Implications of Dual Citizenship
One of the first questions I often get asked is “Does the United States recognize dual citizenship?” The short answer is the US does not formally recognize dual citizenship but it also does not take a stance against it. It is not illegal and you don’t risk loosing your US citizenship unless there is a clear intent to renounce your US citizenship either formally or implicitly, such as joining enemy combatants in active hostility against the US, committing acts of treason or otherwise acting with an intent to harm or overthrow the US government.
One of the possible cons to be aware of is there may be implications if you currently hold a security clearance or ever expect to need one. This is especially true if you hold a foreign passport and use it to travel. If this fits your situation, it is worth looking into further. Also, it is something to keep in mind for your children as you decide whether to get their dual citizenship now or wait until they are adults. Update on 8/17/11: I received this clarification from the San Francisco Italian Consulate: “Please note your minor children’s birth certificates must be submitted with the rest of your paperwork, as Italian law mandates that they be recognized simultaneously with you.”
Another concern that people have is whether they would be required to serve in the Italian Military if they obtain Italian Citizenship. The short answer to this is probably not. In 2001 the Italian government eliminated compulsory military service and it is now completely voluntary. You may run into a hitch if you are a male born between 1976 and 1985. If you fit this category and you do not live in Italy, you can fill out some paperwork to get an exemption from this. Again, in this case (or if you live in Italy) you should check with your state’s Italian consulate.
Regarding taxes, the US government and Italy have tax treaties to protect their citizens from dual taxation. The bottom line is if you live in the US you probably do not have to pay Italian taxes. There are some specifics regarding income levels when living abroad. Full disclaimer: I am not a tax accountant or lawyer and this information is based solely on my online research. If you have any questions about tax implications, you should talk to a certified tax accountant.
One final note, claiming your Italian dual citizenship jure sanguinis makes you a full citizen of Italy. As a result, you get voting rights, access to public healthcare and education and all of the other rights Italian citizens enjoy. As I previously wrote, many of these rights and benefits extend to all countries participating in the European Union allowing Italian Americans to buy property, start businesses, and find work just as any other citizen of the European Union would.