I have assisted several hundred Americans to renounce/relinquish their U.S. Citizenship for the past 27 years. For many individuals, it comes as a surprise to them that they have US citizenship and they do not know what the tax and financial ramifications are of US citizenship on themselves, their family, and their executor.The first step for many who think they may be US citizens is to confirm same and begin to understand the tax ramifications of this discovery. I cover those issues here my answer to I was born in Canada by an American mother, so am I an American citizen?Once an individual understands that they are a US citizen and that status is accompanied by very specific tax and financial filing obligations, then the individual should closely examine the pros and cons of keeping US citizenship.The first step is to contact a qualified accountant to understand the cost of bringing themselves into compliance with U.S. law. Without being in compliance, renunciation by itself is worst than useless in dealing with prior and future tax liability.I do not do compliance work, but have watched the results of countless clients who I advised to go through this step. Almost universally, the individual had vastly overestimated the cost (in professional fees and actual tax liability) of coming into compliance. This was because they were frightened by on-line forum hysteria, had assumed the imposition of an Exit Tax (Expatriation Tax) and also had not taken into account Foreign Tax Credit for the tax that they had paid to their current country of tax residence.Once one knows the actual cost of coming into compliance (accounting fees, tax, interest penalties (if any)) then one needs to add on the cost of expatriating ($2350 Expatriation Fee, possibly the imposition of Expatriation Tax if they are considered a “Covered Expatriate” after their accountant complete a draft https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/..., and then finally possibly legal fees to assist in the process).Once one has the cost of renunciation, then one needs to access the value that they place on US citizenship. Setting aside blind patriotism for a moment and looking at practical issues, the value that one places on retaining US citizenship depends greatly upon their position in life. Here are three different examples:24 Year Old US citizen graduating with a Masters of Computer Science or Finance. Unmarried and childless: Given that this person is at the start of their career, they would probably place a great emphasis on the value of their uninhibited ability to work (at least in the beginning of their career) in these fields in the US. Undoubtedly, employment opportunities are significant. They may also want to be able to pass on US citizenship to their future children,64 Year Old Canadian Citizen who was born in the US but moved to Canada when a young child: This person would essentially think of themselves as primarily Canadian. Their career and child rearing life periods are over. They may view the future avoidance of on-going compliance and hassle of remaining a US taxpayer in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act era to be worth more than retaining a US citizenship,45 Year Old High Net Worth Individual Venture Capitalist: This person is continually weighing the value of being in the US for business versus the on-going and future (estate) tax liability. This person may not be ready to expatriate at this time, but is prudently getting a Back Up Plan in place to allow them to execute a renunciation if and when they deem appropriate for them. (Peter Thiel, Trump Adviser, Has a Backup Country: New Zealand, How Today’s Rich Families Are Different, Lesperance & Associates " Could the loss of carried interest double your tax bill?)Once an individual has determined that for themselves, compliance and renunciation is appropriate, then they have to decide if it is worthwhile to retain legal counsel to assist or try and do it themselves. One might want to retain legal counsel if there is a matter of required co-ordination with tax counsel and accountants because one is subject to the Expatriation Tax Regime. In addition, there is sometimes a co-ordination and timing issue for setting up the Renunciation Interview. Finally, some individuals determine it worthwhile to have an experienced advisor make sure that the paperwork is properly completed and that they are properly prepared for the interview questions and future US border official questions. Those who retain counsel are individuals who believe that the cost of fees is minimal compared to the cost of not doing their expatriation and departure from the US tax system properly.Whether retaining counsel or not, the renouncing individual or their counsel, needs to schedule an appointment with US Citizen Services at a US mission outside of the US. At that interview, a US Conofficial will go through various paperwork. Although many missions have their own specific additional forms, they all must complete this documentation (7 FAM 1260 RENUNCIATION OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP ABROAD).Once the renunciation interview is completed at the US mission, then the individual is no longer a US citizen under US law. However, in order to also get out of the US tax system, it is necessary for them to file the IRS form 8854. A significant portion of which is an attestation that they are fully up to date and compliant with their US tax obligations. They will also need to file a terminal US tax return and appropriate filings such as Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) for the short year from January 1st to their date of renunciation.The final step in the process is that the US Mission will forward the documentation that it receives to the State Department in Washington. Officials there will review the material to ensure that the renunciation was properly completed. If so, then they will issue a Certificate of Loss of Nationality (https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/d...) confirming that the individual ceased to be a US Citizen as of the expatriation interview date.Note: Relinquishment of US Citizenship: In certain specific cases, an individual can demonstrate both a potentially relinquishing act and an intention to relinquish US citizenship (Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Dual Nationality). If the individual meets this standard then they might be able to claim that they lost their US citizenship (and therefore basis for tax liability) at a much earlier date. In these types of cases it is definitely worth retaining experienced counsel to determine a) if you have a proper potentially successful case, and b) correctly file a relinquishment claim. Relinquishment applications take much longer to process (and therefore determine if successful) but may have great financial value if possible and every effort is made toward success.Unfortunately, I have seen many cases filed which were either weak or dead at the outset or poorly documented. The individual was often under the mistaken belief that they had lost their US citizenship (and US tax liability) until their application was ultimately rejected. Given that such cases can take a minimum of a year and often 2 or more years to be reviewed and assessed, it is critical to know at the outset whether an application is potentially viable.