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Rich Tax Exiles Labeled 'Heroes' and 'Tax Dodgers'

Thursday, 24 May 2012 | 4:53 PM ET
Sen. Chuch Schumer
Roger Kisby | Getty Images
Sen. Chuch Schumer

At a press conference in Washington this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer continued his crusade against Facebook billionaire Eduardo Saverin, who moved to Singapore and reduced his tax bill on the value of his shares.

Schumer accused Saverin, who renounced his U.S. citizenship last year, of giving up his American passport for the sole purpose of avoiding taxes. “We’re not going to let him get away with it,” Schumer said.

“Saverin has turned his back on the country that welcomed him, kept him safe, educated him and helped him to become a millionaire.” Schumer said of the Brazilian-born entrepreneur. “This is a great American success story gone horribly wrong.”

Schumer had equal venom for the chorus of anti-tax pundits who are turning Saverin into a hero.

Schumer originally voiced his disapproval of Saverin last week, announcing that he would present a bill called the “Ex-Patriot Act” with fellow Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Since then, several commentators and pundits have praised Saverin for taking a stand against the U.S. tax code.

Saverin’s decision to "defriend" the United States “is great for economic growth on its face,” wrote John Tamny on Forbes magazine’s website. Calling the IRS an “insatiable beast," Tamny continued: “When individuals resist governmental hubris, we should exalt their actions.”

Elsewhere, support for Saverin painted him as a martyr. The American Thinker blog complained that “the U.S. tax code is so oppressive that smart and successful people like Saverin are compelled to renounce citizenship in order to keep more of their own hard-earned wages.”

On Yahoo!, a post headlined “People like Eduardo Saverin are my heroes?” showed both admiration and envy for Saverin’s move. “He played it smart and left America to avoid paying steep taxes,” wrote Bubba B Tr0llins [sic], a frequent contributor. “I wish I was rich like him to leave a country of ignorance.”

For his part, Saverin has made no claim to heroism. He continues to insist through a spokesman that his decision had nothing to do with taxation. Despite the timing of his departure and Singapore’s lack of a capital gains tax, Saverin says he was trying to protect co-investors in Saverin’s current businesses from complicated and intrusive U.S. disclosure requirements.

Do you think Saverin is a hero or disagrace to America?

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  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.