The number of Americans renouncing US citizenship is surging. Bloomberg reports that 1,810 Americans handed in their passports in the first half of this year, compared with 235 for the whole of 2008.
While this is a tiny proportion of the 6 million expatriate Americans, there seems to be a global trend of celebrities changing their citizenship.
Tina Turner, the rock diva, renounced her US passport to take up Swiss citizenship, almost certainly for tax reasons. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Savarin now has a passport from Singapore, which keeps him clear of the US tax man. Gerard Depardieu, the actor, fled French taxes and gained a Russian passport.
Some people have no choice in the matter. Edward Snowden, the contractor who leaked details of US mass surveillance programmes, had his US passport revoked, and got a Russian one.
The US is the only country in the OECD, to tax its citizens’ global income wherever they are. That burden is going to get tougher next year when an anti-tax dodging measure, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, come into force.
FATCA imposes reporting requirements on foreign banks which have US clients. So strict are the penalties that in some countries American citizens cannot find a bank to do business with them. The queue to hand in passports at US consulates will not just comprise the super-rich but those who find that Uncle Sam is making life abroad impossible.
But the traffic is not all in one direction. Louise Mensch, the former Conservative MP, caught the headlines saying she is to apply for US citizenship and may even go into American politics.