Reason 4: Patriotism
I hear you…”Wait, Jeff, patriotism? Seriously? How can you call someone wanting to leave…a patriot?”
To answer, I remind you that around 250 years ago, when families were so frustrated by their country’s tyranny (England), whose ancestors had fled, they chose to struggle in a new country (United States)? They desired a free life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today, we call those people our founding fathers, our country’s first and original patriots. (Happy 4th of July today, in fact!)
Yes, I do consider someone who believes strongly in personal freedoms as a patriot.
It’s Not Your Fault if You’re Blindly Patriotic
Don’t take it personally, but if you believe the United States is strong or “going well,” that’s not patriotism. Blind belief in the government does not make one a patriot. It never has. A patriot thinks for his or herself. A patriot questions authority. Patriotism is not blind faith in a government.
No worries, it’s not your fault. It’s just a matter of timing. Not so long ago, the US encouraged freedoms and liberty -even proudly founded herself upon them. Today, however, we have the Patriot Act (wiki and critique) which goes way beyond discouraging liberty.
Benjamin Franklin, a Domestic Terrorist?
Before you start whistling the Star Spangled Banner, be careful. The patriot of yesteryear is now a potential bad guy for the US government today.
In fact, if Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin were around and talking today, they would be jailed as domestic terrorists.
The Department of Homeland Security labels someone a domestic terrorist when they …:
- make “expressions of libertarian philosophies.”
- express “fears of Big Brother or big government.”
- “declare Constitutional rights and civil liberties.”
- exercise self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
- homeschool (if you teach your kids outside the Dept of Education’s curriculum)
- buy certain books (in fact, these two by name: One Second After and Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse
(source for these here)
Question: if I publish the above, should I fear any consequences? Sure, I don’t picket in front of the white house, but here I am, suggesting you abandon the US for reasons above. Does that alone make me a target? Take the case of Susan Lindauer, a well-connected, productive and intelligent woman who voiced her concerns too loudly against the US govt. Her world got spun around so fast it made me sick to my stomach.
Okay, So How Do I Protest As a “Patriot”?
Leave now. Cash out your chips like you’re leaving the casino. Sell your home, your securities (funds, stocks, options) and cash out your pensions. Take the money and run. Run like the wind.
Decide on a new place that more suits you and your patriotic needs. When you (and your cash) land in a safer, freer, more stable country, then the patriotic thing to do is reinvest in that country, for yourself. Purchase property and/or a business there. A new life requires new equity and new income.
3. Protect Yourself (at tax time).
US citizens must file a tax return every year. And that goes for US citizens living abroad, too.
Yes, when living abroad, working abroad, even if earning zero US income, you must still file a US tax return every year, plus a couple extra forms just for expats (more on those below). Yeah, I think it’s bullshit, too.
BS or not, US citizens are required to report their worldwide income, regardless of residency. You know what? To my knowledge, the United States is the only country that requires this of its citizens. Write me if you believe otherwise and we’ll talk.
p.s. Two Extra Forms at Tax Time (for US citizen expats)
I’ve written about tax time before, but these 2 forms are too important to ignore: the 2555 and the FBAR. Filing out those extra forms isn’t optional.
Yes, the Internal Revenue Service tries hard to persuade any US citizen against living abroad. Well, as a patriot, you don’t care what the IRS is against. Right Benjamin?
The 2555 is the “Foreign Earned Income” form, which basically says you can earn up to $92,000 tax free (for 2010). (Remember: Even if you earn under $92,000, you must still fill out this form to say you did. In short, you must file, even if you simply didn’t earn anything or owe anything – that’s the IRS for you.
The other extra tax form for expats is the FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts). You can thank the Department of Treasury (not IRS) for this one.
The FBAR requires you to list your foreign bank accounts (and report the highest balance you had over the year). I have filled out the FBAR for many years and I’ll never stop, because I’ll always have foreign bank accounts. Thankfully, the FBAR is actually relatively easy. The last good reason is, over the past few years, the Dept of Treasury has gone crazy in prosecuting non-complying expats. (Remember the idea of hiding money in a Swiss bank account? Not any more)
If you’ve never heard of the FBAR and you’re considering filing it, read this article here.
The tax filing deadline for US citizens living abroad is June 15th (postmarked as mailed out). For the FBAR form, the deadline is June 30th (must be received by).
Anyway, I’ve been sitting on this post for a while and I’ve got to publish it. I wish you all a Happy 4th of July, wherever you are.
If you’re in the US, celebrate your home’s independence. If you’re outside the US, celebrate your own independence!
If you’re looking for other popular reasons people leave the US, read up on Frustration, Adventure and Seeking an Improved Life.