Here’s an update on S. 1813, the “highway bill” which would ban credit cards and wire transfers from non-FATCA banks and confiscate passports of U.S. Persons abroad who refuse to pay thousands of dollars per year to accountants to file forms like 3520, 8621, and 8858 that no one in the Homeland has ever heard of.
In the past few weeks, while we’ve all been distracted by Eduardo Saverin’s renunciation and the Ex-PATRIOT Act, Congress has been quietly continuing its efforts to gnaw away at the other rights of U.S. Persons abroad. On 8 May, the House and the Senate held the first meeting of their joint Surface Transportation Conference. The conference aims to achieve bicameral agreement on a “highway bill” before the 30 June expiration of existing transport funding measures. According to an article in The Hill, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the author of the passport-confiscation amendment (S.A. 1761), is “cautiously optimistic” that the Conference can make that deadline.
Following up on my last post about renunciation rates in Asia, here’s some extracts from EuroStat’s loss of citizenship table, which I ran across recently. (Like last time, all diaspora population figures are taken from the Global Migrant Origins Database, and don’t include ethnic descendants with other citizenships). The EuroStat data is not very good for longitudinal comparisons, since it only shows one or two years, but there’s still some interesting things to be learned from it. One of many instructive cross-sectional comparisons:
Diaspora population: 2.2 million
Homeland population: 310 million
Latest renunciation figure: 1,781 (2011; including former green-card holders)
Through a recent post at TaxProf Blog, I learned about the IRS’ Statistics of Income Bulletin. This finally gave me the lead on a figure in which I’d been interested for a long time: the number of Form 3520 filers. Unfortunately, the statistics are only released once every few years, and the next set aren’t scheduled for publication until December 2012. But you can see the figures for 1998, 2002, and 2006 here on the IRS website. The latest number: U.S. Persons filed a grand total of 1,952 Form 3520s and 3,819 Form 3520-As in 2006.
Of course, it was already obvious that libertarians oppose the “Expatriation Prevention” Act, but it’s heartening to see at least one sitting politician take a public stance against the wave of demagoguery and jingoism on which Schumer is surfing. Transcript and my comments after the jump.
Inspired by Petros’ observation about our Google ranking for “Bruce Ackermann” (though unfortunately not for the correct spelling “Bruce Ackerman”), I decided to check out how we rank for other search queries. All results come from anonymous Google searching over Tor, without any Google tracking cookie, so the results aren’t being influenced by my browsing behaviour (e.g. going to isaacbrocksociety.com and pressing “reload” 10 times a day).
Okay, not by name, but he did decry the American Thinker, where Petros published an article just a few days ago. Anyway, in case you missed the news, Chuck Schumer hijacked the Senate floor on Thursday, claiming that he planned to discuss S.A. 2146 (which criminalises certain synthetic drugs), but instead giving a three thousand-word declamation about his Expatriation Prevention Act. Coincidentally, S.A. 2146 has three well-known anti-expat Senators as its cosponsors: not just Schumer, but Reed Amendment author Jack Reed (D-RI) and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion foe Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Curtis Poe, a fellow U.S. Person abroad and occasional Isaac Brock Society commenter, has an interesting post over at his blog Overseas Exile comparing renunciation rates in New Zealand and the United States. He wrote to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs to get their data, and he’s looking for renunciation-of-citizenship data from other countries as well. This was as good a kick-in-the-pants as I’m ever going to get to compile and summarise the data that I’ve been bookmarking over the past few months from various Asian countries, so I’ve written it all up below. I’ve also done a bit of my own back-of-the-envelope analysis: the U.S. renunciation rate may look small, but it’s actually rather high compared to other countries which allow dual citizenship. Since we have commenters from all over the world here, hopefully some of you can help Curtis out with data from your own countries as well.
Laura Harrison McBride has an interesting article over at The Smirking Chimp blog (tagline: “News and commentary from the vast left-wing conspiracy”) entitled “Me and Eduardo Saverin; The major difference is money”, in which she discusses her own relinquishment of U.S. citizenship in February 2012 and eloquently contests the tiresome mainstream narrative (spread by bloggers like Matias Ramos and the Tax Justice Network) that people giving up U.S. citizenship are all rich traitors “fleeing” the United States with ill-gotten gains in their pockets.
Farhad Manjoo has a piece over at Pando Daily entitled “What Eduardo Saverin Owes America”. He gives a list of five specific items: his safe childhood, his erstwhile friendship with Zuckerberg, Harvard, the Internet, and the justice system. This made me think of the obvious counterfactual scenario: what if Eduardo Saverin’s family had moved to Europe instead to escape the threat of kidnappings in São Paulo, and he’d come to Harvard as a visa student? Four out of Manjoo’s five points still apply, but Saverin would face a far lower tax bill. Would Saverin owe any less of a moral debt to America? And what does the resulting tax situation have to say about the justice of the U.S.’ peculiar practise of taxing overseas citizens wherever we go?