May 18th, 2012
07:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook, gave his first major interview published Thursday in the wake of a growing backlash against his renunciation of U.S. citizenship.

Pressure has grown from U.S. lawmakers to tighten tax code on expatriates after press reports surfaced that Saverin – a native of Brazil who became a U.S. citizen as a teenager after his family moved to the U.S. – renounced his U.S. citizenship, which was published April 30 on the U.S. Federal Register. Saverin, who has lived in Singapore since 2009, is now a permanent resident of the city.

The public release of his renunciation, coming on the eve of Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO), has raised hackles.

“I’m not a tax expert,” Saverin told the New York Times. He said he filed to renounce his citizenship in January 2011 and it became official in September. “We complied with all the known laws. There was an exit tax.” Bloomberg estimates the billionaire paid exit taxes of about $365 million.

“This had nothing to do with taxes,” he insisted, according to the Times. “I was born in Brazil, I was an American citizen for about 10 years. I thought of myself as a global citizen.”

In a statement Thursday, Saverin told CNN it was "unfortunate" that his choice had led to a debate "based not on the facts, but entirely on speculation and misinformation."

He added: "I am obligated to and will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the United States government. "I have paid and will continue to pay any taxes due on everything I earned while a U.S. citizen."

As CNNMoney reports, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey held a press conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill where they outlined legislation that would prevent the Facebook co-founder from ever returning to the United States. Schumer and Casey are calling their bill the "Ex-PATRIOT Act."

Estimates of the value of Saverin’s stake in Facebook vary between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. According to Bloomberg, Saverin stands to save an estimated $67 million in taxes by renouncing his citizenship.

In the interview with the New York Times, Saverin also complained about the media characterization of a “playboy” lifestyle in Singapore. “It’s a misperception, especially the playboy,” he said. “I do have a Bentley. I do go out. I’d rather not go into personal details.”

Saverin was Facebook’s first investor and first CFO, but had a falling out with co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, which was dramatized in the movie, “The Social Network.” The other two founders were Dustin Moskovitz, who Forbes crowned the world’s youngest billionaire in 2011, and Chris Hughes, who recently bought controlling stake of the New Republic magazine. Only Zuckerberg has stayed with the company.

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soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. ccc6151

    Politians are so concerned about US citizians leaving the USA to take advantage of tax breaks but don't care about what the exodus of large corps mid level jobs to other countries has done to not only our standing in the world but to our middle class. Lets TAX those corporations heavily and see what that does for the economy. Let's get real... Term limits are so over due!!!

    May 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  2. susann

    If someone lives outside the USA for three years and wants to renounce US citizenship, why shouldn't he? It's only that he's a billionaire that this is an issue. If he's not living there, using what the US has to offer so why should he have to pay tax? He joins a long line of people with $$ leaving the USA for good. As for a Bill to not let him back into the States, shouldn't think he'd be too concerned – there are plenty of other places he can spend his cash.

    May 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  3. GemJac

    This myopic view by the people "in charge" is exactly why the USA is doomed to be a force internationally, except for the it's military weight. It already is the only 1st world country that "double taxes" it's citizens working outside the USA.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  4. bb

    I agree totally with Senators. Nothing personal against him. Just happen to be him. It's like a wake up call for all trying to dodge tax as a citizen. Imagine if all celebrities doing this, what America would be like? If one wants to leave US for good, just do it when one has nothing, why wait til got something good from US and then leave?

    May 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  5. adam roger

    The man is going to pay around USD 360 million in taxes. For heavens sake, would the US help him out if he lost his USD 30 grand investment? The US is getting USD 360 million free due to his entrepreneurship, and his only. Anyhow who would want to live in the US in these days? And having an American passport! Imagine if I were highjacked on a plane and the thugs demanded to see my passport. Which one would I give them? My Brazilian or my American one? Guess.....

    May 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  6. Nuno

    facebook is worth crap
    another bubble ! People really NEVER learn with past mistakes...

    May 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  7. Singaporean

    As a Singaporean I hate Singapore, I can't beleive Saverin renounce US citizenship and living in Singapore, with very high humidity 24 hrs, high in racism, populated with more than 5 million packed in a small city. I'm sure Saverin will soon regret living in Singapore.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
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  10. ChinaSailor

    Yep, bash the Expats Sen Schumer their votes really do not count anyway. You and bash us, tax us, charge us fees for goverment services that our taxes should have already paid for so you can fatten the purse for your pork-barrel handounts that you use to buy your re-election.

    The US is the only country that taxes their citizens who work overseas, the only country to charge their citizens for using Embassy Services and certanly the only country that charges an 'Exit Tax' of 20% if you want to become a citizen of another country.

    Taxed without direct representation in Congress, the American Expat is a victim of practices that our Founding Fathers fought against.... sad really...

    May 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  11. Euro Expat

    Gee. I want to be able to be a "global citizen". Where can I get that passport? Truthfully, isn't it obvious WHY Saverin renounced his citizenship. Expats moving abroad doesn't need to do that, no matter where they have permanent residency and no matter how convenient that permanent residency is. The only "penalty" for being a US citizen is the tax aspect. American citizens have to file tax returns and pay taxes no matter where in the world they live. So, he paid an exit tax? By renouncing his citizenship, he saved millions a year in future taxes. I am sure some high-powered and highly-paid tax lawyer gave him some excellent (or not) advice. I don't feel sorry for Saverin. Unfortunately, what he has done means that ordinary expats will be punished as well, which is pathetic.

    May 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  12. infonomics

    "I thought of myself as a global citizen." When some international terrorist group kidnaps your scrawny derriere, who are you gonna call, the global police?

    May 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  13. Freddie

    Saverin paid his tuition fees in Havard, and never got any free handouts from the USA. He was born in Brazil. The bright idea that made him rich was his, and was not handed down. He has paid all the taxes required by law. The only reason the USA congress is discussing him (and not the other thousands renouncing their USA citizenship) is because he is a billionaire...still comes down to Money. Many international companies and person that operates today in USA register most of their businesses in tax-haven countries to reduce tax liabilities, so why pick on this young fellow that has broken no laws but brought employment to thousands.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  14. Matias

    C'mmon, Mr Shumer, get real and get behind causes that are really worth people's time. If you want to recover lost tax income, you have trillions of dollars that President Bush gave to wealthy Americans. If that is not enough, work on the income the US loses by having corporations relocate to foreign countries to avoid paying taxes and salaries to Americans.

    This is for sure an electoral year, and the republicans are hungry for media attention, but to make all this fuzz for somebody who is supposedly trying to avoid paying $300 million is not worth it. Chase the billions that GE avoids paying every year, that is the REAL jackpot. Or the taxes that your friends legally avoid paying.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  15. Babak from Los Angeles

    This not about right or wrong ... It is about he has it and we want to take it from him ... come on folks we need the cash to start another war .... this is embaressing.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:33 am |

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    May 19, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  17. Bill

    America stopped selling up a long time ago.
    In return, we started selling out and beat anyone who didn't want to sell.
    Now, everyone hates us and even our own are leaving.
    So how does this tax help the nation... or does it drive them out?

    May 19, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  18. Maja

    it was because he lived in the US and was a US citizen that he got his break and was able to be part of Facebook that he got his wealth.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  19. Don Ross

    You know people, I must be from an alternate universe, because, I can’t, for the life of me understand how you Americans can excuse Eduardo Saverin for his venal, selfish, and disgraceful self-serving exit from the nation that gave him and his family succor and aid in their time of need.
    This betrayal on his part can easily be expressed by a simple visit to those sacred loams of valor, our veteran’s final resting places; Arlington; Gettysburg; or The Lorraine American Cemetery in France, where over 10,000 young American souls are interred.
    You – you young Americans, especially you vets, are breaking my heart. I lost my father – my father, who gave all, so we could live free and follow our dreams.
    Shame on you guys…

    May 19, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  20. Kme

    Too bad the IRS robbed him of what they did already. The IRS deserves ZERO bucks. You did good to renounce your US citizenship Ed, because there are way too many thieves around you here.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  21. AYE

    Senators inc: Eduardo, why would you leave us at a time like this? We gave you our heart, opened up our homes and lawns, wrote your name on a card so green...and now (sob) this?
    Saverin: Darlings-It is not you, it is me. I need the space... to find out who I am, where I am going, what is the meaning of money...I needed to has been a taxing season.....please understand.
    Senators inc: But you would leave us for (gasp) it their youth? Is that it? Are you ashamed (tears) of my (whisper) wrinkles?
    Saverin: (The sound of footsteps, a man fleeing...)
    Senators Inc: The primal cry of the jilted.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  22. TheGreenMan

    I understand exactly how Saverin feels on US nationality. I wake up each morning and am also very very grateful that I am not a US citizen.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  23. Kevin

    The Feds should PAY Saverin a commission for all the tax revenue they are going to realize as a result of Facebook from investors to employees to corporate taxes , etc . The founders of Facebook created a cash cow for the IRS ! What have these two senators ever created in their pathetic lives? The only thing they know how to do is spend other peoples money on rat holes like Solyndra !

    May 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  24. Refill

    For the record, he is not a Singapore citizen but only a permanent resident. I believe he never gave up his Brazilian citizenship. It was reported that he filed for expatriation in 2010, and got it in 2011.

    What is surprising is that out of all the comments here, and elsewhere, very few actually side with the angry senators. Shows that the senators are out of touch. Actually, this should be the last thing on their plate of things to do. They got to fix the economy, fix health care, fix the education system and a whole lot more. Get back to work!

    May 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  25. Jon

    Good riddance. Don't come back.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  26. Jon

    I would never, ever give up my United States citizenship. This is the greatest country on Earth. I would not give up my citizenship in this great Nation for any amount of money. What a rat. We really need to clamp down on who gets to obtain citizenship here. Can't have people taking advantage of their American passport, freedoms, rights, etc. and then leaving to save some money. RAT!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
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  28. Mister Angry

    Fantastic that Senators Schumer and Casey seem more interested in making headlines than making headway in updating US tax laws. Mr. Saverin paid nearly 300 million USD as an exit tax and is still obliged to file returns for ten years on any potential future tax. Lost in this is the US is the only nation in the world who taxes based upon citizenship versus residency, leaving myself and thousands of other ex-pats to pay tax on income generated entirely outside of the US. Buy hey, go after the one billionaire for headlines versus spending time on laws that need updating.

    Term limits indeed...

    May 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  29. jos

    As far as I am concern, renouncing your citizenship to avoid paying taxes when you became ultra rich is the most lowest form of humanity. Mr. Saverin is a pig. He and his immediate family should be banned entering from the United States who gave him and his family better life to live. A traitor.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  30. aj

    And stay out.

    May 20, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  31. John

    Hey Jos – the guy's already complying with the law and paying his exit taxes – which by all accounts are more than you'll make in a lifetime.

    How much – and for how long, does he have to pay for the privilege of having a US passport when he's already moved outside the US?!

    It's amazing to me that the US is the ONLY first world country that taxes their citizens regardless of where they live.

    May 20, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  32. John

    Schumer and Casey are doing nothing but capitalizing on the mass hysteria around taxing anyone who's successful until they are not.

    I'd love to see their tax returns for the last 5 years – what do you want bet that they took advantage of every loophole their accountants could find?!

    May 20, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  33. Freddie

    First and foremost this guy is more BRAZILIAN than American. That is why he can renounced his citizenship based on USA naturalisation but cannot renounce BRAZILIAN because of birth linkages and his lineage are from there (only 10 yrs out of 27 years in USA). Should Brazil request for him to pay taxes too on his earnings before USA? Would it be acceptable if all the American Expats living in other countries are asked to pay taxes to those countries after they leave, for the hospitality those countries afforded to the American expats? Let us focus on the young billionaire conforming with the law and forget politicians trying to incite a storm for cheap political gains.

    May 20, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  34. Angelo

    First off, giving up your citizenship is NOT A TAX BREAK. You are forced to pay a tax of a THIRD on ALL your assets. Assets that have probably been taxed already. It's extortion, plain and simple.

    Now these idiot, thug senators are going to go after him for more money and try to band him from entering the US again?

    Why am I obligated to pay taxes to a country I don't live in? No other country does this except for North Korea.

    Why does the US government provide ZERO representation to ex pats who are forced to continue paying taxes? There is no elected representative or government body that look after the interest of ex pats or gives them a voice in the government like you have with citizens who live in the US.

    Taxation without representation. We fought a revolution over that. Maybe we should again.

    May 20, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  35. Guest

    Sour grapes much? How many times have experts said that the higher you push tax rates, the greater the incentive to dodge them? This guy didn't do anything that most of us wouldn't have done in his situation. Reform the tax code to be streamlined and more efficient (and lower overall rates at the same time) and you will see your total tax receipts go up, not down.

    May 20, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  36. Matt

    I don't even make 6-figures and I'm highly interested in leaving the US.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  37. kakala

    so simple peeps. If you are not happy living in the US, just leave and renounce your citizenship. If you love this country then pay whatever government asks for. And if you are not happy with paying whatever government asks for then just leave and renounce.

    May 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  38. Barbara E Bj

    I don't see my post... but when I tried to repost it, a message said that I "already said that." (duplicate posting error msg). But, where is it? There were 37 comments and there are still 37 comments, and the words under this box says that you do not pre-screen comments which seems to imply/infer that the post should appear right away. Hmmm.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  39. joshle

    Mr. Ed Saverin should read this

    May 21, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  40. Kitty Kat

    Singapore is a sovereign country not a city.
    Get your facts right!

    May 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  41. Elsie

    As a Singaporean I hate Singapore, I can't beleive Saverin renounce US citizenship and living in Singapore, with very high humidity 24 hrs, high in racism, populated with more than 5 million packed in a small city. I'm sure Saverin will soon regret living in Singapore.
    May 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm | "

    LOL! U have obviously never been to SIngapore. Your comment is utterly hillarious...

    May 22, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  42. Profish

    Elsie as a singaporean, she miust have got into some trouble, and now bad mouthing her country. I am a singaporean and now working in another country. I have to find another better place than singapore.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  43. Joop Kaashoek

    Senators want to latch onto this, why don't they fix the tax code to get rid of all the loopholes for corporations? That is where the money is, not with individuals. But they are paid by the corporations so they can not, in the corrupt US political system,

    May 23, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  44. Badaboom

    Another instance where the government needs to F off. The man made his money, Paid taxes the whole time he was here. Paid taxes 3 YEARS AFTER HE LEFT. Charge him 67m for not wanting to be a U.S. citizen. Yet we look away from all the illegals LIVING HERE using up TAX DOLLARS, Not paying taxes. To me this seems a$$ backwards.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  45. Sevinthseal

    I'll bet the farm those same politicians have money parked offshore somewhere. Guaranteed.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  46. paulinatlanta

    As usual, Schumer is being myopic and asking the wrong questions. What he should be asking is why a billionaire raised and educated in the US is taking his money and investments to Singapore? Schumer SHOULD be looking at the acrimonious business climate our misguided government has created.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
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