(NationalSentinel) For the third year in a row, there have been a record number of Americans renouncing their citizenship.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, which tracks such figures (more on that in a moment), reported that 5,411 Americans either renounced or expatriated in 2016.
Is it due to the election of Donald Trump as president? Well, according to figures figures reported by US News, maybe…and maybe not.
The news magazine said that the list from the last quarter of 2016 “is nearly twice as long as the list from the last quarter of 2015.” But Trump wasn’t elected until November - halfway through the last quarter. And remember, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was leading in the polls up to the Nov. 8 election (polls which, of course, were wrong). So how much of the last-quarter uptick was due to many thinking that she would be our next president? A more accurate measure to assess the “Trump effect” would be to compare renunciation figures from Nov. 8 - Dec. 31, 2015 and 2016.
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But would it matter? As US News noted, the vast majority of Americans leaving the country is due to the IRS and the U.S. tax code:
The connection between the list of expatriates and the IRS implies a link to tax policy. The U.S. is one of a very small number of countries that tax based on nationality, not residency, leaving Americans living abroad to face double taxation. “The escalation of offshore penalties over the last 20 years is likely contributing to the increased incidence of expatriation,” according to the tax attorneys at Andrew Mitchel LLC who track the expatriate data on their International Tax Blog.
And there is this: The increasing numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship began well into the Obama administration; in 2011, less than 1,000 chose to repatriate each year, but after that the numbers kept rising.
“More than 2,300 expatriated in the last quarter of 2016 alone, and this year’s total of 5,411 individuals is 26 percent more than last year’s 4,279,” US News reported.
If most repatriations are not political and due largely to the tax code, it’s very possible that, if Trump and Congress deliver on promised tax reform, repatriation figures could start to fall again under the current administration.
Just don’t let anyone tell you that the rising number of ex-pats is due to Trump. That’s simply not true.