The folks over at the Federal Register have put the “Internal” Revenue Service’s Q3 2016 Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate up for public inspection. I count 1,379 names of newly-minted ex-U.S. citizens in this list, making it the second-largest list ever published (beaten only by the Q3 2015 list, which had 1,426 names).
The list is scheduled for official publication on 10 November, eleven days later than the 30-day deadline specified by 26 USC § 6039G(d). Obama’s Treasury Secretaries have only managed to meet the list’s deadline eight times out of 31 during his term as president (three so far for Jack Lew, and five for Tim Geithner, assuming we count the late Q4 2012 list as being his fault). However, Bush’s appointees didn’t have a much better track record: Hank Paulson only published one list on time during eleven quarters, while John Snow holds the all-time delay record of 516 days for the Q3 2005 list.
Who are the people in this list?
The latest list was published just after the news broke that Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, but contrary to media hype, there’s very little connection between that news and people who choose to give up U.S. citizenship. After every U.S. election you can find all sorts of hysterical Internet surfers claiming they want to renounce their citizenship and flee the new regime, but for the most part these aren’t the people who actually move abroad, let alone go to a U.S. consulate and pay $2,350 for State Department bureaucrats to push renunciation papers around.
First and foremost, all of the people in the Federal Register list already live in other countries, and have been living there since long before the election. This latest list includes people who are known from media reports to have given up U.S. citizenship as recently as July, though most probably made their final visit to the U.S. consulate late last year or early this year.
Some were self-identifying Americans abroad who saw cutting off their legal ties to Washington, DC (and its coterie of self-serving revolving-door bureaucrats who pretend they don’t know that they’re ruining our lives) as the only way to survive all the damage that previous presidents and Congresses inflicted on the diaspora. They’d reached their breaking points long before anyone knew who’d even be on the ballot in November, let alone how long it would take the next administration to follow through on its promises to make things right.
Others considered themselves primarily as citizens of other countries, and saw U.S. citizenship as a barrier to their lives in the country they considered home. They didn’t have any stake in who’d be U.S. president — but instead of making it easy for these de facto non-Americans to become de jure non-Americans, the U.S. government put all sorts of unnecessary barriers in their way, turning what should have been an amicable split into a bureaucratic nightmare.
Why isn’t my name in there?
In addition to being late, the Federal Register list is widely recognised as being incomplete too. Aside from the IRS, the FBI also maintains a list of renunciants in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System gun control database (NICS), in order to enforce provisions of federal law (18 USC 922(g)(7)) barring renunciants from purchasing firearms. They don’t make the names public, but each month they publish a report on the size of the database; according to those reports, the FBI added 4,240 renunciant records from the beginning of this year until 30 September (growing from 32,666 to 36,906).
In contrast, the Federal Register only gave us 3,046 renunciants and relinquishers over the same period (509 last quarter, and 1,158 in Q1). And that’s not even mentioning the tens of thousands of people who abandon green cards each year, whom the Federal Register list misleadingly implies are included as well (“[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”).
As always, after the jump please find an updated table of people who are known from media reports to have given up U.S. citizenship recently, including whether or not their names have appeared in the Federal Register.
|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 (Teodoro) LLAMANZARES||Businessman||Philippines||Public opinion (his wife ran for President, but lost after he renounced)||April 2016||Q3 2016||Rappler (Philippines)|
|LEE Chih-kung||Physicist||Taiwan||Appointed Minister of Economic Affairs by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen||May 2016||Q3 2016||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||Q3 2016||Apple Daily (Hong Kong)|
|Kimi ONODA||Politician||Japan||Dual-at-birth, did Japanese-law “choice of nationality” long ago, didn’t know U.S. still considered her a citizen||October 2016?||No||Viewpoint (Japan)|
Regarding the newest addition to the table: Japan, like Jamaica and Pakistan before it, is in the middle of a scandal about lawmakers holding dual citizenship, and so various politicians have been rushing to renounce their other citizenships. Onoda, who was born in Chicago, issued a statement in early October that she is currently undergoing procedures to give up U.S. citizenship according to U.S. law, but didn’t say whether she’d actually made her final visit to the U.S. consulate to sign the paperwork. I do not know whether she will be swearing an oath of renunciation or trying to claim relinquishment under 8 USC § 1481(a)(4).
If you know of any other recent media reports which have interviewed people giving up U.S. citizenship, for whatever reason, leave a comment and I’ll add them to the table.