Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Toying with the Idea of Renouncing My U. S. Citizenship

ו' לחודש האחד עשר תשע"ד

U. S. Embassy, Tel-Aviv
*one block from the beach
**not yet moved to Jerusalem
Many will say that this post is simply an emotional and impulsive response to the new U. S. tax law affecting citizens abroad, which has just gone into effect. I will admit that it definitely had a part in smacking me across the face, reawakening me to the option of renunciation. However, it was not exactly what you would call the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The new tax law, or even heavier reinforcement of any old tax laws, would not place any additional financial burden on my life, save for the inconvenience of having to deal with some extra paperwork.

I understand that due to the level of my Israeli income, low, and the level of my Israeli tax obligations, high in contrast to my tax obligations if I were to reside in the U. S., Yet, I also just found out, thanks to American Citizens Abroad [ACA], that Obamacare is another story. Tax obligations due to the "Affordable Care Act" will not be covered by any credit I would receive for paying taxes in Israel.

"Sheeple" = Sheep + People

I was surprised to hear this, as I thought that I was exempt. Confused? So, am I. Personally, I believe that is the point. Keep the "sheeple" confused, and they will give up, and do what they are told! No such luck here, Powers That Be!

So, why am I considering the renouncing of my U. S. citizenship? It is certainly not to please my parents. My Democrat/Green mother and my Reagan Democrat-turned-Republican father will both kill me,...figuratively, of course.

Countless friends, former and current bosses, and strangers on the bus, both American and native Israeli ALL think that I have completely lost it.

I am certainly grateful for all of the opportunities I received growing up in the U. S., as opposed to any other country.

But, simply put, the U. S. is no longer my country.  How many times on Esser Agaroth have I said that Israel is the only true homeland of the Jewish People? A lot. Why should I keep my U. S. citizenship? For travel? For emergencies? Well, I have already gotten those scenarios covered, and I can use my Israeli passport,...if I really needed to. I have not left Eretz Yisra'el in 15 years, and have not set foot in the U. S. for 16 years, and have no intention of ever doing so again.

So Far and Yet So Near
Also, why on earth should I allow the government of a country, not my own, continue to stick its nose into my business, financial and otherwise?

I have also not voted since before the presidential election of 2000, due to never getting my application for an absentee in time, in order to send it back in time, in order to receive my absentee ballot with enough time to send it back on time. Bush vs. Gore. Remember that one?

Even with being able to download an application for an absentee ballot, there was still never enough time to complete the process. Then the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters changed my registration status as a "solution" to my inability to vote. She did so without my permission, of course.

Not being able to vote is only a very minor consideration. I mention this balagan (mess), only to illustrate just how disconnected I am from the U. S.

Getting something accomplished the last time I was at the U. S. Embassy was not at all difficult. So, that issue is not even close to being a consideration, one way or another. Only the long wait was a bit of a pain. No one even harassed me for having resided in the ridiculously nicknamed "Occupied Territories," which was my main concern. No one cared. Like any good, Israeli civil servant, my paperwork was processed, my money was accepted, and I was on my way. Thank The Almighty!

New Fancy-Shmancy
U. S. Consulate, Jerusalem
But, that was to renew my U. S. Passport, and not to turn it in. It was also in 2007/תשס"ז, before requiring appointments in order to receive services. I wonder what will happen when I call up, or e-mail as the consulate's website indicates as its preference, and inform the civil servant receiving my message that I am making an appointment for citizenship renunciation. I suppose that I will find out soon enough, once I have completed my research, and made the necessary contact with the consulate in Jerusalem.

Apparently, these are the only requirements (that I could find) for renunciation of U. S. citizenship, which is irrevocable:
Renunciation of U. S. Citizenship


Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5)) is the section of law governing the right of a United States citizen to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship. That section of law provides for the loss of nationality by voluntarily
"(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State" (emphasis added).

A person wishing to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:
  1. appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer, 
  2. in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and 
  3. sign an oath of renunciation
Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect. Because of the provisions of Section 349(a)(5), U.S. citizens cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States. In fact, U.S. courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds, as discussed below. (cont.)
One of the only reasons why I would retain my citizenship is how renunciation would affect my future social security benefits. I am pretty sure that I will not receive any, due to missing one quarter or more of the forty quarter employment requirement. This will be worth looking into, as well as any possible effects on potential benefits by renunciation.

This is the other reason it this, the mention of which was "neglected in the list of requirements above:

U. S. Consular Schedule of Fees


In spite of the U. S. Consulate's website indicating that the sheqqel-dollar rate is 3.60 to one, which would make the renunciation fee NIS 1620, according to today's rate that is about NIS 1575.59, the difference being the price of dinner in Israel.

Talk about a deterrent!

Well, I have my homework cut out for me. I will post updates as I formulate a decision.


dr said...

Why pay $450 to give up your citizenship? If you keep it and really never go back to the states, so the whole tax issue is really totally irrelevant to you - I think it is irrelevant anyway, but thats beside the point. And you just might end up needing to go back for family or business reasons.

Esser Agaroth said...

Well, I do not usually allow anonymous comments. But, what the heck?

Even when I attend the "interview" and am asked something similar, my answer may simply be that the U. S. is no longer my country. (I do not believe that it is the country of any Jew, in this day and age.)

But, are you sure about the tax issue? And the Health Care tax issue? Links?

Thanks for commenting.

dr said...

I know that there is a tax treaty between the two countries, so that US citizens here don't pay twice - I think they just pay the local tax. The Obamacare "tax"/fine/whatever you want to call it is applied when you apply for a tax returns. Even an American living in the US won't have to pay the "tax" if he A) doesn't file tax returns or B) calculates his taxes precisely and thus needs to refund. In other words, the tax/fine is merely taken out of the tax refund.

As far as taxes in general, aside from what I pointed out above - that there is a tax treaty and you should be exempt from income tax - anyways the US is not going to pursue wage-earner level incomes made abroad. They DEFINITELY will not attempt to extradite you. So if you really never plan on going back, why pay the $450 tax?

Shy Guy said...

You could always start a US citizenship renunciation fundraiser campaign on Kickstarter.


david said...

when I inquired about the healthcare tax a few months ago, I was told that citizens living overseas are exempt

david said...


How to apply for an exemption

If you have a gap in coverage of less than 3 months, or you are not lawfully present in the U.S.:

You don’t need to apply for an exemption. This will be handled when you file your taxes.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Just don't let the consulate have your home address, Ya'aqov. You don't want no Hellfire in your living room, courtesy of IRS...

But I have a better idea re your citizenship: could it be rented out? Check it ;-)

Unknown said...

You are going through what many went through and what I went through. But, it boils down to the fact that your home is Israel and you have the right to be treated the same as any other citizen of Israel. It doesn't make sense for you to be burdened or harassed by a foreign Nation.

Esser Agaroth said...

Snoopy, Thanks, but I don't think "they" allow that. ;-)

Daniel, Well said, and simply put. I relate very much to this statement.

Geula Girl said...

It should be noted that in the past two years every Israeli with American citizenship had to fill out a form with their bank giving the US government details of all of your bank accounts. I was told that this was done in cooperation with the Israeli government and if I did not fill out the form my Israeli bank account would be frozen. This is how Obama care or any other new tax the US wants to collect can be collected from you and there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Chris Fellows said...

You know, I was saving up change in a jar in my office to afford to renounce my US Citizenship... it is a real pain where I live since it is about 500 km to the consulate... but when the jar was full this year I checked again and the fee has gone up to $3000!!! My wife is not keen for me to spend that much ;; All the best to you Esser Agaroth, hope all is well in Eretz Yisrael.

Esser Agaroth said...

Well, Chris, as you know, that's the whole point, to discourage U. S. citizens from renouncing.

That must be some job you have, where you save up $3000 in change.