April 20, 2010 - Phil Hodgen

Quoted in TIME Magazine about expatriation

Yeah I’m internet famous.  Or something.

I was interviewed for an article that was published in TIME Magazine, Why More U.S. Expatriates Are Turning in Their Passports.  Thanks, Helena for this.

Our experience is that we are getting a lot of people who are looking to bail out of the United States.  By far the majority of those are permanent residents — green card holders.  But a significant and growing minority consists of people who are U.S. citizens.

Included in the “I want to give up my U.S. citizenship” category are people who acquired citizenship through naturalization.  Those people have an easy landing place if they give up their U.S. citizenship — their original home country.

But for the first time in my career, I am seeing a decent number of people who were born in the United States and have no other ties to other countries.  These people have a big job ahead of them to acquire a second citizenship before relinquishing their U.S. passport.  Yet they are methodically working through the action steps needed.

These people almost always cite taxation as one of the reasons for their decision.  Both the political changes we are seeing and the enforcement attitude of the IRS cause them to consider the drastic step of leaving the United States permanently.

You can denigrate them all you want.  Call them names.  Mock them.  But if you look with an open and nonjudgmental mind at what you see, there are some questions that pop up:

  • Why are really smart, entrepeneurial immigrants — Ph.Ds, executives, etc. — now willing to leave the United States permanently?  Is this good for the United States?
  • Why are plain old ordinary people willing to consider this radical step?
  • Is this statistical noise or should we pay attention to these — and related — issues?