Notwithstanding any other provision of law, not later than 30 days after the close of each calendar quarter, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register the name of each individual losing United States citizenship (within the meaning of section 877(a) or 877A) with respect to whom the Secretary receives information under the preceding sentence during such quarter.
— 26 USC § 6039G(d), second sentence
For the third time since Jack Lew took office in 2013, he’s managed to meet the 30-day deadline for his quarterly homework, but only by handing in an incomplete assignment. The latest Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate is now available in pre-print PDF form, but it’s just 14 pages long and has barely five hundred names in it. That makes it the second-shortest list during Lew’s term, beaten by only the Q2 2015 list. (Clearly Lew is a firm believer in Petros’ principle that less is better when it comes to complying with the U.S.’ “Internal” Revenue Code.)
Meanwhile, the Renounced United States Citizenship category in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS; note the new web address) went from 33,947 records as of 31 March to 36,028 as of 30 June, an increase of 2,081 records. (And NICS only covers 8 USC § 1481(a)(5) renunciants, not people relinquishing U.S. citizenship under other paragraphs of that same subsection.) Furthermore, based on the response to Shadow Raider’s latest Freedom of Information Act request with USCIS, it looks like about seven or eight thousand people are filing Form I-407 to give up their green cards each quarter. In other words, at least forty thousand people per year are deciding to cut their legal ties with the United States rather than retain or pursue citizenship.
Green card abandoners definitely not in list
The Federal Register list includes a very carefully-worded statement that “[f]or purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship”. Certain inattentive journalists interpret to mean that the list actually includes people who gave up green cards which they’ve held in eight or more of the last fifteen years, but that’s clearly impossible.
The IRS complained more than 15 years ago that they couldn’t include ex-green card holders in the list because the files which the old Immigration and Naturalization Service gave them “do not distinguish former long-term residents from other former green card holders and generally do not include tax identification numbers”. That little inter-agency snafu has continued up to the present day: there’s still nowhere to write your SSN on I-407 even after the recent redesign, and USCIS explicitly stated last year (emphasis mine) that when you file I-407, “we will provide only your name and the filing date to the IRS”.
As always, after the jump please find a table of recent media reports naming individuals who have given up U.S. citizenship.
Media reports on individual ex-citizens
Here’s a table of people mentioned by name in media reports as having given up U.S. citizenship since the beginning of 2014. I’m no longer including 2013 and earlier reports in the table, since it seems safe to guess that relinquishers from that long ago not included in the Federal Register by now — e.g. René González or Donald Keene — will never appear. One public figure appearing in this quarter’s list, Rachel Azaria, renounced U.S. citizenship more than a year and a half ago, just before she took office in January 2015 as a Member of the Knesset in Israel. Three out of 11 relinquishers from 2014, and all relinquishers after around mid-2015, are missing from the Federal Register published expatriates list.
It’s not which missing names will appear at some future date, and which will remain missing. Some people who gave up U.S. citizenship much later than mid-2015 have already appeared in The List — for example, Sandra Leung Shuk-bo, who took office as Political Assistant to the Secretary for Innovation and Technology of Hong Kong in January, and whose name appeared in last quarter’s list. (It is not a legal requirement to renounce foreign citizenships in order to take a Political Assistant position in Hong Kong. However, there is a very strong public expectation that candidates will do so, ever since the government faced criticism back in 2008 over the large numbers of dual citizens nominated to such positions.)
|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||Q3 2015||Haiti Press Network|
|Ya’aqov Ben-Yehudah||Writer||Israel||Complicated; see source||March 2014||Q2 2014||Times of Israel|
|Sean Cavanaugh||Technology||Canada||FATCA||April 2014||Q1 2015||Tweeted own CLN in August 2014|
|Mona Quartey||Politician||Ghana||Become Deputy Finance Minister of Ghana||July 2014||No||Graphic News (Ghana)|
|Alex Kim||Singer||South Korea||Obtain South Korean citizenship & serve in military||August 2014||Q1 2016||Herald Business (South Korea)|
|Nicole Beaudoin||Unknown||Canada||FATCA||September 2014||Q3 2014||La Presse (Canada)|
|Kim Sungkyum||Military||South Korea||Be commissioned an officer in the Republic of Korea Army||December 2014||Q1 2015||Kookbang Ilbo (South Korea)|
|Lin Jou-min||Architect||Taiwan||Take position in Taipei city government||December 2014||Q3 2015||Central News Agency (Taiwan)|
|Rachel Azaria||Politician||Israel||Take office as Member of Knesset||January 2015||Q2 2016||Times of Israel|
|Jonathan Tepper||Macroeconomic analyst||United Kingdom||FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements||January 2015||Q1 2016||The New York Times|
|David Alward||Politician||Canada||Become Canadian consul-general in Boston||April 2015 or earlier||Q3 2015||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|
|Alfred Oko Vanderpuije||Politician||Ghana||Stand for election to Parliament||August 2015||No||Starr FM (Ghana)|
|Philip Ryu||Singer||South Korea||Serve in South Korean army||September 2015 or earlier||No||Money Today (South Korea)|
|Rachel Heller||Writer||Netherlands||FATCA & other U.S. tax reporting requirements even when no U.S. tax is owed||November 2015||No||Blog (will be included in TV news programme at a later date)|
|Kang Dong-suk||Violinist||South Korea||Restore South Korean citizenship||2015 (month not specified)||No||News1 (South Korea)|
|Neil Llamanzares||Businessman||Philippines||Public opinion (his wife ran for President, but lost after he renounced)||April 2016||No||Rappler (Philippines)|
|Lee Chih-kung||Physicist||Taiwan||Appointed Minister of Economic Affairs by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen||May 2016||No||Apple Daily (Taiwan)|
|Ned Mannoun||Politician||Australia||Run for Australian parliament||May 2016 or earlier||No||Liverpool Champion (Australia)|
|Yehuda Glick||Politician||Israel||Take office as Member of Knesset||May 2016||No||Arutz Sheva (Israel)|
|Judy Chan Ka-pui||Politician||Hong Kong||Run for Hong Kong Legislative Council||July 2016||No||Apple Daily (Hong Kong)|
Kang Dong-suk’s renunciation is a rather interesting one. South Korea generally disallows dual citizenship except when acquired by birth or adoption — therefore, natives who naturalise in other countries automatically lose their South Korean citizenship, and applicants for naturalisation or for restoration of citizenship must give up their other citizenships within a year. However Article 10, Paragraph 2(4) of the Nationality Law provides an exception to this principle for people over age 65, allowing them to hold dual citizenship. Kang, who is already 62 and has been living in South Korea as a non-citizen for more than a decade, could have waited three more years and then restored his South Korean citizenship without giving up the U.S. one, but for whatever reason he decided that he’d rather give up U.S. citizenship and get his South Korean citizenship back sooner rather than later.
Congratulations to all those who made the expat honour roll this term!
I said: “DoS-side, CLN approvals might be delayed, or notification to Treasury might be delayed. Or both.”
Thinking about it, State probably has nothing to gain from deliberately delaying or suppressing notification to Treasury, since the income from renunciation fees is presumably audited.
Does TIGTA monitor renunciations? They ought to, because renunciations affect IRS revenue.
If TIGTA could be got to audit the impact of renunciations on revenue, not only would it be much more reliable than the Quarterly List, it would show clearly whether the revenue impact of FATCA/CBT is positive, negative, or neutral.
I said: “Thinking about it, State probably has nothing to gain from deliberately delaying or suppressing notification to Treasury, since the income from renunciation fees is presumably audited.”
I wonder, is the audit showing income from renunciation fees published?
According to the law, NICS is supposed to count those who’ve taken the oath; CLNs are not mentioned. So does State send separate notification to NICS, and if so, when, I wonder. When the oath is administered, or when the CLN is approved?
“The approved date on my CLN is 24 Feb 2016, well within Q1, so my name should have appeared on the list that was published 05 May 2016. They’re running two quarters behind what the law requires, with respect to my renunciation. So far.”
My CLN was approved a couple of days AFTER yours, so it doesn’t make any sense that you didn’t show up on the same list as me.
Thanks, Westcoaster. It’s interesting, isn’t it?
If an accurate list of those receiving CLNs was available, it seems to me that allegedly democratic countries like Canada and the UK and EU countries wouldn’t have a leg to stand on when they require FIs to treat accounts as FATCA-reportable without even checking the database to see if a CLN has been issued.
To me this “guilty until proven innocent” aspect seems to be FATCA/IGA’s weakest point. I move closer and closer to thinking that if I ever get a FATCA letter I’ll see if I can contest that presumption of guilt.
@iota & westcoaster
There was a discussion here on Brock some time ago which pointed to the fact that cln’s could be easily forged as they were not numbered. It seems to me to be wise to print up a copy of ones name on the Fed register for additional proof, if and when your name appears. Maybe all the “no shows” should contact the State Dept and ask why their name has not appeared! My name was 3 quarters late on the ‘name and gain’ list. I was really pleased to see it there.
Yes, FBI/NICS gets notification from State when the CLN is approved.
State provide copies of CLNs to:
DHS/USCIS (all CLNs);
IRS (all CLNs);
FBI NICS (renunciation (s. 349(a)(5)) CLNs only)
7FAM1240 Interagency Coordination and Reporting Requirements
Yep, that’s evidence the IRS themselves know The List is incomplete. Back over a decade ago when Bill Yates was working for the IRS he proposed using The List for enforcement purposes (Reed Amendment). These days the IRS shows absolutely no interest in mentioning The List to banks who want to check whether that CLN is US-government-issued or self-created.
Oh yeah, totally off-topic: I had dessert at a cafe called RBTea
Friends wanted to go to Starbucks but I convinced them to support RBTea instead =)
@Heidi – That could be a good idea (contacting State) if people want to get their name on the list. Speaking for myself, I’m interested in seeing how the list and numbers get manipulated by Treasury, but I’m not concerned about proving I’m not a US citizen. I don’t think I should be expected to prove it.
@Pacifica – thanks very much for that. I was wondering if some of the discrepancy could be due to the FBI counting people in one quarter and Treasury counting them in a later quarter. Clearly that’s not the case.
@Eric – I suggest it’s the IGA signatories (not the banks or the IRS) who might be held to account for not checking whether suspects have renounced. Even though no accurate list is publicly available, the tax agency of an IGA signatory country could certainly ask the IRS to provide the information via treaty provisions.
Good idea! I’ve downloaded the PDF for my records, and will also print out a copy to keep with my CLN.
Considering it’s the state department that approves the CLNs and has to notify NICS, that list should be accurate so I can’t think of a valid reason why iota isn’t on the same list as me given his approval is dated only two days before mine.
If they’re not posting all the names that would explain why the list is so short, because it certainly does not reflect the long wait times at many consulates.
It will be interesting to see if your name crops up on next quarter’s list!
Sadly, I’m not surprised to hear that the IRS knows the list is not incomplete; what surprises me is that they ever admitted it publicly.
I think it’s kind of hilarious that some Chinese banks are encouraging people to self-certify, though I never would’ve had the nerve to do that myself.
Crazy, crazy, crazy.
Took the oath in February 2016, received CLN in April 2016 (Paris is FAST), and my name isn’t on the list.
LOL. My husband went to a restaurant in Montreal called the F Bar. He could only stomach it by thinking of it in French, “Taverne F”. 🙂
@iota. Yes, I would be interested to know if there is any rhyme or reason why people show or don’t, but I very much doubt there is any logical explanation other than a disregard for the truth. I seem to remember that Allou renounced same time and place with her children, they showed up about 6 maths later, but her name didn’t appear for about another year.
@Heidi – most children probably aren’t worth a tax penalty.
I believe her CLN took longer to come too, but are you saying some ‘research’ may be done first?
To get back to ‘the list’, rather than try to second guess the machinations of the compilers, if all the no shows write and demand their names are included, it would force them to reveal the real numbers. Name and shame was once thought of in just that way, now the shame is on the other foot, that is why there is foot dragging.
@Heidi – I’m suggesting that it wouldn’t be surprising if Approved CLNs received by the IRS got sent on a semi-automated path to check compliance (1040s, FBARs, 8854s, etc.) The time taken to reach the end of the path and get passed on to the Quarterly List Printing function would presumably vary, depending on how long it took to complete the verification. CLNs for children could (mostly) be expected to go through more quickly than CLNs for adults.
It’s presumably not necessary for a CLN to be held back from the list until they’ve finished their checking. But it might be how the system is set up, since the list has no stated legal function and its accuracy and timeliness are not important for anyone who matters to the IRS.
I’d like the “list” to include a column of “tax owed”….wouldn’t THAT be eye-opening?
Thanks for your work on this, Eric. It’s the usual mysterious list — incomplete but with duplicate names — I counted at least four pairs, including two pairs right near the beginning in the A and B surnames. My name has never appeared on it, but there is one name on the current list that might be the name of someone I know who renounced recently. How can I know for sure?
Is there any meaning to this quarterly exercise? Does any other government in the world regularly publish an official list of names with no other identifying information??
Renounced U.S. Citizenship category in NICS now at 36,378 records (+350 during July)
Article in Fortune about the Federal Register list. Quotes Max Reed. Mentions FATCA, citizenship-based taxation, cap. gains tax on home, penalties. No mention of NICS, but at least it doesn’t claim that green card holders are in the list
Actually, the article mentions FACTA, lol!
Two more names to look for in upcoming lists:
Arcandra Tahar (Indonesia)
Indonesia’s new Minister of Energy & Mineral Resources Arcandra (also spelled Archandra) Tahar lived in the US for a long time and is believed to have become a US citizen in 2012. A statement by one of his fellow cabinet ministers claims that he already renounced US citizenship.
English sources are a bit thin on the ground, the only one I could find was an editorial
As always, be suspicious of politicians claiming they’ve renounced US citizenship unless they actually pose for a photo holding their CLN. Politicians tend to show up in the list more quickly, if they ever show up at all, though we have counterexamples to that trend too (e.g. Rachel Azaria took 18 months).
Robert Coane (Canada)
If Mr. Coane goes ahead and commits his relinquishing act in January 2017, and gets a consular appointment around October 2017, then we can look forward to his appearance in Federal Register probably in 2018 or 2019, unless they decide to drop his name on the floor.
I rather like the rest of Mr. Coane’s statement:
I suspect the majority of former Americans would agree with Mr. Coane.