Dateline: Vilnius, Lithuania
Before walking in to lunch, I stood in the small park on Vokieciu gatve in Old Town Vilnius, watching the local parking enforcer hand out tickets to cars whose meters had expired.
It’s a funny thing how government works: if anyone else came up to your brand new Volvo, tugged on the handle, took pictures of the inside of the car, and left a demand for money behind, you’d call the… well, you’d call someone.
Rightfully, you’d be upset.
Europe and the USA have become hot spots for government gone wild, yet no one seems to care. While Lithuania lacks the totally draconian government infrastructure that countries like the United States accept as normal, Europe in general has a government problem.
And if you happen to owe money to Spain’s national tax authority, you may have already found that out the hard way.
That’s because your safe deposit box is just the latest thing that is no longer safe from government theft. Spain’s tax authority has begun helping itself to belongings inside the safe deposit boxes of people they believe owe them back taxes.
Now, as much as I find taxes onerous, I encourage people to pay what they owe. The whole purpose of this site is to find legal ways to escape the draconian reach of governments that believe what’s yours is really theirs. There are legal ways to keep your own money without ending up in a cage somewhere.
That said, what Spain is doing shows just how desperate western governments are to get their hands on your money.
As someone who has had a government tax authority help themselves to my own checking account – despite NOT owing them any money – I have to ask just what safeguards are in place for people in Spain who have safe deposit boxes and are believe to owe taxes.
I’ll take a guess: none.
You see, countries like Spain are on a rapid decline. Youth unemployment in Spain exceed 50% in most areas. People can’t find jobs. Taxes are out of control, and forget starting a business there. It’s insane.
Despite the fact that personal income taxes represent more than half of all government revenues in Spain, the country is flat broke. A top income tax rate of 54% isn’t enough to feed their massive social welfare and do-gooding campaign that was born at the expense of successful, hard-working people.
So now the government is ramping up measures to get their hands on private wealth by any means possible. Simply collecting taxes the old fashioned way isn’t enough for them.
The government of Spain – and I believe others will follow – have declared it perfectly reasonable to break into your own personal property and take whatever they please.
Good luck ever getting anything they steal from you back. In The Land of the Free, customs officers are legally allowed to seize any “contraband” going inside or outside of the country, including cash and precious metals. Once the government takes your stuff, it’s nearly impossible to get it, or the equivalent amount of money, back.
Basically, you can’t fight city hall.
People who defend the increasingly draconian measures of Big Government in the USA and Europe will no doubt argue that government agents breaking into your safe deposit box, bank account, or anything else is perfectly reasonable. Some day, they’ll argue that IRS agents should be able to enter your home when you’re gone and help themselves to your flat screen TV or Prada shoes.
That’s because, as I always say, economic freedom is about momentum. Singapore has positive momentum from treating capital well; it’s not going to mess with that.
Meanwhile, the anti-freedom trajectory in the western world is downright scary. Every day, the government is dreaming up more ways to get their hands on your money by hook or by crook.
(But don’t worry about that… Russia is invading a territory 7,000 miles away.)
The Cyprus bank confiscation last year showed just how desperate the governments of the EU are to get themselves off the hook from the economic nightmare they’ve built. They know the party is rapidly coming to an end and will do ANYTHING necessary to make sure they don’t feel the pain they’ve inflicted on everyone else.
If you live in a country with government like this, you need to get your assets out. I’ve long said that the government is the greatest propaganda master on earth. Everything they do and every asset they confiscate is done in the name of “fairness” or “stability”.
It’s no different than Hitler blaming the Jews, Rhodesia blaming the whites to steal their land, or any other government propaganda that used fear to commit atrocities.
When Cyprus shut their own citizens out of their bank accounts for weeks, only to confiscate up to half of peoples’ balances, they didn’t call it “theft”. They called it a “stability levy”.
The government doesn’t believe anything they do is theft. It’s all fair game. In most western countries, they have a majority of the population on their side. No one is going to step up and tell them to stop.
That’s why this latest safe deposit box fiasco is just another reason you need to protect your assets.
If the governments of India and Vietnam can threaten to confiscate gold and the government in China can ban Bitcoin, a government near you can take your gold, your jewelry, or any other valuable to pay what you owe (or what they think you owe, mistaken or not).
The truth is, your safe deposit box isn’t safe in the United States, either. A simple court order is all they need to grab anything they want… if that.
You can already be forced to testify against yourself in certain trials involving tax evasion. Unfortunately, the trend is moving away from needing court orders and toward giving government even more unfettered access to your personal assets.
That’s why many experts counsel Americans to avoid putting many different types of assets in safe deposit boxes to begin with.
In the effort to “fight terrorism”, the Department of Homeland Security has forced banks to open safe deposit boxes for “periodic and unannounced” visits. The same people who stick their hands down your pants before you board your flight have decreed that they may seize any gold, guns, or other assets inside Americans’ safe deposit boxes, with no recourse available to the victim.
You’ll never win against the government. If yours is itching to take your stuff – and if you’re ready this, it probably is – look into offshore options that make it harder for them.
Because it’s only a matter of time before they start stealing everyone’s stuff. One stroke of a pen can make you “owe” them, even if you’ve played by the rules all along. The US government in particular is a fan of retroactive laws that could instantly make you a tax cheat, even if your record is squeaky clean.
Holding gold and valuables offshore, owning foreign real estate, and using offshore trusts are good legal ways to lessen or eliminate your risk of a rogue government helping themselves to anything they want.
The April edition of The Nomad Society will include a 70-minute interview I did with my trusted expert on offshore corporations and trusts, which are one legal way to protect your assets in safer jurisdictions. Sign up now to get access to this highly actionable interview, plus nearly twenty hours of video on asset protection and internationalization.