He's been named, but not shamed.

The Federal Register publishes a quarterly list of persons who have renounced their citizenship. Known as the "name and shame" list, the most recent one, published on April 30, contains the name Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook. While the move may have nothing to do with Friday's Facebook IPO, it could result in significant tax savings for Eduardo.

Nevertheless, he says that his renunciation has nothing to do with avoiding taxes, and I have to take him at his word.

"I'd like to assure you that Eduardo's decision was based solely on practicality and his interest in living and working in Singapore for an extended period of time," said his spokesman Tom Goodman. "His decision was not about taxes or dissatisfaction here, but a strong interest in doing business there. He has lived in Singapore since 2009 and is now a permanent resident."

Just in case anyone else has the same idea, it's not as easy as saying, "I divorce you" three times. One has to appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer, in a foreign country (normally a U.S. Embassy or Consulate), and sign an oath of renunciation, according to the State Department. One cannot effectively renounce citizenship by mail, through an agent or while in the United States.

And that's not all. Any remaining tax liabilities or military service obligations must be met. But for some, the possibility of relocating to a state such as Singapore, with no capital gains or investment income tax, and no estate tax, remains attractive.

But there always seems to be a trade-off. Despite the possibility of lowering your tax by an incredible amount, if you relocate to Singapore you give up your right to:

1. Buy gum. You can chew it, but not buy it, and if you stick it anywhere but a trash can, you might be subject to a heavy fine.
2. Leave a toilet unflushed after using it. Subject to fine and/or a public caning. But not to worry, the better hotels have people to do this for you.
3. Driving under the influence. You go to jail immediately.
4. Jaywalking. Or you get fined.
5. Littering. Can subject you to arrest.
6. Spitting. Likewise—you can be arrested.
7. Hugging in public. Part of the "Outrage of Modesty" law, this may result in a fine or caning.

So aside from the warm weather, beautiful women and unbeatable nightlife, there are considerations to a decision to move to Singapore, even if there's a tax savings of a hundred million or so dollars. Pay $100 million in taxes, or be subject to a public caning, what's a multibillionaire to do?

Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access