9 Famous Americans Who Gave Up Their U.S. Citizenship

According to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. expatriations are higher than ever. Some people renounce their U.S. citizenship for tax purposes, as you are required to file taxes every year on any income you make outside of the country. But most people aren’t that rich and so ditch their citizenship because of politics, personal choice or force — such as countries that don’t allow dual citizenship. Here are nine famous Americans, great intellectuals, writers and performers who at one point or another, and for one reason or another, gave up their U.S. citizenship. Giving up your national allegiance seems like a frightening — and bureaucracy-laden — prospect. There are serious things to think about, like won’t you miss Twinkies?

1. Josephine Baker


Josephine Baker was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1906 and moved to Paris in 1925 to pursue a career as a dancer, not unlike a boatload of other black artists who moved to Europe at the same time to escape American racism. With her seductive dances and exotic allure, Baker became the toast of Paris and was so famous that everyone in Paris wanted to be “café au lait” like Josephine Baker. The thing is, when she came back to the U.S. to perform she often had to enter clubs through the back entrance and was treated poorly because she was black. Baker renounced her U.S. citizenship in 1937 and became a citizen of France.

2. Maria Callas


New York-born world famous opera singer Maria Callas was born in 1923 and, after an extremely successful career on the stage, renounced her U.S. citizenship in Paris in 1966 so she could resume her ancestral Greek citizenship.

3. W.E.B. DuBois


W.E.B. DuBois (read: do boyz not do bwah), a founder of the NAACP and resident of Massachusetts, lived in the United States for 93 years before moving to Ghana in 1961. The U.S. did not renew his passport so DuBois was technically forced to become a citizen of Ghana in 1963.

4. T. S. Eliot


Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, Elliott moved to the UK to study at Oxford in 1914 and sought to focus on his poetry and playwriting. In 1927, Elliot gave up his U.S. citizenship to become British.

5. Jane Jacobs

The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jane Jacobs, one of the greatest urbanists of all time, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and moved to Canada in 1968. Jacobs became a Canadian citizen in 1974.

6. Henry James

Henry James: Complete Stories, 1892-1898 (Library of America)
Henry James: Complete Stories, 1892-1898 (Library of America)

Henry James, who attended Harvard Law School and who wrote 20+ novels and dozens of short stories and novellas, frequently traveled between Europe and America but settled in England in 1876. In 1915 he renounced U.S. citizenship in order to protest World War I.

7. Yehudi Menuhin


One of the greatest violin virtuosos of all time, Menuhin was born in New York in 1916. After performing in every major concert hall in the world and studying with some of the most important music violinists of the period, Menuhin lived in Europe for most of his life and became an “honorary” Swiss citizen in 1970 (whatever that means) and and a full-fleged British citizen in 1985. He relinquished U.S. citizenship in 1994.

8. Tina Turner


Born in Nutbush, Tennessee Miss Proud Mary was locked in an abusive marriage with Ike Turner for 14 years before finally breaking free. When Ike died in 2007, Turner did not attend his funeral. In 1985 Turner began dating Erwin Bach, a Swiss Sony music executive, and moved to Switzerland with him in 1994. Having lived in Switzerland for the past 20 years, in 2013 Turner applied for Swiss citizenship renouncing her U.S. allegiance.

9. Elizabeth Taylor


Elizabeth Taylor was born in London to American parents in 1932. In 1965 she signed an document that renounced her U.S. allegiances. In 1977, she re-applied for U.S. citizenship during her seventh (yaass) marriage to Senator John Warner. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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