in the USA following the date of enactment”.
    http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Newsroom/record.cfm?id=336808

  25. Sometime in the last 50 years American Exceptionalism turned into American Entrapment.

  26. @Petros I would not begrudge Canada for applying consequences to an action that is viewed to be adverse to the nation’s ongoing viability. I empathize with all of you all’s plight, I think taxing foreign incomes is wrong, so is requiring complex forms, and not creating simple, accessible, online methods to file if we wish to keep the seemingly onerous requirement that American’s file an annual return. But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.

  27. @WhoaIt’sSteve I’m not looking for special treatment. I’m looking for the same treatment as any other UK citizen. As a dual citizen, I don’t understand why people think my US citizenship should be more important to me than my UK citizenship. Congress and the IRS are effectively telling us we have to choose (and honestly, I wish they would just come out and admit this rather than making life impossible as an expat!) and as a permanent UK resident, UK wins.

    I’m lucky in that I no longer have any ties to the US so if I am barred from re-entry, really it’s the US that loses out as I’ll just take my tourist money elsewhere. However, why should my UK born and bred children be denied entry to the US if they decide to only retain the citizenship of their homeland? I’d genuinely be interested in your response…

  28. @bubblebustin, I forgot about this detail. The current exit tax is probably more fair than the previous system because currently the renunciant is treated like any other foreigner right from the day of renunciation. The new proposal is trying to change create a distinction again.

  29. @WhoaIt’sSteve
    ‘But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy’.
    Prior to my marriage to my late Canadian born husband, we needed to make a decision on where we would settle. For a variety of reasons (not the least of which was my husband was working on his C.G.A. degree in Toronto), we made the decision to settle in Toronto. After all, I had already attended University there and loved the city. Then life started to happen – the usual things, children, school, difficult to move the kids etc. So we stayed in Canada. Eventually, I became a citizen of Canada because I wanted to fully participate in Canadian society ie the right to vote. After all, I had been brought up in an American family where the ‘right to vote’ was considered a priviledge.
    According to your statement re the best place for an American is in the U.S., I must have made a wrong decision.
    I really don’t believe any of my three sons would look upon it that way. And now that I think about it, I don’t believe any of my siblings (all living in the U.S.) would think that I had made the wrong decision.

  30. WhoaIt’sSteve said: “But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.”

    My husband is an American and I am his foreign (Indian) spouse. Funny thing I was just telling him a few hours ago how lucky we are that we live in Canada and not the United States. I said if we were in the US we’d probably have lost our house by now.

    In Canada he has a good and secure job which allows us to keep our house on a single income. Most of my business is export and my customers are Americans. If we had to rely on my income to survive we’d be living on the streets.

  31. @Scotgirl, so far at least, the Reed Amendment is only for “covered” expatriates. That is, folk with >$2MM or so in the bank. Are your UK born and bred children already in a position to be “covered” expatriates? (They wish!) Or are you just extrapolating what you think congress will come up with next?

  32. Whoa said, “But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.”

    You can’t be serious? You don’t really believe that Americans should really never want to live in other countries. Have you ever visited other countries? Do you know that there are many wonderful places in the world where people can choose to live? I mean, I think it’s like talking to a brick wall sometimes. You can try reductio ad absurdum arguments, like saying Canada should ban Wayne Gretzky–we would never in 100 billion years ever do anything even close to that stupid–and you come back and say Americans should stay in America. It’s like my reductio arguments aren’t even close to as absurd as the True Blue American who comments on this blog. Earlier I suggested that being an American is a mental disease. You should get a psychological examination.

  33. @ Watcher. Ha, ha, ha, I wish! No, my children wouldn’t be covered expats in any case as they are part of that group with two citizenships at birth. I’m just responding to Whoa’s consequences to actions because I’m not sure he/she is aware that the US is a completely foreign country to some US citizens.

  34. @Petros, I don’t know that any of these people have found the necessity to renounce their mother citizenships, as no other country forces their citizens to carry this kind of burden.
    @Steve, once again you’ve proven that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Should be the US congress’s motto right after “ready, shoot, aim”.

  35. Although, the two citizenships at birth is part of the exit tax, wonder if it applies to Reed as well…

  36. @Steve, you are a comic. Have you ever lived outside of the US? If I had to take my wife to the US, I would also have to take her mother, who watches our son when we are working. Oh, and the “helper” because she also helps out with our son as well. You can’t trust just anybody nowadays to help with kids.

    That’s 1-2-3 visas besides my passport and my kids’s passport (which he doesn’t have, and if it’s up to me, he’ll NEVER have a US passport).

    Do you actually believe the US is going to grant me 3 visas for spouse and other dependents at the drop of a hat? There are a million other reasons why moving to the US is out of the question for me, but I have to go work now.

    Besides, I’ve been away from there for 6 years. I have no clue as to what I would do. Are you going to pay me while I’m looking for a job?

    You seem sympathetic, so thanks. But please try to think beyond your nose. If actually read what we say, you’ll get a clear picture of the complexities of all of this. It’s not as simple as a “move back”.

  37. @ Whoa
    Just when we think we’ve drawn you into our light you slip on back into the darkside. I’ll put this very plainly for you. I am Canadian. My husband is American. We have to live somewhere. We want to live together. What side of the 49th parallel would you like us to live? Now bear in mind that I will not live in the USA. My husband wants to live in Canada. Still want to drag us kicking and screaming into the USA to satisfy your absurd sense of American exceptionalism?

  38. @Bubblebustin, please note the oath of US citizenship includes the following explicit repudation of ALL other citizenships and loyalties:

    that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

    Thus, Canada could argue that every Canadian rich celebrity whoever became an American has renounced their citizenship and should not be welcome in Canada ever again (by the logic of Schumer, Casey, Reed and Boehner). Hell, we made them what they are today, what right do they have to come back here to Canada!

  39. @Petros You just reminded me of when my mother took US citizenship (for tax purposes no less!) after 40 years of living in the US. She said the oath with tears streaming down her face because she really didn’t want to become American. Everyone there must have thought she was nuts!

  40. @petros, even though the US requires this it is unilateral. As far as Canada goes their citizens are still Canadian regardless and does not expatriate them because of it. We wouldn’t be so mean.

  41. There are exceptions for “accidental Americans” even if their net worth or tax liability is higher than the threshold. Those who are dual citizens since birth and have not been residents of the US for more than 10 years in the 15 years before renunciation are not considered covered expatriates. Also, those who renounce US citizenship before they are 18.5 years old and have not been residents of the US for more than 10 years are not considered covered expatriates either.

    Question: Given that it takes months to complete the renunciation process, and I suppose one must be at least 18 years old to renounce, is it possible for someone to renounce US citizenship under 18.5 years old?

    By the way, Eduardo Saverin became a US citizen in 1998, when he was 16 years old. So he did not apply for US citizenship himself, he most probably became a US citizen automatically when one of his parents naturalized.

  42. @Scotgirl, What advantage for tax purposes did you mother have for becoming a US citizen?

  43. @ Bubblebustin, Yes, I know this. But what if … What if Canadians were as stupid as Boehner, Schumer, Casey and Reed. Then Wayne Gretzky couldn’t come back to Canada after he became an American. We taught him to play hockey. Who the hell does he think he is becoming an American? Don’t let the door hit you in the hockey puck on the way out!!!!

    You see what I mean?

  44. @ Shadow Raider It was for estate taxes and trying to guess whether she or my father would die first.

  45. @Scotgirl, Oh wow, it’s horrible that because of taxes people have to think about these things. That must have been awful.
    But I still don’t understand, if she was living in the US, I assume as a permanent resident, wouldn’t she be treated like a US citizen for tax purposes?

  46. @ Shadow Raider, yes, she was treated the same except for estate tax purposes. It was something to do with if my US citizen father died first, a lot of his estate would have been subject to estate tax because the rules were changed to remove the unlimited transfer to a non citizen spouse (even one with a green card) upon the death of the US citizen. Not sure if it was the state they were living in or federal but it caused a heap of upset!

  47. It kind of explains how I feel more British than American. My mother raised me with the underlying belief that I was a British kid just temporarily in the US. 🙂

  48. @Scotgirl, Thanks for the explanation. This is another anomaly caused by using citizenship to define taxation. It doesn’t seem fair that your parents had to go through that situation.

    I view the estate tax as double taxation, because the estate has already been taxed as income during the person’s life, and inheritance is not really a transaction. Many countries have abolished inheritance or estate taxes in recent decades, I hope that the US follows this trend as it already did for 2010.

  49. The proposed special capital gains tax is clearly a Bill of Attainder. Anyone who has not yet given up US citizenship can avoid the tax, by selling US assets before expatriation and investing outside the US. It’s only the several thousand people who gave up their citizenship within the last 10 years who would be stuck. This is a limited group of people and it is a punishment for something that happened in the past and was OK when it was done.
    It’s also a stupid incentive. It should be called the “Don’t invest in the US!” bill.

  50. @Steve

    “I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.” — LOL, that was a good one!!

    Dude, did anyone inform you that you’re blogging with a bunch of expats who left the USA a long, long time ago? And most of us have no intention of ever coming back except for the occasional wedding or funeral.

    Its nice to blog with Homelanders, but us long-term expats are a different breed.

    Hang in there man, you’ll figure it eventually.

  51. Whoa –

    “Best place”? You mean after an entire working life in Canada and paying taxes here you think I should move to the United States and have no medical care for the rest of my life without paying through the nose to cover exorbitant premiums? And maybe reach the point of being denied coverage at any price?

    Here’s the one question I really want for you to answer:  Would you move to the “best place” under those conditions?

  52. @WhoaitsSteve and @all

    Steve, welcome back. Great to have you contributing again.

    Here is Steve’s comment:

    “I would not begrudge Canada for applying consequences to an action that is viewed to be adverse to the nation’s ongoing viability. I empathize with all of you all’s plight, I think taxing foreign incomes is wrong, so is requiring complex forms, and not creating simple, accessible, online methods to file if we wish to keep the seemingly onerous requirement that American’s file an annual return. But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.”

    The main point of Steve’s comment was this:

    “I empathize with all of you all’s plight, I think taxing foreign incomes is wrong, so is requiring complex forms, and not creating simple, accessible, online methods to file if we wish to keep the seemingly onerous requirement that American’s file an annual return.”

    Steve, thanks for that – as I recall that was not your initial position.

    The “afterthought” to the main point was:

    “But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.”

    Steve is perfectly entitled to his belief (in the same way that we are). I invite Steve to explain his belief. Why do you think that the best place for Americans is in the United States? Would you take this position, even if an American preferred living somewhere else?

    Once again Steve, thanks for returning to the Isaac Brock Society. Hope you stay and thanks for your support. But please (even though I recognize it was not point you were trying to make), why you believe that the best place for Americans is in the U.S.

    Thanks,

  53. @WhoaIt’sSteve who said: “But, I also believe the best place for American’s is in the United States, even with their foreign spouses and family should that be their particular fancy.”

    Could you explain why you believe this ? Once upon a time I probably felt that way too, but now I realize how enlightening it is to spend time in other countries. You may find better ways of doing some things, and you may find that what you had at home really was the best on earth. Either way, you will have learned something about the world, life, and yourself.

    In its own best interests, the US should be encouraging Americans to go abroad, learn other cultures, make contacts in numerous places and pave the way for economic and cultural collaborations. It’s a global world now and Americans will undoubtedly miss out on the opportunities that Asia, Africa and South America will provide as their economies expand if they don’t look outward more often.

    If George W Bush’s Iraqi “experts” had actually known anything about the language, culture, history and religion of that country, his presidency might very well have been more successful.
    PS – welcome, and please keep talking.

  54. @ Whoait’steve Note please that your statement is pretty — I don’t know the best way to put it diplomatically–prejudiced, I guess. What if I said that the best place for African is Africa? People in the 19th century actually believed that. That’s why Liberia and Sierra Leone were created, to repatriate liberated slaves back in Africa. People believe things based on prejudiced but their solutions, being man-made often lead to significant nightmares for people.

  55. @Foxyladyhawk

    Completely agree that it is important to experience other cultures and ways of thinking. Your comment made by think of the movie about Robert McNama (Defense Secretary in Kennedy administration) – “The Fog of War”. In it he admits that the Vietnam War was a big mistake. But, I so well remember his saying to the effect that it is important to be able to get in someone elses skin – to see the world the way they see it. It is the ability to see things from the point of somebody else that is the quality that “homelanders” lack – and at the root of the “Nationalistic Narcissism” that is just so U.S.A.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-kim/rethinking-emthe-fog-of-w_b_228032.html

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  57. I think Steve is expressing wishful thinking. He clearly doesn’t speak for all Americans.

    If what he says is true that America is the best place for Americans, then why are so many leaving? The answer is it’s not the best place especially for the rich.

    The current relationship between the US government and the rich is like a boyfriend who mistreats his girlfriend so she leaves to give him time to figure out that he’s an a–h—. If he doesn’t figure out what he’s been doing wrong and correct it, she’ll never come back. She may find a new guy named Singapore who treats her much better.

  58. To Scotsgirl, I think someone who has never ventured in to the US and disconnects themself’s from their acquired American citizenship shouldn’t face the same consequence’s someone who does it strictly for monetary reason’s and has lived in or was educated in the United States would face.

    To the others, Yes I have traveled in Europe, to the other two North American country’s and the Caribbean, I saw awesome places, I met great people, but nowhere did I come across any city, neighborhood, or street, that I was comfortable enough in to think I’d want to call it home, the only places I’ve come across that have been in the US. Although I’d love to spend more time, a month or so in France that place is amazing it even forged me in to a burgeoning Francophile.

    “Why do you think that the best place for Americans is in the United States? Would you take this position, even if an American preferred living somewhere else?”

    No if an American didn’t feel a connection or belonging to the US they shouldn’t stay, nor should anyone tell them otherwise. I feel the US provides the best infrastructure, community, and kinship that is there for all of us American’s, we come in every shape, size, color, and type, and offer the best educational opportunities (granted there are massive differences and all manner of variety’s of elementary and high school education, but higher education in the United States is top notch.)

    To bubblebustin I don’t remember exactly why or how I found this site but like I said my sister is engaged to be married to an Englishman this fall, and she’ll be living in England with him while they make preparations to move back here to the US.

  59. @Petros Haha I don’t think I’m mentally ill ;o) I don’t think my opinion’s hold true for anybody except me, and I wouldn’t try to force my opinions on anyone else, they are mine alone. I know there are great and fascinating places all over this planet, and if anyone American or not felt like they were meant to be somewhere they should go and be where they feel at home.

  60. @WhoaIt’sSteve Glad to hear you’re not mental. But let’s get back to the idea that somehow the United States can ban anyone they damn well feel like. Sure. But if their reasons are vindictive and punitive–i.e., exile to punish them for leaving for tax purposes–then it is cruel and unusual punishment.

    I have no problem with the United States banning folks like criminals, illegal aliens, etc. But it is wrong for them to use a bill of attainder to exile someone, who has committed no crime, and only exercised the right to expatriate, from ever entering for the purposes of tourism or visiting family. It is as I suggest in the article, uncivilized; it is psychological warfare, cruel and unusual punishment. The government is run by control freaks–they can’t control us, so they torture us. It is about pay back and comes from people with puny spirits; it is selfish, greedy and insensitive. It is about how big we are and how you are going to pay sucker. It is unconstitutional because it uses legislative action to punish people. It is ex post facto because it wants to make this retroactive for the last ten years.

    Consider how it helps the airlines and the tourism industry to ban all those renunciants as they fly over the United States to Mexico, Grand Cayman and Aruba for their vacations–and believe me, we are at the beginning of an exponential curve, because I don’t believe for one second that your politicians in the US have a the slightest clue what I am talking about, and even if they do, they don’t give a damn who they hurt, they just want to demagogue to get re-elected.

  61. @Petros Exile is a strong emotive word and I don’t think it really fits the situation, in any case if it is actually exile it would be self-imposed as the US isn’t revoking anyone’s citizenship or rights they are just exercising border control which every sovereign nation has the right and ability to do. If the US considers ex-citizens undesirable then it is ultimately us as a country that will suffer.

    I’m conflicted by what I read here, so much vitriolic bile and hatred spewed toward the United States, but then you are even more upset when the US take steps to prevent an ex-citizen from re-entering the country? If you didn’t want to be here in the first place why are you upset that border controls may be raised to prevent you from coming back?

  62. @Whoa Exile is the perfect word. Then, there is banishment. That works to.

    You don’t seem to understand our situation. First your government threatens expats with 300% FBAR fines, and if we say, we are not going to submit to this oppression, and we renounce, then your government says, fine, don’t ever come back. So we live in fear, and you are conflicted? I’d be in conflict too if the country I thought was the best place for Americans to be was treating Americans like that.

    Why do you want to stop ex-citizens who exercised fundamental right from ever re-entering the country for a friendly visit? Because you don’t see the big picture, which is this: everyone has a right to pursue happiness. I didn’t leave the United States to avoid taxation, I was seeking an education and found a Canadian wife. I just never returned. For what sin, then, do you wish to ban me from ever entering your country again? For not paying taxes to the US? I don’t owe anything. For not wanting to pay taxes when I might potentially owe something in the future? Now we are getting to the truth. The American people think they have a right to enslave and leach off of their expats, no matter where in the world they live. And if we won’t bow down and kiss your feet, you say, Fine, don’t ever step foot in our country again.

    Am I a terrorist, a felon or a conspirator? No, no, no. But like Saverin, I am among the most hated people in America, because I’ve renounced. So now Democrats and Republicans alike want to punish me, because they couldn’t control me.

    You should try, at least a little, to understand what fundamental rights are. If not, you and all other Americans who wish to punish Saverin and me, you are boiled frogs, who don’t even understand when your liberties are taken away.

    Do you think Canada should stop Wayne Gretzky from coming to Canada because he is rich and became an American, and said an oath which includes a renunciation of his Canadian citizenship? If not, why not? Shouldn’t we punish him, in the same manner that the US wants to punish me, to stop me from see my Dad? Shouldn’t Canada fobid him from visiting his father? Don’t you see how odious your country has become?

    Do you think I would want to go to the United States for pleasure? No, you misunderstand. The only reason I will go there now is to visit family–and hope that Homeland Security doesn’t arrest me because they feel “conflicted” by what I am saying.

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  64. WhoaIt’sSteve,,,

    In fairness, there is some hyperbole here, but hardly what I would call “vitriolic bile and hatred”. There certainly is disgust at US self inflicted Tax Complexity policies, and some strong language about how misguided the US is, but I would be hard pressed to find the “vitiolic bile and hatred” you characterize. Actually, I think there has been some pretty measured comments here, and very little swearing either. Bile is something more associated with Michael Savage type commentary, and even Petros, when he is the most worked up, doesn’t go there.. 🙂

    I can understand that you are experiencing a little cognitive dissonance hearing things you don’t hear in the normal course of your life or from your associates. Also, you are young have been raised believing in US Expectionalism, and probably have not yet experienced the cynicism that comes with age and observing the reality of US misguided U.S. policies from a distance.

    Again, I think many of us here, me included, enjoy your involvement, and don’t think that because you have a different opinion, or don’t see things as we have come to see them, that you are “mental”! Disagreement and argument is great, as it challenges ones’ belief systems, and I for one try to avoid certainty. For some of us, we have just “been there, done that,” and now evolved to a broader perspective, I think. Maybe in time, you will too. Maybe Not! If you don’t, and everything inside the US borders is just fine, and restrictions and penalties for your movements or investments outside of US borders doesn’t concern you, I would have to admit you are in the majority for now, as few think about it. It doesn’t seem to effect them. As the US becomes more and more multi-cultural, and what it means to be an American continues to evolve, I think you will eventually be in the minority, as the birth rate of White male Anglo Saxons now slips into a minority role.

    Hope you don’t find this comment as “vitriolic bile and hatred!” 🙂

    btw, I am not one that is renouncing my Citizenship. I am in the “Complain but Comply” mode for now. However, I fully understand why others would, and think they should have the right to do that, without penalty or being called unpatriotic, ungrateful, or tax dodgers. The fact is, that the majority of those that are renouncing (Saverin) are probably doing it in high Tax countries, which gives lie to the entire “Tax Dodging” meme.

    and since you haven’t been around for a while, you might read this from the Economist…

    Did Eduardo Saverin do anything wrong?

    and for others, two new stories (to me) I was reading this morning, that might have been posted elsewhere, but don’t have time to check for duplication. Sorry. Leaving to catch a flight in 30 minutes…

    From World Radio Switzerland
    U.S. bank clients casualties in an ‘economic war’?

    From Asian Investor
    Asia fund groups unite versus Fatca

  65. @Just me,

    You’re reasonable words are the conscience of Isaac Brock.

    I wish I could remain as calmly detached as you, but my Irish-American blood makes it a bit difficult.

  66. @WhoaIt’sSteve Thanks for explaining your views on Accidental Americans.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t hate the US. I think the current actions of Congress and the IRS are frightening, but I don’t hate the country. It’s a nice place to visit – my kids love WDW and DH would love to see NYC someday (I know I’m sounding trite, it’s not meant). I’d hope that I’m never banned from visiting, though DH is already joking that he’ll take the kids on holidays there if needed! If I am banned I’ll just spend my holidays lying on a beach in St Lucia. 🙂

  67. @JustMe No of course not, I should made more clear it is not a majority of the comments here that are filled with vitriol and hateful statements. It is just the nature of the Internet and anti-Americanism on it, where everyone seems to have a beef with the US. So for us American’s venturing outside domestic websites and trying to you know follow the suggestions of our foreign friends to read up, and broaden our horizon’s we come across all kinds of hate spewed at the US.

    So I apologize for generalizing, US demographics are shifting in the coming decades and it will be fascinating to see what happens.

    I think even if I had the ability to travel and spend more time outside the US, I’d always want this country to be home base, I do understand others like yourself have found a new home base, which is why I think we shouldn’t tax foreign incomes and the rest.

    @Scotgirl I find accidental Americans as a concept interesting, I think the 14th Amendment is part of what makes the country great, no complications, no obscure blood or parental linkage, just straight forward you’re born here, you’re one of us.

    I have read here about how it is such a hard decision to sever your connection to the United States and I’d agree I would never be able to do it I have a deep and profound love for the United States that has only been strengthened by travel and learning about other country’s. Like learning about hate speech regulation which seems to have infected the world like a virus, made me appreciate the first amendment protections even more so that I ever had before.

    While I do think there should be consequence’s for renouncing US citizenship, I also think the most severe consequence’s like banning re-entry should be reserved for those with demonstrable proof they did it for un-virtuous reasons, extreme monetary and taxation (I’m talking several hundred thousand to millions of dollars,) political, stuff that’s just not cool, you know. I wouldn’t ban normal people who just want to come spend a few weeks in Vegas or Orlando.

  68. I think Steve has been a really good sport about all this. Most of us probably wouldn’t give a hoot about the likes of Eduardo Saverin if we too weren’t the targets of the US government which unjustifiably thinks it has some right to our hard earned income because of a tenuous connection to the US like being born there almost 50 years ago and leaving as small children to make a permanent home elsewhere.

  69. @omg For some of us there are actually principles of freedom. I’m not a billionaire yet, but I believe that even billionaires have certain unalienable rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I grew up believing in the Declaration of Independence in the the US Constitution, and the limits of power that it is supposed to put on the Federal government. So yeah, I would defend Saverin’s right to his money, even I was not in this pickle with the US government.

  70. @omg
    ‘Most of us probably wouldn’t give a hoot about the likes of Eduardo Saverin if we too weren’t the targets of the US government’.
    This is too true. But all people who believe in liberty and freedom and what the US once stood for, should ‘give a hoot’. Therein lies the problem. They don’t!

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