Tax Exiles Renounce U.S. Citizenship

From AllGov.com:

Tax Evaders Renounce U.S. Citizenship
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tax Evaders Renounce U.S. Citizenship
Rather than deal with the complexities of U.S. tax law, Americans living overseas are increasingly renouncing their citizenship in order to avoid paying their income taxes.
According to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, approximately 4,000 people gave up their citizenship from fiscal year 2005 to FY 2010. Renunciations increased sharply within the past three years, from 146 in FY 2008 to 1,534 in FY 2010. And during the first two quarters of FY 2011 alone, 1,024 Americans ditched their citizenship.
The advocate’s report cites two reasons for the renunciations. First, many taxpayers abroad say they are confused “by the complex legal and reporting requirements they face and are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to comply with them.”
Second, others have accused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of “bait and switch” tactics, telling Americans they can resolve their unpaid taxes under an “older voluntary disclosure programs with the promise of reduced penalties, only to find themselves subjected to steeper penalties.”
According to tax attorney Andrew Mitchel, another factor has been a change of law in 2008 that means “non-U.S. citizen, nonresidents can now annually visit the U.S. for 120 or more days without becoming taxed as U.S. residents (under the pre-2008 rules, visits to the U.S. for more than 30 days during any of the 10 years following expatriation caused the individual to be treated as a U.S. resident for that year).”
-Noel Brinkerhoff

Why Mexico May Turn Into Afghanistan with Better Music

By Fred Reed (via Robert Wenzel)

Things change, usually for the worse, and always against the innocent. (This truth is a principle of curmudgeonry.) When I came to Mexico some eight years ago, it was a peaceful, moderately successful upper-Third-World country – middle-class, barely, literate, though often barely, and as democratic as the United States, which is to say barely. Things were improving, though often they had a long way to go. The young were visibly healthier than preceding generations. The birth rate was in sharp decline. Women entered the professions in substantial and growing numbers.

And it was safe. Expats sat over coffee at the plaza laughing at people back in the States, insular, fearful, ignorant of the world outside their borders. (For recent college graduates, Mexico is a country south of the United States. “South” is down on maps.) Mexico, they believed, was most astonishing perilous. Don’t drink the water, avoid ice. Salads were thought especially lethal. The Federales would kill you for sport, like squirrels. On any given day, you would probably be shot several times by bandidos. It was nonsense.

Then Vicente Fox left office, and Felipe Calderon came in. He declared war on the narcotraficantes. Why he did this, I don’t know, since Mexico didn’t have a drug problem. My guess is that Washington pushed him into it, but I don’t know.

Unfortunately Mexico, which neither produces nor uses a lot of drugs, lies between Colombia, which produces vast amounts of drugs, and Americans, who want vast amounts of drugs. Washington does not want Americans to have vast amounts of drugs. Neither did it want to lose votes by imprisoning white users of drugs, such as college students, high-school students, professors, Congressmen, lawyers, and blue-collar guys driving bulldozers. The answer was to make Mexico fight Washington’s wars.

Read the rest here.