Facebook's Saverin: Hero or traitor?

The website's co-founder has moved to Singapore, a country with no capital gains tax.

By Kim Peterson May 15, 2012 4:45PM
Credit: © Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Common Sense Media)
Caption: Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of FacebookDitching the U.S. to save a boatload on taxes. Is it the new American ideal?

I am referring, of course, to the case of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. We recently learned that the 30-year-old has renounced his U.S. citizenship and now lives in tax-friendly Singapore. While Saverin undoubtedly likes Singapore -- he certainly seems to enjoy the country's nightclubs and supermodels -- there's little doubt that tax considerations also spurred the move.

It's unclear how much of Facebook Saverin exactly owns. Estimates range from the 2% stake suggested by The Wall Street Journal to the 4% stake estimated by The Los Angeles Times. At any rate, Facebook will add billions to his bank account.

Facebook reportedly has raised the price range of its IPO this week to between $34 and $38 a share, which could make the company worth as much as $104 billion. Even a 2% stake for Saverin amounts to $2.1 billion.

Singapore doesn't have a capital-gains tax, which makes life very comfortable for someone who recently gave up his U.S. citizenship. Saverin won't escape Uncle Sam completely, though. He'll have to pay an exit tax which could amount to as much as $150 million, the Times reports.

A $150 million tax on a fortune of at least $2.1 billion? That's a ridiculously low rate. And that is at the heart of the ongoing debate over whether Saverin is a hero or a traitor.

Firmly in the hero camp is Forbes, which cheers Saverin's relocation and shakes its finger at the American tax system. Saverin shouldn't support our bloated, wasteful government, writes John Tamny.

"Saverin's decision will starve the feds of revenue they would almost certainly waste, it will force a rethink of a tax code that penalizes income and investment success, and the unconsumed dollars kept from the hands of government will reach today's and tomorrow's businesses," Tamny writes.

I don't know, the odds that Saverin's actions will change the federal tax code seems pretty slim. And more Saverin's dollars seem to be going to bottles of Cristal than to businesses -- at least at this point.

On the other side of the debate is Farhad Manjoo at Pando Daily, who writes that Saverin owes America for nearly all of his success. Saverin reportedly moved to Miami at age 13 to escape Brazilian gangs who planned to kidnap him. If he hadn't come here, Manjoo argues, he wouldn't have lived a safe life, he wouldn't have met Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and he wouldn't have been able to use our legal system to sue Facebook when the company tried to shut him out.

After all that America has given him, it's not really right for Saverin to take the money and run, Manjoo writes.

"Is this fair? No," Manjoo writes. "It's worse than that, though. It's ungrateful and it's indecent. Saverin's decision to decamp the U.S. suggests he's got no idea how much America has helped him out."

So what do you think, readers? Is Saverin a hero or a zero for renouncing his citizenship and moving to Singapore?
May 16, 2012 6:51AM
Not a problem,but if you give up citizenship to save a buck or otherwise you should not be allowed,back in this country period.
May 15, 2012 5:55PM
One more reason NOT to use Facebook.
May 15, 2012 7:03PM

Make sure you take his visa and american passport away so he can not return to the country he deserted after the people made him rich.


May 15, 2012 7:46PM

ya'all act like he's the first one to do this.  thats exactly how the rich get richer: LOOPHOLES.

unfortunately it will never change because the rich are making up the rules to benefit THEM. not us.

May 15, 2012 5:55PM
One more reason NOT to use Facebook.
May 15, 2012 5:36PM

Neither hero, nor traitor, just normal. Anyone with means and a bit of economic intelligence will try to preserve as much as possible from taxes. Any reader who disagrees,  if you feel so "patriotic", feel free to send whatever portion of your money you can dispense to IRS and stop whining what other people do with their money.

May 16, 2012 6:22PM
What he done was LEGAL. EVERY American has the legal right to renounce their citizenship. I hope all the wealthy do this, then we can watch the deadbeats squirm.
May 16, 2012 2:52PM
He didn't cheat anything and he doesn't owe anyone anything. People can call it a loophole or whatever, but he's still playing within the confines of the law.

If people are questioning that he somehow owes something, I think being the co-founder of an innovation that over 1/8 of the worlds population uses is contributing plenty. It amazes me how people are all over this gentlemen, but don't have much to say to the turd balls that don't contribute anything to society.
May 16, 2012 9:39AM
Funny how some people here have such harsh words for the man..perosnally he is no hero or traitor to me..as far as the government goes they are getting their $150 million from him so it isn't like they lost anything. They will however loose what future income he may bring. People, there are US citizens abroad who are renouncing their citizenship by the droves....Maybe we should be asking ourselves why that is????
May 16, 2012 9:24AM

He can live anywhere he wants.  It's called freedom.  More and more of these billionaire job creators will leave the US to escape our high taxes that pay for all these subhuman leeches who mooch off the federal government.


What can we do?  Vote out the socialists in November.

May 16, 2012 7:52AM
Look, when someone succeeds to this extent because of the opportunity afforded him in our country, the least they can do is pay their fair share. It's pathetic to hear the 1% constantly complain about how they get screwed when all they want is more and more welfare for themselves and the corporate business class.  It's sad when greed, control, and power, replace the values of fairness, equality, and common good. He may have mega wealth, but he has no sense of values and purpose.  
May 15, 2012 7:28PM
Never let him back in the U.S.A. Even for a vist. He chose.
May 15, 2012 6:57PM
He's an ungrateful person. Citizenship is more than money. Its about responsibility and wanting to make something better. He will probably indulge himself in oblivion.
May 16, 2012 2:24AM
payback being a b, close all your fb accounts before the IPO.

Urge everyone too.  Called voting with your feet.  

They are, after all, valuating YOUR personal data.  Nothing more...  YOUR personal data. 

if it erks you that bad, kill your account, there ought to be a global movement that affects IPO day.

They expect to manipulate stock markets the day it comes out - maniupulate the manipulators!!!

May 16, 2012 2:49PM

I wonder what we would say if he was a natural born American?

Didn't Apple just move some of its IP somewhere to avoid paying Millions in Taxes? yet we still buy their products like crazy.

Yes fix the loopholes, but his individual contribution will not fix the debt problem, and it certainly wont make a difference to my personal tax bill or yours.

Look at the large Institutions that have Scre**d the American people out of Billions? Leehman Brothers,Morgan stanley, Bank Of America, and more recently JP Morgan chase who alledgedly refer to their clients as 'Muppets" and then sheepishly announce a 2Bn loss. Who is the muppet now eh? Still no one goes to jail or has to pay from their own money for their errors. its all done with the Investors Money so no one cares.

NON of those jokers are in jail, and yet we criticize one guy for keeping his money that he gets without scr****g over a single American. Now if we add together ALL the Bonus's paid to execs of the big banks, THAT would make a difference.

May 16, 2012 8:09AM
May 15, 2012 6:48PM

He's a traitor. 


I wrote before, you are a liberal until you have to pay taxes to support the bums.  Then you renounce your citizenship to avoid taxes.  FB will bust just like AOL did back in 2000.



May 16, 2012 12:08PM

He's just following the tradition begun by all of the British actors, business moguls, rock stars, etc, that became "tax exiles" when their tax system became so onerous in order to support the European brand of Socialism. And the Brits didn't demand that full domestic taxes be paid on money earned overseas in addition to the taxes already paid to those governments, as does the United States.


Get used to it. If Obama is reelected, there will be HUGE tax increases taking effect as soon as 2013 and you will see more and more of the wealthy fleeing the US and taking their $$ with them.


He!!, even the liberal icon, Teddy Kennedy, in his capacity as Chairman of the Kennedy Family Trust, moved over $500,000,000 of his family's money out of the United States after the Democrats took control of the Congress in 2006.

May 15, 2012 5:13PM
This what I don't understand about the rich. This country gave you everything you needed to be successful, whether it's paved roads, education loans or a fire department...yet you want to avoid paying for it to be their for others at all costs.
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