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Why expats are ditching their U.S. passports

3,000 Americans around the world renounced their citizenship last year. Meet five U.S. citizens who have given up their passports -- or are thinking about it -- to escape an overly complicated tax code.

A burden for my son

gallery expats
  • Name: Richard Sikes, 65
  • Lives in: Toronto, Canada

When I first moved to Europe in 1973, I didn't pay attention to my U.S. taxes for a few years. I am a native Oregonian who became something of a gypsy, living all over the continent -- Ireland, England, Switzerland and Germany. I hardly earned anything at the time as a ballet dancer, so I figured I probably didn't owe taxes.

After a while, I started to make a bit more. I went straight to a U.S. consulate in Germany and filed about eight years of tax returns all at once. Even then, I don't recall owing any taxes. That put me in compliance, and since then, I've always filed my returns.

When my older son, now 21, was born in Germany, I applied for U.S. citizenship for him immediately, because I thought I might eventually return. As things worked out, I ended up in Canada -- my wife's country and where I found a job in the IT industry. My oldest son and I now both have Canadian citizenship as well.

What I'm worried about these days is whether to apply for U.S. citizenship for my younger son, who is 16. He was born in Canada, and currently holds Canadian citizenship. He has the right to be an American citizen through me, and I wouldn't want to deny him that.

But do I want to impose a lifetime of paying to have U.S. tax returns prepared upon him? There are benefits -- having a U.S. passport would make it easier for him to study and work in the U.S., if that's what he wants. But at his age, he doesn't know yet what career direction he wants to follow.

As for myself, I have considered renouncing my U.S. citizenship -- my Canadian wife feels it is incredibly invasive that we are required to report our joint assets. But even after 40 years as an expat, I've kept my citizenship, because I still cherish the privilege of voting in national elections.

Related: Share your expat tax story

  @sophia_yan - Last updated March 10 2014 09:59 PM ET

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