With no announcement and little warning, the US State Department will, effective July 13, charge US citizens a whopping $450 “processing fee” to renounce citizenship. This change was hidden in the new consular fees issued the other week, which basically slightly raised visa processing and passport fees, and substantially raised processing services related to judicial matters. The citizenship renouncement fee is the only new fee (together with getting new passport pages — I’m glad I got that a few months back!).
Why the sudden fee to renounce US citizenship? I chalk it up to American spite — many Americans seem incensed at the very idea that a US citizen would give up his or her passport. And the US is one of the very modern few states where there is incentive to give up citizenship, because of the taxation of overseas Americans. With this latest move, there’s yet another tax — a citizen’s departure tax.
Fortunately, there’s a way to get around this fee — Senator Joe Lieberman is pioneering an over-the-top response to the botched New York bombing by a naturalized American citizen of Pakistani descent, the Terrorist Expatriation Act (read the text of the bill here). If passed, this bill would allow the State Department to revoke the U.S. citizenship of people who commit acts deemed terrorist in nature or who affiliate with or give material support to organizations designated terrorist by the government.
Don’t feel like paying the processing fee? Just affiliate yourself with Al Qaeda or some much group or give them some kind of support!