nobledreamer posted a very nice link to another site that showed the results of a recent poll. Over 56% of U.S. citizens, when asked what they were going to do in response to the 2012 Diaspora Tax Wars, replied, “Nothing, how will they find me?” That is pretty consistent with my informal queries to my friends and family in my host country. My answer to this is, “Oh, my fellow Americans, let me count the ways.”
Why? Well, let us all take a moment to salute Technology. Governments have always had a hard time tracking people once they left their country of origin but today technology is their new best friend. Have a look at your U.S. passport, watch them swipe it when you enter the U.S., watch them look at their computer screens before they nod and let you enter. Behind all that are huge databases which are not that much trouble to build and maintain these days. Storage is cheap. Searching is easy – you can do it with a few simple commands.
Outside the U.S. other countries are implementing or updating their people tracking technology. On the EU side is something called the Schengen Information System (new version coming on-line in 2013). Today, I am the proud holder of a new biometric 10-year French residency permit with a nifty little chip on it. This is an EU standard imposed on the member-states. Pretty soon anywhere I go in Europe all they will have to do is read my little card and they’ll know a lot about me. As these systems come on-line they will become cheaper and easier to implement and well within the reach of smaller countries with smaller budgets.
From there it becomes much simpler to cross-check information. Databases can be linked or the data can just be dumped into a file and shared with others. Privacy laws in many countries, in my view, are just speed bumps to slow them down – I sincerely doubt that it will stop them for long.
Within my lifetime I believe that there will be such systems in almost every developed country. I believe as well that most states or super-states will share citizen and migrant information with other states because they will see the benefit. All countries, for example, are interested in stopping illegal immigration but today it’s hard to separate the citizens from the migrants (it’s not like we carry tattoos on our foreheads proclaiming our citizenship and our residency status). It will be so much easier to manage us once there are citizen databases, migrant databases and biometric passports that can track the movement of people from one country to another.
The only way to hide once these systems are on-line is to go to a country, live in a rural area and never EVER go anywhere or do anything public (like buy property, pay taxes, have a bank account or start a business).
I’ll admit that it’s an option, but those who go this route will find themselves prisoners in their host countries. Forget globalization, these folks will play no part in it. And that is a hell of a price to pay.
The “do nothing” people need to pull their heads out of the sand and realize that there are really only three realistic options available: comply, renounce or fight.
@geeez, One thing that used to confuse me in Brazil was the very loose use of last names (surnames). Some use their father’s last name, others use their moother’s last name while others use another name from somewhere back in their ancestry. So it was not uncommon to find three brothers, all born to the same mother and father, that were known by different last names. I was not at all used to that and it at first just blew my mind. But I got used to it. Just part of the cultural differences that one encounters when you relocate to a different country with different traditions.
This is one that would leave the IRS in total confusion.