The right of expatriation

Thanks to a reader comment I was able to find an excellent resource for expatriating from the United States:  http://renunciationguide.com .  The website is by US expatriates who wish to extend the wisdom of their experience to others who are contemplating the voluntary loss of their US citizenship.  In addition, they provided some interesting research on the history of expatriation in the United States.

According to renunciationguide.com, the United States is only one of two countries that requires not only residents but citizens living abroad to pay income taxes.  The only other country is Eritrea, which has made it a practice to harass loved ones in your country until you pay up.  The authors write:

Interestingly, a Canadian court in Toronto ruled in 2007 that the imposition of the 2% tax on its citizens abroad was illegal and that a dual Canadian-Eritrean citizen should be paid back the money he had given.

So in becoming a Canadian citizen on Monday, I will also hope that the Canadian government would protect me, if necessary, from the tax regime of the IRS, which may attempt to tax my Canadian sources of income, and if I were to die, to tax my inheritance in such a way as would strip my wife’s rights as a Canadian citizen to inherit her husband’s property (nearly all my assets are Canadian based).

Renunicationguide.com, however, asks the question if there is a right of expatriation in the US Constitution:  “It’s not there. And it’s not in the Declaration of Independence, either.”  Now here I have to differ.  Consider these lines:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

So begins the Declaration of Independence.  Now in asserting the right of the people of the 13 colonies to expatriate from England, the Declaration of Independence sets an important precedent that makes it clear that liberty is a God-given right and that to be able to loose oneself from the shackles of government which constrict that liberty is the right of the people.  It is therefore not explicitly stated, but the precedent of declaring independence from the King of England would justify any individual who in the course of seeking life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness wished to be released from obligation to his native country; everyone has that right, given to him not by the Congress nor by the country of his choosing, but by the Creator Himself.

Thus, the right of expatriation, while not explicitly argued for by the founding documents of the US, is nevertheless a premise enshrined in the Declaration of the Independence.

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3 thoughts on “The right of expatriation

    • I read that this morning already and the background information is very helpful. Yet the conclusion that the fee is for the filling out of CLM is not exactly in agreement with what the officer from the Toronto consulate said: I wrote the following update on my last post, perhaps you didn’t see it: “Update 2: Today a consular officer called me from the US consulate in Toronto. She confirmed what I’ve said in this post, that relinquishing US citizenship and renouncing US citizenship are two different processes that are treated in a different manner by the consulate (including the fee structure).” She asked if I needed the CLM, and I said I did in order to show it to the IRS.

  1. Pingback: The right of expatriation II: The Ninth Amendment « The Righteous Investor

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