Complex Renunciation of US Citizenship Case Ends Successfully for “Accidental American”

A British woman who had inherited a large sum of money traveled to Switzerland to open a bank account to deposit the funds. She was born in the United States but did not think she was a US citizen, given that she departed the United States as an infant. The Swiss bank denied her request to open an account, asserting that she was in fact a UScitizen and the investment house had a policy of keeping US citizens from becoming customers of the bank. Since the US has complex compliance requirements with foreign banks who have US customers, understandably, the bank did not want to assume that extra reporting burden.

The woman approached us, completely distraught over the situation. She had been born in the United States – true enough – but she had left the country in infancy, and never had a US passport or Social Security number. Upon further investigation, we discovered that our client was indeed a US citizen (also known as an “Accidental American” given that she was only an American citizen by accident of birth on US soil) and would have to renounce her US citizenship in order to work with the Swiss bank. We collaborated with her accountants and tax lawyers to formulate a plan of action that would require her to apply for a Social Security number and then file her tax returns for previous years. Our office accompanied the client to the embassy to submit a Social Security Application which required the client to present extensive personal documentation. Once that task had been completed we learned that she was required to have a valid passport. With our guidance, our client obtained the passport following successful issuance of a Social Security number, and the submission of back tax returns by her accountants. We worked closely with her tax professionals to speed the process along in an effort to minimize the taxes she owed as a High Net Worth individual renouncing her U.S. citizenship. Once she followed these steps, we were able to help her renounce her citizenship with ease. Though the ordeal was highly stressful, she was happy in the end to have the issue resolved and to be able to move on with her life in the UK.