Dateline: Port Vila, Vanuatu
We’re visiting the Pacific Private Bank here in Vanuatu and meeting with several experts this week, interested to get a feel for the opportunities here. And while we’re waiting, we geek out on international investment magazines rather than sitting on the beach like normal people.
The Pacific Private Bank has been in business for twenty years, serving as a remote outpost to park money free from taxes and the risks associated with insolvent banks in the west. Today, the bank still retains 100% of depositors’ cash on hand in a country that isn’t quite sure how to get set up to share its customer’s tax information with other countries.
We’ve previously said that “onshore is the new offshore”. For non-US citizens, Vanuatu is still an OK place for a “Plan B” bank. However, regardless of how well Pacific Private Bank or other offshore banks may be managed, the deck is stacked against banks in Vanuatu in the long term as larger countries like Australia apply pressure on them.
The old school tax havens are dying as a result of increased tax enforcement from big countries desperate to raise revenue.
One day most of the United Kingdom believed it would survive a vote to leave the European Union. The next day, they woke up to find a bite taken out of their global wealth and their future uncertain.
This is what “going where you’re treated best” is all about: being prepared, no matter what happens. As much as everyone says “we never saw it coming, we believe the writing was on the wall”.
Today’s trends are clear.
The world is becoming increasingly nationalistic.
Banking secrecy and corporate secrecy are relics of the past.
“Show and tell” has replaced “hide and seek” (and was always the law to begin with).
The world is becoming more transparent, and in a weird sense, increasingly uninterested.
That doesn’t mean that you still can’t pay far less in taxes, or even pay absolutely zero. For the time being, places like here in Vanuatu remain tax havens offering paper residency to those willing to leave their home country.
This does, however, require some reading of the tea leaves.
It’s now clear that the stuff we thought “could never happen” clearly CAN happen. Anyone who isn’t prepared is merely choosing to be ignorant.
Imagine, for example, if the many Brits who spent much of their year sunning their buns in the south of Spain before Brexit had taken the time to become residents and work toward a second passport. Those who did the work in advance could be European Union citizens now, rather than desperately searching sites like this for “quick and cheap EU passports”.
Anyone who has done even basic research knows that offshore companies in tax havens like Vanuatu have long fallen out of favor as ideal business setups. Now, banking in tax havens is beginning to fall out of favor.
The average man on the street might think that the death of banking on tiny islands in the middle of the ocean would mean the end of legal tax savings, just as he might think the rising price of economic citizenship programs means the average business owner can’t get an affordable second passport.
But that’s not true. You can still get an affordable second passport, and Nomad Capitalist will make sure to serve you well by strategizing and catering to your actual needs and wants instead of throwing some cheap options your way for a one-size-fits-all.
The so-called “wealthy” countries of the world are largely broke and need to raise revenue in any way they can. Rather than making tough political changes, they will simply raise revenue through wealth taxes and chase down the “traitors” who move overseas. It’s quite possible, for instance, that another Tier A passport country will institute citizenship-based taxation in our lifetimes.
Given the recent changes in the industry though, countries are being pressured to cancel their Citizenship by Investment programs altogether. This means it’s time to explore programs abroad before it’s too late.
It’s still possible to reduce taxes, move a business offshore, and increase your freedom with affordable “Plan B” citizenships with the right planning customized to your life.
The rules and the processes are constantly changing. If you’re relying on outdated information from blogs written five years ago, or what your friend did ten years ago, your offshore plans will likely not end well.
The “nomad” part of Nomad Capitalist means accepting change. It would be unreasonable to expect that the same bank would serve you for your entire life, whether you live and die in the United States, or whether you lead a more International life.
These trends are visible to anyone who follows this stuff as we do, and as the folks here in Vanuatu do.
There are still great opportunities here in Vanuatu for the right people, from banking to a second residency to specific investment projects I’m exploring.
However, the playbook has changed.
On the positive side, citizenships like Vanuatu’s are increasing in value, with more and more countries getting visa-free access to Europe and elsewhere. Meanwhile, new zero-tax and low-tax onshore havens are opening up to entrepreneurs and investors.
Not everyone will tell you that. But it takes proper knowledge, planning, and strategizing to be able to deliver.
We sit down with government officials, plan around the loopholes, and customize it to your life. Feel free to reach out.
It’s Time to Go Overseas
Your offshore plan must have room for change, and room for growth. Today’s London may be tomorrow’s Berlin. We try to plan ten years in advance to not only give ourselves as many opportunities as possible but to limit the downside and protect ourselves from risk.
Having citizenship by investment from Dominica or Antigua can be your ticket to renounce US citizenship and remove the IRS from your life, but having citizenship by investment alone is probably not the best long-term plan as nationalism grows and the pressure to pay tax grows.
What we’ve found is that your offshore plan doesn’t just need a strategy; it needs a STORY. A story of who you are, what you do, and why you are doing it. The old store of banking in Vanuatu, having a business in the BVI, and becoming St. Kittsian to leave the United States is one that worked in the past, but won’t work much longer.
You can stack together a bunch of shiny objects, but eventually, you’ll find that most of your time is being spent shoving square pegs into round holes.
Each step of your offshore plan should not only work together as part of a cohesive story but should be created with future trends in mind, all of which serve you. By seeing where the world is going, you can craft a plan and a story that will serve you long into the future.
To do that, you have to let go of what used to work and embrace what is working today.