Published: Tuesday, 29 May 2012 | 11:32 AM ET Text Size
By: Robert Frank
CNBC Reporter & Editor
Whether it’s wealthy French or Americans fleeing the prospect of higher taxes or wealthy Russians and Chinese trying to escape political uncertainty, millionaires and billionaires around the world are migrating like never before, according to government statistics and relocation experts.
“There is a sudden awakening among the wealthy that they’re no longer bound to a certain country,” said David Lesperance, a Toronto-based attorney who specializes in relocating the rich. “After the recession and other recent events, they realize they need to get themselves in better fiscal shape. For the wealthy, the idea of moving has changed from something that’s interesting or exotic to something they feel they really need to do.”
The number of Americans seeking to renounce their citizenship surged to more than 1,700 last year, more than twice the rate of 2009, according to U.S. Treasury data compiled by Andrew Mitchel, the international tax attorney. Among them was Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook[FB 26.90 -0.82 (-2.96%) ] billionaire who famously moved to Singapore before giving up his citizenship late last year. This year, 460 people expatriated in the first quarter alone.
In France, the wealthy are eying Switzerland, Britain and Singapore as possible escapes from President Francois Hollande’s proposed 75 percent tax on income exceeding 1 million euros. Switzerland had 5,445 people in the forfait system – which allows foreigners to immigrate through a special tax treatment — at the end of 2010; more than 33 percent of those are French, according to a Bloomberg report. Continue Reading…