From the BBC, we get official confirmation that Boris Johnson never followed through with his 2006 threat to renounce U.S. citizenship, but instead renewed his passport so that he could obey the formerly-wartime-only but now-peacetime law demanding that anyone whom the U.S. deems to be one of its citizens must use only a U.S. passport to enter the country:
Boris Johnson renewed his US passport in November 2012, the London Mayor’s aides have confirmed. The news came as a surprise to some. In a column for the Spectator in 2006 he said he was renouncing his US citizenship after being barred from using his British passport to change planes in Texas. But it appears he didn’t follow through.
For those of you who haven’t been following European news, Mr. Johnson is an American citizen who happens to reside in Europe so he can do some work for a city government in one of those allegedly-sovereign countries over there, while enjoying all the great U.S. embassy services and giving nightly prayers of thanks that the Marines will come sail up the Thames and save him from the clutches of the British government if he gets into any trouble.
Since I have no desire to imply that Mr. Johnson is anything but a law-abiding, loyal, and patriotic U.S. citizen — unlike some of these recent economic Benedict Arnolds who have been abandoning the Greatest Country on Earth in its hour of need — I am sure he has been dutifully filing Forms 1116, 2555, 3520, 5471, 8621, 8833, 8938, and whatever else the Homeland may ask of him for his offshore investments in the United Kingdom. Not to mention FBAR reports on all those municipal government accounts inexplicably held in offshore banks in London rather than patriotic banks in New York, so that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network can make sure he’s not using those accounts for purposes of money-laundering or drug-dealing or Cuban-rum-purchasing.
But in the extremely hypothetical event that Mr. Johnson is not up to date on all his U.S. tax and anti-money-laundering obligations, well, the IRS has his number: even if they don’t listen to the Beeb, pursuant to 26 USC § 6039E the State Department has forwarded Mr. Johnson’s Social Security Number and other identifying information to the IRS. And in this highly unlikely situation, of course the IRS will show Mr. Johnson no favouritism at all due to his position, but rather will make sure to levy 12,900% fines against him if they find any two or three-digit annual tax deficiencies. And if the IRS decides that Mr. Johnson was actually willful in failing to file FBAR reports and should thus be fined several multiples of London’s annual budget, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs will show an equal lack of fear or favour in executing a mutual collection assistance request, and swiftly seize the required funds.
Fortunately for Mr. Mayor, the U.K.–U.S. tax treaty of 2001 actually addresses some of his problems, to make his process of U.S. tax compliance all that much easier — after all, he’s an important government official, not a Canadian trying to evade U.S. taxes by sneaking funds into a Canadian disability savings plan. Specifically, Article 19 ensures that his entire salary and pension is exempt from U.S. taxation. And his non-government income amounts to nothing more than “chicken feed”, as he puts it. So I guess the $743 million the U.S. claims it can raise from revoking expats’ passports is going to have to come from someone else’s bank account.