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Andrew Henderson

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The coming offshore tax haven blacklist

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Dateline: Valencia, Spain

Shortly following the release of the Panama Papers, I saw an article discussing the response of many leaders in the EU to the historic data leak. The finance ministers in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain declared their intent to create a blacklist of tax havens, like Panama, that refuse to share corporate registry data.

The list, of course, would be used to justify sanctions on uncooperative countries in an effort to fight tax evasion and increase the money in their own country’s coffers.

Now, you probably haven’t heard much in the news lately about the Panama Papers, but whether it’s the Panama Papers or some other type of “breaking news” about offshore tax havens, it all boils down to one thing: trajectory.

The news is just an indicator of where things are headed nowadays. And things are headed toward becoming systematically harder in about every way possible.

Immigration in most countries is becoming harder.

Opening a bank account is getting systematically harder.

Starting a business (in far too many countries) is getting harder.

Now, as I’ve said before, when one offshore door closes, another one opens. There’s always some country signing up for the wealth and development that comes with foreign investment. Just realize which countries are on that list.

As I referenced back in 2013, the Gambia is now trying to become an international financial center. But no one is going to accept your Gambia company when you apply for a bank account. Is that something you’re comfortable with?

And even if you are comfortable incorporating your business in a country where the president has promised to slit the throat of every homosexual, there are many countries that won’t be comfortable with your choice.

Countries already on a tax haven blacklist

There are already many countries that have blacklisted tax havens around the world.

Turkey simply decided to ignore that tax haven countries even exist. To them, Belize is not a country. Colombia has done the same thing to Panama. If you’re a Colombian working or investing in Panama, you’re going to have to pay double tax because Panama — to them — is not a real country anymore.

I’ve even seen banks in Europe — banks that have even opened their banks back up to Americans — that refuse to take certain companies that are set up in traditional tax havens.

The British Virgin Islands and other Caribbean tax havens are coming to an end; Seychelles in Africa has its own problems with a terrible banking infrastructure; then there are the Belize companies that are a mess just in and of themselves.

In that sense, these traditional tax havens that western leaders are so keen on placing on their tax haven blacklist have two main problems:

The first is that they are easy targets for Big Governments. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the US government to go into Belize and present a John Doe summons and demand information on every client who could be an American. That kind of bullying rattles the whole sector, banking screeches to a halt and everything is in bad shape.

This leads to the second problem, which is that such a shaking of the industry makes the companies less appealing. Not only can you not bank in Belize anymore, but you can’t really go and get a bank account anywhere else with your Belize company, either.

New developments, but more of the same

Recently, one of my private banker friends from Abu Dhabi in the UAE messaged me, asking if I’d seen that another bank had just lost their correspondence license for US dollars. Bank of America had shut them down and they no longer have permission to do business in US dollars.

My friend Peter Schiff’s bank — Euro Pacific Bank — is a good bank, but you cannot bank in US dollars there, either. In reality, you can’t be paid or bank in US currencies unless you play by their rules. It’s their money, so they get the final say in which financial institutions can use it. If they don’t like the way a banking system is set up in Country XYZ, they have no qualms with severing ties.

But this is nothing new.

The offshore tax haven blacklist has already been underway for some time. The Panama Papers and other developments like it are only intensifying what was already in the works. This just gives more and more of these countries a new excuse to make things harder.

And that’s exactly what a tax haven blacklist will accomplish. They won’t make banking or setting up a company in one of these countries illegal, just harder.

As I predicted, they haven’t established a universal law stating that you can’t bank in Belize (or any one of these countries); they’ve simply gone down to Belize — behind the scenes — and made it so difficult to bank or do anything in the country that it’s unpalatable and sometimes plain impossible for you to go there

Is this the end of tax havens?

So does this mean that it’s time to give up? Will the reach of Big Government extend so far that it doesn’t matter where you go in search of freedom?

Fortunately, the answer is “No!”

There are still ways that you can set up your company, your banking, and your life so that you don’t have to be under the thumb of a socialist government convinced that your hard-earned money is theirs.

There are convenient, but intriguing set-ups that are legal that you can use to live free, even now.

And, yes, I said legal.

Sure, there are probably still some countries where you could get away with cutting corners, but you don’t want to do that. I recently spoke to someone in Turkey who was open with the fact that he had some companies in a country where he could move this and that around and nobody really paid attention; but guess what, if you’re reading my site, then that’s not you.

You’ve got to be compliant.

Following the law is a good thing. (Especially in a day and age when even small countries can buy spyware for $100,000). I wouldn’t break the law in 2016. After all, if you end up in jail, what kind of life of freedom will you be living then?

This is all why you’ve increasingly got to be on top of what you’re doing.

Advice from blogs simply won’t cut it. Everyone out there will tell you about how you need to get a Hong Kong company with a Hong Kong bank account when Hong Kong doesn’t even want your business in their banks anymore. We’ve talked about this before.

The world is changing and that means that doing business offshore is evolving as well.

Even so, you can still design an offshore strategy and get the best of both worlds. If you are ready to set up your Plan B, apply for a free Strategy Call and we can discuss the legal options available to you for creating a life of greater freedom.


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