The Federal Register published expatriates list for the first quarter of 2015 is finally out for public inspection and due to be printed tomorrow, more than a week late. The IRS approved the list for publication internally on 28 April and sent it to the Federal Register folks, but it was not actually published on time, a clear violation of 26 USC § 6039G(d). However, this is barely even news: the list has been late for nine out of the past ten quarters too. And anyway one week is far short of the record of 599 days set by the Q2 1998 list (which didn’t appear until March 2000), or more recently the Q2 2010 list, which was 103 days late. Such habitual tardiness clearly indicates that this is a willful violation of the Internal Revenue Code by IRS employees, which should be punished but certainly won’t be.
This list contains 1,336 names of certain people who renounced or relinquished U.S. citizenship and whose information the IRS received in the first three months of this year. This is a smaller number than the 1,406 records — solely of renunciants, not of relinquishers — which were added to the FBI’s NICS gun control database over the same period, bringing it from 27,240 renunciant records up to 28,646. NICS also added another 767 renunciant records in April. (Given that the Federal Register list is too small even to cover all renunciants, it is not mathematically possible that it includes ex-green card holders, and no name of an ex-green card holder has ever been confirmed present in the list.)
This late, incomplete list isn’t merely a source of mild annoyance for us here at the Isaac Brock Society — instead, for the second time in recent years, it’s causing political controversy in the Caribbean. Haitian First Lady Sophia Martelly states that she renounced U.S. citizenship in March 2014 in preparation for her own entry into electoral politics this year. Local newspapers have complained that her name hasn’t shown up in the Federal Register list. But this isn’t unusual at all: nearly every single other public figure I know of whose 2014 renunciation/relinquishment was reported in the media hasn’t shown up either.
Table of known recent renunciations/relinquishments
Here’s a table of people who were mentioned in media reports as having, within the past 18 months, given up U.S. citizenship, and the edition of the Federal Register (if any) in which their name was published. (If you know of any more, please leave a link in the comments.)
|Giving up US citizenship||Appeared in
|Lu Shu-hao||Military||Taiwan||Service in Republic of China Army||January 2014 or earlier||No||Taipei Times|
|Sandy Opravil||Housewife||Switzerland||Save her mortgage||February 2014||Q3 2014||Newsweek|
|Roger Ver||Bitcoin investor||St. Kitts & Nevis||Libertarian political opinions||February 2014||No||Bloomberg|
|Sophia Martelly||Politician||Haiti||Run for Senate of Haiti||March 2014||No||Haiti Press Network|
|Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah||Writer||Israel||Complicated; see source||March 2014||Q2 2014||Times of Israel|
|Mona Quartey||Politician||Ghana||Become Deputy Finance Minister of Ghana||July 2014||No||Graphic News (Ghana)|
|Kim Sungkyum||Military||South Korea||Be commissioned an officer in the Republic of Korea Army||December 2014||Q1 2015||Kookbang Ilbo|
|Lin Jou-min||Architect||Taiwan||Take position in Taipei city government||December 2014||No||Central News Agency (Taiwan)|
|Rachel Azaria||Politician||Israel||Members of Knesset cannot hold foreign citizenship||January 2015||No||Times of Israel|
|Jonathan Tepper||Macroeconomic analyst||United Kingdom||FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements||January 2015||No||The New York Times|
|David Alward||Politician||Canada||To become Canadian consul-general in Boston||April 2015 or earlier||No||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|
It’s possible that some of these people did not actually give up U.S. citizenship. They might have found another way to satisfy a local-law requirement that appears to demand giving up foreign citizenships. The journalist (or I) might have misunderstood their situations. They might have lost their courage at the gates of the consulate. Or they might simply have lied. However, it’s unlikely that all of these reports are erroneous. In any case, non-publication in the Federal Register is quite normal, and has been for the past decade.
Some of the more recent entries in the above table may show up in later Federal Register lists. Nonetheless, it looks like 2014 will have a much higher Federal Register ex-citizen non-publication rate than earlier years. For example, here’s a similar table for 2013 renunciants & relinquishers, collected by those of us who edit Wikipedia’s list of ex-Americans, as well as others without Wikipedia articles whom I’ve been tracking myself. As you can see, eight out of thirteen people in the table below had appeared in the Federal Register by this time last year, one of them even within the same quarter (and one more showed up in late 2014), in contrast to just two of the seven 2014 entries in the table above:
|Giving up US citizenship||Appeared in
|Naftali Bennett||Politician||Israel||Members of Knesset cannot hold foreign citizenships||January 2013||Q2 2013||Jerusalem Post|
|Dov Lipman||Politician||Israel||Members of Knesset cannot hold foreign citizenships||January 2013||Q2 2013||Jerusalem Post|
|Orlan Calayag||Bureaucrat||Philippines||Become head of National Food Authority||January 2013||Q2 2013||Philippine Star|
|Mahmud Karzai||Politician||Afghanistan||Launch political career in Afghanistan||January 2013||Q1 2013||Radio Free Europe|
|Bernard Chan Pak-li||Scientist, bureaucrat||Hong Kong||Join Commerce & Economic Development Bureau||February 2013||Q2 2013||HK Economic Times|
|Fauzia Kasuri||Politician||Pakistan||Pakistan does not allow politicians to hold dual citizenship||March 2013||No||Dawn|
|Marshall Nicholson||Investment banker||Hong Kong||Unclear — probably career-related (he worked in a Chinese-owned fund)||April 2013||Q4 2013||Reuters|
|René González||Intelligence||Cuba||Part of deal with DOJ to end parole & return to Cuba||May 2013||No||Washington Post|
|Quincy Davis||Basketball player||Taiwan||Naturalise & join national basketball team||June 2013||Q4 2013||China Post|
|Glen L. Roberts||Writer||None||To become stateless||June 2013||Q4 2014||Int’l Business Times|
|Camillo Gonsalves||Diplomat, politician||St. Vincent & Grenadines||Join Senate of SVG||September 2013||No||I-Witness News|
|Michael Putnam||?||Canada||“[F]ully assimilate into the civic and cultural life of my new country”||September 2013||No||BBC|
|Tina Turner||Singer||Switzerland||Unclear||October 2013||Q1 2014||Forbes|
A missing name from Haiti
Political controversy has arisen over one particular non-publication: that of Sophia Martelly, First Lady of Haiti, who has declared her candidacy for the Senate of her country. The Haiti Press Network posted a copy of a scanned document which appears to be Martelly’s CLN. Despite that, other observers, such as the Haiti Sentinel, noted the fact that Martelly’s name has not yet been published in the Federal Register, and from that have jumped to the conclusion that her renunciation is not yet legally effective or even that it never occurred in the first place.
Complainants that filed the objections to Sophia Martelly’s candidacy had based their arguments on whether Mrs. Martelly held other nationalities at the time of her registration or not. Multiple nationality is not recognized in the Haitian Constitution and disqualifies for elected office.
Gregory Mayard Paul, lawyer for the Martelly Presidency, presented a Certificate of Loss of Citizenship of the United States of America that show one year prior, on April 2014, showing that Sophia Martelly had requested to expatriate her American citizenship.
The Electoral Tribunal of Wally Désence (Chair), Merlan Bélabre and Mario Delcy (Membre) declared Sophia Martelly eligible for elections and the complainants’ arguments unfounded because she had requested to renounce her American citizenship before she registered for senatorial elections on April 23, 2015. But the expatriation of Sophia Martelly has, to date, not been finalized in the U.S. Federal Register.
Incidentally, Martelly’s CLN was approved within four days of her renunciation, according to the posted scan. Apparently some consulates work faster than others: the CLN of Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah — also a renunciant rather than a relinquisher — took just under a week (he posted a scan of it). This is even faster than the timeline which Consul Marc A. Snider claimed the U.S. would follow when Pakistani politician Fauzia Kasuri renounced her U.S. citizenship two years ago. Kasuri’s name also has not appeared in the Federal Register to date.
Delays are common: another Caribbean example
A similar controversy arose earlier over the ascension of Florida-born Akierra Missick to the post of Deputy Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Missick renounced her U.S. citizenship in October 2012, just before the Turks & Caicos general election, but immigration lawyer Adam Rothwell apparently claimed to TCI News Now or caused them to conclude through his comments that “Missick’s name is conspicuous by its absence” in the Federal Register list that was published for the same quarter in which she renounced. The Curaçao Chronicle also picked up the story, while TCI News Now ran a follow-up story a few days later defending its original article.
In reality, anyone even casually familiar with the list knows that people almost never show up in the same quarter they give up citizenship — our own Petros’ name didn’t show up for more than a year and a half, although things seem to have been getting somewhat faster recently. (In general, you shouldn’t trust most U.S. immigration lawyers on the subject of emigration — though rare exceptions do exist.) Similarly, Missick’s name finally showed up in the Q3 2013 list, which was not published until more than a year after her renunciation, and 43 days after the end of the quarter.
Rothwell also claimed that the requirement to file a tax return — something which can fall on immigrants, non-immigrant resident aliens, and even people with no connection to the U.S. besides their investments — constituted a “duty of obedience or adherence to the United States”. A year later, TCI News Now also claimed, on the basis of an anonymous, unsourced edit to Wikipedia, that Missick had voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 U.S. presidential election after renouncing her citizenship.
Some possible ex-citizens not in above table
I omitted one entry from the above table — a woman who naturalised in the Federated States of Micronesia in December 2013 — because I’m not sure how strictly the FSM applies their prohibition against dual citizenship. The U.S. and other countries whose legal systems it has influenced — including the Philippines — often claim that a “renunciation of foreign citizenships” is required in certain situations, but in reality all they demand is a domestic-law oath which has no effect under the laws of the foreign country whose citizenship is retained.
I also excluded from the above table two people — both of whom took up Ukrainian citizenship in 2014 — because it is not clear what action they took with regard to their U.S. citizenship. The relevant Ukrainian regulations apparently require only that they provide proof of renunciation of foreign citizenships within two years.
In the case of Mark Paslawsky, that deadline no longer matters. Paslawsky, a New Jersey native who moved to Ukraine in the 1990s to work in investment banking, took up Ukrainian citizenship in April 2014 so that he could volunteer with the Ukrainian National Guard in Donbas. He died in combat near Donetsk a few months later. A guest post at the Financial Times Beyond Brics blog stated that he “gave up his US citizenship for a Ukrainian passport”, but this is not confirmed in any other sources.
Natalie Jaresko — another U.S.-born financier — who grew up in Chicago and moved to Ukraine soon after its independence, was granted Ukrainian citizenship by order of President Petro Poroshenko so that she could take up the post of finance minister in his government, reported Bloomberg last December. For the politically-connected, there appears to be some flexibility with the two-year deadline: Ukrainska Pravda reported that former first lady Kateryna Yushchenko, also of Chicago, did not renounce her U.S. citizenship until August 2007 despite having been granted Ukrainian citizenship in March 2005.
(Yushchenko’s name also never appeared in the Federal Register, although Landon Taylor of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv wrote a letter confirming her renunciation and the fact that renunciation of nationality is legally effective from the date of the Oath of Renunciation, not the date of approval of the CLN let alone the date of publication in the Federal Register.)