Taxes Got You Down? Renounce!

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Written By admin at Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Associated Press

U.S. taxes are a such drag that prodigiously wealthy people are renouncing their citizenship to escape Uncle Sam’s grasp. From Bloomberg:

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $ 96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $ 11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for anInternet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website Who Owns Facebook. At the high end of the IPO valuation, that would be worth about $ 3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

Mr. Saverin’s spokesman said the 30-year-old “found it more practical” to be a resident of Singapore. He won’t escape without a scratch, however. Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan’s law school, told Bloomberg that Americans who give up their citizenship owe what is effectively an exit tax on the capital gains from their stock holdings, even if they don’t sell the shares.

Save your indignance. Mr. Saverin isn’t the only one who’s wise to the taxman. The WSJ’s Laura Saunders reported earlier today that half a dozen of Facebook’s top dogs, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, are getting good breaks without surrendering their passports.

According to Saunders, they appear to be using a perfectly legal maneuver called a grantor-retained annuity trust, or GRAT, to avoid at least $ 200 million of estate and gift taxes on their own shares.

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