American-Hyphenated

“So, you’re saying that if we, hypothetically, decided to move to New Zealand and I became a citizen there, I’d still have to pay taxes to the US on what I earned in another country?” I asked in total shock.

Jackson scrutinized his phone and re-read the BBC article again. “Yeah, I think that’s what they’re saying.” He answered, looking up at me. “And if I get my citizenship here, I’ll have to as well.”

I fumed as I leaned back into the couch. Do other countries do that? Or just Amurricah?

Jackson glanced at his phone again before musing: “How many Americans have passports? According to the article over 1,100 people gave up their citizenship due to the new tax laws.”

Huh? How can you be born here in the U.S., live somewhere else, then decide that legally you don’t want to be a citizen anymore? My mind blew apart with the idea. “Give up your citizenship? Just like that!?” I cried. “I was born and raised here in New York. I am American to the marrow of my bones, and in this day and age, I can move to another country and renounce my citizenship!? What the very fuck!?” Crazy!

Jackson looked at me with amusement, then said “Guess how many U.S. citizens have a passport? 115 million!” I chewed over the idea. Only a third of Americans have their passport…

How many New Zealanders have theirs?” I asked.

“75%.” Jackson responded. “Oh! And there are more Americans living abroad than there are New Zealanders in the whole world.” Jackson laughed. “6 million Americans are living abroad and 4.5 million New Zealanders exist.”

My mind was still reeling. “I could give up American citizenship if I am a citizen of New Zealand. I could say: ‘I am no longer an American.’ Even though: I am no matter what. How? How does that work? That’s like saying I am no longer a white woman. I am. I will always be, even if I lived in another country for 30 years, I’d still be an American!” Jackson nodded. You’ll always be a New Zealander no matter what. I thought, looking at my boyfriend and then thinking back to the conversation I had the night before with a buddy of mine. We were walking and talking about accents.

“My girlfriend’s sister has lived in London for years and has a bastardized American-British accent and as much as she denies she’s taken on the local accent, she kinda’ has. But, she’ll never be a fully accented local, she’ll always have her American-isms. Also like British-Mike. He’s been here for years, but still talks with an English lilt.” My friend said. “No matter what, you’ll never be full-on local. You’d be American-hyphenated.”

I’d be American-hyphenated no matter what I did with my passport. “More things to think about if we decided to move.” I told Jackson. He nodded.

“It’s amazing to me that we’re still defining ourselves by country.” He responded. “People move around so much and will continue to do so. The concept will start to make less and less sense. “

Yeah… what about all the dual citizen babies out there? All the kids that will be born in the next ten years. How many of them will be dual or tri-citizens? How do you define where they are from!? That’s an interesting idea. Maybe the concept of country vs. country will start to dissolve in the next few generations. I mean, Europe is already doing it. There are certain rules that the EU as a whole must abide by and there are still separate countries with separate rules, but the EU passport gets you mobility anywhere there. Why shouldn’t the international community eventually adopt that idea? In which case, I guess the idea of taxes might be more universal? Or maybe more of a fair ideal? Who knows.

“Right you are.” I said with as much of a New Zealand inflection as I could.

September 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm by Natalie Allen