What brought us to the place where Americans would want to abandon their citizenship?
There are apparently quite a few, according to a recent survey. It asked Americans living abroad if they would give up their citizenship because of recent changes in tax reporting requirements for Americans living overseas. Seventy-three percent of respondents answered that they had "actively considered it", "are thinking about it" or "have explored the options of it."
Point the finger to some degree at our bumbling Congress. It tried attacking a pretty specific problem (people dodging taxes by hiding income overseas) with a very blunt instrument, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. That law essentially forces foreign banks to keep the IRS apprised of what American clients are doing with their money, causing all sorts of administrative hassles and costs for both bank and customer.
But clumsy laws and unintended consequences aside, there seems to be an attitude problem here as well.
Our report on the survey included a quote from a 69-year-old American living in Bangkok, which described the attitude pretty succinctly: "What do we get in return for our U.S. passport? Only three things in my opinion...First of all, a passport that is extremely convenient for worldwide travel, second we can vote in U.S state and national elections and third we can pay taxes on both our U.S. and foreign income. That's it."
That's all being an American involves? Convenient travel, the right to vote, and the burden of taxes? And when the taxes get to be too much, just shop around for new citizenship, like a new coat?
Being American is more about changing things you don't like, rather than running away from them. Settlers, farmers, civil rights leaders, labor organizers, entrepreneurs...our history is filled with people who worked to make things for the better. Renouncing citizenship doesn't look like a very seemly way of rewarding their work and in many cases, their sacrifice. Working that voting angle, maybe even lobbying a few politicians, would seem more appropriate.