Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who renounced his U.S. citizenship in what many have seen as a move to avoid paying federal taxes, has managed to unify many Americans behind Uncle Sam’s outstretched hand.
Normally, Uncle Sam is portrayed as the guy trying to separate you from the contents of your wallet, right?
But many in the online world this week are outraged at the perception that Saverin is trying to dodge the tax man. Americans feel personally ripped off, according to comments posted across a variety of social media platforms. Saverin made his riches off Facebook-loving U.S. taxpayers and is now defriending the country that made him rich when it comes time to add some of that money back to U.S. tax coffers.
Before we get to the reaction, a quick catch-up: Saverin is Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook co-founder, and his role in the business venture was immortalized in the Oscar-winning film, “The Social Network.” He has a reported 4% stake in the company, a stake that could be worth nearly $4 billion after Facebook’s highly anticipated initial public offering, expected next week.
A spokeswoman for Saverin says the move was not intended to avoid paying taxes. It just makes more sense, she said, because Saverin plans to live in Singapore for an indefinite period of time handling business ventures that he’s launching in that part of the world. Although tax-planning experts call the move shrewd, the timing -- days before the IPO -- is just too convenient for many.
Among them, mogul Mark Cuban who Tweeted a story about Saverin to his more than 1 million followers and added: “This [ticks] me off ... If i could realistically stop using facebook, this would be the reason I would. Just wrong.”
To be sure, there are some folks who criticize the U.S. business climate as being not friendly enough. But if you take the temperature in the online world, reaction to Saverin’s move goes something like this (links to to the stories where the comments appear):
--Apparently our “hostile business environment” didn’t prevent them from creating and growing Facebook, did it? But this isn’t about starting or running a business. The business is up and running and doing fine. This is about tax evasion.
--Welcome to America, Eduardo. How good of you to come here, make a fortune and then refuse to pay taxes.
--I can’t think of a more selfish thing to do than what this guy is doing. He got rich in a free country for which men and women shed their blood so he could pursue his dream and I am a staunch conservative Republican ... I hope the stock tanks.
--I think it’s time for me to denounce my FACEBOOK citizenship.