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?
270Comments
May 16, 2012 12:50PM
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With Obama pushing taxes up, the outflow of millionars from the US will only continue.  And for you libs, that outflow is up 700% over the last two years.  If Obama wants to tax cap gains fine but if he goes crazy, BILLIONS of dollars will be leaving the USA.  And if your logic is that the super rich should pay more, that's fine.  But some work better be done to determine the threshold or tipping point as to what it's going to take to lose BILLIONS and take in BILLIONS less than estimated because that 1% group targeted are going to leave in droves. 
May 16, 2012 12:42PM
May 16, 2012 12:37PM
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Occasionally, the Obamites on this blog, sound like a flock of guineas.
There have been a larger number of our "rich" leave the USA in every quarter, since Obama took office.
We have a steady stream of business leaving the USA and the last survey of NFIB tells us that 6% to 7% of the business that can travel, have options on sites outside the USA and will use them if Obma is reelected..
Whey you Obamites are given this information you start looking for ways and means to "make them stay and just keep working and paying more".
You can tax them if you have the votes, no rational person is going to stay here and pay more in taxes and fees to fund OBama's vote buying social programs, and green fantasies..
Should, Obama be reelected, you Obamites, will have won the battle and lost the war.

May 16, 2012 12:30PM
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Thanking the American people and paying taxes to the Federal Reserve (yes, that's where your taxes go..) is two different issues. This articles premise is being extremely deceptive.

 

He's free to do what he deems fit for hisself. He as an American, owes no man anything, and can chose for himself what is his best interest. That's his choice.

 

This type of collectivist, class warfare, thinking has no place in America. Leave this man alone, mind your own business, get a life...

May 16, 2012 12:21PM
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He is a very wealthy PUNK......may he choke on his money.
May 16, 2012 12:16PM
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Manjoo says it quite nicely ! America showed mr saverin a glimpse of success and then promptly tried to screw him out of it. Has anyone else noticed that greed will be the undoing of this country ???
May 16, 2012 12:08PM
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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 16, 2012 12:07PM
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I thought the super nerd made his money in the US, maybe the taxes should also stay in the US.
May 16, 2012 12:04PM
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Just shows how out of touch and the different rules that the ricn enjoy that the 99% cant take advantage of. Not just Saverin, but Zuckerberg as well will be getting around taxes simply because they are rich. Zuckerberg will take some funds out of the IPO by selling some stock options and pay some tax on that.  Then he will take a loan out with other stock options as collatoral at a very low interest rate.  See the regular person doesnt get those benefits.  
May 16, 2012 12:03PM
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In order to attract investors from outside the US the politicians have rightly or wrongly decided to allow them to be taxed in their home country.  This encourages investors from outside the US to invest in the US, which creates jobs for people in the US.  The US tax on investments and businesses are more than any other country in the world because we have the largest beaurocracy in the history of civilization, and that costs money to maintain.  Since the US government hasn't figured out how to tax the entire world, it will have to settle for taxing those people who are US citizens that will allow themselves to be taxed excessively.  In this particular case Saverin decided that keeping more of his money was more valuable to him than being a US citizen and paying the excessive tax rates.  That's the way the game is and always will be played by at least some people.  Heck, why is it even immoral?  It's certainly not illegal.  If it's legal then it must by definition be moral, right?  Seems like that's the rule these days for how many people behave, and this kind of behavior is just an axiom to the rule.
May 16, 2012 11:41AM
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good for him. screw oboma and his tax everyone so he can continue to waste tax payers dollars.

 

May 16, 2012 11:39AM
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Hero, hero hero,

 

This country does not own me, I am not the property of the US or any other country for that matter. I do not exist to pay taxes or have my work taken from me to support the failed lives of others.

 

In reality though he's not going to get away so easily. Only the broke and washed up are allowed to leave the US. If there is reason to think a suspect is only getting rid of their citizenship for tax purposes the application can be denied. So this country does own him and all the rest of us for that matter, most of us just aren't worth keeping as we are going to cost this country more than we will ever contribute.

May 16, 2012 11:38AM
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1000's renounce US citizenship. For generation America was HOST to millions, today its become a parasite. feasting or feeding on taxes and food stamps. Millions migrated to America to build and prosper, but today millions come to loot and rip apart this great blessed country. There has to a reason to people moving out of this country. If a war veteran ot marine does something not correct, they strip away all his benefit and put him on street of country he/she has serviced. Wait till year end to see some more action or exodus.. Its not the question of hero or zero. Question is why this has happened?

May 16, 2012 11:30AM
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It is the new norm. Rich American's dropped citizenship in 2011 700% more than just 5 years ago.

It is why taxing the worms wont work. It is why the Flat Tax WONT WORK.

What is going to stop a rich POS from buying that Ferrari in Canada and then driving it back here?



May 16, 2012 11:26AM
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He made his money here, he should pay taxes here, the exit mechanism on taxes should include

the payment of taxes accordingly. For ALL of those "hard right" americans, the answer is simple:

stop looking at the economy as a political tool, we will be much better of if the politicians play their

roll, simply speaking, be public servants !!!!

A country of "happy billioners" and struggling vast majorities will not last, we need a balance, and

nobody should ignore this fact.

I don't believe in sons of taxes billioners, they do not create real wealth for the country, ask FORBES idols, they outsource, they create subsidiaries companies abroad to evade taxes, they know all the tricks, so don't give me that "BULL 101" about the impact of taxes on the economy, this is a huge lie.

Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and others high earners are on the right track, leaches as FORBES / FOX  boys, are just that leaches of the system, that have made millions on government favors and have

little or nothing to show for.

This is OUR Country, WE should be UNITED, saddly money and personal interest are KILLING the

AMERICAN DREAM 

     

May 16, 2012 11:24AM
May 16, 2012 11:23AM
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Umm...tell me please that Mr. Saverin is no longer allowed in our country-ever!
Please tell me we can at least shut him out from ever touching our land again.

And if our grand government is listening- shouldn't non-US citizens only be allowed to visit our country for 2 weeks per year.  That's plenty of time for a "foreigner" to visit, then it should be time to go bye bye.


May 16, 2012 11:00AM
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When our government will line the pockets of wall street with trillions of dollars with no question of where the money went, don't you think that the issue of loyalty or patriotism is misplaced in this case? The system is so broken that defending it at this point is like sitting on a dead horse bragging about how beautiful she is. I don't care if its left or right, we have lost any connection to the original intent of our for fathers. If you want to question the morals of anyone, start with the big fish. This country is in trouble, as citizens we all have an obligation to be honest about our current condition. Its time for everyone to get real, we are all one people, under God, Indivisible. What ever happened to "Justice for All"?
May 16, 2012 10:56AM
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Human's as a whole seem to see things in black or white, and get so angry if someone is not agreeing with them. Anger is not going to get us out of the mess we are in.

Right now we are at this impasse, the 99% against the 1%. 

But really it comes down to individuals and basic values about what is important in life.

There needs to be an understanding that as much as we say an individual is totally responsible for their own success, that isn't really true, is it? 

Our taxes (not just the 1%) pay for all the infrastructure that makes someone able to become successful. We all contribute in one way or another...

When the payoff is not equitable (that does not mean all receive same, just with in reason) anger is the result.

The sad part is that the greed that holds sway over some (not all) is admired..

Example: When you buy a magazine, see a movie, watch tv....do you look for information on Donald Trump or the schoolteacher from the next town over who works hours on end to provide the best education (physically, mentally and emotionally) to their class. Who is the success?

Honestly, did you think Trump or teacher?

So even though we vilify the 1%, we are still fascinated by them.

Where is the middle ground? Can we find a way to really encourage individual success and provide incentive for all.  Even the person who puts the widgets together deserves reward, as the person who sells the widgets for millions could not have success without someone making them.

To me, Saverin has made his decision, and it is his decision to make.

But really, I feel badly for him, he does not even know what he is losing in order to keep a few bucks...

 

May 16, 2012 10:56AM
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As long as the government insists on dumbing down our schools then claiming we don't have qualified workers for technical jobs this will happen.  Over the past decades hundreds of thousands of foreign workers have been brought in under H1b visas.  Many have returned to their own country to start up businesses that our jobs get outsourced to.  Clinton started the upsurge in these visas and this administration even allows charter schools run by an Islamic Emam to bring in teachers from Turkey to teach our kids English!  So, don't blame the persons, blame the Federal Government.  They tax the crap out of anyone who is successful and keep increasing the government dependence of our own people.  You want different results, get different people in Washington.

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