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2014: TOO LATE TO LEAVE THE U.S.?


By Wendy McElroy

The Ex-PATRIOT Act lies like a coiled snake on a table in the U.S. Senate. The longer title of this unenacted bill from 2012 is the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act. Its self-description is, “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that persons renouncing citizenship for a substantial tax avoidance purpose shall be subject to tax and withholding on capital gains, to provide that such persons shall not be admissible to the United States, and for other purposes.”

The Ex-PATRIOT Act seeks to impose a perpetual exit tax and a re-entry ban on “specified expatriates.” A specified expat is anyone with a net worth of at least $2 million or a tax liability averaging at least $148,000 over the last 5 years. A renunciation of citizenship would be automatically viewed as a tax dodge. The person would need to prove his innocence to the IRS to become exempt from a permanent and annual 30% tax on all earnings from U.S. investments. The net worth level at which the tax triggered would undoubtedly sink over time and, perhaps, quickly so.

(Even the Nazis were not so extreme. Until 1941, the third Reich used the Reichsfluchtsteuer (Reich Flight Tax) to charge emigrating Jews a one-time 25 percent exit tax. Schumer wants 30% in perpetuity.)

The Ex-PATRIOT Act would also ban “former citizens” from U.S. soil unless he received a waiver. The waiver requirements are to be determined at a later date. Current expats have no legal right to return, but they are rarely banned from doing so.

The Act was introduced in May 2012 by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), read twice, and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. It is likely to pass in 2013.

THE LIKELIHOOD OF PASSAGE

Reason #1. When the Act emerged from the Democrat-dominated Senate, John Boehner – the Republican leader in the House of Representatives — was luke-warm. He would back the Act if it was “necessary,” he stated. But he asked, is thisreally necessary? Since then, the two parties have feuded bitterly over a budget bill, with the Republicans accused of serving millionaires at the expense of America. The mud stuck. Boehner caved; despite a vow to never do so, he allowed taxes on millionaires to rise.

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