Wealthy Americans set to give up citizenship in Switzerland

Wealthy Americans set to give up citizenship in Switzerland
Published:  4 May at 9 AM
The number of rich Americans giving up their US citizenship has increased dramatically since UBS’s Bradley Birkenfeld triggered a tax evasion crackdown four years ago, reports the Seattle Times.

Roughly 1,780 expatriates handed in their passports at US embassies in 2011, rising from 235 in 2008, revealed Geneva’s Overseas American Academy’s secretary Andy Sundberg, who cited figures from the Federal Register of the government. The embassy in the Swiss capital, Bern, redeployed staff to cope with the backlog as US citizens queueing up to give up their nationality.

The US, the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which taxes citizens wherever they live, is searching for tax evaders in offshore havens, including Switzerland, as its government attempts to reduce the budget deficit.

Rejected by German and Swiss banks and facing more stringent asset disclosure regulations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), even more of the predicted six million US citizens living abroad are considering the financial implications of holding an American passport.

Renunciations are greater in Switzerland because US expatriates anticipate extra scrutiny of their financial affairs following the UBS case as well as the fact that the US currently probing 11 financial firms from Switzerland for assisting in offshore tax evasion, according to Martin Neville, the Zurich-based head of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce.