Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin apparently thinks U.S. citizenship is worth less than $67 million.
This article has been updated to include Eduardo Saverin's comment in The New York Times.
Saverin stands to save at least $67 million in taxes by renouncing his U.S. citizenship and moving to Singapore, Bloomberg reports. And if Facebook's stock price rises after its initial public offering on Friday, Saverin would stand to save even more money. He owns about 4 percent of Facebook, which may be worth as much as $2.89 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Facebook announced plans to sell 25 percent more shares in the company's public debut than initially planned, setting up the offering to total up to $18 billion. The social networking site could be valued at about $100 billion if everything goes according to plan. Facebook plans to sell shares for as much as $38 per share on Friday.
Bloomberg reported last week that Saverin was on an IRS list of American citizens renouncing their citizenship. Saverin's spokesman told Bloomberg that he gave up his citizenship around September. Singapore doesn't tax capital gains, while the U.S. taxes capital gains at a maximum rate of 15 percent.
Maybe it's not just taxes though. In Singapore, Saverin, who was born in Brazil, "enjoys a status worthy of Kim Kardashian, with many fans dreaming of [the] sight of him," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Saverin told The New York Times Wednesday that the renouncement was not motivated by the U.S. tax code. "This had nothing to do with taxes," he told the NYT. "I was born in Brazil, I was an American citizen for about 10 years. I thought of myself as a global citizen."
Yet if Saverin did give up his citizenship to get around taxes related to Facebook's IPO, he wouldn't be the only one. About 1,780 Americans gave up their U.S. citizenship last year -- a more than sevenfold increase from 2008, according to a separate Bloomberg report.
John Dorrance III, the heir to the Campell’s Soup fortune, for example, ditched his U.S. citizenship and moved to Ireland before selling his stake in the family business, according to Forbes. Dropping citizenship to avoid taxes isn't a phenomenon limited to the U.S. either. Lily Safra, the Brazilian widow of banker Edmond Safra, left her native country for Monaco.
Indeed, even Facebook itself has already tried to get out of paying more in taxes, structuring its IPO in such a way so as to sidestep federal and state income taxes on its 2011 earnings, according to a February report by Citizens for Tax Justice.