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10 Benefits of (Exiting the US) Expatriation

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I have previously and briefly talked about my plans to potentially leave the United States. I am currently researching suitable destinations that may offer a higher quality of living for myself and family. I am aware that an ever-increasing amount of Americans have already done so. My wife recently went on a scouting trip to Ecuador based on information we researched via Internal Living. She met many American expatriates living there and loving it for too many reasons to list here (more to come later). Over the weekend, I came across a guide that list 10 reasons why Americans may want to leave the US, before it’s too late. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any places you recommend we check out next.

We subscribed to International Living a few months ago to start getting some ideas on suitable places to visit for possible relocation. I am concerned that the US will go through a very strong period of civil unrest when the average American comes to realize that Socialism fails miserably and painfully. I discussed this a little bit in my article, “Greece-Like Riots Exploding In California…What’s Your Plan B?” I really hope everyone is considering the possibility civil unrest happening right here like many other parts of world and are making plans accordingly.mThere is a saying, “Expect the best, but plan for the worse.” Take your first step and check out some of the great free information that Internal Living has on their website.

I am learning that real estate prices are really going up in many of the expatriate hot spots because of the amount of westerners pouring into these places. I will admit, I wish I would have started researching this stuff much earlier to get a real jump on the real estate while the prices were low. There are still good opportunities out there, but they are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

You can get the full, free American Expatriation Guide and the full article at CaseyResearch.com or just by clicking here.

Everybody has their own personal reasons for expatriating, but here are some of the benefits:

1) Freedom from the global U.S. tax net. Taxing you no matter where you breathe on this earth is wanton American exceptionalism. What other nations don’t dare do to their citizens, the U.S. government doesn’t think twice about. Once you renounce, it’s your choice either to live the rest of your life free of any tax net, or to pick a place you want to be year-round and opt into the tax system (assuming it’s not a tax-free jurisdiction)…..

Taxes in the U.S. are already high, and rates are set to increase across the board. To gain some perspective, it’s clarifying to calculate the number of months per year you work for the government. How many months did it take to pay all the federal, state, and local income taxes, capital gains taxes, FICA taxes, property taxes, and AMT – plus the raft of permitting, licensing and accounting costs you incur over the course of a year? Add corporate taxes if you’re a business owner. And don’t forget the new 3.8% health care surcharge tax on all investment income, including dividends. Be honest and add it all up. You’ll then have a decent idea of how much it costs you in time and money to be a U.S. citizen every year. That cost will rise dramatically going forward……

2) Freedom from the death tax. Its political label is the “estate tax,” but the fact is the tax is based solely on your demise. I used to think the death tax only applied to gains on assets that had not been taxed already. How naïve I was! It grabs half of all your assets, regardless of the fact that you’ve paid taxes on them…..

The death tax is 45% now and is scheduled to jump to 55% in 2011. Either way, the amount is staggering. Expatriation lifts the death tax burden from your children and other heirs.

3) Freedom from the U.S. government’s War on Solvency. Washington’s crazed debt addiction is uncontrollable and endemic. U.S. politicians have strapped an inconceivably large debt burden on the backs of their subjects. It pays to spend some time on www.usdebtclock.org. The multi-trillion dollar debt avalanche roars on, headed straight towards economic hell. After “Debt Per Taxpayer” and “Liability Per Citizen,” check out “U.S. Unfunded Liabilities” to see a number that’s suited to astronomical calculations – not economics.

Don’t be tricked into thinking this is a partisan issue. It’s sobering to review the debt records of both Democratic and Republican administrations…to behold what politicians do when given trillions of dollars of other people’s money. They spend it all – and then borrow trillions more! Of course, the burden of servicing that debt is on you, not them. Their six-figure salaries are guaranteed, along with their uber-perks and fully funded pension plans.

While often described as “the richest nation in the world,” the reality is that the U.S. is the most indebted nation, by a country mile. No other government comes close to matching the debt burden that has been dumped onto every taxpayer. The U.S. government is rampantly incurring debt in your name, and you have no way to stop it or slow it down. Standing in free speech zones with protest signs didn’t work when it came to war and crony bailouts, and it won’t work for the debt burden either…..

…….Don’t let yourself or your family be a casualty of the government’s War on Solvency.

4) Freedom from being treated like a “toxic citizen.” When traveling abroad, being a U.S. passport holder used to be a positive thing. Now it’s an albatross. The New York Timesarticle I cited earlier explains it plainly: Americans abroad are being treated like “toxic citizens.” They’re cut off from banking and other business and investing opportunities solely because of their U.S. citizenship.

Typical currency controls don’t permit you to take money out of a country. The U.S. doesn’t have that (yet). Instead, and this is quite clever, the government enacts laws and regulations that function as indirect currency controls. There are so many Patriot Act and other costly impositions forced on foreign banks that handle U.S. customers that they’re simply refusing to put up with the harassment. Here’s the upshot: Your money isn’t fenced in; it’s fenced out.

If you seek firsthand evidence, visit a major banking center outside the U.S. and try to open a bank account. Odds are you’ll be turned away when the bank finds out you’re a U.S. citizen. Reports abound of U.S. citizens’ long-held accounts at foreign banks being summarily terminated. The U.S. government has made its subjects, along with their money, persona non grata.

I’ve read that some foreign banks are now setting up, in essence, holding pens designed to handle U.S. citizens who want to bank offshore. But, really, what’s the point? You’re burdened with having to file extra IRS paperwork, along with FBAR forms to the Treasury Department. And even if you don’t file all the extra papers (not a smart move), new laws force foreign banks who accept U.S. customers to report on you anyway. They are pressured to sign “information reporting agreements” to have U.S. citizens as customers. Google “FATCA” and “qualified intermediary agreements” if you want details.

Now for the most extreme instance of liability. Being a U.S. passport holder can mean life or death in the context of a terrorist attack. The U.S. government’s never-ending War on Terror makes the world more dangerous for Americans. After so many years of bombing and military occupation in the Middle East, how can the hundreds of thousands of civilians who’ve been maimed and killed by the U.S. government NOT be the source of enduring resentment and blowback? Needless to say, the U.S. passport is on the short list of ones you least want to have if somebody sticks a gun in your face and says, “Passport.” Unfortunately, this has happened on more than one occasion, and it would be unreasonable to assume it won’t happen in the future.

5) Freedom from the paperwork prison. Millions of Americans are plagued every year by days, sometimes weeks, of preparing tax documents and paying thousands of dollars to accountants to decipher the IRS tax code. There are, literally, hundreds of different IRS forms. The tornado of rules and regulations in the tax code fills roughly 70,000 pages. And then you have to save boxes and boxes of papers for years in fear of someday being audited and not being able to produce the demanded documents. If you’re unfamiliar with audits, here’s how they work: You’re guilty of whatever the IRS claims, unless you prove yourself innocent. If that sounds preposterous, I encourage you to ask a tax lawyer. “Innocent until proven guilty” does not apply. Freedom from spending days of tedium on mind-numbing paperwork and thousands on accounting fees has been an absolute joy. Highly recommended.

6) Freedom to invest without tax distortions that encourage capital misallocation. The U.S. tax system encourages misallocation of your investment capital. It obscures the act of buying and selling securities based on a rational assessment of their value. For instance, you end up not selling a security you otherwise would simply because you don’t want to trigger taxes yet. Or you hold on longer than you might otherwise to get long-term capital gains treatment. Or you sell securities you normally would keep – for “tax loss harvesting.”………

7) Freedom from being crushed by the fiat currency landslide. If you pay attention to the world’s major currencies, you’ll notice they fluctuate, often dramatically, against each other. In a year’s time, the price of an item can increase or decrease 20%, 30% – sometimes more – solely based on which currency you use to pay for it. The same item! The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this guide. Suffice to say, it has to do with government central banks manipulating their currencies by price-fixing interest rates and continually printing money…….

…Every time the dollar drops, you get the short end of the stick. The value of your savings erodes. Your money is like ice cubes. The longer you wait to use them, the more they melt. According to the government’s official “inflation calculator,” the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power since 1913. See for yourself here: www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

When you’re out of the global U.S. tax net, you can freely diversify the currencies you own to protect your purchasing power from being diluted. If you do this as a U.S. citizen and the dollar drops, you’re taxed on the paper gains from those other currencies. In other words, you’re taxed for simply preserving your purchasing power. And if you choose the monetary metal, gold, as a fiat currency hedge, you’re taxed even more heavily. No matter what you do to try and preserve the purchasing power of your dollars, one way or another you’re slowly being bled. That ends on the day you expatriate.

8) Freedom from the accountability for how the U.S. government spends your money. I sleep much better knowing I no longer fund the military-industrial-banking complex. Anybody can get mugged, but every U.S. taxpayer is a constant patsy for the political establishment. The rip-offs are so unthinkably big and endemic, there’s nothing an individual can do to stop them.

If you step back and take an honest look, you’ll see that the unfortunate state of affairs in America has resulted from the reign of both political parties. Don’t fall for the divide and conquer strategy that politicians use to corral people into “red” and “blue” sports teams. Donkeys and elephants are sold as team mascots pretending to be in mortal conflict. In reality both parties work together to advance their agendas in lockstep…logrolling…and when necessary, one side “takes the hit” whenever the illusion of accountability is needed. The system depends on the delusion that people can “vote the bums out.”

Meanwhile, every government failure becomes the pretext for more government growth. If you don’t get distracted by the spectacle, it’s impossible not to notice the pattern: Every political solution to any problem involves more regulation of your life and more taking of your money.

What are the consequences of this vicious cycle of growth through failure? Most Americans are familiar with the oft-chanted phrase, “We’re #1!” Humor me for a minute and try this exercise. Mentally separate yourself from the government you’re paying trillions of dollars to fund. Then, consider that the U.S. is: · #1 in government debt and deficits · #1 in unfunded liabilities, most importantly Medicare and Social Security · #1 in building and maintaining the biggestWMD stockpile in the world · #1 in weapon sales to foreign governments · #1 in bombs dropped and missiles fired on other nations · #1 in causing civilian casualties and property destruction · #1 in “defense” spending – about as much as all other countries combined · #1 in lawyers per capita, with over 1.1 million total · #1 in law suits filed – millions and millions every year · #1 in political lobbyists, special interest groups and campaign donations · #1 in taxpayer bailouts of the politically connected “too big to fail” corporations · #1 in people imprisoned – “The United States has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.” -Wikipedia

I’ve avoided citing sources for these claims (save the last one) because I’m hoping you’ll be moved to verify them for yourself. The process is eye-opening. If you fall for the political fallacy that “the government is the people,” you end up with the faulty conclusion that America must be overrun by war-crazed, lawsuit-happy, debt-addicted criminals. How could anybody buy this after even a moment of clear thought? There’s certainly no resemblance to the American people I know. These problems stem from the military-industrial-banking complex, the dark heart of the U.S. political machine. Why continue being the stooge that supplies the money to run it?

Looking at the world with fresh, open eyes isn’t easy. One of the great benefits of liberating yourself from the grip of the U.S. political system is that the world becomes your oyster. You’re free to embrace places that welcome individuals who seek to live peaceful and prosperous lives.

9) Freedom to radically increase your charitable giving. Individual liberty sparks our charitable instincts. If you care deeply about philanthropy, expatriation frees up vastly more of your capital to give away. Also, your philanthropic impulses are no longer distorted by the IRS. You can give to any charitable cause worldwide without being penalized if it’s not anointed as a tax-deductible entity…..

10) Freedom from the risk of getting trapped. Politicians don’t like it when the people who pay their salaries, fund their pensions, and fuel their jets close their wallets and walk away. As the number of renunciations continues to rise, it inevitably will turn into a political hot-button. The media will set the stage for politicians to denounce renunciation, paving the way to make exercising the right more difficult and costly. Wealthy people who renounce will be called greedy and unpatriotic. “Turning their backs on their fellow Americans” will be the sound bite wielded by politicians to conjure up the demand to “do something.” When that happens, I expect the exit tax to become dramatically worse. Instead of taxing unrealized gains at their regular rates, it may function more like the death tax. Add up everything you own – then cough up half. Otherwise sit down and shut up.

The other timing consideration is that getting a second passport is becoming more difficult, more lengthy and more costly. You need a second passport to expatriate, and countries are increasing the number of years it takes to gain citizenship. There are only two countries left in the world that have an economic citizenship program, which is by far the fastest way to get a second passport. If these two programs are pressured to fold, escaping the U.S. political combine will take most people five or more years, instead of less than one. You can bet on this: No matter what happens, it won’t get any easier.

I would love to hear your opinion on this and any recommendations on great places to live outside of the United States.

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  1. Dylan
    June 16th, 2010 at 11:38 | #1

    Great Article! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Since I started investing in in silver last November I’ve begun giving the subject of expatriation more and more consideration.

    Like you, I’ve also taken an interest in Ecuador. I had an idea to join a volunteering group this winter, to get a chance to visit the country and see if it’s a place worth investing my future into. http://www.ecuadorvolunteer.org/

    I think it’s a great experience for other young adults or anyone with the available resources..time,money, etc. There are so many locations to volunteer internationally, just do some research and see for yourself!

    John, I’d be interested in reading more articles like these that you might come across and I’ll meet you down in Ecuador for some margaritas when this party finally ends.

    I went to the Casey Research website as mentioned in the article and will be reading the free ebook that they’re offering. If you’re reading it also, I’d like to hear what you think.

    If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to mention Dan Amerman’s website.

    He has a a free ebook that discusses an exit strategy to this upcoming economic storm. I think we’re all fortunate to have learned about this incredible opportunity in precious metals, but we should also keep in mind that there will be a time to move our assets somewhere else. Dan Amerman gives a good introduction to this subject.

  2. goldstockmania
    June 16th, 2010 at 21:51 | #2

    No problem! I am really interested in figuring out a place pretty soon. Like you said, before the party ends here. Yeah the margaritas in Ecuador sound goods good to me. I am also considering Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.

    I will be sure to post some more info on our findings as soon as I can.

    Thanks for the link and recommendation Dylan, I will check it out this weekend…..Also let me know what you think about the info in the Expat Guide. Sounds like we have similar interest. I am a big silver bull too.

  3. SW
    June 17th, 2010 at 11:51 | #3

    I am an expat currently (but I am not from the US). Has anyone read this guys site:

    http://www.economicrant.com/ (click current article link)

    He seems to believe that theres NOWHERE for people to escape to when TSHTF.

    What does everyone think of that? I dont think I agree as some places will be worse than others (like the west).

  4. goldstockmania
    June 17th, 2010 at 21:23 | #4

    Hey SW,

    If you don’t mind sharing, where are you from and what country do you live in now? I would be interested in knowing why you decided to become an expat? Why did you choose your current country you are living in?

    Thanks for the link. I have not heard of him or his website.

    I don’t believe there is no where to escape. I will take a look to see what his points are, but I am not inclined to believe every place will be about as bad as everywhere else.

    If there are any of expats out there reading this, I would love to hear from you too!

  5. SW
    June 18th, 2010 at 05:49 | #5

    I am from South Africa and currently live on a small offshore island. I decided to become an expat because the writing has been on the wall for South Africa for years now (just like Zimbabwe). I chose where I am now because the pays good, taxes relatively low and I dont spend hours in traffic everyday (I walk most places). I like it here but its a short term stay for me.

    Having said all that I dont think its the best place to be for when TSHTF as the island gets most of its revenue from the finance industry and we know what bad shape they are in! I’m not sure where I wanna go next to be honest. Give me your email address if you want some of my ideas and I will let you know.

    All I can say is, having lived/worked in six countries, they all have positives and negatives. Some more than others. Is it worth living overseas somwhere? Yes. Am I glad I made the move? Hell yes!!

  6. goldstockmania
    June 19th, 2010 at 05:49 | #6

    Thanks SW for the additional information. To avoid the spam robots that harvest email addresses posted on websites, I don’t post any email addresses on the web and encourage others not to do so either.

    If you send me a message via the contact link near the top of this page, I will reply back to you withy my real email address.

    I look forward to hearing about your travels and future recommendations. Also, it might be a good idea to write a guest post on GoldStockMania.com for the benefit of others who may be interested in moving to one of the countries you have lived in.

    You could highlight the pros/cons of living in each country. For example, I have had brief thoughts about checking out South Africa. I did not realize that’s where you are from. From your comment, it sounds like South Africa is not the place to be either….

  7. SW
    June 19th, 2010 at 07:29 | #7

    I have sent you a message via the contact us page. I will put something together for you and email it to you…

  8. goldstockmania
    June 19th, 2010 at 10:14 | #8

    That’s great SW. I am looking forward to reading your email.

    I will reply to your message so you will have my email address.

  9. SilverHog
    June 19th, 2010 at 16:01 | #9

    I know there will be problems here in the US when tshtf, but the thought of being in a foreign country (especially a Central or South American, or African country) when it happens, terrifies me. It will be a world wide crash, not just a US crash. I’m sure you’re correct, not all places will suffer the same amount. But how accurately will you be able to predict which ones? You better be sure enough to bet the lives of your family.

    After the crash, Americans, rightly or wrongly, will be blamed around the world for everyone’s problems. When I think about Americans in one of these small countries when it collaspes, I can’t help but see images of scapegoat Jews in Nazi Germany, Poland, and other countries. If that happens don’t be looking for the Marines to come pull you out. They will be quelling riots in the major cities in the US, you will be on your own, at the mercy and whim of the locals.

    If you have the finances to relocate to another country, you could probably afford a place in the country or mountains in the US. If you shoot somone there defending your family from outsiders, the locals would probably be understanding. If you shoot someone in one of those countries, will it be “the evil American that stole the world’s wealth and is now killing our people”? Can you have guns to defend your family? How does that court system treat foreigners?

    I think the locals could easily work themselves up into a hatred of rich Americans living it up in their little closed communities off of the wealth they “stole” while everyone else is impoverished. Just because they like or tolerate you when things are going well, does not necessarily mean they will feel the same way when times get rough. Americans in Iran were shocked at the sudden and unexpected hatred they received when their Iranian friends and co-workers immediately did a 180 the day the Shah was kicked out of the country.

    I know our government is stealing our rights at an alarming rate, but we still have a 200 year history behind us of freedom and individual rights. Plus our nation was settled by people that came here because they believed in those rights. That will take time for people to forget, to be re-educated. Do any other countries have a background bred into them like this? What is their history?

    A while back I read an American blogger saying how much happier he was living with the French, rather than with stupid Americans. I’ve lived in France. I tried to explain to him that American Expats would the first ones the French would eat when tshtf.

    But no . . . . I’m just another stupid American . . . . . . . . bon apetit mes amis!

  10. SW
    June 20th, 2010 at 04:31 | #10

    Good post silverhog!

    I guess theres risks to everything in life! Luckily for me I am not American so I won’t be painted with that brush but I have lived all over the world. I have to say it is difficult at times being an expat but very worthwhile. You are kind of right in that, when TSHTF, the locals do start blaming the foreigners (as I am currently experiencing where I am). Its so ironic because its the GOVERNMENT that created the problems, not the immigrants. Pointless arguing with patriotic locals though. I just keep out of trouble and don’t advertise that I am an immigrant. The only time people know I am a foreigner is when I talk! I am in a “unique” position that even if I go back to my home country I am considered an outsider so for me it doesn’t matter where I live overseas as it has pretty much the same risks as me staying in my country of birth.

    At the end of the day everyone needs to make up their own minds. Some will sit tight in the US (or wherever) and some will emigrate. Neither is wrong or right. Pick what suits you best ;-)

  11. goldstockmania
    June 22nd, 2010 at 12:49 | #11

    @Silver Hog,

    Great comments…. My wife had heard some stories about resentment of westerners moving into Ecuador and driving up the real estate prices which results in the locals not being able to afford to buy property nearby.

    I realize these are serious issues you bring up. My two primary concerns with staying in the US are:

    1)Sky rocketing Federal, State, and local taxes. As this country sheds more jobs and more people rely on public assistance. The Governments will have to raise taxes substantially in the near future for the those that are still working.

    Property taxes are very likely to go way up as well as local governments search for more money to keep things going and pay debt. If I buy some land in the US I am concerned that they will tax you out of it.

    2) Federal Government becoming too invasive and controlling. In the name of terrorism and safety, the US Government is increasingly shredding the constitutional rights of citizens. Pretty soon there will not be much left.

    I realize that sometimes it is better to stick with the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know. I am not too hopeful relying on the general American public. As they have so far swallowed just about everything the Government as told them too.

    Maybe I am off base here… and none of these things will happen. If you have a way of working around these issues SilverHog, then please share some more info :)

  12. goldstockmania
    June 22nd, 2010 at 13:16 | #12

    @ SW,

    As you and Silverhog pointed out, there are tradeoffs no matter which route you take. I guess this is a case of trying to figure which option has the most benefits and least amount of negatives.

    I am open to staying or going….. Hopefully, I will be able to decide this soon….

    Good comments SW.

  13. SilverHog
    June 23rd, 2010 at 19:40 | #13

    To make it work, I would think you would need to be settled in the country before the crash. That way you weren’t escaping an imploding US, but insted fell in love with the customs, the people, and the country and wanted your children to be raised in this “superior” environment and morals. You would have to immerse yourself in their language, local schools for the kids, and join a local church (not an expat church) and tithe. Blend in and become one of them. Complain about whats wrong in the US and what’s great about their country, and how lucky they are. If you could do this I think you could make it. If you had enough gold to start a small business that employed 5-10 people at above average wages, you would really have it made.

    I think it’s a big mistake to form American communities, with private golf courses and clubs, and to look upon the locals as a low cost labor and maid service pool. This can’t help but produce negative feelings in the locals and solidfy the arrogant outsider image.

    But don’t be surprised if you get homesick. After two years in Europe I bought a round trip student ticket to the US for the summer to see relatives. I never used the 2nd half of the ticket.

  14. July 4th, 2010 at 16:08 | #14

    I love the idea of having a second residence.

    Do you plan on renouncing your US citizenship? If not, won’t you still need to pay income taxes?

    Btw, the incarceration statistic just ruined my day. ;-) Fantastic article.

  15. goldstockmania
    July 6th, 2010 at 07:05 | #15


    It depends…If I really find a stable place to live and we enjoy living there…I might do it. But I would not do it right away. I would give the situation some time to bake just in case I need to come back.

  16. steve
    August 12th, 2010 at 08:53 | #16

    I think its very naive to think that if things get bad in the USA that you`ll be better off in some other country….if things get bad here they`ll be REALLY bad there .. and if you are a tourist/westerner you`ll be the FIRST one the locals target and come for. THAT will be a really tough position to be in….I`d rather go off the grid here, prepare and try to ride it out. I totally argee thta we are heading for tough times…personally i`d rather ride it out where i know and trust my neighbors and can be self supporting to a large degree. best to all of you…

  17. Dylan
    August 26th, 2010 at 19:31 | #17


    Hey SW I wanted to thank you for introducing us to http://www.economicrant.com/. I’ve since subscribed to his newsletter and look forward to his utterly pessimistic and somewhat comical outlook on the economy.

    By now I’m sure everyone knows who Mike Maloney is, but have you heard of Richard “The Mogambo Guru” Daughty? I found a great multi-video interview with Mike and Richard, I highly recommend it. One of my favorite lines is ‎”The FED is creating so much money it makes me dizzy, and it’s not the good kind of dizzy where you throw up and go back to the party for more beer and pizza, it’s the bad kind of dizzy”


  18. SW
    September 6th, 2010 at 00:46 | #18


    I ALWAYS look forward to reading the latest Economic Rant. I know its pessimistic but why shouldn’t it be, what we are facing IS negative. I just wish there was a way to contact the author…

    I like Mike Maloney and really enjoyed his book on Gold/Silver. I wanted to order his new DVD but its only (currently) shipping to the US and Canada so I can’t order it ;-(

    I also REALLY enjoy reading “Conversations with Casey” which is a free weekly newsletter I receive via email.

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