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Demystifying renunciation

27 May 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in diary, mind control | 9 Comments »

The questions folks have about what I’ve done in renouncing my US citizenship and becoming intentionally stateless seem endless sometimes.

It seems that what information is out there in the public sphere doesn’t lead many to a clear picture of the legal reality of things. I guess I’m partly here to help clear some of that up.

A while back I found an article at nowpublic.com by Alvarez Galloso (“Renunciation of US Citizenship Is Not A Joke“) on the topic, which contained an error. In the comments, I pointed out the error, and then forgot about the article.

But I happened upon it again recently, and added a bit more, which I repeat here now.

Mike Gogulski at 17:15 on September 25th, 2008

As a bit of a student on exactly this matter, I must nitpick:

The individual must also make a trip outside of the United States of America to see if the country where he or she wants to become a citizen of will accept him or her

Untrue, and conflates unrelated issues.

First, yes, they must make a trip outside the US. The reason for this is that the law requires the renunciant have demonstrated intent to no longer reside in the US, which excludes renunciation on US territory. But the potential renunciant may or may not have the intent to become a citizen of the country where they renounce their citizenship, and/or may or may not have an intent to become a citizen of some other country. As far as the operation of the legal/administrative process goes, from what I have seen the present or prospective future citizenship of the renunciant is not an issue for consideration by the State Department, unless a broad administrative discretion is applied. Legal residence is a different matter, and can indeed lead to trouble if not addressed properly.

Additionally, many nations are signatories to UN-backed treaties on refugees and stateless persons which provide varying levels of protections to stateless persons found on their territories, at least if they have lawful residence, the most generous of which recognize nearly all of the same rights for them as for citizens. The “acceptance”, at least in theory, is automatic, though there are places in the laws as implemented out there which use the word “may” in places where the seeker of state-recognized status might rather see the word “shall” in relation to the government’s duties. And there’s always that administrative discretion to contend with, too.

The renunciant can certainly make the inquiries and do the research necessary to find out the requirements for becoming a citizen of another country in advance, and without leaving home.

Mr. Galloso replied:

AlvarezGalloso at 18:49 on September 25th, 2008

In this segment, you may be right. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

And I followed up:

Mike Gogulski at 04:48 on May 14th, 2009

Just to follow up, I stand very strongly by my words above!

I renounced my US citizenship on 8 December 2008 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Later, I received a Certificate of Loss of Nationality, and then later applied for and was issued a 1954 Convention Travel Document, a passport-like thing for stateless persons, by the Slovak Ministry of Interior.

Additional information for the would-be renunciant, as well as my own story and radical politics, can be found at my site.

Cheers,

Mike

  1. 9 Responses to “Demystifying renunciation”

  2. By NickyTheHeel on 29 May 2009

    I’m sure any question I have (and I have a lot) has been asked of you a million times, so I’ll just ask one so as not to be an annoyance. I have heard that when one renounces US citizenship for another that he still “has to” pay US taxes for 10 years. Does that apply when one renounces US citizenship and flies solo?

  3. By Mike Gogulski on 29 May 2009

    It’s cool, at least you’re asking questions rather than flying blind…

    I should do a post on this topic, but the answer is yes, though with the proviso that (at least last I checked) there is an exemption for income up to the level of the cutoff point for Social Security contributions, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 per year in gross income.

    Even if you make less than that, though, the IRS still thinks you ought to be compelled to file an income and assets statement each year for 10 years, and, under certain conditions, become subject to a $10k/yr fine for willful failure to file. A bit more detail on that point is discussed in terms of utter mockery here: http://www.nostate.com/1201/confrontation-with-bureaucracy-part-3/

  4. By NickyTheHeel on 29 May 2009

    Thanks for that. I read the post you linked to. Bastards.

  5. By Mike Gogulski on 29 May 2009

    Bastards, yes, though ultimately this is all just words on paper someplace that some people think lays responsibilities on me or others. I sure don’t think that way!

  6. By NickyTheHeel on 29 May 2009

    I’m no Constitutionalist but one has to wonder how constitutional it can be to force non-US citizens to pay US taxes.

  7. By alex on 4 August 2009

    you’ve made me wonder if one could renounce american citizenship but retain american nationality by going to samoa and do some renouncing…

    alex

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_nationality_law#Nationals_who_are_not_citizens

  8. By Mike Gogulski on 5 August 2009

    @Alex: Interesting proposition. I suspect the answer is “no”, since Samoa is still considered US territory. You won’t find an American diplomatic mission there, for example…

  9. By AJ Valleron on 10 September 2009

    The question of US tax is really only relevant if you the expatriating person has a net wealth of over US$2m, or has paid the IRS around US$140,000 in taxes (not income, taxes paid to the IRS). Only one other category of expatriate will be caught…those who did not file their US taxes in the last five years.

    If you trigger one of those above, there are two possible regimes that could apply to you:

    1. If you expatriated before 17 June 2008, the individual must file a four-page form (Form 8854) for ten years. This is called the ten-year shadow. HOWEVER, this shadow period is not PAYING US taxes it is rather a simple form (not the Form 1040 as you would normally file). And unless you have US-source income or gains (i.e., selling Apple shares for a gain, or receiving a dividend from IBM) will the taxpayer pay a penny of US tax. This regime is described in the Internal Revenue Code section 877.

    2. If you expatriated after 17 June 2008, the ten-year shadow is GONE. You will however potentially pay an Exit Tax if upon expatriation you have more than US$600,000 of capital gain. In effect, the Exit Tax pretends you sold off your worldwide assets, and if the resulting gain is more than 600k you will pay about 15% tax (assuming it’s a long-term gain). The 600k is adjusted for inflation, the 15% tax could go up, and there are some downsides for the US estate and gift tax for kids that remain US citizen or resident. This regime is described in the Internal Revenue Code section 877A.

    Remember…the above two regimes ONLY apply if you trigger one of the three items. This means you have to have quite a bit of money before any of these regimes affect you.

    Cheers

  10. By AJ Valleron on 10 September 2009

    Mike, the 80,000 per year in gross income is called section 911 in the US tax code and would not apply here.

    You’re quite correct on the 10,000 penalty for failure to file the Form 8854 for ten years; HOWEVER, this regime is now gone for those expatriating after June 2008.

    I should do a post on this topic, but the answer is yes, though with the proviso that (at least last I checked) there is an exemption for income up to the level of the cutoff point for Social Security contributions, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 per year in gross income.

    Even if you make less than that, though, the IRS still thinks you ought to be compelled to file an income and assets statement each year for 10 years, and, under certain conditions, become subject to a $10k/yr fine for willful failure to file. A bit more detail on that point is discussed in terms of utter mockery here: http://www.nostate.com/1201/confrontation-with-bureaucracy-part-3/


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