Financially, at least, giving up American citizenship can make sense. First of all, as American expatriates, we are treated as suspect criminals by our own government. Every year, Americans abroad must fill out a form stating their foreign bank accounts. Failure to do this can be costly: jail time and $500,000 fines. What? For having a bank account in a country that I live in? Excuse me for living, but every time I fill out this form, I somehow feel violated.
Look, I'm not about to give up my U.S. citizenship because then I would be homeless. But the U.S. government needs to stop treating those of us supporting their country without even living in it a break.
Americans are the only citizens in the industrialized world that are double-taxed. It's taxation without representation and our former tea party throwers would be disappointed in us. No other industrialized nation taxes citizens not living in the country. Yes, the U.S. government allows the first $91,400 of a salary to be double-tax free and this may be well and fine if you live in Mexico or a country with a low standard of living. But as most expats in Switzerland know, a 90k salary doesn't get you a heck of a lot here. Throw in taxes times two, and Americans are at a competitive disadvantage in most of Europe, particularly in expensive countries with coordinating high salaries like Switzerland and Norway.
Here's the thing as well: say an American has a child abroad. Born in Switzerland to American parents, the child would not be Swiss, they would be American. They may never live in the United States in their life. But they would pay American taxes. Please tell me how this makes sense.
In my view, the more Americans abroad, the better for America. Our country badly needs citizens that understand their place in the world, that understand other cultures, that speak other languages, and that can see beyond their 3-car garage. We need people that are open-minded and based on the expatriates I know, this describes many of the 5.2 million Americans abroad. But our government's policies don't make being an American abroad very appealing at a time when it has never been more critical for other nations to see us in a different light.
Anyhow, enough with this little raclette rant. What do you think? Do you think Americans abroad have taxation without representation? Have you had trouble getting a bank account in Switzerland because you're an American?