Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate

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The Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate, known until 2012 as the Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen to Expatriate, As Required by Section 6039G, is a publication of the United States Internal Revenue Service in the Federal Register, listing the names of certain individuals with respect to whom the IRS has received information regarding loss of citizenship during the preceding quarter.

Overview[edit]

The practice of publishing the names of ex-citizens is not unique to the United States. South Korea's Ministry of Justice, for example, also publishes the names of people losing South Korean nationality in the government gazette.[1] However, prior to the 1990s, loss of United States citizenship was not a matter of public record; the State Department considered that routine disclosure of the names of people giving up citizenship might present legal issues.[2]

The United States government first released a list of former U.S. citizens in a State Department letter to Congress which was made public by a 1995 Joint Committee on Taxation report.[3] That report contained the names of 978 people who had relinquished U.S. citizenship between January 1, 1994 and April 25, 1995.[4] This was in the larger context of widespread media attention to the issue of wealthy individuals who gave up citizenship to avoid United States taxes, and as a result, several legislators proposed bills or amendments to end the confidentiality surrounding loss of citizenship and to publish the names of ex-citizens.[5] The one that eventually passed was an amendment by Sam Gibbons (D-FL) to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.[6] That amendment added new provisions to the Internal Revenue Code (now at 26 U.S.C. § 6039G) to require that the Treasury Department publish the names of persons relinquishing U.S. citizenship within thirty days after the end of each calendar quarter. Publication began in 1996; lists published in 1997 included the names of people losing citizenship after 1995.[7] The list includes only the names of former citizens, not their reasons for giving up citizenship or other information about them.[8] Lawyers familiar with the process state that it takes roughly six months after people give up citizenship for their names to appear in the list.[9]

Congress' motive for requiring this publication was to "shame or embarrass" people who give up U.S. citizenship for tax reasons.[10] However, Michael S. Kirsch of Notre Dame Law School questions the effectiveness of this, given that it may result in the shaming of people who give up U.S. citizenship for other reasons, while having little effect on or even acting as a badge of honor for wealthy individuals who are "particularly individualistic and unconcerned with how they may be perceived by the general population".[10] Gibbons expected that the list would include only "a handful of the wealthiest of the wealthy" motivated solely by taxes; however, the people named in the list turned out to have a wide variety of motivations for emigrating from the U.S. and later giving up citizenship, and few were publicly known to be wealthy.[6] As a Wall Street Journal article described the political environment of the mid-1990s which led to the creation of the list: "Congress got mad at legal aliens who use social services but don't become U.S. citizens. Less noisily, it got mad at Americans who become legal aliens in other countries, use services there, but decide not to remain U.S. citizens for life."[6]

Inclusion of non-citizen former permanent residents[edit]

The Quarterly Publication is required to include the names not just of former U.S. citizens but of certain former permanent residents as well. Under 26 U.S.C. § 6039G(d)(3), "the Federal agency primarily responsible for administering the immigration laws shall provide to the Secretary the name of each lawful permanent resident of the United States (within the meaning of section 7701 (b)(6)) whose status as such has been revoked or has been administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned." The Quarterly Publication includes a statement that "for purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship". As international tax lawyer Andrew Mitchel notes, this does not include people whose "green cards" expire; they continue to be subject to federal tax as U.S. residents rather than the expatriation tax, and are not regarded by the IRS as having "expatriated" even though they may no longer possess the right to reside in the United States.[11]

In 2000, a Government Accountability Office report noted that while the Immigration and Naturalization Service provided data to the IRS in electronic form identifying individuals who gave up permanent residence status, the data did not fulfill the IRS' needs because it did not generally include Taxpayer Identification Numbers nor contain information on the length of time for which each of the former permanent residents had held his or her status, and thus the IRS could not use the information for tracking people who were subject to the expatriation tax.[12]

Comparison with other lists of ex-citizens[edit]

Since 1998, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has also maintained its own list of people who have renounced citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a)(5), as this is one of the categories of people prohibited from purchasing firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968 and who must be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.[13][14] The names are not made public, but each month the FBI issues a report on the number of entries added in each category. NICS theoretically covers a smaller population than the Federal Register expatriate list: the former includes only those who renounce U.S. citizenship, while the latter includes those who voluntarily lose citizenship by any means, as well as certain former permanent residents.[15][16]

The Federal Register list is supposed to include the names of all persons giving up U.S. citizenship, not just those who are determined to have given up U.S. citizenship for tax reasons.[17] However, comparisons with the FBI's NICS statistics reveal that lists of ex-citizens published in the Federal Register might not be complete.[15] In 2012, the FBI added 4,652 records to the NICS "renounced U.S. citizenship" category in 2012, much larger than the number of names published in the Federal Register expatriate lists during the same period.[15] About 2,900 of those were added to NICS in one large batch in October 2012; FBI spokesman Stephen G. Fischer attributed this jump to State Department efforts to clear a backlog of earlier renunciants who had not been provided to the FBI previously.[18] However, in 2013, the number of records of renunciants added to NICS again exceeded the number of names published in the Federal Register expatriate list, with 3,128 renunciants in the former against only 3,000 losing citizenship or permanent residence by any means in the latter.[16] Media reports have suggested this means the Federal Register expatriate list has been "lowballing its numbers".[15][19]

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated in 2014 that annually, 9,371 people file Form I-407 to abandon their LPR status.[20] The State Department estimated in 2007 that annually, 2,298 people file Form DS-4079 to relinquish their United States citizenship.[21] Finally, the IRS estimated in 2012 that Notices 97-19 and 98-34, which "provide guidance regarding the federal tax consequences for certain individuals who lose U.S. citizenship" or "cease to be taxed as U.S. lawful permanent residents", apply to 12,350 people annually.[22]

Statistics[edit]

Count of names in the Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Expatriate
250
500
750
1,000
1,250
1,500
1996 Q4
1998 Q1
1999 Q1
2000 Q1
2001 Q1
2002 Q1
2003 Q1
2004 Q1
2005 Q1
2006 Q1
2007 Q1
2008 Q1
2009 Q1
2010 Q1
2011 Q1
2012 Q1
2013 Q1
2014 Q1
     Number of persons whose names were published after the IRS received information on their loss of citizenship during the quarter in question      Data for 1997 are not directly comparable to other years because lists published that year also included the names of people who lost citizenship in 1995 and 1996[7]

"Count of names" refers to the number of entries contained in that quarter's list. This figure may include names which are duplicated in previous lists, as well as erroneous list entries such as a street address in Switzerland which was listed as the name of a person giving up citizenship in the fourth quarter of 2013.[16] "Publication delay" refers to the number of between the end of the calendar quarter and the day on which the list appeared in the Federal Register.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "외국인학교 입학 위해 '국적세탁'…부유층 100여 명 확인". Dong-A Ilbo. 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  2. ^ Kirsch, Michael S. (2004). "Alternative Sanctions and the Federal Tax Law: Symbols, Shaming, and Social Norm Management as a Substitute for Effective Tax Policy". Iowa Law Review 89 (863). Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  3. ^ Kirsch 2004, p. 889
  4. ^ Issues Presented By Proposals To Modify The Tax Treatment Of Expatriation. Joint Committee on Taxation. 1995-06-01. 
  5. ^ Kirsch 2004, p. 889–890
  6. ^ a b c Newman, Barry (1998-12-28). "Renouncing U.S. Citizenship Becomes Harder Than Ever". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ a b Ashby, Cornelia M. (2000-05-01). Information Concerning Tax-Motivated Expatriation. General Accounting Office. p. 3. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  8. ^ Wood, Robert (2014-05-03). "Record Numbers Renounce U.S. Citizenship — And Many Aren't Counted". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  9. ^ Saunders, Laura (2012-08-02). "The Renouncers: Who Gave Up U.S. Citizenship, and Why?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  10. ^ a b Kirsch 2004, p. 906–909
  11. ^ "Quarterly List of Expatriates: Source of Data". International Tax Blog. Andrew Mitchel LLC, Attorneys at Law. 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  12. ^ Ashby 2000, p. 4
  13. ^ "National Instant Criminal Background Check System: Fact Sheet". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  14. ^ John W. Magaw, Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (1997-06-27). "Definitions for the Categories of Persons Prohibited From Receiving Firearms (95R-051P)". Federal Register 62 (124): 34634–34640. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  15. ^ a b c d "FBI and IRS differ on U.S. citizenship data". Advisor.ca (Rogers Media). 2013-02-16. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  16. ^ a b c Cain, Patrick (2014-02-12). "U.S. list of ex-citizens full of errors, duplication". Global News. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  17. ^ Kirsch 2004, p. 890
  18. ^ "More than 3,100 Americans renounced citizenship last year: FBI". Global News. 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  19. ^ Cain, Patrick; Mehler Paperny, Anna; Young, Leslie (2013-08-17). "Why are so many American expats giving up citizenship? It’s a taxing issue". Global News. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  20. ^ Laura Dawkins, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security (2014-01-24). "Agency Information Collection Activities: Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, Form I-407; Existing Collection In Use Without an OMB Control Number". 79 F.R. 4169. 
  21. ^ Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State (2007-08-03). "30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: DS 4079, Questionnaire-Information for Determining Possible Loss of United States Citizenship". 72 F.R. 43314. 
  22. ^ Allan Hopkins, Tax Analyst, Internal Revenue Service (2012-06-13). "Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Notice 97-19 and Notice 98-34". 77 F.R. 35476.