Special Report

Famous Americans Who Gave Up Their US Citizenship

After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion case of Roe v. Wade in June, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong told London concertgoers that he was going to renounce his U.S. citizenship and move to England.

Armstrong is just the latest example of famous Americans who declare that they are leaving the United States for political reasons. Though most get over their pique and stay here, some famous Americans have abandoned their citizenship, for a variety of reasons. (One might be simply that the U.S. is not considered to be among the countries with the most valuable passports.)

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of famous people who have renounced their American citizenship by reviewing sources including Tax-Expatriation, Britannica, and PBS.    

After a record 6,705 Americans renounced their citizenship in 2020, the number dropped to 2,426 last year, though the lower number might be attributed to U.S. embassy closures amid the pandemic. According to a survey of U.S. expatriates in 121 countries from Greenback Expat Tax Services, about one in four American expats is “seriously considering” or “planning” to repudiate their U.S. citizenship. Critics of American tax law say U.S. global income tax compliance and disclosure laws are excessive and oppressive. (These are the countries with the most American expats.)

Renunciation is time-consuming and expensive. In September 2015, the U.S. State Department raised the fee to renounce U.S. citizenship to $2,350 from $450 to try and deter Americans overseas from rejecting citizenship. 

Click here to see famous Americans who gave up their citizenship

Tax avoidance is the main reason actor Yul Brynner, entrepreneur Eduardo Saverin, and inventor Earl Tupper abandoned U.S. citizenship. Author Henry James, film director John Huston, and Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, stood on political principles to turn down U.S. citizenship. Ascension to a royal title triggered the renouncement of U.S. citizenship for Prince Albert II of Monaco and socialite Betty Hutton. Dancer Josephine Baker so disdained racism in the U.S. that she became a French citizen.

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