How would you react if your home country denied you the right to participate in the political process back home if you had been resident overseas for longer than 15 years? Your home country does not overtly have citizenship-based taxation along the lines of the US, but refuses to let you go and claims that you will be tax-domiciled for your whole life, right up until your death. Even if you change citizenship your home country would still considered you to be a domiciled tax resident and tax your estate accordingly, as if you had never left.
Sound familiar? None of the above is hypothetical – The country that I am describing is the UK, and the above frustration is actually pushing some UK citizens to renounce their citizenship due to lack of representation and being made to feel like subjects and not citizens whilst overseas. From a regional Iberian newspaper (in English):
James Preston resents having the door slammed in his face. Britain denies him the basic democratic right of representation. He writes “We have concluded, therefore, that the contract between the State and my wife and I – the citizens – has been broken. We moved to Spain, an EU country, to represent British interests and find work, and not continue to claim unemployment benefit.”
Yet despite the fact that Mr. Preston does not claim anything from the UK government, they still consider him to be tax domiciled and expect him to pay his “fair share”. Fighting to have representation and the vote, and the fact that his children studied in the UK have made it even more unlikely that the UK government will let him go:
…the clammy mechanical claw of British bureaucracy might well hold claim on his estate at his death.
British Tax Law could still claim to his dying day that he is ‘domiciled in Britain’, because it says he will retain his British domicile of birth! You may think this outrageous and you are right to think so. It is difficult to cut yourself loose from the British State if you are born British. The fact that his children are educated in Britain, and extraordinarily, the very fact that he has taken a case before the High Court in London to claim the right to vote displays in the eyes of the Revenue his ‘attachment’ to Britain.
Preston goes on to lament the fact that his children are not even considered to be full UK citizens, but rather “British by descent” and will be unable to pass on their citizenship to their own children unless they are born in the UK, leading to possible statelessness.
It is the last straw that, after having been insultingly refused the right to Representation, Britain could still claim a pound (£) of ‘flesh’.
It beggars belief that Britain, claiming to lead the world in Democracy so treats its own citizens who dare to live abroad. It cannot desire, can it, that every British Citizen living abroad should renounce their citizenship? Should not Britain be proud of us who live abroad? To our neighbours we are the image of Britain. Why are we ignored by our own country?
We want to be ambassadors for Britain, but Britain does not want us – except perhaps our money.
What’s worse, being denied the right outright to vote or being given that right on paper but ignored by your assigned representative for having a foreign address? Being forced to renounce citizenship so that you can keep open a bank account and not have your hard earned assets overseas subject to double taxation or still being treated as tax-domiciled even after leaving the country and changing citizenship, resulting in your assets still being subject to an estate tax at death (perpetual allegiance)? Lastly, does anyone else find it to be unbelievably hypocritical that the US & UK, supposedly both the defenders of democracy worldwide, conveniently forget about their own ideals and philosophy when it comes to their own citizens and a bit of money is to be had from disenfranchised people unable to complain?