A deeper investigation of the article's bogusity would ask if there is a demographic component to the "trend." Maybe a bunch of baby boomers are checking out of the United States to retire to a nation where the cost of living is lower. If so, not such a big deal, right? Especially if a lot of the boomers are merely permanent residents. Also tickling my bogusity cilia is the Times' assertionthat "[w]aiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown." Is this significant? And if so, of what? Perhaps one reason lines are forming is because embassy officials are giving cases more scrutiny to prevent people from severing their U.S. connection so they can skip out on taxes owed.
Press Box readers weren't fooled for a moment by the Times piece, with several quickly nominating it for a bogus trend award. Not seeing through the piece was Slate itself, which recycled a perfectly fine 2004 piece about renouncing citizenship, which it pegged to the Times article. In introducing the old piece to new readers, Slate stated, "More and more Americans are giving up their citizenship, a recent New York Times article noted."
Addendum, May 1: After reading my piece, Paul Woolverton Jr. alerted me to an April 20 story in Time magazine that is just as credulous as the New York Times account. But not everybody in the press is that stupid. See this informed April 5 Dow Jones Newswires article on the topic, which reports that:
A minority of the recent expatriates are U.S. natives who have started a new life overseas. Most are people with family ties outside the U.S.: foreign professionals who acquired a green card while working in the U.S., or people who have received higher education in the U.S.
As for the fourth-quarter surge of renunciations, Dow Jones reports:
The IRS says some of the swelling of numbers of expatriations towards the end of 2009 occurred because the agency made a push to notify people that had already surrendered their passport, but had not completed the process by submitting the IRS form. Until that form is received by the IRS, these people are still subject to U.S. tax. "There is some catch-up going on," said IRS spokesman Bruce Friedland.
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