IT HURTS MY HEART: On Renouncing American Citizenship
Essay by Christina Warren with Photographs by Lars Deutschlaender
Bern, Switzerland is built on a horseshoe bend of the river Aare. Its old town is in the center of this horseshoe and is designated a UNESCO World-Heritage site. Bridges lead to the ‘younger’ neighborhoods. Mine, the Monbijou, is only a ten-minute walk from the Bundeshaus or Parliament building. My favorite route to the old town is through Flora Park, past the gated compound of the American Embassy
and through the Kleine Schanze, a park
bordering the Bundeshaus and offering
views of the Alps. I have taken this
walk countless times, passing the embassy,
sometimes stopping to light a candle at
the Dreifaltigkeitskirche, a catholic church
located just outside the Kleine Schanze.
On June 12th, 2014, on our third hot day of what had been so far a cool, rainy summer, I am taking this walk with my Swiss husband. He is dressed in a weather-appropriate ‘Move Ya Body’ t-shirt and floppy shorts. Heeding my mother’s advice to dress nicely, I have elected to wear a weather-defiant conservative suit and simple blouse. This time we will not pass the embassy, but instead, will stop to enter it for the very first time. I have a 2:30 p.m. appointment to renounce my citizenship.
We had left early, expecting the normal long line of people waiting for visas. There is no one. My husband walks me to the labyrinth of barriers set up to keep the lines organized. For security reasons, he will not be allowed in and for security reasons I only have the appropriate documents with me: my American passport, my Swiss passport, a copy of the pre-appointment questionnaire, my renunciation fee of $450 (which would be raised to $2350 in September 2014), and just in case—the other information documents the embassy sent informing me that this step, when taken, is irrevocable. Unseen, but certainly there, is an enormous pressure in my chest. My breathing is shallow.
I check the door. It is locked. As I turn to my husband, a security guard opens it. I fumble with my passport, look back at my husband and go to him for one last kiss. He will meet me after 3:00 p.m. when this is over.
The guard speaks African-accented English. He walks me through the security process. “Put your documents in this box, please.” He seems friendly and kind. I put my things in a plastic box like those used at airport security.
“Do I need to put my jacket in it, too?” I am shaking. Not hearing what he says, I take it off and put it in. He asks me to take off my watch and put it in the box. I can keep my wedding ring and my shoes on.
Before I walk through a metal detector, he asks me to take off my belt. I fumble again.
“You can leave it on.” His voice is soft.
I swallow tears as I walk through the metal detector. He then scans me with a wand—front and back—with my arms open and out by my sides. Nothing beeps.
In Dutch-accented English, his colleague takes me through the inventory of things in my box. She asks me if I want to leave my sunglasses at this station. Confused, I look at the documents and sunglasses I am holding in my hand. “No, thank you. I can manage.”
The next step takes me through a door and back outside. I go down a small ramp and find a door. There is a lone security guard there.
“I have a two-thirty appointment.” My throat feels dry.
“Take a seat there,” he says, pointing to a row of chairs and then adds, “Don’t put your sunglasses on.” They are still in my hand.
I am surprised to see someone else sitting there. I take a seat next to a woman dressed more in keeping with the summer season, a thin folder of documents in her hand. She doesn’t look at me; her focus is straight ahead. I blink hard and swallow.
There is a man at the window talking to a white-haired official. He raises his hand, takes an oath, turns and leaves. He is smiling. I wonder if he is an “accidental American,” one of those citizens who are born in the USA to alien parents, but raised elsewhere. Their only tie to the US is their place of birth; but whether they know it or not, their obligations, for example, to file annual income tax forms, are the same as non-accidentals.
The white-haired embassy official calls a name. The woman stands and goes to the window. She is asked to sign documents, and raise her hand to “swear or affirm” that the information given is true to the best of her knowledge. From what I can hear of her accent, I can tell she is a native Swiss. In less than five minutes it is over. She isn’t smiling as she leaves. The white-haired man disappears. I realize I have just witnessed a renunciation. Two, in fact.
Except for the security guard, who discreetly looks up every now and then, I am alone in a sterile narrow room that looks much like a bank. In front of me are four “bank-teller” windows. On the wall to my right are two framed posters that I won’t remember when this is over. To the left of the windows are simple A-4 signs, one reminding citizens to “Remember the past, think of the future and vote.” I notice little brass plaques next to each of the “teller” windows. They seem to say, “Smile you are not a criminal.” Puzzled I get up to examine them more closely. They actually say, “Smile you are on camera.”
I check the time. My appointment won’t be for another 10 minutes. The pressure in my chest is uncomfortable. I breathe consciously in an attempt to ease it away. A lady in a wheelchair appears on the embassy employee side of a window and calls my name. She asks for my passports and gives me a “Certificate of Loss of Nationality Information Sheet” and says I can read it later. Her accent is American. It is time to pay, but I don’t pay her. Instead I am instructed to go around the corner to booth four and ring the bell. The cashier will come and take my money along with a second document the lady gives me. I do as I am told.
Booth four is dark. There is a blind drawn on the other side of the window. I have trouble finding the bell, but then realize that it is the flat thing much like the doorbell that had been on our front door back in Mississippi. I press it. Nothing happens. I notice a sign saying they don’t accept notes printed before 2006. Surprised, I look at my bills; one of them is from 2003. I check the documentation I had been sent. It says that no bills printed before 2000 will be accepted. I am relieved. I’ll just have to show them my papers and stand my ground. I press the button again. Nothing happens. I ask the security guard if the bell works. He smiles and says yes. Finally, the blinds are raised, and I am reminded of “The Wizard of Oz.” I point out the differences in information and that I have a bill from 2003. She apologizes and explains that they had just changed the rules. She sounds British. I pay and she tells me I will get my receipt after my interview. I go back to the chairs and wait.
The woman in the wheelchair brings a file to the farthest window at the right. The white-haired man reappears and calls my name. I approach the window. He greets me with a polite, “How are you today?” and I give the standard response—fully aware that our exchange is bizarrely out of place. He asks me to sign two sets of two documents each. I sign the first set and realize I haven’t read what I signed. I glance through them and then sign the second set. Eye contact is minimal.
“Raise your right hand.”
I do as I am told.
“Do you swear or affirm that all the information presented here is correct to the best of your knowledge?”
I repeat, using “affirm” rather than “swear.” He explains that my documents along with my passport will be sent to the State Department for approval. Once that is done I will receive a Certificate of Renunciation along with my canceled passport. He gives me my Swiss passport and my receipt. It is marked 2:37:01 PM “Renunciation of,” “Customer Copy” and “All Transactions are Final – No Refunds.” As I prepare to leave he says, “Thank you.”
Words catch in my throat, “I don’t know how to say ‘you’re welcome’ under these circumstances.”
“That’s OK, I understand.”
As I am leaving, the security guard wishes me a nice day. I put on my sunglasses. I walk up the ramp and to the second door. The other two security guards are still there. They too wish me a nice day. I don’t remember how I answer.
Outside the building, I look at my watch; it is 2:45p.m. My renunciation had taken all of 15 minutes. My husband is not there yet, but I know where to find him. After standing at the edge of the street waiting for cars to go by, I finally cross into Flora Park. It is the same as it had been less than 20 minutes before. In the soundtrack of my mind, I hear Peggy Lee singing, Is that all there is, my friend… The pressure in my chest is gone. I am breathing easily.
The questionnaire I had filled in prior to renunciation had asked if I would like to make a written statement as to why I was choosing to renounce. I had declined that opportunity, but I had given it a lot of thought. Why had I chosen to do this? Why had I taken a step that is absolutely final?
Most statesiders don’t know that non-resident US citizens have always been required to file income tax returns with the IRS. There is a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which may vary depending on how much time the non-resident spends in the States, and it is possible to make deductions. One normally only has to pay taxes on the difference if there is less tax paid in the host country. It can be pretty straightforward, but becomes more complicated as one acquires property or has investments. Double taxation is still possible—especially when it comes to retirement savings and pension funds.
In 2008 Swiss banks came under increasing pressure after a scandal involving the Swiss bank, UBS. It wasn’t long before all non-resident US citizens living in Switzerland began feeling the side-effects. It had become a burden for Swiss banks to have American clients. Mortgages were canceled and accounts closed. Swiss citizens living in the USA also began feeling the squeeze. Swiss banks wrote letters to these expat Swiss requesting that accounts be closed and safety deposit boxes emptied. Ties with the USA had become a liability for account holders.
The Foreign Account Compliance Act or FATCA became law in 2010. FATCA not only requires foreign financial institutions to report all accounts held by US citizens, it also targets US citizens about foreign financial assets and offshore assets. By law all US citizens must report all foreign accounts to the US government regardless of where they live. For me, this is not a simple process. There is form 8939 in addition to the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts or FBAR (formerly known as TD F 90), both of which are sent to the “Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.”
I am not a criminal.
I work hard and I pay taxes. My bank is not a Foreign Financial Institution. It is a Swiss bank and, since I live here, I consider it a Domestic Financial Institution.
I am one of those US citizens who had not been regularly filing my income tax forms. I knew that I earned under the foreign earned income exclusion, so I wasn’t too worried about it. But with FATCA this changed. By the end of 2012, I knew I had to do something, so I began gathering five years of paperwork. It sat in the corner of my office for a year before I finally organized it into logical units that could be scanned and sent to an accountant specializing in US tax returns. In the meantime my bank had asked me to sign a form giving them permission to send my bank data to the US authorities—including information about my husband’s and my joint accounts. My husband is a non-resident alien spouse; he is a Swiss citizen, living in Switzerland. Despite the fact that he had signed papers declaring he did not have a green card and was not a US citizen, he had to sign the same documents releasing his bank data to the US—just in case we were hiding my money in his bank accounts.
I had my paperwork ready and scanned by early February 2014. After sending them to the accountant, I asked for an estimate so that I could plan my budget. She quoted roughly CHF 2,000 per year (about $2,240)—slightly higher than a “normal” private person because I am also self-employed and unbeknownst to me my little “entirely Swiss” company has to report to the US government as well.
I am a Swiss citizen because my mother is Swiss – from the Emmental. People from the Emmental are practical. We are taught to save money, buy only the things we can afford and if we want something we can’t yet afford, we save for it. I am not good with numbers but I can multiply both CHF2,000 and $2,240 by five, the number of years I was being billed for. CHF10,000 ($11,200) is a lot of money. I tend to be quite frugal, and after having seen the amount of money I would have to pay an accountant to be compliant, I had to call a friend to talk me off the ledge.
Fortunately, the final bill was just over half the estimated amount—still a healthy sum to prove that I don’t owe anything. Ironically, according to the tax returns, the US government owes me money—$123. I later received letters from the IRS disallowing this “refund.”
But are these laws fair? I have read the history behind them and I have read about Delaware, which seems to proudly boast that it is the nation’s tax haven. I have read about Irish Inversions—a legal, tax-avoiding maneuver saved for corporations, which are considered people except when it is more advantageous to be a corporation. And I’ve talked to the mother of a mentally disabled adult son, who having been born in the USA is an “accidental American.” Being typically Swiss they had worked and saved and put money aside for him in a trust fund, so that he could be taken care of when they were no longer here. When I talked to her, she was at a loss as to what to do because the IRS was interested in her son’s bank account. I have read about other, similar cases.
Switzerland is not a tax haven if you live and work here. We pay a lot in taxes, but we get a lot. Great public transportation. Excellent infrastructure. Excellent services. As a Swiss citizen, I can vote and if I were so inclined, I could gather signatures for a referendum. I have never done that, but I have certainly signed many petitions, and I vote.
When I began considering renunciation, some of my friends thought I was crazy. Talk to your representative they said. I didn’t have one. Should I have contacted someone in Mississippi, a state I haven’t lived in since 1985, the year I moved to Switzerland? Or perhaps someone in Indiana, a state I had never lived in but had had a contact address in? Would anyone care? How fair is the law, when you have no representative?
While reading about FATCA, I came across a quote from a senate staffer who preferred to remain anonymous, “…nobody in Congress represents overseas Americans. And government officials think this law is succeeding at catching the tax cheats. That may be worth the side effect of losing a few thousand American citizens every year. …”
What happened to “Taxation without representation is tyranny?” I am not a tax cheat, I am not a criminal, and apparently I am not worth the effort to change legislation.
For most of March and April, I alternated between anger and depression as I waited for my returns to come back. I talked to friends who had renounced and those who hadn’t. Most importantly I read and did some heavy duty soul-searching.
In his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:
…an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
How does one show passive resistance or civil disobedience towards a law that carries consequences not just for the citizen, but also for the citizen’s non-resident alien family and for their bank? A law that some consider to be unconstitutional in that it violates the fourth amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) and the eighth amendment which prevents cruel and unusual punishment (in this case heavy fines).
Civil disobedience didn’t seem to be an option here. So I offered my resistance the only way I could, by renouncing my citizenship.
But never think that this was an easy choice.
William Faulkner wrote a short story called “Two Soldiers.” In it, the older of two brothers, Pete, decides to join the army after hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The younger brother, who is only nine years old, doesn’t really understand that the war is far away and is determined to go with his big brother to “chop firewood and tote water” for the troops. The day after Pete leaves the Mississippi farm to go to Memphis and join, the younger brother sneaks off and heads to Memphis as well. Despite the distance the young boy manages to find the city, get to the army recruitment center and ask for his brother. The officers realize that they need to get the older brother to talk to the young boy. When Pete firmly insists that his younger brother has to go home, the child says, “It hurts my heart, Pete.”
And that is exactly how I feel. This hurts my heart, but I could not continue to comply with a law that I feel is short-sighted, imperialistic and unjust.
Christina Warren is a former Mississippian, living in Bern, Switzerland, where she works as an English teacher and translator.
[copyright 2015, Christina Warren]
Christina, a heartfelt thank you for this beautiful essay. I still have a lump in my throat after reading it because it describes so accurately exactly what I experienced with my early 2014 renunciation. My anger has faded nearly a year later but I still feel extremely hurt: hurt over having been forced to renounce, hurt over feeling betrayed by the country I grew up in, hurt over being treated like a criminal, hurt over the lack of understanding in the US of the injustice being done to all of us by this unfair law and by extraterritorial taxation.
I would like to contact you privately. If you’re willing, please authorise the site moderator to send me your e-mail address.
This letter stirs up a lot of feelings with anyone who valued their US citizenship. In our family’s case, they never felt they had any US citizenship. The USA to our family was the place where my wife and brother in law were born. It saddens me to see how the US is treating it’s patriotic citizens immensely.Questions that come to mind when reading stories like this are… Why has there been absolutely NO response from the US Congress or anyone in power in the US government to answer to this injustice? I mean, If Obama is not totally stupid, why is he plugging his ears and hiding like a little weasel? Why won’t ANY government officials answer our heartfelt letters at all? We seem to get hyperbole and rhetoric from our elected dictators? This has got to stop… when will the people finally get together and say enough is enough? My hear goes out to Christina for doing what she has to in order to live a normal life….
Planning going back abroad soon. At a Homelander bar last night hearing Homelanders sing all that patriotic BS music and knowing most of then neither knows about FATCA or would care annoys me. Homelanderd would rather have 7.5m renunciation than back track. You did the right thing don’t sweat it.
Tears in my eyes. This law is evil.
I am 2 – 3 years behind you, just getting compliant. I have not yet decided to renounce, or relinquish, but it is incredible that one year ago I was totally ignorant of all this, and that today I nod my head while reading you. And that renouncing has actually become an option. I would never have thought this; though a dual citizen, I am a loyal American. I now am thankful that I have another passport, and that my kids have a non US birthplace, even though I saddled them with US passports when they were born, thinking I was doing well. Well, it gives them a choice, later, if they want to go “there”. But at age 48 I will have to face up to the fact that I will not be going back to the US to live, and that renouncing is probably the most rational choice. But I have to go through the motions. If things continue as they are, I will be following your path in the coming years, and when the time comes, it will hurt my heart. Thanks for your story.
Thank you for this eloquent piece. It brought tears to my eyes. I wish it could be printed somewhere homelanders could read it. The complications I had to cope with before renouncing in 2013 were less, because Canada is not Switzerland, but the emotions I felt were so well captured by you. I was surprised at how strong my reaction was at the time, having left the US almost 40 years ago, and only living in America from the age of 10 to 22. My mother is still there, and not well, and I am now having to cope with other complications, but I still feel I had no choice. I remember feeling numb and disoriented for months after renouncing. Thank you
Thank you for your comments. This essay originally appeared on The Literary Explorer http://literaryexplorer.webdelsol.com/ and I am incredibly grateful for their support in publishing this piece. Jane Doe belge has asked for a private email address. How do I notify the site moderator to allow this? Thank you again for reading and all the best to all of you who are still trying to decide what to do.
I will take care of getting your address to Jane.
Thank you, Christina, for your heartfelt words at The Literary Explorer that now resonate here at Isaac Brock Society. Our best to you and yours.
(I referred to your words in today’s post here: http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2015/01/25/99750-more-needed-in-94-days-to-make-the-may-1-2015-payment-for-canadian-fatca-iga-lawsuit-il-nous-reste-99750-a-ramasser-pour-notre-poursuite-judiciaire/comment-page-3/#comment-5442511.)
Thank you so much for writing this. It’s amazing how a straight-forward accounting without a great deal of emotional embellishment can be such a strong testimony to the persecution of Americans abroad. The situation clearly speaks for itself: being a US citizen living outside of the confines of the US is unsustainable for the average US citizen. To resolve this, the US has to make a decision as whether people like you and me are of value to them. I don’t know how that will happen, but I do know, as you do, that a government that wages war against its own citizens cannot expect much in the way of loyalty and protection from those whose lives they seek to destroy. Congratulations on your ticket to freedom from the land of the free.
If I might suggest, your excellent story should be forwarded to Robert Wood at Forbes. As FATCA morphs into a truly Orwellian global prison without walls, it is more important than ever to put a human face on the consequences of this immoral and destructive law, and the scourge of citizenship-based taxation at its roots.
Yours is yet another sobering example of just how far the US has strayed from its founding principles. I often wonder; are there enough Americans left with the moral conscience to hear and respond to these cries from the front lines of their nation’s growing war on itself and, in turn, the entire world?
Thanks for this essay. I feel your pain. But, I would say this:
It won’t be long before you look back at your renunciation and realize that it was the best decision you ever made. In fact, it was the only decision you could have made. The only U.S. citizen who can live outside the United States is one who is NOT in compliance with the “Code of Conduct” that applies to Americans abroad. The “Code” is a system of life control that is coupled with terrifying threats of life altering penalties. The Code is also designed to confiscate the assets of those who are the “savers”, those who are “frugal” and those who are “financially responsible”. It is also specifically designed to to terrorize those who believe that you should “obey the law”. The “Thugocracy” that has become the U.S. government makes up a bunch of immoral laws, and then suggests that you have a moral duty to obey those laws. It’s as though law has become a substitute for morality. Which reminds me of the following post:
Those who attempt to comply with the “Code” will soon find that it is impossible to even know what is expected of them. Let me tell you that your compliance costs were very very low. What you describe as a “difficult decision” is really a process of recognizing that that your renunciation of U.S. citizenship was NOT a choice. It was forced on you by an evil, corrupt administration.
In any event, you will soon be in possession (or maybe you now have it) of the single most valuable document in the world today – a “Certificate of Loss of U.S. Nationality”. Many would pay anything for this document. Many are paying huge amounts in the form of a “Exit Tax” that makes similar taxes rendered by the Nazis and the Soviets look tame.
Many people find the day of renouncing U.S. citizenship to be draining and a day of difficult emotions.
But, what is the emotion that you are really feeling? Is it really a sorrow over having your citizenship confiscated from you? If you analyze, it may not be a loss of your citizenship at all (how could that be anything but a good thing?). I think that what you are feeling is the the realization that you are being bullied and being forced to renounce your citizenship (confiscation) by an evil, corrupt administration that is a disgrace to the principles the U.S. claims to stand for.
Hold your head high! You took the only position you could. Furthermore, your position is ethical, moral and principled.
Make no mistake about it. When the U.S. government is finished destroying the community of Americans abroad it will turn its sights on the Homelanders.
That’s “Change we can believe in”.
I actually cried while reading the oath of renunciation. I had prepared myself and hadn’t expected to cry, but I was overcome with emotion. Before I finished it the Embassy official asked if I wanted to change my mind. I said no, tried to compose myself and carried on. Just like Christina – and many of us – there was no other choice I could make for me, my family and our future. My heart hurts for us all.
Your story really captures the essence of the way so many Americans living outside the Homeland feel. I agree with Deckard, it would be great if Robert Wood were to re-publish it. It took a long time to educate him, even with him being a tax attorney, about the plight of expats. But he understands now, and has been sharing the realities of our plight with his many readers.
As I say, you are not really “renouncing U.S. citizenship”. “Renouncing” implies a conscious choice. Your U.S. citizenship is being stolen from you by a corrupt and evil administration.
S. 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act reads as follows:
What is going on is that the Government of the “Land of the Free” is:
1. Forcing you to take whatever steps to fee yourself from “terrorism based on place of birth”; and
2. Forcing you to pay them $2350 along the way.
Those who “renounce” meet the test of “intentionally” relinquishing U.S. citizenship (they need to protect themselves and their families”) but it is NOT voluntary within the meaning of the stature.
In Afroyim, Justice Black make it clear that Congress cannot do things that result in the “forcible destruction” of U.S. citizenship.
So, in addition to the U.S. government being immoral and unethical the “terrorism based on place of birth”is also clearly unconstitutional.
Your story really brought out a lot of emotions I keep trying to bury – I am on the same path and unless by some miracle pulled off by the Republican Congress in the next 2 years, I too will renounce. I don’t want to do that, but the US government (and Obama in particular now) has put me in a place where I have no choice if I want to live a normal life outside the USA. How horrible it is to have the very country you love, grew up in, and swore to protect, treat you like a criminal and a literally confiscate your hard earned Pounds, Dollars, Euros etc. No other country in the world treats its overseas citizens as poorly as the USA. What a complete shame and a complete travesty of justice.
I agree that your letter should be sent to Forbes and also submitted to the House Ways and Means and to the Senate Finance Committee, and of course to Republican’s Overseas -and finally, a copy should also be sent to Mr. Obama. Let them all know what these laws and policies are doing to patriotic Americans living abroad.
I feel with you Christina. Couple years ago, I became US citizen thru naturalization believing I will spend my life in America. However, things changed and I am back in my old continent. I think it is a good idea to be dual citizen, but I feel the pressure of FATCA and other evil laws.
I have put so many thoughts about renouncing my US citizenship, but I do not know if that wouldn’t bar me from entering USA anytime in the future. And it also took me an enormous amount effort to gain my US citizenship in the first place. That is something a lot of you, native born, haven’t had chance to experience.
For me it is good that I am born outside of the U.S and that I speak the local language with no accent and can kind of fly under the radar as far as FATCA is concerned. For now at least. But at the same time, I do not like to violate the law.
I will wait for the elections the next year. Still, I am trying to be optimistic about things and believe that the legislation will change in the right direction. My 2 cents.
Repost from maplesandbox.ca:
Thank you for sharing your experience.
You were, in a sense, lucky to have had already acquired the local citizenship. Since it can take 10 years or more to even be able to apply for it, renouncing the US citizenship is, for most people, not even an option.
They have to keep suffering and live in fear each time they open their mailbox. They may just be told that, for example, their bank accounts, necessary for any kind of normal life, are being canceled for no other reason than their owners having US citizenship! And, of course, no other bank willing to take them on as new customers for the same reasons, or, more aptly said, being considered (too) ‘hot potatoes’ and customers-non-grata.
Even US banks are barring an increasing number of services to Americans living abroad, ever more increasing the bizarre reality of being between a rock and a hard place, all the while being taxed twice with all the financial and logistical difficulties going along with it.
As sad as it is, but the assessment, that a US passport has become a severe liability, is entirely correct. One wonders, how driving away the very every-day ambassadors of American Life in other countries could possibly be in the interest of the country at large.
CanuckDoc, Jane Doe, Old English have renounced. Steve, PeterSlo and I seem to be facing up to reality that it is the best (only?) way to go.
This is going to snowball. Will we see 10,000 renounce in 2016?
At least we don’t feel alone. Thanks, IBS.
I am not going to offically renounce my US citizenship, fill out any forms, get an appointment, stand in any line, or pay any money to the US to do so. It will just be tedious, time consuming and more paperwork with trails.
I am renouncing my citizenship later on in this note, however, because what the US government has done is unjust and imperialistic. And because I have been betrayed by a country I was born in from parents who survived WW II, who worked hard to follow the American dream, and who raised us kids to be honest and trustworthy. The US is a different America today and I’m not going to be intimidated by its corrupt Congress, plutocracy and bureauocracy. But I will stand at Canada’s border wih it and say “no – not me – never”, and hope there are others who will stand with me.
I was also betrayed when I learned after serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, and taking part in killing thousands of people there during the 60’s, that the war was contrived against the people there by the US government and its’ CIA (the Tonkin Gulf Incident). I am glad the US lost that war but cry for the people who lost their lives defending their country, and for those who gave their lives so senselessly for such deceit. (John McCain should be ashamed of himself – he’s not a hero). After living and working, and raising a family in Canada since 1980, I am being betrayed again by both the US and Canadian governments by being treated as a tax-cheat and ciminial.
I have no allegence to the United States and I’m starting to feel the same about Canada. My mother is Canadian living in the United States; she is a super lucid 92 year old who encourages me stand my ground because America is not the America my dad fought for, and it is not the America she immigrated to from Saskatchewan.
My dad’s mom (my Granny) was a Canadian from British Columbia. My dad’s great grandparents were both born and raised in Ontario. Together with my mom, this makes me four-quarters (or whole ) Canadian, and it was not my decision to be born in a foriegn country, America.
My children were born in Alberta and it was not their choice to be born of an American parent. None of us have any alliegence to the US. I have no property there and made no money in the United states since 1980 (the last year I filed a US return), and therfore no reason to send any of my money to it.. Actually, I have very little money socked away in Canada, nevermind stashed in off-shore accounts. Because it is not my children’s fault or their childrens (my grandchildren) fault that they were born of an American parent living in Canada, they too feel no obligation to file US tax returns, and they won’t.
My heart aches too, not only because the fond memories I have as a child living in rural America, but because of what the Canadian goverment did too cave in to American demands. Shame on Mr. Harper; he’s a stoolee and I will not be voting for the Conservatives again unless he changes his position between now and the next federal election.
I didn’t get permission to be born in the US and I don’t need their permission to leave it. But I did decide to move to Canada. In fact, when I immigrated to Canada, I had to land into it from a US city where I was never advised then that, as a US “citizen”, I was required to file US tax returns while living here. When I help my children become US citizens because it would have been a privilage to be so, I was not advised that they too were required to file returns. I was deceived and I regret that terrible decision now!
I have no US representative to whom I can take my concern to except its president who, for political reasons only, threatens Canada with what will likely become the “Keystone Pipeline Incident” not unlike the Tonkin Gulf Incident where a “black box” planted on US Turner Joy patrolling the Tonkin Gulf gave cause for America to “declare war on North Vietnam”. Also not unlike Iraq’s “Mass Weapon of Destruction Incident” . The USA has become a tyrant.
I am sad that, at some point, I will be unable to return to America the Beautiful with all it’s glorious landscapes and ordinary people because the US government is financially broke after bailing out banks over funny money and crooked bankers. I am sad because I also have children and grandchildren there who will suffer at the hands of an imperialistic government. But I am glad that the US was rebuked by our Canadian soldiers during the War of 1812, and that their Manifest Destiny will never see the light of day on Canadian soil but for its paper presence in our banking system and influence on our government. I am grateful for Sir Issac Brock and the society founded in his memory, and for the government of that day who had the guts to stand for him and against America.
I am not going to spend any of my Canadian earned money (my only income) paying the US to say goodby much less pay them any money on the money I’ve earned only in Canada to do so. Period. I’m prepared to follow Martin Luther King’s lead and be jailed for disrespecting an unjust law. And like Mohommid Ali, I am considering myself to be conscientous objecter. So…
I hereby renounce my US citizenship and will not wait in any line to do so.
I wish I could cc this to Mr.Obama.
(sorry about spelline errors; I don’t have spell-check here)
You suggest the renunciations wlll go to 10,000. Actually, “renunciation” is one form or relinquishment. The number of actual relinquishers probably exceeds 10,000 per year now. But, when we add in the people like @Dave it is likely in the hundreds of thousands.
Congratulations for recognizing that a “formal relinquishment” is just getting the agreement of the USA that have relinquished. If you were born in the U.S.A. you did NOT receive your citizenship from the U.S. government. Therefore, you shouldn’t need their permission to dispose of the “toxic waste” that it has become.
Thank you for your honesty Dave. The country USA has become really is terrible. I would have never imagines that a country with so much beauty can become something so terrible at the hands of a sick President.
Christina Warren, Dave, and others who are renouncing or considering renouncing U.S. citizenship, your heartfelt stories are so movingly sad that they bring tears to my eyes — as others have reported, too. It only compounds the injustice of the U.S. in all this that they are now charging $2350 for the small amount of bureaucratic work this requires of them. For them to compound the sadness of renunciants that way is inexplicably cruel!
Bravo, Dave, bravo!
After my citizenship ceremony, and I was no longer American because I became a Canadian with intent to be just Canadian, I had to hunt down the citizenship clerk to get him to witness my relinquishment statement.
That’s not a formal thing. It’s just something I know others have done and it’s insurance against the US claiming my intent was other than what it was.
He gave me the strangest look. Like no one had ever asked him to do this (quite probably not as there were only four anglo’s in my citizenship group of 136 people).
He read the paper and signed. “Is that it?”
No questions and after reading my statement of intent to relinquish, the look on his face went from “huh? to “of course, why wouldn’t she?”
I didn’t feel anything really. I still don’t. My emails with the consulate have left me irritated because they have no form that really fits what I did, but that’s their problem.
I understand feeling betrayed, punished and pushed out if you are forced to renounce though. It’s like you weren’t given the opportunity to be proactive and make the choice.