During our Revolutionary War as many as half a million people were dyed in the wool conservatives and, as opposed to the Patriots, considered themselves Loyalists (aka, Tories, Royalists or the King's Men). Many-- especially in Georgia and the Carolinas-- fought on the side of the British and mercenary occupation forces and after the war about 20% of them left the new United States of America for Britain, Canada, Florida and the Caribbean Islands (where so many conservatives still tuck away vast fortunes). We've talked about this before, and in his book, Conservatism in Early American History, Leonard Woods Larabee identified eight characteristics of the Loyalists that made them essentially conservative. Among them were that psychologically they were older, better established, and resisted innovation; that they felt the Crown was the legitimate government and it was morally wrong to resist; they wanted to take a middle-of-the-road position and got angry when the Patriots insisted they declare their opposition to the British; many had longstanding sentimental, family and business attachments to Britain; many were procrastinators who realized independence was bound to come some day but they just wanted to postpone the inevitable; many feared "mob rule" and anarchy, particularly property owners; many were pessimists who lacked confidence in the future.
Among the traitors who deserted the new nation were Isaac Low, who had been a delegate to the first Continental Congress and the first President of the New York Chamber of Commerce and Benjamin Franklin's son William (Governor of New Jersey). Just sayin'.
Remember when Elizabeth Warren, early in her campaign explained how nobody in this country got rich on his own? It's worth watching again:
So why bring and all that stuff from the 1780s now? Well, over the weekend the NY Post reported that wealthy conservatives are back in traitor mode. And I'm not talking about Romney tucking away his millions in Swiss and Caymen Islands bank accounts. I'm alking about right-wing greed heads renouncing their American citizenship-- lots of them. At least Romney will be losing some of his base before the November election.
America?s rich are renouncing their citizenship at record levels-- just to get richer.
Startling new data from Uncle Sam show that defections by Americans are expected to double this year, largely to avoid any stiff tax bills resulting from the proposed 55 percent hike on the rich-- as well as the likely expiration on Dec. 31 of the Bush era tax cuts.
As many as 8,000 US citizens are projected by immigration officials to renounce in 2012, or about 154 a week, versus 3,805 in 2011, or about 73 per week.
?High-net-worth individuals are making decisions that having a US passport just isn?t worth the cost anymore,? said Jim Duggan, a lawyer at Duggan Bertsch, which specializes in protecting assets of the wealthy.
?They?re able to do what they do from any place in the world, and they?re choosing to do it from places with much lower tax rates,? he said.
?Some are philosophically disgusted at the course our country is taking in all kinds of ways. They?re making a strong protest of, ?Enough is enough,? ? said Duggan. ?But largely it?s an economic decision.?
There?s a catch to reaching tax nirvana. To renounce citizenship-- and thus escape any future US taxes forever-- a citizen must buy that unique freedom with a a one-time exit tax of 15 percent on the fair-market value of all assets-- including real estate, securities, businesses and personal belongings-- less their basis price.
?Many see it as a cheaper way to get out from under any tax liabilities on future wealth, while their assets have lower values during the weak economy,? he said.
The step before dumping citizenship is, of course, finding a new homeland and getting citizenship there.
Duggan said scores of tax-haven nations and island regimes around the world eagerly welcome disenchanted rich Yanks with quick citizenship, business deals and protections from the US Justice Department and the IRS.
Among the popular spots: Australia, Norway, Singapore, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Guernsey and Antigua.
There is one way to have your cake and eat it, too, Duggan said.
The US possessions in the Caribbean-- St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix-- give a 90 percent tax credit to US citizens living there at least 183 days a year, resulting in an effective tax rate of just 3.5 percent, he said.