Most Homelanders think Americans abroad renounce citizenship because they “hate America” and “don’t want to pay their fair share for being a citizen of such a great country”. But really, if your only motivation is hatred, you might well come to regret your decision to renounce. In reality, as pointed out in a heartfelt piece by Dr. Leigh-Davis, now a proud citizen of the United Kingdom, people are happiest when they renounce for love, whether love of a person or love of the country which took them in and gave them a wonderful life:
Sure, one could argue, if you are making over $155,000 in another country, one will have to pay the U.S. taxes on this excess. But certainly, if you are making a lot of money, isn’t it worth spending a little of it on the pleasure of having a U.S. Passport to go back and forth as one desires, and benefit from all the great attributes of the United States? Moreover, the process of renouncing one’s citizenship and getting one’s U.S. affairs in order is an arduous and confusing one, which will most likely require the “expensive” assistance of financial professionals and attorneys. Additionally, if you are truly making so much money, the exit tax alone could offset any financial benefit.
Many people thought I was crazy, when I left the U.S. for love, and then thought I was pathetic when it turned out to be an unrequited love, and today I may never find the love of another. However, when weighing the financial benefits against the financial disadvantages, I would reiterate my argument: that love is always the motivating factor. Whether it be love of a new country; love of a new culture; love of new people; or love of a career; few people would undertake the complicated and difficult task of renouncing their citizenship, if there was not some love in there somewhere.
This is what the people in the country we left behind find hardest to stand: that among nearly two hundred other countries & territories on earth, the U.S. is not only one that is worthy of love. There are many places that can give us a good life, there are many that take in foreigners to whom they have no obligation and treat them as neighbours, and there are many in which we emigrants can become proud citizens.
There are MANY reasons people might end up renouncing. As for me it’s not something I would have done before. I don’t “hate” the U.S. of my childhood. I do not feel any love however for the U.S. government throwing expat families under the bus while lauding a piece of unworkable legislation.
Regret? no. Sadness? yes. How can I regret something that came about because of a decision made in D.C. that is out of my hands? I think the situation recently is unique in that they made provisions for those this law would be unworkable for. That provision was “the person can renounce”
I was thinking about this last night. The wording used. It’s there for all to see from now on. I wouldn’t want something like that on my record. I do now realize though that for all intents and purposes in my daily life I’m Canadian. I embrace that and move on gladly with my life. I’m not going to allow this to colour my life from now on. No regrets except for those who so ignorantly, arrogantly, and sadly put this nonsense upon us.
I’ve never heard the suggestion “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” used other than defensively. It’s often accompanied by “go ahead and leave”,”you’ll regret it”, “you’ll never meet anyone like me”, and sometimes unfortunately, “I’ll make your life miserable”. Familiar pattern of behaviour here?
I left the US for love and people varied in their reactions though many of my left- leaning writer friends considered it equal to a big Powerball win. Life in the Canadian socialist utopia but still the “freedom” of being a USC, a twofer jackpot.
And though I had every intention of becoming a Canadian citizen, which is in process as I type this, because being a dual had never been an option prior to this, I hadn’t given the reality of what that meant much thought at all.
As it turns out, being a dual American/Canadian is all truly workable if I can ignore, reconcile or simply manage to avoid thinking about the contradictions in values and philosophy.
America is about the individual in just about any respect you can imagine. It did not emerge from, nor was it built on the idea of community or the greater good outweighing the needs, dreams or rights of the individual. There is definitely a stand alone “I” in America.
Canada came together out of necessity and grew from that need of shared struggle and common destiny where the good of the community is paramount even if that sometimes comes at the expense of the individual.
Though this is an oversimplification, the point – for me – is that I identify more with Canadian ideals and principles than I do with the land of my birth. I really should have been born here, and am luckier than most people on the planet in that I have an opportunity to weigh citizenships and choose.
In terms of money, as Dr. Leigh-Davis points out, it is easier, cheaper and less work to simply deal with the difficulties of dual citizenship than to end one’s relationship with the USA. If I were as wealthy as the current narrative about US expats paints us all, I could simply hire someone to think about and take care of the issues that arise and just ignore it all, but that’s not my reality. I am forced to think about it and the more I do, the more untenable dual citizenship becomes.
Like Atticus, it makes me feel a little sad to relinquish and sometimes a bit anger about the increasing bitterness the USG towards duals and general ignorance of so many Americans about the wide world, expats and the way people in other places on the planet actually feel about America and it’s “exceptionalism” claim. (And as a side note, my Canadian husband wonders if Americans realize that the word “exceptionalism” also implies a criticism of a tendency to remain separate from others and worse, that it shows a refusal to acknowledge, and perhaps communally participate in, a widely-accepted principles or practices.)
Eric makes a good point when he writes about hatred being a bad place from which to begin. It seems to me that the current rules and impending regulations for American expats stems from a kind of hate perhaps but mostly certainly mistrust and it begs the question of whom really hates who in this scenario.
The hatred seems all on their side or this situation we are in would not be happening. Expats to them are, fill in the blank and the answer there if coming from the U.S. will rarely if ever be anything positive. I never before realized how bad it was or maybe I didn’t want to see it. After all the allow you to move. And then they demonize you for it.
When I met my spouse I didn’t exactly jump for joy at moving that far away from my family. However,his father was sick and he was his dad’s only support. Ironically, it was my upbringing that lead me to the choice that I could NOT ask my spouse to move so far away from his dad. Few in the U.S. seem to get it that once you are settled and have a JOB somewhere many cannot just pick up and move wherever they like. Not that I would have moved back. My son was raised here.
And like you Yogagirl, I believe Canada aligns with my own belief system in many ways better than the U.S. does these days. Maybe it always did. All I know is that for me renouncing is not being done because I hate any place. That place decided to make it unworkable to allow me to be a part of them. Okay, I accept that then and I’ll just stay where I’m wanted, not demeaned and treated as a full citizen.
I have not renounced, but I am seriously thinking about it now once I get my affairs in order. For me it is a decision driven by a desire to be left alone, to not have to feel I am being chased or monitored in my every financial decision or move regardless of how far and totally unrelated my affairs are from any US connection (other than me – I am the US connection because of that blue passport). I love the US I grew up in, and I have always been very patriotic supporting the ideals of the US Constitution.I have served the US. I am made in the USA. But I have not lived in the US in almost 20 years now and my life is outside the US. It will be a very hard decision for me. I have children and a brother and elderly mother in the US. Unlike my Canadian friends, once I renounce, to visit my family I will have to apply for a visa to return to the place I was born and the US government may or may not give it to me.
The position I am in is completely unnecessary and unfair. The US government is now not helpful it is acting like my enemy seeking to squeeze every cent from me, monitoring my financial movements and will tax my estate overseas when I die. The US government has turned into a monster – big brother – it’s George Orwell’s vision but just a few years later than he foresaw.
Never in my life would I have believed that my retirement plans in a few years include renouncing my US citizenship. I just want peace.
To re-iterate what so many have said before: the biggest threat to Americans abroad is the US government.
bubblebustin, and sadly, our chosen homes’ governments either won’t, or aren’t strong enough, to protect us. And why should we need protection from the country of our birth, recognizing that not all USC’s were born there (and that’s a nonsensical issue all of its own)?
As Steve says, why do we need to be monitored like criminals for doing simple things that all people do with nary a hint of criminality? Next step ankle monitors? Or collars? I am only half-joking because someone – somewhere down south – just read that and thought “yeah, collars. maybe set to stun.”
It’s great reading about everyone’s thoughts on renouncing. I haven’t anything personal to add on that particular topic because obviously there can be no renouncing for me because I’m not American.
Anyway I had a good think about would I ever have become American if we had continued to live there? The answer is no. Not a great big defiant no, just a simple no. It never crossed my mind actually. Did I love the USA at that time? No, but I certainly did not hate it either. A country to me is merely a place on earth, nothing more. I loved, first of all, my husband and we were in the USA only because we had to live somewhere. We chose to live on his side of the border which I now have some regrets about but I most certainly did not back then. I loved our American family, our neighbors, the extraordinary beautiful location where we built our home and I’d like to say I loved the novelty of living somewhere other than Canada but actually, no, living in the USA was pretty much the same as living in Canada. Europe or China or some such location would have been a novelty or likely if we’d been living in New Orleans or Los Angeles or New York City there would have been some novelty involved but I went from the northern Rockies to the southern Rockies, sort of a lateral transition.
Having virtually no TV reception meant the political reality of America was mostly unknown to me. I knew there was a right wing and a left wing but I could never really figure out which was which and didn’t much care. It wasn’t easy for us to earn a living there so that was what we were focused on most of the time (that, and building our house).
So here we are in Canada and how do I feel about the USA now? I quite honestly hate its politics and its leadership but the USA, taken as a whole, does not evoke love or hate. It still boils down to loving family and former neighbors and loving the memories of those long drives and hikes in a very beautiful portion of the USA. And as for Canada, this may surprise some people here, but it too is just a place on earth for me even though it is home I guess. It’s where I am and my love is for Canadian family and friends, just like in America. Canada will be my home until death but I will never vow “my country, right or wrong”. Even though I do appreciate the greater sense of security I have here, I feel my privacy is threatened in a similar manner as it would be in the USA now. I guess I was born without the bones of nationalism which seem to be so strong in most Americans or maybe those bones aren’t readily available in Canada. As I become more politically aware I think I have more bones of contention than anything else.
Oops. I wrote that in text edit without switching off autospell or whatever it is. It took the “u” out of neighbour.
I can totally relate to this. Switzerland took me in, helped me to find work, helped to expand my skills and boost my career, enabled me to buy a house and get settled with a family. The people around me are friendly, mind their own business and occassionally even tell me that I’m a native Swiss from central Switzerland! Then, when I look back at America, I’m told that I’m a “good riddance”. Thus, I owe my success to Switzerland.
The best country or the best government or the best land boundary or the best political party? They must all be exceptional since they are all implementing FATCA.
I’d rather cheer for a sports team.
There should be no reason why anybody would have to renounce their citizenship from any country.
Unfortunately, now there is. If you want to or have to live outside of USA, it is a practical necessity if you don’t want to live as a criminal.
Mark Twain: It’s true, live like a criminal but yet having done nothing morally wrong other than to want to live your life lawfully in the place that you are living. I am repulsed when I see Obama’s face and can’t stand hearing him talk. I wish that i or another person on IBS would have the opportunity to ask/debate FATCA and citizenship based taxation and the damage it is doing with Obama at a town hall for the world to hear. For anyone with knowledge and half a brain, it will be obvious that the damage done greatly exceeds any benefit from chasing overseas US citizens down like dogs. Mind you, if I lived in the US I would have no issue per se with paying taxes or disclosing ‘worldwide’ assets, but it just wreaks havoc when the US applies the same standard to a citizen living his/her life outside the US.
@ brockers. Heartfelt agreement with all comments. don’t hate USA. I hope to get my CLN any day now. so sad to renounce-tears at appointment. Like Swiss Pinoy + Yoga girl-I married for love and UK is where I have worked /devloped my skills & career, got my post grad degrees , bought a house and get settled with my UK family
I love American people who are so generous and have truly amazing energy and powers of self-reinvention. my good friends there understand and support why I have had to renounce and they are sick and angry on my behalf-more so than some of my close family who don’t want to know. it is the USG (latterly and most FATCAnatically the Democratic “Obama-nationalists” but don’t forget the Republican years 2001-2009 and the 1996 Reed Amendment on Clinton’s watch) that is trashing one of USA;s best and most invisible assets (American diaspora) and destroying one of America best hopes for continued soft power
strength and honour, folks. get out now and continue to work to help all the other USPs abroad
America doesn’t want a diaspora. It screws with their world-view and makes a lie out of the “American Dream”, which is probably no longer possible in the USA as things currently stand.
American citizens who exist outside the boundaries and live happy, productive lives with opportunities and freedoms that Americans within the boundaries don’t enjoy create dissonance that can’t be allowed. It’s that simple and that complicated.
Congratulations on reinventing yourself.
Yes a few homelanders are angry about what is happening to us, but where’s the sadness/outrage/mortification they should be feeling in the realization that the world is closing to them?
@bubblebustin, to the best of my knowledge, I’m on good terms now with everyone that I still know in America. I don’t really know what they think about my renunciation because I never asked them. I simply stated that I renounced and sometimes did a bit of explaining. Once, a sibling stated that some people were shocked that I renounced and I responded that I was shocked too! Overall, I’d say that it is no big deal. I don’t want for anyone to be sad or angry and I don’t want for anyone to do anything or change anything because me. The only reason why I respond to papers, comments and write here is because it is fun. I enjoy challenging generalizations. If I didn’t like you folks, then I would not bother and I’d just forget about America. It is not my problem.
Having lived half of my life in the US, I understand it as being a huge nation which doesn’t see much beyond its borders. Life beyond America is irrelevant to most Americans. They don’t care about the world outside and have no reason to care about it because they have enough locally to think about. A part of the reason why I renounced is because I don’t believe that this is going to change anytime in the near future. America is too big with too many problems to care anything about someone like me. That’s their system, that’s how it is and will continue to be. It is good to be active and to seek for a better world, but it is best to not expect anything so that one won’t be disappointed. Americans won’t be sad that expats are renouncing. There won’t be any outrage and if things eventually get worse, then they won’t see any connection with US foreign policy. America is, well, unique!
Justin Trudeau just tweeted he was speaking at Ryerson tomorrow.