Record Number of U.S. Citizens, Green-Card Holders Cut Ties With U.S. in 2015

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Increase attributed to recent enforcement campaign against U.S. taxpayers with undeclared offshore accounts.

Laura Saunders reports: A record 4,279 individuals renounced their U.S. citizenship or long-term residency in 2015, according to data released by the Treasury Department.

“An increasing number of Americans appear to believe that having a U.S. passport or long-term residency isn’t worth the hassle and cost of complying with U.S. tax laws.”

— Andrew Mitchel, an international lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tallies and tracks renunciation data

Last year was the third year in a row for record renunciations, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tallies and tracks renunciation data. The Treasury Department renunciation list for the fourth quarter, which contained 1,058 names, was released on Friday.

“An increasing number of Americans appear to believe that having a U.S. passport or long-term residency isn’t worth the hassle and cost of complying with U.S. tax laws,” Mr. Mitchel said.

Experts say the growing number of renunciations by citizens and long-term holders of green cards is related to an enforcement campaign by U.S. officials against undeclared offshore accounts. It intensified in 2009, after Swiss banking giant UBS AG admitted that it encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide money abroad.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Since then, the U.S. has collected more than $13.5 billion from individuals and foreign financial firms in taxes and penalties due on such accounts. This week, Swiss bank Julius Baer Group AG admitted it encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide money abroad and agreed to pay $547 million to settle potential charges.

However, the campaign by U.S. officials also has complicated the financial lives of an estimated 7 million or more Americans living abroad, leading growing numbers to sever their U.S. ties.

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Dow, Nasdaq Plunge 3% into Correction

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U.S. stocks closed deep in the red on Friday as global growth concerns accelerated selling pressure to push the Dow and Nasdaq into correction territory.
The major averages had their biggest trade volume day of the year and posted their worst week in four years.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at session lows, off nearly 531 points and in correction territory for the first time since 2011 as all blue chips declined. The last time the index closed more than 500 points lower was on Aug. 10, 2011. In the last five years, the index has only had four instances with closing losses of more than 400 points.

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“For investors the momentum and the drive of the market is now lower (than) it used to be because there’s no place to hide,” said Lance Roberts, general partner at STA Wealth Management. “Every time we hit the major technical points we kept selling.”

A trader noted that investors stopped looking at technicals and were plowing through them.

“It’s an expiration day and it looks like they’re to have for sale on the close maybe as much as a billion dollars,” said Art Cashin, director of floor trading for UBS.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 3.5 percent, also closing in correction territory and joining the other major averages in negative territory for the year.

Apple declined 6 percent, in bear market territory, and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) plunged 3.1 percent.

“Right now there is a feeling of fear in the marketplace and all news is interpreted negatively and it’s interpreted indiscriminately,” said Tom Digenan, head of U.S. equities as UBS Global Asset Management…(read more)

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Here, Hold My Drink While I Count My Money: Number of Billionaires Hits Record High

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The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by 12 percent to $7.3 trillion, higher than the combined market capitalization of all the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average

For CNBC reports: The world economy is going through a rough patch, yet the world’s billionaire population is at an all-time high.

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“The fastest growing segment of the billionaire population, in terms of wealth source, are those who inherited only part of their fortunes and became billionaires through their own entrepreneurial endeavors.”

A new survey shows that 155 new billionaires were minted this year, pushing the total population to a record 2,325 – a 7 percent increase from 2013.

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Credit goes to the United States – home to the most billionaires globally – where 57 new billionaires were recorded this year, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 released on Wednesday.

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Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean were also large contributors, with 52 and 42 new entrants, respectively.

“The fastest growing segment of the billionaire population, in terms of wealth source, are those who inherited only part of their fortunes and became billionaires through their own entrepreneurial endeavors,” the report said, noting that 63 percent of all billionaires’ primary companies are privately held. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Ranks of Super-Wealthy Decline

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Over the past year in China, the ultra-rich didn’t get richer–they got poorer and shrank in number, even as the ranks of the ultra-rich and their assets swelled in other parts of the world.

The number of China’s ultra-rich–those with a net worth of $30 million or more–slipped from 11,245 to 10,675 as the country’s economic growth slowed to its lowest pace in more than a decade, according to a new report from private-wealth consulting firm Wealth-X and UBS AG. Their total wealth also declined, falling to $1.52 trillion this year from $1.58 trillion last year. Read the rest of this entry »