Record Number of Americans Renounced Their U.S. Citizenship in 2015

By Gabrielle Cintorino | June 10, 2015 | 4:24 PM EDT


(U.S. State Dept.)

(— Between January and March of 2015, a record 1,336 Americans renounced their U.S. citizenship, according to a quarterly report by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that was published in The Federal Register.

The list includes long-term permanent residents who are considered American citizens under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA), the IRS noted. The previous record was 1,130 in the second quarter of 2013, according to Treasury Department data.

A record total of 3,415 Americans renounced their citizenship last year, according to the “Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen To Expatriate.

In a survey conducted by the University of Kent between December 2014 and January 2015, 1,546 U.S. citizens and former citizens were asked why they no longer wanted to be Americans. Survey participants stated that high taxes were the primary reason for renouncing their citizenship. But the survey also found that contrary to popular belief, income was not a key factor in their decision.

“Of those who have renounced or relinquished US citizenship (142 of the total respondents), nearly half (43%) have annual pre-tax household incomes of under $100,000 (USD). There is, similarly, very little difference in renunciation intention between those with lower incomes and those with higher incomes: of US citizen respondents with annual household incomes under $100,000 (USD), 28% are actively thinking of renouncing; of US citizen respondents with incomes above $250,000 (USD), 33% are actively thinking of doing so.”

In 2014, the government raised the fee for those wishing to formally relinquish their U.S. citizenship from $450 to $2,350. But nearly a third of those surveyed say they are still thinking about doing it anyway.

“Of the US citizen respondents, 31% have actively thought about renouncing US citizenship and 3% are in the process of doing so,” the survey noted.

The record number of American natives who have renounced their U.S. citizenship is in sharp contrast to the much larger rise in immigrants coming to America. An estimated 41.3 million immigrants, both legal and illegal, currently live in the United States and their numbers grew by 1.4 million people between 2010 and 2013, according to the Census Bureau. The largest number - 11.6 million – are from Mexico.

According to the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau in 2013, 54.9% of the foreign-born population are not citizens of the United States, and only 15.6% speak English exclusively.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) explained that during the next decade, immigrants will make up the largest share of the U.S. population ever recorded in American history:“The [Census] Bureau projected the future size of the immigrant (foreign-born) population and found that by 2023 immigrants will account for more than one in seven U.S. residents (51 million).” 

Correction: The University of Kent survey "did not actually ask why people were giving up their citizenship, but asked, among other questions, if people had thought of doing so - and, if so, why,” according to Dr. Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfel, author of the study. "My study did not indicate that Americans were renouncing citizenship because of high taxes, but rather because of high accountants' fees. In many cases, no tax is owed to the US government - but often high accountants' fees must be paid in order to document that situation. This is an important distinction, and is noted in the overview of the results, which you also cite:”