Well that’s some slick timing. Eduardo Saverin, who is best known for co-founding Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg back in their college days at Harvard, has given up his United States citizenship.
His name appeared on a list published on April 30 by the United States Office of the Federal Register, which issues a quarterly list of people who have given up their U.S. citizenship. The news was first picked up by Bloomberg earlier today.
The switch will almost certainly decrease the number of American taxes he owes on the $3.84 billion or so he is reportedly in line to make once Facebook goes public, which is widely expected to happen next week. As Bloomberg reported: “Renouncing your citizenship well in advance of an IPO is ‘a very smart idea’ from a tax standpoint, said [University of Michigan international tax law professor Reuven] Avi-Yonah.”
On the surface, this might seem like an opportunistic move. In many ways, Facebook’s story is the most modern example of the American dream gone right. Some would argue that those who have gotten rich from the company should pay some dues back into the system that enabled that success. As billionaire Mark Cuban has written on his blog, the “most patriotic thing you can do” is “bust your ass and get rich. Make a boatload of money. Pay your taxes.”
But to be fair, Saverin is a pretty unique case: He was born in Brazil in 1982, became a U.S. citizen at age 16, and has lived for the past several years in Singapore (where he reportedly drives a Bentley, parties at posh members-only clubs, and prefers the company of supermodels.) He’s also said to be investing in lots of South American and Asian companies at the moment. By all accounts his footprint is legitimately a global one.
And anyway, this isn’t the first time Saverin has made a savvy move in regards to complicated international financial regulations. In a widely published IM conversation from his college days, Mark Zuckerberg described Saverin like this: “My friend who wants to sponsor [Facebook] is head of the investment society. Apparently insider trading isn’t illegal in Brazil so he’s rich lol.”