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.

I threw up after renouncing

gallery expats
  • Name: Donna-Lane Nelson, 71
  • Lives in: Geneva, Switzerland

I renounced my U.S. citizenship in 2011. After I did it, I was so emotional that I threw up outside the embassy.

During my renunciation, I broke down. It was like getting a divorce. America gave me my education, a good career path, and I came from a beautiful part of the country. This was very hard.

Before I took the last oath, I asked if I could change my mind. The embassy worker said maybe, with official permission. But I still went through with it.

My decision to renounce was triggered when my bank threatened to close my account because I was American. What would I do without a bank? Americans in Switzerland were having trouble with their investments, getting credit cards, and some weren't even getting loans.

I've been in Switzerland since 1990, and became a citizen in 2005, because I wanted the right to vote where I was living. The Swiss can tell I have an American accent, and I'm often explaining that I grew up in the U.S. and have a daughter who still lives in the Boston area.

Related: Share your expat tax story

Filing taxes from abroad had always been a real pain. I was double taxed on my full pension, but it didn't bother me so much to pay taxes -- it was the annoying paperwork. I used to do my own taxes, but I started going to a professional when I learned about the new disclosure laws. I'm glad I did, because there were a lot of forms. Tax prep costs me about 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,123) a year.

- Last updated March 10 2014 09:59 PM ET
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