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Accidental Americans Take US State Department to Court Over Renunciation Fees

20 accidental Americans of different nationalities, and the Association of Accidental Americans, are challenging the fees associated with US citizenship renunciation

Published on December 10, 2020

Justice Statue

The US State Department is being taken to court by 20 accidental Americans and the Association of Accidental Americans, in a challenge to fees charged for renouncing US citizenship.

In 2010, a free of $450 was introduced for renunciation, a cost which has increased fivefold since, to $2350. Prior to 2010, there was no cost associated with renouncing US citizenship.

The complaint, which was filed with the District Court of Columbia in Washington DC earlier this week, argues that "the right to renounce US nationality is a fundamental, constitutional, natural and inherent right under the US Constitution", and that the fee is "essentially forcing US citizens to remain US citizens against their will."

The plaintiffs argue that the fee violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression, and the Eighth Amendment "precluding excessive fines to punish individuals wishing to sever all connection with the US".

Kevin P, an accidental American who lives in Austria, explained that "Politicians only talk about FATCA in relation to bank accounts ... But the problem is much wider. I am a freelancer, and my personal finances are in danger because I am refused investments of all kinds that would protect my future. This is why I want to renounce US citizenship."

The case, which has been taken on by L. Marc Zell and Noam Schreiber of the international law firm, Zell & Associates International Advocates, LLC, is being led by President of the Association of Accidental Americans, Fabien Lehagre. Among the plaintiffs are 20 accidental Americans from 10 different nationalities - Australian, Belgian, British, Costa Rican, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian and Tunisian.

To follow the case, stay tuned to The American's Weekly E-Newsletter, and go to the website of the Association of Accidental Americans.

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