The proposed change could affect US citizens in France who wish to renounce their US citizenship and was particularly welcomed by the campaign group Association of Accidental Americans (AAA).
AAA is a French group aimed at those in France who do not have a link to the US other than perhaps, for example, being born there / having lived in the US as a young child before moving overseas. They are still required to file a tax return in the US.
This is one reason for some Americans living outside the US wanting to renounce their US citizenship. The US is one of only two countries to apply a ‘citizenship-based’ taxation system - along with Eritrea. Other countries employ ‘territorial-based taxation’ or ‘residence-based taxation’.
This means so-called ‘accidental Americans’ have to submit a tax return to the US each year.
! Thanks to the persistent efforts of the Association des Américains Accidentels (AAA), the cost to renounce U.S. citizenship will plunge from a whopping $2,350 down to a more reasonable $450.— Accidental Americans (@USAccidental) September 30, 2023
It's still quite a price tag, but hey, it's over 80%...
Until 2010 Americans did not have to pay to renounce their citizenship at which point a fee was set at $450. This increased in 2015 to $2,350. The US Department of State said this was in response to a dramatic rise in requests to renounce citizenship, and would apply to all citizens outside of the US' borders, not only those in France.
Read more: Number of Americans moving to France triples
However, the department said there have been a significant amount of complaints that the procedure is too expensive. It is therefore thinking about changing the price and is accepting public comments on the matter.
The Department said in the US Federal Register that the increase “acted as a deterrent to renunciation”. It also noted that dropping the fee “will better align [it]... with other fees for services provided to US citizens abroad”.
Why do Americans have to pay to renounce citizenship?
The fee is to cover administration costs, which, according to the Department of State, when set at $450 “represented less than 25% of the cost to the US government”.
Renouncing US citizenship includes taking an oath of renunciation and sees the former US citizen receive a certificate.
The AAA said this fee only came in with the US’ 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Under this act, foreign banks are required to search their records for American citizens and report their assets to the US tax authorities if these amount to more than $50,000.
Although American citizens should not be taxed twice if they have already paid tax in their country of residence on income up to $112,000 for 2022, they still have to file a tax return. FATCA rules can make it more difficult to open a bank account abroad due to the reporting requirements for French banks.