Accidental Americans petition Trump for independence from USA

Published:  5 Jul at 6 PM
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A campaign organised by a group of US ‘citizens by accident’ has petitioned Donald Trump to let them relinquish their accidental ties to the USA.

Accidental Americans are those born in the USA, often to expat parents working in or simply visiting the country, who’ve never actually lived there long-term. According to the law, they’re still considered US citizens and are liable to be taxed as are American nationals living and working overseas. It’s estimated that around several million people may fall into the category, which the US State Department doesn’t even recognise as having official citizenship status.

Frenchman Fabien Lehagre, head of an advocacy group representing accidental Americans living in Europe, says huge numbers wish to be free of their obligations to file tax returns and pay taxes. Others, he adds, want to be able to renounce their accidental citizenship and return their passports, but cannot due to costs and US bureaucracy. A further rallying cry for those in this situation was the introduction of FATCA with its subsequent restriction of banking options for expat US citizens. Lehagre’s group has 570 members and several affiliate groups in Belgium, Italy and Ireland, with the vast majority having left the USA before they reached three years old. Most do not even speak English.

The advocate’s aim is to persuade Trump to allow accidentals to renounce their unwanted citizenship at minimal cost as well as to ease restrictions on the few who want to keep their US passports. At present, he’s got the attention of the European parliament via a petition hopefully resulting in a plea to the European Commission to raise the issue with relevant authorities in the US. Even although the French Senate are now in support and French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire has raised the issue with Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s attention hasn’t yet focused on the issue. Lehagre believes it’s possible to gain his interest by pointing out FATCA was an Obama law he might enjoy repealing as he has with a number of his predecessor’s laws. One Belgian accidental who was born in the USA during a family trip racked up some $50,000 in fees and taxes before her renunciation of US citizenship two years ago.
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