By Rich Tucker, Heritage.org
Americans have always enjoyed the privilege of living abroad without losing citizenship. Think Hemingway and Fitzgerald decamping to write in Europe after World War I, or Gen. MacArthur spending decades in Asia around World War II. Expatriates remain Americans, and have generally been welcomed back to our shores with open arms.
But today there are at least 3,000 fewer Americans than there ought to be. That’s how many people live overseas and voluntarily gave up their citizenship in 2013 alone. And they won’t be coming back—at least not as Americans.
Their decision to become foreigners is being driven, in many cases, by changes to domestic laws. The United States is one of only two countries that attempt to tax money citizens earn while working overseas (Eritrea is the other). And two laws aimed at bringing tax revenue back into the U.S.—the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)—are actually driving Americans away.
FBAR focuses on citizens, demanding that anyone with $10,000 or more in a foreign bank inform the IRS about that account. FATCA is even more invasive, because it attempts to compel foreign companies to cooperate with the IRS. Instead, many companies are simply deciding to dump their American customers.
Congress passed FATCA in 2010 to make it harder for Americans with foreign accounts to illegally evade U.S. taxes. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of FATCA has been a painful burden inflicted on innocent law-abiding…(read more)