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Taxing Citizens in a Global Economy

Michael S. Kirsch

Notre Dame Law School

New York University Law Review, Vol. 82, 2007
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-33

This Article addresses a fundamental issue underlying the U.S. tax system in the international context: the use of citizenship as a jurisdictional basis for imposing income tax. As a general matter, the United States is the only economically developed country that taxes its citizens abroad on their foreign income.

Despite this broad general assertion of taxing jurisdiction, Congress allows citizens abroad to exclude a limited amount of their income earned from working outside the United States. Influential lobbying groups, including businesses that employ significant numbers of U.S. citizens abroad, argue that this exclusion is necessary in order to keep American business competitive overseas. Recently, these groups have argued that modern developments, including lowered barriers to trade and the increased mobility of workers, strengthen this argument, and that the United States must allow an unlimited foreign earned income exclusion, or perhaps abandon citizenship-based taxation altogether, in order to remain competitive.

This article analyzes how modern developments in the global economy affect the case for citizenship-based taxation. The article concludes that recent globalization trends strengthen, rather than weaken, the general case for taxing U.S. citizens living abroad. Moreover, it concludes that these modern developments weaken the case for giving preferential treatment to income earned by citizens working abroad.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 88

Keywords: Tax, International tax, Citizen, Citizenship, Taxation, International, Jurisdiction, Expatriate, Globalization

JEL Classification: K34, K33

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Date posted: September 22, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Kirsch, Michael S., Taxing Citizens in a Global Economy. New York University Law Review, Vol. 82, 2007; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=931953

Contact Information

Michael S. Kirsch (Contact Author)
Notre Dame Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
HOME PAGE: http://law.nd.edu/people/faculty-and-administration/teaching-and-research-faculty/michael-kirsch/

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