Pick A Country

A Yahoo article covered the sad fact that many know … people ARE leaving and not coming back.

More renounce US citizenship but deny stereotype

Inside the long-awaited package, six pages of government paperwork dryly affirmed Carol Tapanila’s anxious request. But when Tapanila slipped the contents from the brown envelope, she saw there was something more.

“We the people….” declared the script inside her U.S. passport — now with four holes punched through it from cover to cover. Her departure from life as an American was stamped final on the same page: “Bearer Expatriated Self.”

With the envelope’s arrival, Tapanila, a native of upstate New York who has lived in Canada since 1969, joined a largely overlooked surge of Americans rejecting what is, to millions, a highly sought prize: U.S. citizenship. Last year, the U.S. government reported a record 2,999 people renounced citizenship or terminated permanent residency; most are widely assumed to be driven by a desire to avoid paying taxes on hidden wealth.

The reality, though, is more complicated. The government’s pursuit of tax evaders among Americans living abroad is indeed driving the jump in abandoned citizenship, experts say. But renouncers — whose ranks have swelled more than five-fold from a decade ago — often contradict the stereotype of the financial scoundrel. Many are from very ordinary economic circumstances.

Some call themselves “accidental Americans,” who recall little of life in the U.S., but long ago happened to be born in it. Others say they renounced because of politics, family or personal identity. Some say signing away citizenship was a huge relief. Others recall being sickened by the decision.

At the U.S. consulate in Geneva, “I talked to a man who explained to me that I could never, ever get my nationality back,” says Donna-Lane Nelson, whose Boston accent lingers though she’s lived in Switzerland 24 years. “It felt like a divorce. It felt like a death. I took the second oath and I left the consulate and I threw up.” …

In recent years, federal officials have stepped up pursuit of potential tax evaders, using the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which requires that Americans overseas report assets to the IRS or pay stiff penalties. Those trying to comply complain of costly fees for accountants and lawyers, having to report the income of non-American spouses, and decisions by some European banks to close accounts of U.S. citizens or deny them loans.

But some of those surrendering citizenship say their reasons are as much about life as about taxes, particularly since the U.S. government does not tax Americans abroad on their first $96,600 in yearly income.

Decisions to renounce “are driven by a whole range of emotional considerations. … You’ve got anger, you’ve got fear, you’ve got a strong sense of indignation,” said John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer who advises people on expatriation. “For many of these people, this is not a tax issue at all.”

Even some who acknowledge tax worries say decisions to renounce are far more complicated than a simple desire to avoid paying …

The jump in renunciations reflects evolving views about national identity, said Nancy L. Green, an American professor at the L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. When the U.S. got its start, citizenship was defined by “perpetual allegiance” — the British notion of nationality as a birthright that could never be changed.

American colonists rejected that to justify becoming citizens of a newly independent country. But changeable citizenship wasn’t widely embraced until the mass immigration of the late 1800s, says Green, a historian of migration and expatriation.

Even then, U.S. artists and writers who moved to Europe in the 1920s were criticized, suspected of trying to avoid taxes. Until the 1960s, U.S. citizenship remained a privilege the government could take away on certain grounds. It’s only since then that U.S. citizenship has come to be viewed as belonging to an individual, who could keep — or surrender it — by choice …  Adam Geller YAHOO

It’s not just the United States that’s chasing its citizenry to other nations. According to Bloomberg, the exodus from Venezuela that …

“… began under the late President Hugo Chávez has gotten a boost under Nicolás Maduro, who vowed to extend his predecessor’s socialist policies after winning elections last April. Venezuelans in Panama predict that a new wave of young, middle-class job seekers will follow them in the wake of shortages of basic goods, accelerating inflation and anti- government demonstrations that have claimed at least 41 lives since February.

With close cultural ties, more open immigration laws and plentiful jobs, Panama offers some advantages over traditional destinations like south Florida, Venezuelans say.

Panama’s immigration agency said 233,921 Venezuelans entered the country to work or visit last year, up from about 147,000 in 2010. That compares with approximately 223,000 non- immigrant and immigrant visas issued to Venezuelans by the United States last year, according to the State Department. Venezuelans seeking work in Panama often come on a tourist visa and change their status later.

For Venezuelans, Panama also offers many of the trappings of home. There are dozens of Venezuelan-run restaurants, yoga studios and bakeries in Panama City. Cable television packages include Globovision, a Venezuelan channel that has sparred with the socialist government since Chavez…

Under Maduro, Venezuelan inflation has surged to 57 percent, the highest in the world. More than one in four basic goods was out of stock in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy in January, according to the central bank, which has stopped publishing up-to-date scarcity data. The government last month let the bolivar weaken 88 percent in a new currency market, part of a move to increase dollar supplies in South America’s biggest oil exporter.

Wedged between Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama has lured workers with economic growth that has averaged about 9 percent per year since 2008 as completion nears on a $5.25 billion expansion of its signature canal. That’s prompted investments in banks, mining and real estate, including a new Hard Rock hotel, and created more jobs.

“We’ve had to open up our immigration policy to attract more skilled labor,” Panama Finance Minister Frank De Lima said in an April 9 interview.

As unemployment levels hover near a record low of 4.1 percent, Panama’s immigration agency said this month that it has legalized about 50,000 foreign workers since 2010 in a series of open registrations, called “melting pots.” Of the 5,072 foreign workers approved in the April melting pot, 603 were Venezuelan, the fourth-highest number after immigrants from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

The government also eased requirements to gain residency for immigrants from more than 40 nations deemed friendly to the Central American country. Citizens from the United States and elsewhere can work in Panama or start a business by opening a $5,000 local bank account.

Venezuela is not on that list. Even so, Panama has “seen an increase of Venezuelan investment, companies and entrepreneurs in the last couple of years,” De Lima said. THE TICO TIMES

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” Albert Einstein

2 thoughts on “Pick A Country

  1. Mr. Einstein was right! The USA has become a country of Pistoleros that try to force it ‘s citizens to pay taxes anywhere they live. Multi nationals that are hoarding Trillions of Dollars in tax heavens. Anyway if I was an American citizen I would certainly try to get another passport. Panamenian passport allows you to visit Canada, USA as well as the EU
    with a visa waiver. But the USA custom officer can still bully you at the airports in the USA.
    With a Dutch passport and a permanent residency stamp of St. Lucia (Caribbean) in our passports we were very badly treated bij a fat Afro custom official at Atlanta airport with questions like why are you living in St. Lucia, what is your business there, are you a communist. That was in June 2009 and we decided not to visit any US terrory in the world anymore. I meet a lot of foreigners on our island, but the majority do not like Americans at all. Especially the Europeans. But it is not the mistake of the common American, but the banksters elite, their friendly puppets the politicians, the military industrial complex and the multinationals. It has become a fascist state controlled by the happy 1%, like in the former DDR (East Germany).

  2. As I entered into my semi- retirement, retiring at 52 from law enforcement, my wife and I were looking in Belize. The United States is broken, but is it better anywhere else. We ended up moving from New Jersey to Oregon. Leaving the United States alone is pretty scary. I don’t think giving up citizenship is any easier.

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