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Fiscal conservatives side with America-denouncing billionaire (Cato, Dan Mitchell, Heritage, Brownfield, Sean Medlock, Daily Caller, HotAir)

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin recently denounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes he'd owe when that company goes public. Hopefully to most people the idea of turning your back on your country [1] to save money would be abhorrent.

Of course, many in the fiscal conservative and libertarians spheres think different: patriotism only goes so far.

For instance, here's Steve Flesher at the major fan site for SuperPatriot Sarah Palin (link):

In Gov. Palin's Indianola speech, she emphasized the importance of energy development as well as making the United States a more business-friendly environment. She proposed many solutions including eliminating corporate income taxes so that companies would keep their money here in the United States as well as investors like Saverin...

Do we really want people like Saverin in the U.S.? Having his money here would be a good thing, but money isn't everything. When choosing to invest in a company, would the location of most of that company's workers matter that much to investors like him? All other things being equal, would investors like him care whether their decisions helped the U.S. or whether they helped China?

If the U.S. were in a prolonged depression, would such investors stick it out and disburse some of their money to help lessen the impact of the depression? Or, would they turn their backs on their fellow citizens, take their money, and flee to a country in better shape?

If the U.S. were engaged in some sort of all-encompassing conflict, whose side would such investors be on? If such investors owned a technology that would prove decisive in the conflict, who would they give it to: the U.S., or whoever came up with the most money? If such investors were in an armed conflict, would they become a deserter?

When Mammon's your god, the sky's the limit.

Moving upscale, Mike Brownfield of the Heritage Foundation offers "Facebook Billionaire Flees America for Lower-Taxed Shores" (link):

The Heritage Foundation's 2012 Index of Economic Freedom shows that though the United States is known as the "Land of the Free," America's excessive tax burden makes it less economically free than other countries, putting it at a competitive disadvantage and convincing U.S. citizens to plant their feet abroad... [Compare U.S. tax rates to Singapore] and you can see why Saverin would be happier to lay down his financial roots in that country... A billionaire like Saverin can afford to flee for greener pastures, but the rest of America isn't so lucky.

That post links to "Facebook Billionaire Gives Up Citizenship to Escape Bad American Tax Policy" by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute (link):

The statists say these people are "tax traitors" and "economic Benedict Arnolds," but those views are based on a quasi-totalitarian ideology that assumes government has some sort of permanent claim on people's economic output.

That makes no sense. Any new money Savarin earns will be subjected to Singapore's rules. The wealth he accumulated before (the Facebook percentage) was from during the 14 or so years when he was a U.S. citizen, and will be affected by U.S. laws. If he starts a new venture in Singapore, the U.S. isn't going to try to tax it: he's no longer a U.S. citizen.

The issue here is one of loyalty, and to many fiscal conservatives and libertarians that only goes so far.

UPDATE: For the voice of the Tea Parties base, see the comments on the Daily Caller story (dailycaller . com/2012/05/11/
facebook-co-founder-renounces-us-citizenship-escaping-tax-burden). While a few don't look kindly on Saverin, others cheer him on (each line is from a comment, followed by the username; bear in mind that DailyCaller seems to be home to many sockpuppets):

* Why would you choose to live in a country that is going to tax 30% of your investment earnings (Buffett Rule) instead of one that would tax 15%? (Joker)

* It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if you raise the taxes to what Obama wants that the wealthy (who by the way pay 80% of the total to IRS & support those Occupiers) will leave. It is their money, not the governments. I have always believed that it was Obama's intentions to break the country because he hates it (Pcgw)

* All the mega wealthy are making THEIR money from Singapore. And it is their money not the governments. The wealthy people don't have an obligation to support freeloaders like you. And mandarin is the language of the future (Pcgw)

* Actually, I'm really close to following him. I don't live in the USA, I don't work in the USA and I pay full taxes in the country I live. So why should I have to pay tax to the USA? I don't burden the country in any way. It's totally BS, the US is the only country to do this. I hate to give up my citizenship, but it's a huge burden just to try and comply. (Talung2)

* Pretty sure that Facepuke has been a big supporter of Slumbama (cda)

* Good for HIM! I would have done the same thing. Why pay for the P-in-C and the First Mooch to vacation around the world on HIS dime, figuratively and literally? (Karl Magnus)

* Since Obama's presidency and his Marxist ideologyical drive to impose a "from each according to his ability to each according to his need," I am suprised that more are not renouncing their citizenship... Good luck Eduardo Saverin... We welcome you back after Novembers elections when we can throw off this nightmare and yoke of Obama socialism. (Patriotson2)

* Yes there is the issue with people dropping Citizenship but who can honestly blame the guy? (userjoe9066)

* being an American is a unique experience. But being an American also carries with it a heritage of knowing when to take a stand against Big Government. When the British colonists renounced their citizenship against the Crown they did the same thing this Individual has done. Regardless of what you may think this person did work for his profit. It's his and not yours, nor anyone else 's. (AceFan)

If you're a Teaparty supporter, I suggest you take actions to oppose that mindset.

UPDATE 2: Will Wilkinson of The Economist is another libertarian who puts money well before country. From "Did Eduardo Saverin do anything wrong?" (economist . com/blogs/democracyinamerica/
2012/05/renouncing-citizenship):

Did Eduardo Saverin plunder us? Are we now a desolate husk of a country, sucked dry by Eduardo Saverin's rapine? Well, no. Facebook created wealth. Mr Saverin is leaving having deployed his capital in a manner that made America better off than it was when he arrived. But will he escape without rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's? Well, no... ...Thanks for everything, Eduardo. Enjoy Singapore.

UPDATE 3: Sens. Charles Schumer and Bob Casey have proposed an "Ex-PATRIOT Act ("Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy") that would not only levy more taxes against those like Saverin, but that would prevent them from even coming back to the U.S. as a visitor (link).

At the Daily Caller, another America-17ther - "Jim Treacher", real name Sean Medlock - responds to the Schumer-Casey proposal. From "Hey, America, let’s punish Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin for being successful" (dailycaller . com/2012/05/17/
hey-america-lets-punish-facebook-
co-founder-eduardo-saverin-for-being-successful).

When people make a lot of money, it's not fair because they have more money than the rest of us do. So we have to tax the ever-loving $#!+ out of them. And if they decide they don't want to be Americans anymore, we have to chase them down and go through their pockets.

...excerpts of article on Schumer-Casey plan...

Why don't we make America a place where successful people want to live?

...Sevarin says renouncing his citizenship has nothing to do with taxes. But if these guys want to make it about that, I get the feeling he's not going to take it lying down.

I wonder how tough it is to make Chuck Schumer flinch?

Comments similar to the ones above follow.

Meanwhile, the comments at HotAir about the Schumer-Casey plan are a garden of money-before-America thinking (hotair . com/headlines/archives/2012/05/17/
senate-dems-want-to-tax-ex-patriates-who-renounce-citizenship-for-tax-reasons):

* Or they could simply lower the tax rate. But that would make too much cents. (aunursa)

* Berlin wall 2.0. (the_nile)

* 49% of Americans pay no federal income tax, how ’bout we expatriate them? (antipc)

* Lower the tax rates and they won’t be renouncing citizenship for tax purposes. Morons do not understand competition in way whatsoever, do they? (ButterflyDragon, shadowcannon.blogspot.com)

* The cost of doing business in the US just got a lot more expensive. Say good bye to innovation. We are barreling down the road to serfdom. (NickDeringer, planettron.com)

* Good grief, Silcon Valley needs to at least up and move the heck out of California. (SC.Charlie)

* MAYBE they should be figuring out how to keep him as a citizen instead of doing things that make him want to leave his citizenship behind. (ProfShadow, cellsigntechnologies.com)

* These people are insane(or Communists….or insane Communists). All this will do is prevent any foreign “millionaires and billionares” from ever setting foot in this country again. None of them will invest here and they sure as hell won’t apply for citizenship. (Doughboy)

* Of course the idea of LOWERING CONFISCATORY TAXATION so people don’t want to take wealth out of this country would NEVER occur to a `Rat now would it? (wildcat72)

* Democrats still think they own you even if you renounce. It their oppressive tax schemes that have made this mess and their proposal is to make it worse. (Axion)

* Ayn Rand was right. (Bulletchaser)

* Maybe he should spend some of that 4 billion on getting Chuckles tossed out on his ear. (mojo)

* Given what Obama is turning it into, why would he want to come back to the USA? (The Rogue Tomato)

* and here I thought ‘Atlas Shrugged‘ was a work of fiction. (Lost in Jersey)

* If our taxes weren’t so out of whack no one would want to renounce. This is the whole problem. Someone says “Taxes are too high so bye” and your, and Schumer’s answer, is “Gives us your money and you can go.” Why not reduce taxes, and the expenditures they fund, to the point where people don’t balk at them? This guy will still be paying tens of millions in taxes to pay for what this country provides regardless. (Rocks)

* Sorry, the only people who got FU’d are the Leviathan tyrant state and the Left. I still consider Saverin more of a countryman than Leftists and Obama supporters, who are about on the level of Al Qaida, and deserve the same thing. (mabryb1)

* Good luck collecting that from Singapore. Schumer is a douche! (JAM)

UPDATE 4: Wait, there's more. At Human Events, David Harsanyi offers "David Harsanyi
Eduardo Saverin doesn't owe us anything/If high taxation chases successful people out of the country, that's the country's fault" (humanevents . com/article.php?id=51536):

The entire episode irks me, too. Yes, because Saverin seems like a selfish ingrate, but also for entirely different reasons.

If high taxation chases successful people out of the country, that’s the country's fault. Daniel Mitchell at the Cato Institute likens this to a "fiscal version of blaming the victim." Obviously, attaching the word "victim" to a billionaire in an age of class warfare is not going to do much to bolster Saverin’s case. But human beings will act in their self interest. WE can't stop it. Surely, with every person, there are a host of reasons for making these kinds of decisions - who knows, maybe Saverin hates eating American cuisine or the weather - but once the tax code pushes people away rather than entice them to come, something is wrong.

...But even more irksome is the implicit message by some of those complaining about Saverin's departure. Paying taxes is no measure of how grateful you are. Government should have no claim to a person's wealth. We're not letting him "keep" anything that isn't his to begin with even if we don’t like what's done.

This is a country, not a McDonald's: if higher tax rates drive people away, let them go and let them put money before country somewhere else. We don't want people like Saverin (or investor and fellow Singaporean Jim Rogers) in the U.S. for the reasons listed above.

If government had no claim to some portion of Saverin's wealth, then - in terms even libertarians might be able to understand - he'd be the world's biggest "moocher". Some of the things he owes the U.S. are listed here, and include not facing the possibility of being kidnapped as was the case in his original country.

Another libertarian, Aaron Ross Powell at a Cato Institute site, offers "What America Owes Eduardo Saverin" (libertarianism . org/blog/what-america-owes-eduardo-saverin). That's discussed here.

At National Review, Mario Loyola responds to this and the Schumer-Casey proposal:

As for Saverin being “ungrateful” in renouncing his citizenship, he might say the same of the U.S. government. After all, isn’t the U.S. being ungrateful to him by punishing his entrepreneurship? ...Obama’s job-killing regulations and the impending sunset of the Bush tax cuts are going to chase many more people and companies away from America. It’s silly to say that those people and companies are being ungrateful, when they’re only doing what rational economics would have predicted. America has always been a great place to live, but there’s nothing automatic about that. The fact that people have given their lives to defend our shores in the past doesn’t make up for the failings of our own generation.

The Wall Street Journal responds to the same proposal:

Not that we have any sympathy for Mr. Saverin, whose citizenship decision is a remarkable act of ingratitude toward the country that welcomed him as a child from Brazil. America's rule of law and relatively open markets have allowed him to take $30,000 in savings and turn it into Facebook shares that after Friday may be worth more than $2 billion... Perhaps he really has fallen in love with the humidity, the 12 hours of night and day year-round, and the lack of press freedom.

...The way to continue to be a magnet for the best and brightest is not to impose Soviet-style exit taxes to punish people who want to leave the country. That is what oppressive and demagogic regimes do, and it's humiliating to see U.S. Senators posture in such fashion. The way to punish Mr. Saverin is to make the U.S. so appealing and dynamic again that he'll be sorry he ever left.

That's not as bad as the quotes from outright libertarians, but they still think of the U.S. as more of a store than a country.

There's also yet another Hot Air post about this at hotair . com/archives/2012/05/17/quotes-of-the-day-1029; the comments there are highly similar to the comments quoted above.

UPDATE 5: Doug Bandow of Cato weighs in at Forbes ( peekURL.com/zRCq58z ). Like other libertarians, he claims that it's we Americans who owe Saverin rather than the other way around. He also includes this:

Being an American is a wonderful thing. But that is because what America is, or, at least, is supposed to be: the proverbial land of the free and home of the brave, which protects life, liberty, and property, provides opportunity, and values entrepreneurship.

If America stops being these things, then it loses its claim to the loyalty of its citizens.

Saverin is worth billions, and he might save 5% of his worth (and probably 2% or less) by renouncing his citizenship. Bandow's idea of loyalty comes relatively cheap.

UPDATE 6: Reihan Salam weighs in at National Review ( peekURL.com/zVNsk7R ). After promoting remittances and a Waterworld (?!) reference, he - like many others - blames our tax rates. He wants us to do more for people who have limited allegiance to the U.S.:

When I argue that expatriates should not be taxed on income earned abroad, I am indeed thinking about the marginally attached, i.e., U.S. citizens and green card holders who would even consider renouncing their affiliation with our country. This is a minority that many people clearly find loathsome. Many people will say good riddance - we don't want such people in our country, etc. Though I understand the logic of this position, which is of course different from the anti-Saverin backlash (which is about vindictively attacking those who renounce their citizenship), it strikes me as wrong-headed. Having traveled in expatriate circles for some time, I've noticed that large numbers of people who were born abroad yet who are green card holders are giving up their green cards. This means that people who had an attachment - a loose attachment, but an attachment - to our country have given it up entirely. It will be harder for them to spend time in the United States, to work and invest here, etc. That actually does the United States palpable harm, because having a diaspora of people who have some affiliation with our country effectively means having informal ambassadors. These are people who plug into America-centric social networks as well as foreign social networks, and so they can help inject new ideas and, more crudely, they can help infuse new cash. But look, just because you will pay any price and bear any burden to retain your affiliation with the United States, regardless of the policies it pursues, doesn’t mean that everyone is like you or that everyone should be like you. There are some people who value their families over the United States. And that is what is going on with this minority: a lot of perfectly sensible, thoughtful people are reaching the conclusion that their family prospects would be greatly improved if they no longer had to deal with the onerous reporting requirements that make life miserable for many Americans living abroad, including some who earn modest incomes, who are covered by foreign income tax credit, etc., yet who still have to file.

To use Saverin as an example, losing out on maybe 2% to 5% of the billions he's worth isn't really going to affect his lifestyle at all. If someone who has a comfortable-or-above lifestyle is so "marginally attached" that they'd give up U.S. citizenship for modest gains, let them go affect some other country.

UPDATE 7: Speaking about the Schumer-Casey proposal, Grover Norquist told The Hill:

"I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well... He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German... The East Germans had the position that if you wanted to leave the country you had to pay them back for all the wonderful Communist education they gave you K through 12... Schumer's effort has a really distinguished history."

UPDATE 8: One of the most egregious examples comes from John Tamny of Forbes.

---------------
[1] Savarin, now 30, was born in Brazil and got U.S. citizenship at 16. His family moved to the U.S. to avoid possible kidnappings in Brazil; thus, his ties to the U.S. aren't as deep as the native-born. ADDED: From an NYT article about him (nytimes . com/2012/05/17/technology/
a-facebook-cofounder-reflects-on-the-path-forward.html):

He professes ignorance about his taxes and refuses to discuss his finances. "This had nothing to do with taxes," he insisted. "I was born in Brazil, I was an American citizen for about 10 years. I thought of myself as a global citizen."

American tax lawyers say they think Mr. Saverin's exit had more to do with estate and gift taxes than income tax.

Fri, 05/11/2012 - 18:39 · Importance: 5