Just having an offshore account doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay taxes. While opening an offshore account doesn’t automatically make you exempt from taxes, there are legal ways to reduce or eliminate your tax obligations using various financial strategies.
- Avoiding confusion: misleading terms like hiding money and evading taxes
- Old myths die hard: illegal offshore accounts and money laundering
- Setting up tax-free offshore accounts for businesses
- How to open a tax-free offshore account as an individual
- Succeed with setting up a tax-free offshore account by following this procedure
Avoiding confusion: misleading terms like hiding money and evading taxes
Many people mistakenly believe that having an offshore account will protect them from taxes, ex-spouses, nosy journalists, and scammers. While certain protection from fraudsters is indeed possible through foreign banks, tax authorities are well aware of these accounts.
In reality, most countries now have systems in place for sharing financial information automatically or semi-automatically. These systems include regulations like FATCA, which requires global banks to report deposits made by Americans, CRS, otherwise known as Common Reporting Standard, and multiple agreements between countries. This means it’s highly unlikely to successfully avoid taxes or hide money in the present-day world.
Moreover, such actions have serious legal consequences. They range from freezing accounts and imposing fines to facing criminal charges and going to jail. Ultimately, it all depends on the tax laws where you live.
What you should realize for a fact is that simply opening an offshore account with the hope of avoiding taxes is not achievable. It’s just a false belief.
The idea of strict banking secrecy is no longer applicable. Although modern banking practices still offer some protection against unauthorized individuals like journalists or ex-spouses, tax authorities have the power to access and disclose your financial information when necessary.
Yet, perseverance still wins. Below, you will find the list of states that allow you to open an offshore account.
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Old myths die hard: illegal offshore accounts and money laundering
On the other hand, some people wrongly believe that offshore or foreign accounts in general are illegal and used for avoiding taxes and supporting criminal activities. As usual, the reality is different. Simply having an offshore account is not automatically against the law. It’s a common financial tool that individuals and businesses worldwide use for effective financial planning.
As we mentioned earlier, the mere existence of an offshore account does not automatically guarantee specific tax advantages to the holder thereof. The advantages you can receive depend on factors like where you pay taxes, your citizenship, and the country where your company is registered.
Therefore, you are allowed to use an offshore account as long as you follow the laws, especially when it comes to fulfilling tax obligations.
Setting up tax-free offshore accounts for businesses
With companies and businesses, you’ll have it the easiest. If your business doesn’t depend on a specific physical place like a factory or store, you are free to register it in a state that suits you. This means you can choose a jurisdiction that doesn’t require you to pay income tax or capital gains tax, like Nevis or the Marshall Islands. Alternatively, consider reputable places such as Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming in the USA, or explore partnership options in Canada.
Once your company is registered, you have every opportunity to open a bank account in a suitable offshore location and receive money there. Compared to their home countries, offshore companies benefit from lower tax rates or exemptions.
If you work for yourself, you can pay yourself a salary, which means you’ll need to also pay social and personal taxes. However, this approach still helps reduce overall expenses for your company.
Some countries allow you to reinvest profits without paying taxes on them. After a certain period, you can distribute dividends, which are often taxed at lower rates than profits.
To ensure proper bookkeeping and other administrative procedures for your offshore company, act smart and seek advice from industry experts. FYI: At International Wealth, we offer services to meet those needs.
To further decrease the amount of taxes you pay, don’t hesitate to explore the option of changing your tax residency as a company owner or as an income-receiving individual.
How to open a tax-free offshore account as an individual
To pay less in taxes on the money you receive in your offshore account, it makes perfect sense to become a tax resident in a jurisdiction that has low or no taxes.
This is the easiest way to manage finances when you open an offshore account as an individual, as long as it follows the requirements based on your citizenship.
In most countries worldwide except for 2, once a person establishes permanent residency abroad and becomes a tax resident there, they are no longer obliged to pay taxes in their home country. Essentially, if a Mexican citizen moves to Panama, they will pay taxes in Panama. Similarly, if a Chinese citizen relocates to Germany, they will be taxed in Germany
NB: this system comes with specific details and intricacies. To stay within the limits of the law, you should by all means consider them.
Both the United States and Eritrea require their citizens to pay taxes, no matter where they live. That’s why the FATCA law was introduced. Thereunder, banks shall report information about deposits made by US citizens.
Here’s some good news though: you may exclude the first USD 100,000 of income you earn abroad from taxes. On the negative side, just having an offshore account won’t help with this. You need to earn money outside the US to take advantage of the opportunity and reduce taxes a bit.
If you think that’s not enough, there’s another option. You may give up your citizenship. Remember though that you can’t do it just for tax reasons. You need a more valid excuse in this case. NB: if your assets are plentiful, you’ll have to pay an exit tax when renouncing your citizenship.
On the other hand, you may become a resident of Puerto Rico or St. Thomas. These are US territories with favorable tax conditions. In Puerto Rico, the income tax rate is 5%, and you don’t have to pay taxes on capital gains.
Secondly, some countries have restrictions and extra taxes when you move to low-tax places. In those cases, it’s a bright idea to do it in 2 steps. First, become a resident of a different country with higher or medium taxes, live there for a while, and then move to a low-tax country.
For example, if you’re a German citizen, you can’t just move to an offshore place to avoid taxes in Germany. You still have to pay taxes there and maybe even more than before. An option available to you is to move to a country on the whitelist. While you live there, you can rearrange the assets related to Germany and move forward.
The situation is the same for French citizens.
Lastly, you should be aware of the bureaucratic challenges involved. One important requirement is to become a non-resident before you stop paying taxes.
For instance, if you’re a Canadian citizen and decide to move to another country, you still have to pay taxes in Canada unless you prove to tax authorities that you’re a non-resident. This means moving, becoming a taxpayer in the new country, submitting the required documents to the Canadian tax authorities, and filling out an exit tax return. It is only then that you will officially become a non-resident.
Similar requirements exist in countries like South Africa, Australia, and others.
Succeed with setting up a tax-free offshore account by following this procedure
You have 2 choices when it comes to opening an offshore account. They are either doing it in person or remotely. It all depends on your citizenship and tax residency. Don’t forget that offshore accounts are available for individuals and companies alike.
International Wealth experts highly recommend you take advantage of our free consultation service to help you pick the right account. During the consultation, we carefully consider your specific needs and the current market conditions. We’ll provide you with options offering the best chance of success.
Once you’ve made up your mind, you’ll need to gather the necessary documents. These include your passport, correctly filled-out forms, and proof that your funds come from legal sources.
As the next step, the bank will review your application and make a decision. If it’s approved, you’ll become a lucky holder of an offshore bank account.
At International Wealth, we will be happy to assist you with changing your tax residency, either before or after you open an offshore account. As a part of International Wealth services, our experts will help you obtain residency permits, permanent residence, and citizenship in different countries worldwide, along with the tax status that comes with them.
To learn more about the possibilities available to you and to schedule a consultation, please contact us at email@example.com.