Wealth Blog

Finance Blogs » Wealth Blog » Rich are shopping for citizenship

Rich are shopping for citizenship

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Singer and Tennessee native Tina Turner is the latest high-profile multimillionaire to renounce her U.S. citizenship. She joins other big-money names such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and oil heiress Isabel Getty, who have ditched their citizenship in the past year.

The U.S. Treasury Department has been tracking record numbers of citizens who have given up their U.S. identity -- 2,369 in the first three quarters of this year. The previous annual record was 1,781, in 2011.

Where are they going? According to the UBS and Wealth-X Billionaire Census, they're flocking to tax havens such as Switzerland, where 74-year-old Turner became a citizen; Singapore, where Saverin is a citizen; the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.

It's not just favorable tax rates that are attracting the ultra-rich, according to the census. Other factors include quality of life and good education systems. The new citizens might also find like-minded cliques: In Switzerland, only 34 percent of billionaires living there actually grew up there. In Singapore, 36 percent of billionaires grew up there, and in Hong Kong, 25 percent.

In addition, many of the expats, like Turner, have already been living in another country for a number of years, or are used to moving around the globe. Turner, who has an estimated net worth of $40 million, according to Wealth-X, is married to a foreigner -- German music producer Erwin Bach. Saverin is Brazilian by birth and only moved to the U.S. around age 11 with his family.

"The most successful emigrations are by those moving from a country where their ties are not strong to begin with," Caroline Garnham, a lawyer and chief executive of family office adviser Family Bhive, told Wealth-X. "The wealthy are mobile, and when taxation becomes more onerous than their affection for a country, they can move."

Keep up with your wealth and mortgages and follow me on Twitter.

Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.

Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
November 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

Hey, let them go ... as long as they pay any taxes for the years they lived here and took advantage of our society, police and fire protection, schools, etc.

Leigh Slocum
November 29, 2013 at 1:03 am

Maybe if we had a President that could run this country without making everyone with decent jobs and a healthy living pay more taxes because he feels for the poor to much. Maybe if employers paid actual taxes instead of under the counter, this country would be worth living in. People would rather hire non US citizens and oay them cash and get away without paying taxes than hire a US citizen with an Education andcan speak English. Then if caught they can get a US citizenship and will still work for nothing. Is this fare? Is it fare to take the money you made from hard work or because you wet to college and recieved a degree and make an actual decent amount of money and when you are ready to retire you move to another country and take your money with you, should they then have to pay another tax just to move their money? Is that fare so the President can keep increasing taxes? Let's face it Obama was only elected for one thing and one thing only, to make History. Well okay DONE...was it worth his lack of knowledge how to be an actual Presdent of a Country????? Was it? Everyone making comments on this,,do you have a degree? I bet you voted for what is making everyone want to leave this country.

November 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I am considering leaving because I got sick and tired of being told I have an accent, especially when they make a face.

eserelly the country because I am sick and tired of being asked where are you from because they say I have an accent.

November 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

The instant response of "has the US Congress acted yet" is endemic of the problem. I would bet that most of these people have paid 1,000 fold more taxes than the average US citizen already. The idea that success should be punished with ever increasing taxes is counter intuitive and In the long run will not work. How much, in a percentage, is "your fair share" when it comes to taxes? The current policies of increasing taxes as well as handouts to redistribute wealth will ultimately fail and be reversed.

Jay Fleury
November 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Has the US Congress acted on this? By this I mean for anyone who has large amounts of savings or any accounts in the USA, that a large tax be imposed on these accounts before transfer to another country. The same with corporations single business owners.

To Hell with them and I hope the country that they choose places a high tax on what they have. As well, they are not allowed back into this country which made them rich to begin with.

November 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I came here 40 years ago from the Philippines and still love this country although I still love Philippine. Giving to support the poor should only be temporary until a person is strong enough to carry its own weight. The succ3ess of any nation is the in the hands of its citizen. In order for the car to run smoothly is for all parts of the system are helping to propel the car. We encourage every citizens to be a part of the solution, not a problem. More people working more revenue and probably lower the rate of taxation. It's kind of corny but if you think about it's actually nice. To be self reliance is a wholesome feeling. Remember you can not possibly control others but your self, you can. Happy Thanksgiving to all.