Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Over 5,800 Americans gave up their citizenship in the first half of 2020, compared to 2,072 Americans who renounced their citizenship in ALL of 2019. How many of them are heading to Costa Rica? Why did they decide to leave?
CNN, Newsweek, NY Times and Fortune Magazine have all reported recently that Americans seem to be leaving the US in droves. Many are permanently giving up their citizenship, and paying for the legal and immigration help to do so, plus the $2,350 government fee to complete the transaction. Explains Alistair Bambridge of Bambridge Accountants, who specialize in expat accounting, “The huge increase in US expats renouncing – from our experience – is that the current pandemic has allowed individuals the time to review their ties to the US, and decide that the current political climate and annual US tax reporting is just too much to bear.”
These people have joined some 9 million US expats worldwide, and the number is growing. Says Bambridge, “A lot of people are waiting for the November elections to see what’s going to happen. If President Trump is reelected, we believe there will be another wave of people who will decide to renounce their citizenship.”
Keep in mind that US citizens living abroad are still required to file tax returns every year, and report their foreign bank accounts, investments and pensions. For many, especially senior citizens, annual US tax reporting is “just too much”, and they find it easier to become a foreign national to avoid the hassle. There are only two countries in the world that require its citizens to pay taxes while abroad: USA and Eritrea (East Africa).
The Co founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin (naturalized American from Brazil), renounced his US citizenship just before Facebook went public, saving himself $700 million in taxes. There can be financial advantages to renouncing citizenship for both the rich and the poor. Abandoning your citizenship has serious consequences and is irrevocable, you cannot change your mind and become an American again. You give up benefits granted to American citizens, including the right to vote in US elections, government protection, assistance while traveling overseas, access to federal jobs, and citizenship for children born abroad. Renouncing one’s citizenship is one of the most solemn decisions anyone can make.
As mentioned, many Americans feel the need to renounce their citizenship for political reasons. The prospect of Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office (White House) for four more years has been a great motivator for Democrats wanting to leave the US. Immediately after his first election, Google reported a big spike in searches for “move to Canada”. Those searches are still going strong, along with an increase in people researching Costa Rica as a friendly place to relocate. The benefits of life in Costa Rica are self-evident, and their recent remarkable handling of the COVID pandemic has made them more attractive than ever.
Real estate agents, travel agents, immigration experts, and relocation services would be wise to be getting their ducks is a row for an influx of Americans coming soon to Costa Rica. In an interview with Laura Gutierrez of Immigration Help Costa Rica, Ms. Gutierrez stated, “My company has definitely seen an increase in applications for Costa Rican residency, both from people wanting to immigrate from the US, and those who have been living here with temporary visas and now want to make their status permanent. We are happy to help in both categories.”
When asked why he has begun the process of renouncing his American citizenship to become an expat, Mel Gardiner from New York City replied, “I just can’t take it anymore. In my personal opinion the whole deal of political fighting, inability of the government to control the pandemic, losing loved ones needlessly to COVID, the president’s cavalier attitude toward the growing number of deaths – is this still my country?? I sure no longer recognize it. I want to be with people who are kinder. And where the sun shines brighter!
About the Author :
Carol Blair Vaughn has written for Inside Costa Rica and The Costa Rica Star, as well as El
Residente magazine. She grew up in Latin America, traveling with her father Jack Vaughn,
former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, and US Ambassador to Panama
and Colombia. The Star published her book Crazy Jungle Love: Murder, Madness, Money & Monkeys
in 2017, and it is now available for purchase on Amazon as both a paperback and an