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HAD ENOUGH?

IRS causing record numbers of Americans to renounce

Every year seems to break the previous expatriation record. Here's the latest from the Wall Street Journal (via Yahoo News):

This year will set a record for expatriations by U.S. taxpayers, with at least a 33% increase from the previous high in 2011.

The Treasury Department published the names of 560 people who either were U.S. citizens renouncing their citizenship or long-term residents who turned in their green cards during the third quarter.

That brings the total so far this year to 2,369, according to Andrew Mitchel, a tax lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tracks the data. For all of 2011, the number of published expatriates was 1,781, he said.

Treasury doesn't report when people renounced, and there could be a gap between that action and a name's appearance on the list. The department also doesn't distinguish between those giving up passports and those turning in green cards.


Regardless, more and more people are rejecting their ticket to live and (perhaps?) work in America and Getting Out.

Of course, renouncing citizenship is by no means a prerequisite to a life outside of the U.S. (in fact, it's a drastic step, with significant consequences and should not be taken lightly) and the overwhelming majority of Americans living abroad, even indefinitely, still retain their U.S. passports. What is leading more and more people toward taking making the ultimate break is the U.S. tax system which mandates full disclosure of all assets kept by U.S. citizens abroad and also taxes their income regardless of whether that citizen resides in the U.S. and has derived any of that income from the U.S.

Experts said the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act also may have contributed to rising renunciations. Set to take effect next year, it requires foreign financial institutions to report account information about U.S. taxpayers to the IRS. Affected taxpayers include both U.S. citizens and green-card holders living in the U.S. and abroad.

All income earned by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, even those who live abroad, can be subject to U.S. tax. The U.S. also confers citizenship on people born on American soil. Penalties for failing to report assets can be severe, including up to 50% of an account balance a year.

Although many of the U.S. laws on offshore accounts have been in effect for decades, experts say there was little enforcement of them until 2009, when Swiss banking giant UBS AG admitted that it had helped U.S. taxpayers hide assets abroad. The bank paid $780 million to avoid criminal charges and turned over the names of more than 4,000 account holders, piercing the veil of Swiss bank secrecy.

Since then, more than 38,000 U.S. taxpayers have confessed to having undisclosed offshore accounts and paid more than $5.5 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties. Lawyers estimate $5 billion more hasn't yet been paid.


While this doesn't have much affect Americans abroad who don't have significant assets and don't make six-figure incomes (as of 2013, you can exclude $97,600 of foreign earned income), the self-employed will often still find themselves on the hook for a 15% self-employment tax, regardless. This supposedly goes toward Social Security and Medicaid (some U.S. citizens can avoid this if they pay into a similar pension scheme in their country of residence), though more than a few have doubts as to how much of that they'll actually be able to collect when the time comes.

You can read the full article on Yahoo News here:

Filed Under: Had Enough?, expatriation, Taxes

Posted: November 17, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

No doubt there's some "back door" plan, but for now, Europe says NO...

UPDATED (typo correction).

I wouldn't doubt that there's some sly and sneaky plan afoot, but it's still a decent bet that no country has surrendered to GM Frankenfoods to anywhere near the extent that they already have in the States. From the always well-illustrated Daily Mail:

GM giant Monsanto is effectively pulling out of Europe after years of delays in trying to secure approval for 'Frankenstein food' crops.

The US-based company is dropping all of its requests to launch insect and pesticide-resistant forms of corn, sugar beet and soya beans.

Campaigners said Monsanto had simply realised that the vast majority of people in Europe would not eat the foods.


You can read the full article at the Daily Mail site here.

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, EU, Europe, food, GMO

Posted: July 20, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

Where to move? Play OECD's "Better Life Index" game!




It's hard to say if the bigwigs at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been reading Getting Out, but their interactive "Better Life Index" seems to take one of the central ideas behind Getting Out -- i.e., matching your personal preferences against the qualities found in a given country -- and created an interactive online tool. Their version allows you to plot your personal preferences regarding the importance of Income, Jobs, Housing, Safety, Community, Civic Engagement, Health, Life Satisfaction, Work-Life Balance, Environment and Education against the compiled data from 36 OECD member (and near-member) nations (the U.S. included, obviously). It's not quite as in-depth as Getting Out (which covers more countries and more data dimensions) but it's still lots of fun (particularly if you're bored at work) so why not have a go?

The Better Life Index can be found at www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org.

Enjoy!

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, OECD, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK

Posted: May 29, 2013

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GETTING IN

More Women Landing Overseas Assignments

Apparently, women still have a long way to go till they reach parity in overseas job assignments, but as this latest report shows, at least the trend is in a positive direction!

According to a recent study by Mercer, the percentage of women assigned to international projects currently sits at 13 percent, a 3 percent increase from 2010. Mercer's research suggests that 39 percent of companies say that employees with international experience are promoted more quickly, it is encouraging to see more women are being considered for international assignments, and subsequently accepting these roles.

The dialogue around international assignments and female expatriates has most recently been focused on the question of fairness -- are women receiving equal opportunities to take advantage of the international experience that can positively impact their career trajectory? A study conducted by Catalyst last fall indicated that women, in fact, are not being equally considered for critical international experience that will enhance their career. Or, if they are chosen for an international assignment, women are most likely to receive smaller projects with small budgets and less corporate impact, compared to their male colleagues.

However, Mercer's Global Mobility study results paint a different picture of women in international assignments.


You can read more at the www.theglasshammer.com

Filed Under: Getting In, employment, jobs, women

Posted: May 27, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

IT talent, "Think Berlin"

While it's been true for a while that Germany was actively recruiting outside IT talent, what is new, besides the proposal to relax dual citizenship rules (currently, with a few exceptions, German citizenship usually requires renouncing your previous citizenship) is the positioning of Berlin as a start-up capital (pardon the pun). Previously, IT jobs were likely to land you in one of Germany's less exciting cities like Stuttgart and Duesseldorf. Now Economy Minister Roesler is saying, "Think Berlin!"

German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler appealed to top US university students this week to consider Germany as the place to start their IT careers and called for tech entrepreneurs to be offered dual citizenship.

Roesler made the comments late Tuesday while visiting Stanford University in California as part of an official trip to Silicon Valley. He told students Germany was particularly keen to recruit highly-qualified IT professionals and that it wanted to establish Berlin as a start-up hub to match London and Tel Aviv.

Roesler appealed to students to "Think big, think better, think Berlin."

He described Germany as one of the strongest economies in the world, adding "What we need now is a stronger IT scene in our country."

But Roesler admitted Germany must do more to create a "welcoming culture" to attract the world's best and brightest, including extending dual citizenship beyond residents of the European Union.


Read the full article at The Local (www.thelocal.de) here:

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, Germany, jobs

Posted: May 22, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

Rio's Favelas: Not as Bad as You Think



Rio's semi-gentrifying favelas seem to be shaping up to be the new expat frontier. Too bad Brazil's visa/immigration rules are horribly difficult for Americans. Still, if you have an "in," it's something worth considering.

From Der Spiegel:

The real estate market is booming in these favelas. Middle-class Brazilians have discovered the slums as a cheap housing alternative. They are also accompanied by an influx of foreigners, most of whom come from the crisis-ridden countries of Southern Europe. Many of the newcomers head to Rio to build an entirely new life for themselves.

[...]

In 2010, [Baronio] paid 60,000 reais, or approx. $29,500, for his apartment, which is located in a three-story building directly adjacent to the police station. Baronio made his first trip to Rio four years ago. At the time, he only wanted to spend his vacation here. Then he met his current boyfriend, Alex, fell in love and settled in Brazil. In Italy he was a social worker -- in Rio he works for an aid organization. "The mood is miserable in Italy," he says, adding that "here at least people are cheerful."

The Rio municipal government is promoting this immigration. Politicians hope that the new residents will help prevent a return of the drug barons. Many immigrants transform their buildings into bed-and-breakfasts, in some cases tripling or quadrupling their value. Anyone who has a roof-top terrace with a view rents it out for parties, concerts and photo shootings.


Read the full article on Der Spiegel's website here.

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, Brazil

Posted: May 21, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

Why Singapore? Let Sovereign Man Tell You (h/t John B.)



Life in Singapore might not be to everyone's taste. But to those of the Libertarian persuasion, this tiny city-state has long represented their idea of a free market Valhalla. Still, those who consider themselves firmly within the working class might find the job market here to their liking as well. As Sovereign Man explains:

Today there are more millionaires per capita in Singapore than anywhere else; one in six Singaporeans has a net worth in excess of one million. And for the average Joe, median household income ranks among the top worldwide.

Not to mention, standard of living in Singapore is very high -- schools, medical care, goods and services -- all among the best on the planet.

Even more incredibly, they built this without a single drop of oil reserves. Singapore isn't Kuwait. It's a small island with effectively no natural resources to speak of.

While much of the developed world languishes under the massive burden of staggering debt and painful unemployment, Singapore has ZERO net debt. And the unemployment rate is below 2%.

This isn't some phony made-up number either. My friends who own businesses here tell me that there are labor shortages. They just can't find any new people to hire.

So how did this all happen? One key principle -- economic freedom.


Read the rest of the article at Sovereign Man's website here:

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, libertarian, Singapore

Posted: May 16, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

Canada -- Higher Education at Less Than Half the Price! (h/t Jeremy B.)

Student contemplating exorbitant tuition costs for U.S. universities would do well to look north. As the rate comparison chart below illustrates, the costs are less than half of what they are in the States. Student visas are relatively easy to obtain and, by studying at and graduating from a Canadian university, your opportunities for long-term immigration (should you so desire) would be better than if you were educated in the U.S.

With soaring tuition costs and a generation burdened with massive student loans, more American students are looking to Canada for higher education at lower prices. Over the last ten years, the number of American students at Canadian colleges rose 50 per cent. Today, approximately 10,000 Americans are enrolled at Canadian schools, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.At McGill University in Montreal, about six per cent of the student body is American. And the numbers are growing.

In comparison to colleges like McGill, American students carry an average of more than $26,000 in debt and roughly nine per cent of those grads will default on those loans within two years of graduation.


CANADIAN TUITION VS. U.S. TUITION
Here are a sampling of tuition prices at some comparable Canadian and U.S. universities
U.S. universities:
- University of Chicago - $45,945
- George Washington - $45,780
- Stanford - $41,250
Canadian universities:
- McMaster - $20,966
- McGill - $14,561
- University of Winnipeg - $11,115


Read more at the UK Daily Mail here:

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, Canada, study abroad

Posted: May 16, 2013

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IS IT ANY BETTER THERE?

Retire Abroad... And Work!




As this comprehensive article in the N.Y Times shows, many energetic seniors are finding a happy and prosperous "working" retirement abroad.

Simply retiring abroad has become old news, as people seek cheaper places to live and to slash health care costs while enjoying more temperate climes. But now enjoying a "working retirement," like Ms. Wynne's, appears to be gaining traction with expats, as it has in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increasing number of retirees, who can expect to live longer, healthier lives, are choosing to work in retirement, at least part-time, typically for fear of outliving their money or to keep active and engaged.

Despite a dearth of hard numbers on American retirees abroad, the same seems to be true for them, to judge from the rising number of Social Security checks sent to Americans living in inexpensive retirement havens in Latin America and the Caribbean, and from much anecdotal evidence from expatriate retiree-entrepreneurs like Ms. Wynne and others.

"It seems that the factors that are driving continued work later in life, including part-time work, would be the same for Americans at home and abroad," said Kevin Cahill, an economist with the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. "So I think it's fair to say that, if the employment opportunities exist, we shouldn't be surprised to see similar trends with respect to part-time employment for U.S. retirees living abroad."

There's a wide range of jobs that globe trotters may consider. Of course, there's the possibility of accepting contract assignments from former employers. And there are often positions available to teach English, work as a translator, lead English-speaking tours, or work at hotels that cater to English-speaking travelers, according to Betsy Burlingame, founder of ExpatExchange.com, a leading Web site on international living.

In many countries, though, you are required to have a work permit for certain jobs and prove there are not citizens there who could fill the position, she added. In Panama, for example, you can't work as a doctor or nurse unless you are a Panamanian citizen.

Many expats, like Ms. Wynne, start their own businesses like restaurants, shops, real estate agencies, art galleries, bed-and-breakfasts and small hotels.


Read the whole article at the New York Times website here:

Filed Under: Is It Any Better There?, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, employment, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, retirement, self-employment, taxes

Posted: May 16, 2013

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MISC

"I'm very happy in Switzerland and I feel at home here. . . I cannot imagine a better place to live" - Tina Turner gives up US citizenship and becomes a Swiss Citizen

According to news reports, as of Friday, January 25, 2013, 73-year old rock diva Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, is officially a citizen of Switzerland, having passed a local civics test and interview. She will renounce her US citizenship in the process.


"So long, suckas!" Tina Turner waves bye-bye to America




From Russia Today:

Although Turner is estimated to be worth about $200 million and says she wasn't motivated by taxes, keeping her US citizenship would have forced her to continue paying the IRS, even if she never returns to the US.

For 150 years, Switzerland has also offered tax breaks for foreign millionaires to boost tourism, making them exempt from an income tax and allowing them to pay a flat fee. More than 5,000 foreigners have been using the tax breaks, but opponents of the deal have been gathering signatures to scrap the breaks, putting it up for a popular vote to take place within the next two years.

Four of Switzerland's 26 cantons - including Zurich - have already scrapped the tax breaks for wealthy foreigners.

During most of her 20 years in Switzerland, Turner benefited from the tax breaks. Although she will now be paying Swiss taxes as a citizen, which are high, she will no longer have to pay American taxes in addition.


Read more at Russia Today here:

And at Raw Story/Agence France Presse here:

Filed Under: Misc, citizenship, Switzerland, taxes, Tina Turner

Posted: January 26, 2013

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GETTING IN

Spain plans to offer residency permits to home buyers

Some excerpts from the New York Times article below. Spanish residency permits aren't easy to come by, so this proposed program could be the ticket some people are looking for. Also notice that while this particular program is still in the development stage (I hope to post an update when and if they get all the details worked out), Ireland and Portugal have similar programs already in effect.

(h/t to Jim Schumacher for bringing this to my attention)



Spain plans to offer residency permits to foreigners who buy houses priced at more than 160,000 euros ($203,845) as part of its efforts to revive a collapsed real estate market and divest itself of hundreds of thousands of unsold homes.

Spain was following in the footsteps of Ireland and Portugal, two other ailing euro zone economies that have sought to spur their housing markets by easing residency requirements.

Spain normally grants visas that are valid for up to 90 days to citizens of countries that are outside the European Union. The residency permits for foreign home buyers would be for a much longer period of time but would not be open-ended. That detail has yet to be decided. The permits would also not grant the buyer the right to work in Spain.


Read more at the NY Times website here:

Filed Under: Getting In, Ireland, Portugal, real estate, residency permit, Spain, visa

Posted: November 28, 2012

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