What is Exit Tax?

Exit tax is a tax that is imposed on certain individuals who renounce their citizenship or residency in a country. Not all nations impose this type of tax, but those who do, such as the United States, use it as a means to offset potential future tax revenue losses. 

This tax can be rather complex due to its basis on several factors such as an individual’s financial situation and the specific tax laws of their country of origin. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of how exit tax operates before taking the significant step of renouncing one’s citizenship or residency.

In this article, we will explain what exit tax is and how it works. We will also discuss some of the factors that can affect your exit tax liability.

What is Exit Tax?

While some people might think that giving up one’s citizenship or long-term resident status is as easy as leaving the country, this is not the case. Countries with exit taxes, such as the United States, Canada, and some European nations, typically levy this tax on “covered expatriates.” These are individuals who meet specific criteria based on their income, net worth, or tax compliance history.

In the United States, for example, an individual would be considered a covered expatriate and subjected to the exit tax if they meet any of the following three criteria:

  • Net Income Tax Test: Their average annual net income tax for the five years ending before the date of expatriation or termination of residency is more than a specified amount that is adjusted for inflation ($168,000 for 2021).
  • Net Worth Test: Their net worth is $2 million or more on the date of their expatriation or termination of residency.
  • Compliance Test: They fail to certify on Form 8854 that they have complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the five years preceding the date of their expatriation or termination of residency.

Once an individual qualifies as a “covered expatriate,” the exit tax applies as if the person had sold all of their worldwide assets on the day before the expatriation or residency termination date. This is known as a “deemed sale,” and the exit tax is calculated based on the gain from this theoretical sale.

Exit Tax for Australian Expatriates

Like U.S. citizens and other long-term residents, Australian expatriates who fall under the classification of “covered expatriates” are liable for exit tax if they meet any of the three criteria defined by the U.S. tax law: Net Income Tax Test, Net Worth Test, or Compliance Test.

For Australian expatriates, this is particularly important to note as the tax obligations extend to assets held both within and outside of the U.S. This includes property, investments, or businesses owned in Australia. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of these potential tax implications before making any decisions about renouncing U.S. residency or citizenship.

Moreover, after expatriation, you’re required to file a U.S. tax return for the year of your expatriation, and any due exit tax should be paid at this point. Some cases may allow for the exit tax payment to be deferred, but interest would be charged for this deferral period.

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Calculating Exit Tax

The exit tax is calculated based on the “deemed sale” of all global assets. Essentially, all the assets are considered to be sold at fair market value. This hypothetical sale’s net gain is then subjected to the standard capital gains tax rate.

However, some exclusions may apply, depending on the specific tax laws of a country. For instance, in the United States, an exclusion amount is allowed for the hypothetical gain, which is adjusted annually for inflation ($725,000 for 2021). Any gain above this exclusion amount is taxable.

It’s crucial to note that the calculation of this tax can be extremely complicated, as it takes into account all types of assets and income, including retirement accounts, non-tangible assets, and even future income from stock options and other deferred compensation.

Scattered money over a table top

Implications of Exit Tax

The exit tax can have significant financial implications for those looking to expatriate. Not only does it require a comprehensive assessment of one’s global assets, but it also may result in a substantial tax bill. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the potential exit tax liability before deciding to renounce one’s citizenship or residency.

Additionally, once an individual expatriates, they are still required to file a U.S. tax return for the year of expatriation, and the exit tax, if owed, is due at that time. In some cases, the exit tax payment can be deferred, but interest will be charged for the deferral period.

Moreover, beyond the financial implications, the exit tax can also influence decisions about estate planning and gifting. For example, gifts or bequests made by covered expatriates to U.S. citizens or residents can be subject to tax under section 2801 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Consulting a Tax Professional for Expat Tax Advice

The decision to expatriate and potentially trigger an exit tax is a significant one that should not be made lightly. Before taking this step, it is important to understand how the exit tax works and what the financial implications may be.

Ultimately, understanding the exit tax and its potential implications is an essential part of planning for expatriation. The more informed you are, the better you can navigate the complexities of this tax and make decisions that are in your best financial interest.

That’s why it’s highly recommended to consult with a tax professional who specialises in expatriation issues. 

Although our sister company, Odin Tax, can’t help you with the US taxation laws, we can help with your Australian taxes. We can provide a comprehensive analysis of your financial situation and help you understand the potential tax implications of your decisions.

Contact Odin Tax today to learn more about your tax situation.

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Frequently asked questions

The exit fee tax is a tax that is imposed on certain individuals who renounce their citizenship or residency in a country. This tax is often used to ensure that these individuals pay their fair share of taxes on their assets and income.

India does not have an exit tax in the traditional sense. However, there are a number of taxes that can apply to individuals who renounce their Indian citizenship or residency. These taxes include:

  • Capital gains tax: Individuals who renounce their Indian citizenship or residency may be liable to pay capital gains tax on the sale of assets that they hold in India.
  • Transfer pricing tax: Individuals who renounce their Indian citizenship or residency may be liable to pay transfer pricing tax on certain transactions that they undertake.
  • Gift tax: Individuals who renounce their Indian citizenship or residency may be liable to pay gift tax on gifts that they receive from Indian residents.

Japan does have an exit tax. The exit tax is imposed on individuals who renounce their Japanese citizenship or residency and who have a net worth of more than ¥100 million. 

The exit tax is calculated as the difference between the fair market value of the individual’s assets on the date of expatriation and their adjusted basis.

Germany does have an exit tax. The exit tax is imposed on individuals who renounce their German citizenship or residency and who have a net worth of more than €500,000. 

The exit tax is calculated as the difference between the fair market value of the individual’s assets on the date of expatriation and their adjusted basis.



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