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  • Writer's pictureLewis Grunfeld, CPA

Cost of Renouncing US Citizenship: A Comprehensive Overview

Are you a U.S. citizen living abroad, contemplating renouncing your citizenship due to complex tax obligations? Let's navigate these considerations together, ensuring you're fully informed about the costs and consequences before making this impactful choice.


Key Takeaways

  • The process involves legal procedures, including an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate and payment of a fee $2,350.

  • Being tax compliant for 5 year is a prerequisite for renouncing citizenship.

  • An exit tax may apply to those renouncing their citizenship, depending on their net worth and tax status.

  • Renouncing US citizenship is irreversible and requires careful consideration, especially regarding tax obligations.


Why Do US Citizens Choose to Renounce Their Citizenship?

Renouncing US citizenship is a profound decision that US taxpayers, particularly those living abroad, do not take lightly. Some of the more common reasons we hear are:

  • US Tax Requirements: The United States is unique in its approach to taxing citizens on their worldwide income, irrespective of their country of residence. The burden of complying with two tax systems often prompts individuals to reconsider their citizenship status.

  • Financial Privacy Concerns: The implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has complicated financial matters for US citizens living overseas. FATCA mandates foreign financial institutions to report the accounts and assets of US taxpayers to the IRS, diminishing their financial privacy.

  • Personal and Professional Reasons: Some may seek to renounce their citizenship due to personal beliefs or professional opportunities that conflict with holding US citizenship.

Process for Renouncing Your U.S. Citizenship

Be Informed

Before initiating the renunciation process, it’s important to grasp the full scope of what renouncing U.S. citizenship means. This includes understanding the legal ramifications, such as losing the right to live and work in the U.S. without a visa, and the tax implications, notably the potential for an exit tax for those who meet certain criteria. Research thoroughly and consider consulting with legal and tax professionals specializing in expatriation.

Schedule an Appointment

The next step involves contacting the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment for your renunciation interview. Availability can vary widely depending on the location, so it’s advisable to plan this step well in advance. During this initial contact, you will likely be provided with a list of documents to bring to your interview.

Preparation of Documents

Prior to your appointment, you will need to complete several forms, including but not limited to, the DS-4079 (Request for Determination of Possible Loss of United States Citizenship), DS-4080 (Oath of Renunciation of the Nationality of the United States), and DS-4081 (Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship). These documents are crucial as they formally record your intention to renounce and your understanding of the consequences.

Interview and Oath

At the interview, a consular officer will review your documents, ensure you understand the irreversible nature of renouncing citizenship, and assess whether your decision is voluntary and without duress. You will then take the Oath of Renunciation, officially relinquishing your U.S. citizenship.

How Much Does it Cost to Renounce U.S. Citizenship?

The fee for renouncing US citizenship is $2,350. This fee is mandated by the U.S. Department of State to cover the administrative expenses associated with the renunciation process. It's important to note that this fee is non-refundable and is required for each individual undergoing the renunciation process, regardless of age or financial status.

Is Reacquiring US Citizenship Possible After Renunciation?

Regaining US citizenship after renouncing it is highly challenging and should be viewed as a final decision. To reacquire citizenship, one must undergo the full immigration process again, facing stringent scrutiny and no guaranteed outcome. This includes obtaining a visa, achieving lawful permanent resident status, and meeting all naturalization criteria. Given the complexity and uncertainty of this process, renouncing US citizenship is a step that requires careful consideration of its permanent nature.

Is Tax Compliance Required for Citizenship Renunciation?

Yes, ensuring US tax compliance is a critical step before you can proceed with renouncing U.S. citizenship. This involves certifying that you have adhered to U.S. tax laws for the five years before renunciation, which includes filing tax returns and informational reports. A key part of this process is submitting Form 8854, the Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement, which serves as your formal declaration of tax compliance. This form details your income, assets, and previous tax obligations, helping to determine if you are subject to the expatriation tax.

What is the Exit Tax?

The exit tax applies to "covered expatriates" who renounce U.S. citizenship. You become a covered expatriate if your net worth is $2 million or more on the day of your renunciation, or if your average annual net income tax for the five years before renouncing exceeds $190,000 (as of 2023, subject to adjustment for inflation). The exit tax aims to tax the accumulated gains on your worldwide assets by treating them as if they were sold at their fair market value the day before you renounce, which could result in considerable tax consequences. Identifying if you're a covered expatriate and understanding the exit tax's impact are essential for a smooth transition during the renunciation process.

Catching Up on US Taxes via the IRS Amnesty Program

If you're considering expatriation but weren't aware of your filing obligations and are behind on U.S. tax returns, the IRS amnesty program is designed for you. It enables you to file back taxes with no penalties. This program is especially beneficial for expatriates who missed filings due to unawareness of their obligations, simplifying the path to compliance and expatriation.

Need Help Catching Up on Your U.S. Taxes From Abroad?

At CPAs for Expats, we specialize in helping US expats stay compliant with their US taxes. Our low fees and 4.9/5 rating on independent review platforms attests to our commitment to excellence and client satisfaction. Contact us today, and let our tax experts simplify your life and taxes.

Article by Lewis Grunfeld, CPA

Lewis Grunfeld, CPA, is a renowned expert in international and U.S. expat taxation, with expertise spanning over ten years. He has successfully helped thousands of expats around the world navigate complex international U.S. tax regulations, and achieve significant tax savings. His work is driven by a strongly rooted passion for assisting the expat community through a wide range of tax situations, ensuring tailored solutions for each unique situation.

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1 Comment

May 06

Thank you for your clear and top knowledge information. I wish I had found you before filing my 1040 NR for 2023 with an other firm which unfortunately wasn't as expert as they presented themselves to be. It has cost me a lot, in fee and what I suddenly owed. I will connect with you next year and look forward to working with your expertise.

Best regard,

Yveline Semeria

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