American Expats Grow in Number in Response to Trump

American Expats Grow in Number in Response to Trump

Before the 2016 election, high-profile individuals, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and actor Bryan Cranston said they would leave if Donald Trump were elected.

Thousands of everyday citizens made the same threat. Now, four months into Trump’s administration, an increasing number of Americans are making good on their threat.

The number of Americans renouncing American citizenship has been increasing annually since 2015 when Donald Trump announced his White House bid. The total hit a high-water mark in 2016 and forecasts showing it nudging higher in 2017.

The Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of America’s Treasury Department, publishes each quarter, the names of individuals who renounce their U.S. citizenship. Before 2014, under one-thousand people took the expatriate route annually.

Over two-thousand, three-hundred left in just the last quarter of 2016. Between January 1 and February 9, 2017, over 5,400 people left.

The link between the list of ‘expats’ and the IRS points to a link to tax policy. America is one of the rare nations that tax based on nationality — not residence. Americans living abroad face double taxation.

Double-taxation counts for only a tiny percentage of people leaving America. Trump’s surprise ascent to The White House is most frequently cited as the reason. Leading up to the November election, numerous high-profile individuals said they would leave America if Trump were elected. Several nations, including Cyprus, Canada, and New Zealand launched campaigns to promote themselves as destinations for Americans.

Reliable Figures

Despite there being no reliable data on how many Americans live overseas, a State Department estimate puts the number around 6 million. Other estimates place it as high as 9 million non-military citizens.


There are multiple reasons why Americans may emigrate. Some do so for economic reasons. Others leave on religious grounds such as missionary work, and still, others want to escape American policies. Since American citizens do not have easy access to any foreign nation for establishing permanent residence, the American diaspora is comparatively small with regards to the total USA population.

Other popular reasons for living overseas are marriage/partnership, study, employment, and retirement. Since children born in America to non-citizens are granted American citizenship, a child born to migrant workers, temporary foreign workers on visas or international students are American citizens; they are considered in the number to be a US citizen living abroad.

Even with the numbers spiking, expatriation numbers seem small when compared to the influx of immigrants. Giving up citizenship is a serious step and becoming an expat is rarely about politics.

To exit America can be expensive as well. Depending on annual income, an individual pay is required to pay an exit tax. A long-term resident surrendering their Green Card may be required to pay an exit tax as well.

Often Americans living overseas feel squeezed by double taxation, but that hasn’t reduced the numbers leaving because of politics. Even a higher exit fee hasn’t stemmed the tide of individuals fleeing Trump’s policies.

Previously, there was a $450 fee to renounce citizenship. Now, there is a $2,350 fee. The American State Department says raising the fee was all about the demand. The number of expatriations still increased following the hike.

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