When the news broke a year ago that the U.S. was hiking the fee to renounce U.S. citizenship by 422% there was a backlash. If anything, the uptick in American expatriations grew rather than declined. The U.S. State Department said raising the fee for renunciation of U.S. citizenship is about demand and paperwork. Perhaps, but a hike from $450 to $2,350 is still steep. That is more than twenty times the average level in other high-income countries. The State Department complains about demand on their services and all the extra workload they have to process people who are on their way out.

Even worse, for the second time in a year, the State Department just did another hike. You can view it as yet another 422%. In fairness, the State Department presumably believes it is just bringing the fees into parity. Up until now, there was the enhanced $2,350 fee for renouncing, and a smaller $450 fee for relinquishment. It may be a distinction without a difference. As the State Department put it, it was just harmonizing the two, which are similar in any case. In short, the fee is now the same $2,350 whether you are renouncing or relinquishing.

The State Department announced it would begin charging the $2,350 fee for individuals seeking a Certificate of Loss of Nationality based on relinquishment of U.S. citizenship. Leaving the U.S. for good isn’t just a matter of getting on a plane. It is not usually primarily about taxes, although taxes often play a part. And when it comes to taxes, persons leaving the U.S. may hope they do not need to keep filing with the IRS every year. Getting a Certificate of Loss of Nationality and exiting will address the immigration side of the legal issue, but not taxes.

Roger Ver, founder of Passports for Bitcoin.com, holds his passport as he poses for a photograph in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan, on June 4, 2014. He’s known as Bitcoin Jesus in the world of cyber-currencies. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomber

Looking now at the pros and cons, Who is the winner of this tax extraction gain-plan? The USA is losing some of its most affluent citizens; and so will Jamaica if we follow to the letter of the law. Is this what we want? This is what is happening!

We are going to lose tourism and industrial investment; competent labour; we now will be pressured to pay taxes online;

We shall suffer special tax audits, handing our taxes over to managers who cannot manage. Lose our identity to Americans or Chinese; which may be acceptable to certain parties but not to Jamaica as a country. Already confrontation exists between legal and managerial administrators. This might be acceptable to most Jamaicans, but I doubt this will be a majority.

Then, comes all the duties attached to filing obligations  .Laughable because most of our citizens cannot prepare an Income Tax return, which compares to those prepared overseas.

In this matter I suggest we exercise caution. Ten years ago I sat in a meeting at the BOJ when POCA was brought to the forefront. Why are we paying the taxes in some other country, I exclaimed; we have our own to pay!


(550 words; Ramesh Sujanani)

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