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What is expatriation and how is this accomplished?

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    It is well settled that anyone may renounce his or her United States citizenship. In 1868, Congress declared “the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” However, by virtue of Art. I, §8, cl. 4 of the Constitution, Congress has the implied authority to set the terms of U.S. citizenship, including expatriation. Therefore, a person must undertake acts specifically intended to evidence relinquishing citizenship.

    Under the current law, a person claiming to abandon U.S. citizenship must establish three elements. First, the person must take one of the statutorily enumerated acts of expatriation (i.e. go in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. and sign before a consular officer an oath or affirmation that you intend to renounce your citizenship.) Second, act voluntarily. Third, act “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.” Nonetheless, to put oneself beyond the reach of the IRS an individual must also not spend more than 30 days a year in the United States. Any person that attempts to expatriate but spends more than 30 days a year in the United States will be treated as a U.S. citizen or resident for tax purposes in that year.

    After renunciation, an expatriate has the same rights vis-à-vis the United States as any other citizen of the new country of residence. Even so, this means that expatriates will no longer be able to vote in U.S. elections, seek the protection of the United States overseas, or enter the U.S. and remain indefinitely.

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