Like Eduardo Saverin, wealthy Chinese ditch US passports

Ten years ago, it was unheard of for immigrants to ditch their highly-coveted US passports.  But now, as the US enforces tax collection overseas, many wealthy Chinese immigrants are following the footsteps of Eduardo Saverin, the Brazil-born Facebook investor, who renounced his US citizenship earlier this year.  Last year, 1,780 Americans renounced citizenship.  In 2006, the number was a mere 280.

US law requires citizens and permanent residents to pay taxes on income, even if you don’t live in the US.  For rich mainland Chinese who immigrated to the US but have since returned to their homeland, the weighty tax bill often causes sticker shock.

“I regret it to death, all of my friends regret it to death,” said Wu, a 31-year-old housewife, about choosing to get US citizenship. “I’m never going back.”

Wu, who is only willing to disclose her last name, was unaware of tax implications when she got her US citizenship after graduating from college in the US.  She now lives in China and hasn’t been back to the US in 10 years.

It’s interesting to consider what’s causing this trend of repatriation for US immigrants.  I think part of the story is that some wealthy immigrants were admittedly overly casual about taking out US citizenship, which was, as the South China Morning Post put it, “the ultimate status symbol in China.”  On the other hand, the trend also reflects the growing economic power of China, a powerful incentive for Chinese immigrants to return home.


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  • I think this is absolute bullshit. Saverin and Wu are being completely selfish and un-American by “ditching” their passports. So what they’re saying is, they want to come to America to feed off of the services that hard working Americans help provide through taxes, yet not pay for those services or the price of freedom. Look, nobody likes to pay taxes, but guess what? Everyone does and should in order to live in this country which provides opportunities that otherwise aren’t as prevalent in overseas and developing countries such as China or Brazil for that matter. You’re living in a country that provides you services via externalities such as education and you’re not even willing to contribute to the country that’s helped you get to a better place? If it weren’t for these Americans that pay you for your work, directly or indirectly, then you’d be nothing.

  • Suzie

    You’ve got a point, MaSir. Thanks for your perspective. I think, though, it sometimes makes sense for them to “ditch” their passport if they’ve already moved elsewhere and haven’t lived in the US for years and don’t plan to move back b/c life has taken them elsewhere. In that case, they’re not actually feeding off the services from Americans. But I agree with you — if they’re living in the US and not paying taxes, that’s not acceptable!

  • Yes that is true, but the article implies that these kinds of foreigners are coming to America to take advantage of public services and reap the benefits of hard working Americans without having to pay their fair share to Uncle Sam. Yet, when the time comes for them to pay, it becomes pretty obvious to me that they’re “ditching” their passports out of taxation spite, not for alternative reasons.

    Btw, Saverin might be wealthy, but he’s still an undisputed douchbag champion.