THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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It has just been confirmed that MP Boris Johnson will become the 77th British Prime Minister, and in a historic moment, he becomes the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to have been born in the United States. Mr Johnson was born in New York City on June 19, 1964, while his father, Stanley Johnson, was studying Economics at Columbia University. His birth was registered both in the US and UK, making him a dual citizen (a status he later relinquished when he renounced his US citizenship in 2017.
Mr Johnson becomes only the second Prime Minister to have been born outside of the British Isles - the first was Andrew Bonar Law, who was born in Canada, and became British PM in 1922.
During the campaign for Leadership of the Conservative Party, The American reached out to both candidates, Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, to ask them for their views on the big issues facing Americans in the UK, including FATCA, US Citizenship Based Taxation and the Special Relationship. We have yet to receive a response from either candidate. We continue to hope Mr Johnson will offer his view on the situation given his unique perspective as a former US Citizen.
In 2014, it was widely reported that Mr Johnson had been subject to a US Tax demand on the sale of his Islington home. During an interview between Mr Johnson and guest host Susan Page on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU in 2014, one listener asked - "It's very hard to renounce US citizenship. Has your guest done so or is he a dual citizen, having been born in New York?". Mr Johnson responded by explaining renunciation "is very hard but I will say this, the great United States of America does have some pretty tough rules, you know. You may not believe this but if you're an American citizen, America exercises this incredible doctrine of global taxation, so that even though tax rates in the UK are far higher and I'm Mayor of London, I pay all my tax in the UK and so I pay a much higher proportion of my income in tax, then I would if I lived in America ... The United States comes after me, would you believe it, for the -- for capital gains tax on the sale of your first residence which is not taxable in Britain, but they're trying to hit me with some bill, can you believe it? Anyway, I just wanted to point that out to you". Susan Page then asked Mr Johnson "Are you paying -- are you gonna pay the bill?" to which Mr Johnson responds "I think it's outrageous ... I think, it's absolutely outrageous. Why should I? I think, you know, I'm not a -- I, you know, I haven't lived in the United States for, you know, well, since I was five years old."
It was later reported in 2017 that Mr Johnson had renounced his US citizenship. As Mr Johnson's experience speaks to the experiences of accidental Americans across the UK, and for the many US Citizens who now live and work in Britain, it will be interesting to see if the new Prime Minister decides to take action on improving the situation for overseas Americans who are currently subject to US Citizenship Based Taxation irrespective of their residency.