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Government United States

"In 2017, it emerged that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had been able to gain New Zealand citizenship six years earlier," reports the Associated Press, "despite never having lived in the country." Thiel was approved after a top lawmaker decided his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy were valuable to the nation. Thiel didn't even have to leave California for the ceremony — he was granted citizenship during a private ceremony held at the New Zealand Consulate in Santa Monica.
But he's not the only one, Axios reports. "A lot of people who take this drastic step are tech zillionaires: Eric Schmidt, the former Alphabet CEO, has applied to become a citizen of Cyprus..." The number of Americans who renounced their citizenship in favor of a foreign country hit an all-time high in 2020: 6,707, a 237% increase over 2019... The people who flee tend to be ultra-wealthy, and many of them are seeking to reduce their tax burden... Only the U.S. and Eritrea tax people based on citizenship rather than residency. For most countries, if you are a citizen but don't reside there, you aren't taxed in that country.

The IRS publishes a quarterly list of the names of people who have renounced their citizenship or given up their green cards... But the Wall Street Journal discovered that the lists aren't up to date: A lot of people who were reported to have renounced citizenship in 2020 actually did so years earlier.

Axios also points out that U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson was actually born in America, but only lived there as a small child, and subsequently renounced his U.S. citizenship.