The American Dream

By Global Tax Weekly

A record 3,415 people handed in their US passports last year. That’s an average of just fewer than 10 renunciations per day. Which, in a country with a population of almost 320m people, is a miniscule amount. I put the latest expatriation statistics into context like this because they tend get a lot of attention, and undeniably the numbers have been rising every year for the last few years. Some anti-government commentators are quick to seize on these figures as evidence of increasing dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration and its heavy-handed tax measures like FATCA. That may well be the case, and I’m certainly no fan of FATCA, nor of President Obama’s policies on tax in general. But it’s hard to say what the real reasons are for expatriation without asking the people who handed in their passports themselves. There could be any number of motives. So for the first time in a while, I’m going to stick up for the United States. US citizenship remains one of the most prized possessions in the world, and millions of people all over the globe are willing to suffer great hardship to obtain it. This reflects the fact that, in spite of its broken tax code, the American Dream is still eminently possible to achieve if you want it hard enough. To support my argument, here’s another stat: in fiscal year 2014, 654,949 people were naturalized as US citizens. They added to the 777,416 people who were naturalized in 2013. In fact, in the last decade, the US has welcomed 6.6m new citizens. It can’t be that bad.

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