IRSCompliantForever asked this question in a comment, and I thought the answer was interesting (and complicated) enough to deserve its own post. The Reed Amendment — which bans people determined by the Attorney-General to have “renounced citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation” — was an amendment to the Immigration in the National Interest Act of 1995 (which eventually morphed into the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996), moved while the bill was being considered by the House Committee on the Judiciary. The amendment passed with broad bipartisan support — you’ll notice plenty of familiar names among the committee voters, including Chuck Schumer — while the Republican control of the House and Senate ensured the passage of the bill in which it was contained. The detailed breakdown of the votes can be found after the jump.
Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport.
This requirement traces its roots all the way back to the 1952 INA as first enacted. However, it’s worth remembering two rather amusing facts about the law as it originally stood: it only required United States citizens to bear a “valid passport” and not a “valid United States passport”, and it only applied in time of war or national emergency:
(a) When the United States is at war or during the existence of any national emergency proclaimed by the President, or, as to aliens, whenever there exists a state of war between or among two or more states, and the President shall find that the interests of the United States require that restrictions and prohibitions in addition to those provided otherwise than by this section be imposed upon the departure of persons from and their entry into the United States, and shall make public proclamation thereof, it shall, until otherwise ordered by the President or the Congress, be unlawful …
(b) After such proclamation as is provided for in subsection (a) has been made and published and while such proclamation is in force, it shall, except as otherwise provided by the President, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid passport.
So when did these two facts change, you might ask?
Some time ago, a poster here (I believe it was Tim?) pointed us to the 1995 Joint Committee on Taxation report “Issues Presented By Proposals To Modify The Tax Treatment Of Expatriation”. This report was issued during one of the U.S. periodic witchhunts against the alleged flood of rich people who were “fleeing the country to avoid the estate tax”, and made public the names, birth dates, and dates of loss of citizenship of nearly a thousand people who had chosen to stop being Americans between 1 January 1994 and 26 April 1995.
I’m going to be doing a couple of posts over the next week or so based on this data, so I’ve decided to put it up here in machine-readable format; the original document contained only scanned pages images and not text, and thus was not easily searchable. I have not published the actual names or birthdates here, out of respect for the privacy of people who made individual decisions to give up U.S. citizenship more than a decade and a half ago, for whom no law at the time ever authorised that the data be made public, and who are no doubt going about their lives today with no desire to dredge up the distant past (and for those who have continued to pay attention to U.S. politics, a distinct sense of relief that they are not the targets of today’s IRS Offshore Crusades).