Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Famous Names Who've Renounced their Citizenships

There has been a growing trend in recent years of American citizens renouncing their citizenship because of strict US laws taxing profits made overseas. Many Americans think that these taxes are a step too far and so renounce their citizenships in order to benefit themselves financially. Of course, it’s not just in the US that this happens but because of the supposed harshness of these tax laws, it has become a prominent example. But ‘handing in your Green Card’ has been used as a statement for hundreds of years; some have immigrated to another country in protest at a war they feel is unjust; others simply didn’t like their birthplace from the start. So, we did a little digging to find some famous names who, for one reason or another, have renounced their citizenships. Could you ever turn your back on your homeland like these people have?

Tina Turner
Tina Turner’s voice is instantly recognisable and it has won her wide acclaim, countless awards and multi-million dollar record deals. Born Mary Proud in Tennessee, Turner was involved in an abusive marriage with Ike Turner for more than 14 years. Eventually, she was able to get herself out of the marriage and started dating Swiss music executive Erwin Bach. She moved to the affluent European country in 1994 to be with her partner and has lived there ever since, renouncing her US citizenship in 2013. With such restrictive tax practices in place in the US, it’s likely that Turner is now able to enjoy her fortunes even more in Switzerland.

Nietzsche is one of the most famous names in Continental philosophy and was, in fact, the inspiration for this list, as he is one of my favourite thinkers. His powerful, profound body of work was confrontational, bold and often extremely innovative. He renounced his Prussian citizenship at the age of 24 and remained ‘stateless’ until his unglamorous death. Being ‘stateless’ was quite fitting of Nietzsche’s philosophy as he wrote extensively about the dangers of following the crowd. In fact, much of Nietzsche’s work refers to his birthplace of Germany as an intolerant, backward place that restricted the ambitions of men. If he thought like that, it’s no wonder he renounced his citizenship so early!

Bobby Fischer
Another brilliant but troubled man, Bobby Fischer was one of the world’s greatest chess players. From the earliest age Fischer would play, study and dream about chess- an obsession that was to lead him to many major honours in his career. His sheer brilliance as a chess player inspired a whole generation of enthusiasts and his talent was used in a fierce US/Soviet chess game that was supposed to prove the intellectual superiority of the victor. Such pressures eventually took their toll on Fischer whose life spiralled out of control, finding himself on the run from US authorities and making horrific anti-Semitic comments. There is some dispute as to whether Fischer actually renounced his US citizenship, as you must be present in order to do so, but, nevertheless, an Icelandic court granted him citizenship and he remained there until his death in 2008.

Elizabeth Taylor
When we think of classic films, we surely can’t ignore the name of Elizabeth Taylor. In her day she was one of the biggest silver screen icons and attracted millions of people with her amazing acting skills. She was born in London to American parents in 1932 but at the age of 33 decided to renounce her US citizenship. Taylor’s life was often turbulent as she struggled to handle the massive amounts of fame that she had gained throughout her career. Her love life was equally turbulent and Taylor was often getting married and divorced. In 1977, she reapplied for US citizenship during her seventh marriage, to Senator John Warner. Well, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

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