US citizenship renunciations hit new record
Friday, March 2, 2012
The gentleman who maintains the International Tax Blog has posted the latest US citizenship renunciation figures. Last year say 1,781 renunciations and was 16% higher than 2010. Those renunciations are at the highest level since he started tracking the figures in 2004. He speculates, and I think he’s probably correct, that 2011 was the highest number of renunciations in US history. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that 2012 will be higher still.
What’s going on here? Why are the number of renunciations increasing? One caveat: as the Renunciation Guide makes very clear, and as I can attest after having viewed some of the data firsthand, the published data on renunciations is crap. Names are duplicated, some names are apparently missing, as we see updates posted later, and there’s no way to cross-reference these names to anything reliable because there’s just not enough information. Further, while my many years of work with raw data tells me that when data is bad it’s usually consistently bad, that’s for computer-managed data. But for this data, as far as I can tell, it’s largely a manual process of handing this data from the various consulates, over to some central office of the State Department and then over to the IRS. It’s also entirely possible that there have been political decisions involved in how this data is moved around and presented.
So while it’s not as bad as making life-altering decisions based on an email starting with words “I know this email will come as a surprise”, you’d be a fool to make definitive conclusions based on this renunciation data.
But many people will tell you I’m a fool.