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Tax Engineering

What does offshore mean?


Question

What does offshore mean? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of moving funds there?

Answer

Offshore can be defined as a list of tax free countries or countries where taxes are replaced by a fixed quota imposed by the government of extraterritorial jurisdiction, are also known contemptuously as tax havens.  

The financial term offshore means "outside the fiscal residence of the natural person". Any person can legally set up a company or open a bank account in an offshore financial center. Are there disadvantages in offshore? The answer is yes. If a perfect tax planning is not carried out, the final beneficiary may have problems with the tax authorities since it would not be an evasion of taxes, but a tax evasion. You have to study the fiscal structure very well to avoid having problems or fiscal misinterpretations. When we talk about offshore bank accounts and companies, we are referring to investments made outside of the fiscal residence of the client that may be subject to paying more or less taxes. You may have heard the term "offshore" in relation to the investment or some type of insurance, but the financial meaning is any type of investment, such as a bank account, incorporation of a partnership, collective investment or insurance product outside of the fiscal residence of an individual or company.

The main advantages are the following:  

  • There are no taxes: VAT, rent, inheritance, or property taxes. 
  • Offshore companies can operate all over the world. 
  • They can be used as a protection against lawsuits. 
  • There is no discrimination by nationality. 
  • There is no currency exchange control. 

The main disadvantages are the following:  

  • Bad reputations that tax havens have. 
  • Bank fees are usually higher than of those in offshore. 
  • Depending on where the investor is located, the offshore jurisdiction may be closer or further. 

Not all offshore centers are the same and some financial centers have limited financial security and regulations. However others provide financial protection that is as good or even better than that of the major global financial centers.

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