Monday, May 12, 2014

Yul Brynner’s Tax Spat Augurs Rush to Give Up U.S. Passports

By Catherine Bosley

Almost 50 years after Oscar-winning actor Yul Brynner gave up his passport at the U.S. embassy in the Swiss capital, the number of Americans relinquishing their citizenship jumped 47 percent in the first quarter.

Expatriates giving up their nationality climbed to 1,001 in the three months through March from 679 a year earlier, according to Federal Register figures released May 2. The number tripled to 3,000 in 2013 from the previous year, Internal Revenue Service data shows.

While Brynner, the star of “The Magnificent Seven,” renounced his American citizenship in Bern following a dispute with the IRS, tougher asset-disclosure rules being introduced in July are prompting more of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas to weigh giving up their passports. The appeal of U.S. citizenship for expatriates dimmed further as 106 Swiss banks prepare to turn over account data on American clients to avoid prosecution for helping tax evaders.

“I feel caught in the battle between the government and the banks,” said John Annen, a 46-year-old American mathematician who has lived for more than decade in Switzerland. “The U.S. government is the biggest threat to my style of living.”

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