Famous Americans Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship

Most Chose Renunciation To Avoid Paying Their Tax Bills

Renunciation of U.S. citizenship is an extremely serious matter that the federal government handles carefully.

Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) governs renunciations. The U.S. Department of State oversees the process. An individual who seeks renunciation must appear in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States. The petitioner, in effect, forfeits the right to be in the United States and to travel freely here, and also the other rights of citizenship. Since the Great Recession of 2007, renunciations have increased as more U.S. citizens have tried to avoid taxes by giving up their citizenship and moving overseas.

1
Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder of Facebook

Eduardo Saverin. Eduardo Saverin

Eduardo Saverin, the Brazilian internet entrepreneur who helped Mark Zuckerberg found Facebook, caused a stir before the company went public in 2012 by renouncing his U.S. citizenship and taking up residency in Singapore, which does not permit dual citizenship.

Saverin gave up being an American to save millions in taxes from his Facebook fortune. He was able to avoid capital gains taxes on his Facebook stock but was still liable for federal income taxes. But he also faced an exit tax -- the estimated capital gains from his stock at the time of renunciation in 2011.

In the award-winning movie The Social Network, Saverin's role was played by Andrew Garfield. Saverin is believed to have left Facebook owning about 53 million shares of the company's stock.

2
Denise Rich, Grammy-Nominated Song-Writer

Denise Rich/Getty Images

Denise Rich, 69, is the ex-wife of billionaire Wall Street investor Marc Rich, who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton after fleeing to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for tax evasion and profiteering allegations.

She has written songs for a dazzling list of recording artists: Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Jessica Simpson, Marc Anthony, Celine Dion, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Mandy Moore. Rich has received three Grammy nominations.

Rich, who was born Denise Eisenberg in Worcester, Mass., moved to Austria after leaving the United States. Her ex-husband Marc died in June 2013 at the age of 78.

3
Ted Arison, Owned Carnival Cruise Lines and Miami Heat

Ted Arison, Carnival founder. Ted Arison, Carnival founder.

Ted Arison, who died in 1999 at the age of 75, was an Israeli businessman, who was born as Theodore Arisohn in Tel Aviv.

After serving in the Israeli military, Arison moved to the United States and became a U.S. citizen to help launch his business career. He founded Carnival Cruise Lines and earned a fortune as it grew to be one of the biggest in the world. He became one of the richest people in the world. Arison brought a National Basketball Association franchise, the Miami Heat, to Florida in 1988.

Two years later, he renounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid estate taxes and returned to Israel to start an investment business. His son Micky Arison is Carnival's chairman of the board and current owner of the Heat.

4
John Huston, Movie Director and Actor

John Huston in 'Chinatown.' Photo: ©Paramount Home Entertainment

In 1964, Hollywood director John Huston gave up his U.S. citizenship and moved to Ireland. He said he had come to appreciate Irish culture more than that in America.

"I shall always feel very close to the United States," Huston told the Associated Press in 1966, "and I shall always admire it, but the America I know best and loved best doesn't seem to exist anymore."

Huston died in 1987 at the age of 81. Among his film credits are The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, The African Queen, Moulin Rouge and The Man Who Would Be King. He also won praise for his acting in the 1974 film noir classic Chinatown.

According to family members, daughter Anjelica Huston in particular, Huston despised life in Hollywood.

5
Jet Li, Chinese Actor and Martial Artist

Jet Li. Jet Li/Getty Images

Jet Li, the Chinese martial arts actor and film producer, renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2009 and moved to Singapore. Multiple reports said Li preferred the education system in Singapore for his two daughters.

Among his film credits are Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, The Expendables, Kiss of the Dragon, and The Forbidden Kingdom.