Offshore Tax Minimization Using a UK Company

The UK is considered by many professional tax planners to be an Offshore Tax Haven for non-UK nationals, and the “best kept secret in Offshore Financial Planning”.

 

Before we discuss the various features and advantages of using UK companies in international asset and offshore tax planning, readers and users must be reminded that all UK companies are liable to UK Corporation Tax (CT) on all sources of income and capital gains. That means UK companies are subject to CT on their worldwide income.

 

All UK companies are deemed to be tax resident in UK. However, with proper advice and planning, a UK company can function as tax-efficiently as an IBC from a nil-tax Offshore Jurisdiction.

 

POTENTIAL ADVANTAGES OF A UK CORPORATION

 

The following is a summary of the core attractions of using a UK company in Offshore Tax Planning.

 

Tax Treaty Network

 

The UK has the largest network of double tax treaties (over 100) in the world rendering UK companies a very efficient vehicle for minimizing withholding taxes on dividends received.

 

In some cases, if the UK company owns at least 10% of the share capital of an overseas company, the rate of withholding tax experienced on non-UK dividends can fall to nil or as little as 5% of the gross dividend.

 

The UK company can also benefit from the EU Parent/Subsidiary Directive, whereby withholding taxes on intra-EU dividends is eliminated altogether.

 

The following are the rates of withholding tax on dividends, royalties and interest paid to a UK parent company from various jurisdictions. In all cases, use of a UK company avoids the domestic rate.

 

COUNTRIES                Dividends           Royalties          Interest         Domestic Rate

China                               Nil                        10%                    5%                     33%

New Zealand                 15%                     10%                    10%                   30%

EU Countries                 Nil                         Nil                       Nil             About 25%

Singapore                      Nil                          10%                   10%                  15%

United States                5%                        Nil                        Nil                    30%

 

 

Low Cost of Maintenance of a UK Company

Although the costs of maintaining UK companies cannot be compared with the cost of maintaining IBCs, they are amongst the lowest in developed jurisdictions with comparable reputation, international respectability and protection.

 

Share Capital

There is no minimum paid up share capital requirement and no capital tax on authorized or issued shares.

 

Audit of Accounts

There is no audit requirement for companies with turnover below GBP1,000,000 AND net assets of less than GBP1,400,000, unless the company is part of a larger qualifying group.

 

Ease of Establishment

Shelf companies are available. If required, tailor-made companies can be set up within 24 hours.

 

International Respectability and Protection

UK companies are often used to acquire assets in certain foreign locations to minimize risks of expropriation by foreign governments.

 

TAX ADVANTAGES

 

(a) Reduced corporate tax rates–Profits of GBP10,000 or less are tax free. The next GBP40,000 are taxed at a rate equivalent to 23.75%. Profits between GBP50,001 and GBP300,000 are taxed at the “small companies rate” of 19%. Profits in excess of GBP300,000 are taxed at a rate equivalent to 32.75%. Profit in excess of GBP1,500,000 are taxed at the standard rate of 30% on the whole profits. Note that pure investment companies cannot benefit from the small companies rate.

 

(b) Exemption from capital gains tax on disposal of shareholding in a trading group– tax exemption is available for capital gains from the disposal of substantial shareholdings” (shareholdings of 10% or more) in a trading group.

 

(c) There is a qualifying shareholding period of 12 months. The disposal should not result in the UK company ceasing to be a member of a trading group.

 

(d) The exemption from capital gains tax from the disposal of ‘substantial shareholdings’ also applies to sole trading companies, provided they own at least 10% of another company.

 

(e) Exemption from Capital Gains Tax on disposal of assets situated in the UK by non-residents –The selling of a UK holding company’s shares does not attract any tax in the UK.

 

(f) Tax on dividends and royalty–There is no withholding tax on dividends received from other companies and companies in EU countries if the EC Parent/Subsidiary Directive applies. On distribution by UK companies of dividends to shareholders, there is no withholding tax on such dividends payable to non-resident shareholders. With proper planning, there is no withholding tax on royalty payments made by a UK company to a foreign shareholder.

 

(g) Losses carried forward and backward–Company losses can be set off against income from the previous year or carried forward for many years against profits of the same trade.

 

(h) Various relief is available on tax on foreign dividends received–Various credits and deductions are available for UK companies receiving foreign dividends to set off against their liabilities to UK corporation tax, as follows:

 

  • Non-UK withholding taxes paid on dividends received by the UK company, and foreign taxes paid on profits from which the dividends are paid can be set off against UK corporation tax liabilities provided the UK company owns not less than 10% of the share capital of the dividend-paying company. Therefore in cases where the UK company owns a 10% stake in an overseas company, foreign taxes incurred on overseas trading profits are fully deductible against corporation tax in the UK.
  • Foreign tax paid in excess of UK corporation tax, with certain limitations, can be surrendered between group companies (pooling arrangements).
  • Foreign tax paid in excess of UK corporation tax, can with certain limitations, be carried forward indefinitely or carried back to be used in the three immediately preceding years.
  • Alternatively, foreign tax can be deducted as an expense in arriving at the foreign income or capital gain liable to UK corporation tax. This will be advantageous if no UK taxes are payable, say, because of the tax losses carried forward from previous years.

 

Tax Sparing

Taxes may sometimes be forgiven by a developing country to foreign investors in order to attract investment into the country. That is, the tax rate applicable to a foreign investor will be less than the tax rate for locals. To encourage UK corporations to invest in developing countries, the UK has entered into tax treaties with “tax sparing” clauses under which taxes forgiven by the developing countries will be treated as actually paid. Amongst the 30 countries, the most important for Asians are China, Singapore, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain, and Thailand.

 

The follow is an example to illustrate the operation of the clause:-

Foreign subsidiary’s profit                                                                                 100

Foreign corporation tax payable, calculated according to local tax rate   35

Less: Full exemption by foreign government                                                   35

Tax payable                                                                                                          Nil

 

UK Corporation tax computation:

World-wide profits                                            100

Corporation tax at 30%                                     30

Less: Foreign tax paid (deemed to be paid) 35

Tax payable                                                      NIL

 

EXAMPLE OF THE USE OF A UK HOLDING COMPANY: 

 

                                                         Seychelles Company

 

                                                        UK Holding Company

 

              EU Trading Company “A”                              Mauritius Trading Company “M”

 

                                                  China Manufacturing Company

 

In the above example:

 

  • For trading company A situated in the EU, the UK holding company can benefit from the EC Parent Subsidiary Directive and there are no withholding taxes on payment of dividends to UK company.
  • For Mauritius trading company M, the effective tax rate is 3% (or 80 % tax credit on 15% income tax)
  • Withholding tax on payment of dividends to UK company is 10%, utilizing the Double Tax Treaty between Mauritius and the UK.
  • Withholding tax on payment of dividends to UK company by the China Company is Nil. China company pays 15% of tax on its profits. However, the official rate is 33%. When these dividends are received by the UK company, they are chargeable to UK tax. However, relief is given for all underlying tax paid in EU on profits, from which dividends are paid and for the official tax payable (in full rate of 15% and 33%) in Mauritius and China respectively The resulting tax credit will leave little or no UK tax liability.
  • Dividends from the UK company can be paid to the Seychelles company without any withholding tax.
  • There is no capital gains tax on the disposal by the UK company of shareholdings in any of its subsidiaries, provided that the UK company owns the subsidiaries for over one year and the disposal does not result in the UK company ceasing to be part of a trading group. Even if, on a disposal, the UK company ceases to be a member of a trading group, with appropriate tax planning the gains can remain tax exempt in the UK.
  • Dividends received by the Seychelles company do not attract any income tax in the Seychelles.

 

Local conditions can impact on the use of such a structure. Hence UK & domestic legal, financial and tax advice should be sought prior to committing to embark on such a venture.

 

 

Ownership Flexibility Using Discretionary Foundations

For most clients looking to defer tax on Offshore earnings the preferred solution is to have one’s Tax Free Offshore Company owned by an Offshore Private Foundation wherein the client + his/her spouse/family are named as beneficiaries.

 

But for clients who are either:

 

(a ) concerned about potential tax consequences that may arise onshore from being named as an immediate beneficiary; or

 

(b) wanting as much privacy as possible

 

there is a solution.

 

The solution is to set up a Discretionary Hybrid Foundation. That is a Foundation which can (a) benefit both a charity and natural persons and (b) which can, utilizing the Councillor’s “discretion”, change beneficiaries at any time.

 

Typically what the client does is (a) he/she nominates a tax free International Charity to be the beneficiary in the first instance and (b) he /she provides the Foundation Council with a Letter of Wishes setting out guidelines as to how and when in the future the client’s spouse/family might be substituted as beneficiaries.

 

I know of a client who set up one of these dual structures and then ten years later shifted his tax residence to a country that didn’t have income or capital gains tax. Once he’d moved the Foundation beneficiary was changed from a Charity to the client… whereafter the client promptly drew down the capital from/of the structure all of which was receipted/ banked tax free!

 

To change the beneficiary of a Foundation is easy. Here’s the steps:

 

1. You send the Council:

(a) a written request (called a Letter of Wishes) addressed to the Councillor advising who you want added as a beneficiary and why

(b) proof of ID and residential address as regards the new beneficiary

 

2. The Foundation Council then passes a Council resolution authorising a change.

 

3. The regulations get amended to note the new beneficiary.

 

4. The register of beneficiaries (usually stored at the Foundation’s registered Office) gets amended to note the changes

 

Local condition can have an impact. Hence you should always, before enacting such a plan, seek local legal/tax/financial advice.

 

 

How To Use an IBC 4 High Seas Workers

Nil tax Offshore Companies are commonly used by persons working as Ship Captains or on Offshore Oil Rigs as a private, tax effective way of collecting payment for services rendered.

 

Generally speaking how it works is as follows:

 

  1. You set up a nil tax Company “IBC”).
  2. The Company ideally should be set up with a Nominee Director and Nominee Shareholder as part of the Corporate structure so that, for tax purposes, the Company is seen to be managed and controlled from offshore (because a Company seen to be managed and controlled from Onshore can be taxed onshore)
  3. The Company enters into a contract with your current employers for the provision of services. The agreement will need to be carefully worded to ensure that several things are catered for including:

(a)   That you are able to perform the work on behalf of the Company

(b)   That the situs of the agreement as stated in the Contract is somewhere “Offshore” – from the IBC’s perspective the source of the income must be the contract itself not your labours. Hence the bargain will need to be seen to be struck and the contract signed Offshore ie in a nil tax environment.

4. Income received by the IBC will be received/banked free of tax in the first instance.

5. The IBC will contract or employ you. Ideally the IBC should pay you just enough to cover your living expenses. Whatever it pays you if you are working in territorial waters (eg UK waters, Norwegian waters etc) you may need to declare and pay tax on that money onshore. The remainder of the income can be held and or reinvested Offshore potentially tax free.

6. If you are considered resident for tax purposes (ie liable to pay tax) in a country which has CFC laws (see below which explains what CFC laws are) you would be wise to include a Foundation as part of the Corporate Structure. See below “Why Set up a Foundation” for more info. (FYI most developed countries have CFC laws)

 

People in the Shipping/Offshore Oil Rig industries are often attached to and hired out by an Employment Agency. If you want your Offshore Company set-up to look as commercially realistic as possible you might want to characterize the IBC as an Employment Agency (eg when you incorporate your IBC you might want to name it something like “International Oil Rig Recruitment Services Ltd” or “International Ship Captain Recruitment Services Ltd.”). See below “How To Use an IBC as a Recruitment Agency or Labor Hire Company” fmi.

 

What is a Controlled Foreign Corporation Law?

 

A Controlled Foreign Corporation (or CFC) Law is one which purports to tax onshore income or capital gains made by Companies incorporated Offshore but which are controlled from onshore.

 

Essentially how a CFC law works is if an individual owns or has the capacity to own the overriding majority of shares in an Offshore Company (the percentage of which varies from country to country) the that person is required to declare in his local tax return profits made by the Offshore Company.

 

How CFC laws came about was around 30 years ago the big western countries began to realise that certain of their citizens were using nil tax Offshore companies to avoid having to pay tax at home on their non-local sourced (ie international) income. In particular the CFC laws target the use of Nominee Shareholders and Directors. If you live in a country which has CFC laws (regardless of whether you are the director/shareholder of the Company or not) if you have the capacity to own and control the company by reference to shareholdings then you would be required to declare and pay tax at home on your Offshore Company’s earnings.

 

There are several ways to get around CFC laws. Historically clients used commonly to deploy an Offshore (Discretionary) Trust to own the shares of the Offshore Company. However with more and more “Onshore” tax systems claiming tax from any Trust with an onshore resident beneficiary discerning clients these days choose to establish Private Foundations (in particular Seychelles Foundations) as the ultimate holding entity as such entities should not caught by CFC laws or by CFT (Controlled Foreign Trust) Laws. For more detail click on these links:

 

http://offshoreincorporate.com/private-interest-foundations/

 

http://offshoreincorporate.com/seychelles-foundations/

 

http://offshoreincorporate.com/seychelles-foundations-fact-sheet/

 

Why set up a Foundation?

 

If an IBC alone is used you will still be liable to declare and pay tax at home on your IBC’s earnings if/when you live in a country which has a Controlled Foreign Corporation (“CFC) law. Failure to so declare in many countries would constitute tax evasion.

 

What you might do then is set up a Private Interest Foundation to own the shares of the Offshore Company.

 

Offshore Trusts used to widely used for such purposes back in the noughties but the problem there is that you have someone (ie a Trustee) holding property for the benefit of 3rd parties who are inarguably beneficial owners of that property and probably/potentially entitled to the income/capital of the Trust (which can have tax consequences onshore).

 

A Foundation is very similar to a Trust in that it’s set up by a Founder (like a Settlor in the case of a Trust) and managed day to day by a Councillor (like a Trustee in the case of a Trust) who manages the Foundation property for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the Foundation. A key advantage of a Foundation is that it’s a separate legal entity in its own right (ie the Foundation actually owns the assets held by the Foundation – unlike a Trustee who holds property for someone else ie the beneficiaries) and generally speaking the beneficiaries are not entitled to the income or capital of the Foundation until it’s actually received.

 

What this means as a beneficiary is that you should be able to defer paying tax at home on the income of investments held by the Foundation enabling you to reinvest 100% of that income not just the after tax component. (One jurisdiction ie Seychelles has even taken this a step further by specifically stating in their law that the legal and beneficial owner of any asset held by the Foundation is the Foundation itself).

 

Seychelles Foundations

 

If you are a resident or citizen of a country which has the ability to track Offshore Bank account beneficiary details and you would like to keep private details of your Offshore earnings (or if you plan to set up a very sensitive business eg one that might illegal if owned/operated from where you live) again a Seychelles Foundation can help:

 

How so?

 

It all comes back to the legal structure/operation of the Seychelles Private Interest Foundation.

 

Bottom line is notwithstanding that individuals (or a class of beneficiary) may be named as beneficiaries in the Regulations:

 

  1. The beneficiaries have no legal or beneficial interest in property owned by the Foundation (unless or until such time as that property is transferred to them – per section 71 of the Seychelles Foundations Act).
  2. The Foundation is a legal entity in its own right not a mere Trustee (Per section 23)
  3. The Councillor of the Foundation owes no Fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries (Per section 63)

 

As such there is no “beneficial owner” of the Foundation. The beneficial owner of any property/asset owned or held by the Foundation is the Foundation itself.

 

How To Use an IBC As A Recruitment Agency or Labor Hire Company

 

Given we are now living in the Global Village, and as more opportunities exist now than even before for qualified professionals and trades/skilled persons to work as Consultants to (or to take up contracts offered by) non-local Companies, more and more clients are setting up (and hiring out their services via) a nil tax jurisdiction based Recruitment Agency or Labour Hire Company.

 

It might work something like this:

 

  1. You would incorporate a new company which might be called something like International Professional Recruitment Services Ltd  (hereinafter, “IPRS Ltd” or the “Employment Agent”)
  2. This business would be characterized as and appear to the outside world to be a Professional Recruitment Agency or a (Specialist) Labour Hire Company
  3. You would tell anyone who wants to hire you eg your existing employers (or contract counterparty if you are on a contract) that, as IPRS Ltd can offer you (a) consistent employment + (b) jobs the world over, and as they are experts in finding contracts for your Profession/Trade/Occupation, you are contracted exclusively to IPRS Ltd and anyone who wants to hire you has to sign an agreement with, and must pay, IPRS Ltd.
  4. Your existing employers (or contract counterparty if you are on a contract), assuming they wish to keep you employed/engaged, would then have to sign a labour hire agreement with IPRS Ltd.
  5. Your existing employers (or contract counterparty if you are on a contract) would thereafter pay your wages (or contract fees as applicable) to IPRS Ltd.
  6. IPRS Ltd would keep a percentage of these payments as Agency commission (it would be anywhere from 2.5% to 50%).
  7. The remainder of monies (ie after IPRS Ltd has retained its agency commission) would be paid to you by IPRS Ltd
  8. The monies received by IPRS Ltd should be receipted free of tax and could be held and or invested Offshore potentially tax free.

 

For the above to work the agreement between your employers (and the agreement between you) and IPRS Ltd would need to be (and be seen to be) commercially realistic.

 

As always local conditions can impact on your ability to deploy such a structure as described above. Hence local legal, tax and financial advice should be sought before embarking on any such venture.

 

 

 

Managing an Offshore Foundation (or Trust) via Letters of Wishes

Offshore Foundations and Offshore Trusts are similar in that each is:

 

(a) set up by one person (in the case of a Trust a “Settlor”, in the case of a Foundation, a “Founder”)

(b) managed by a 2nd person (in the case of a Trust a “Trustee”, in the case of a Foundation, a “Councillor”)

(c) for the benefit of a 3rd group of persons (ie the beneficiaries).

 

It is usual at the time a Foundation (or Trust) is established, and at certain key junctures (see below), for the Founder of the Foundation (or Settlor of the Trust as the case may be) to provide the Trustees/Councillors with a Letter of Wishes with regard to the administration of the Foundation/Trust.

 

What is a Letter of Wishes?

 

A Letter of Wishes to is an important document, particularly in the case of a Discretionary Foundation/Trust,  as it is effectively your instructions to the Trustee/Foundation Council as to how you would like your Trust/Foundation to be administered (and/or funds/capital to be distributed) particularly after your death.

 

The following points should be considered when completing Letters of Wishes:

 

  1. As opposed to a Will, the Trustees/Foundation Councillor/s usually have a discretion as to who shall benefit from the Trust/Foundation. The Trustee/Councillors will need guidance in this respect.

 

  1. Although a written Letter of Wishes is not binding upon the Trustees/Councillor/s, they would be expected to give careful consideration to the wishes of the Settlor/Founder. As a matter of Law if a/the request as set out in a Letter of Wishes is in the best of the beneficiary/ies the Trustee/Councillor/s should act on the said Letter of Wishes.

 

  1. The Settlor/Founder should remind the Trustees/Councillor/s as to the reasons for setting up the Trust/Foundation and generally who is to benefit. Often at the commencement of the Trust/Foundation it will be the needs of the Settlor/Founder that will be paramount and such wishes should be expressed including a statement as to whether or not assets personally owned are to be considered when the Trustees/Councillors are considering “needs”.

 

  1. On the death of the Settlor/Founder (or the survivor of the Settlor/Founder), mention should be made of who then is to benefit. If children are to have priority, is equality to be maintained or is recognition to be given to an individual’s special circumstances and needs?

 

  1. Is education to be a priority for the children? And if so, what type of education would the Settlor/Founder like to see preferred? For example, private as opposed to public and the option of tertiary and post-tertiary education and at what sort of institutes? Is assistance to be given to children to enable them to buy or build homes or provide support in careers or business activities?

 

  1. At what point should the Settlor/Founder be giving consideration to partial or total distribution to the beneficiaries and is resettlement of a child’s notional share of the Trust/Foundation estate on to another Foundation or Trust for the benefit of that child and his or her direct lineal descendants allowed or appropriate?

 

  1. In carrying out any of the Settlor/Founder’s wishes with regard to the children are the Trustees/Councillors to confer with any particular child to ascertain that child’s wishes?

 

  1. In the case of death or incapacity of a child, are the needs of that child’s children to be considered?

 

  1. Are there specific circumstances relating to a beneficiary such as a drug or gambling addiction which need to be included in the Letter of Wishes?

 

  1. Has the Settlor/Founder any particular thoughts as to the need to keep the Letter of Wishes, or any part of the Letter of Wishes, confidential?

 

It should be noted that a Letter or Statement of Wishes is a document of a confidential nature (which in the right setup should also be protected by legal professional privilege) and therefore not capable of disclosure.
A Letter of Wishes should not only be in place at the outset but should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated where necessary to record if there is any change in the circumstances of any of the beneficiaries of the Trustee/Foundation or special needs which must be met.

 

When a certain beneficiary/s is in need of financial assistance it is also appropriate that a Letter of Wishes be provided at the time to the Trustees/Councillors putting the case for why a Distribution should be paid to that person or persons.

 

 

Why (& How To) Bank Offshore?

Having an offshore account is a fundamental step in diversifying yourself internationally. It is an excellent way to protect yourself from sovereign risk, currency risk, and more.

 

It’s especially important in today’s environment where governments will find any excuse – from terrorism to money laundering to economic downturn – to impose de facto capital controls. Having a portion of your assets out of your home country makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for your home government to freeze or confiscate your assets.

 

There are a number of important factors to consider when opening your Offshore Account.

These include:

• The Offshore jurisdiction’s openness to foreigners

• Taxation of interest income

• Range of services including currency options

• Stability of the Offshore jurisdiction

• Deposit insurance

 

Let’s take deposit insurance. In places like the United States or the European Union, deposit insurance is almost an afterthought. (Unless, of course, you’re a small European country needing a bail-out and thought to be holding money for the Russian mob – then you’re in trouble).

 

However, each Offshore Banking Jurisdiction has its own bank insurance policy that you should examine before opening an account. Places like Singapore take an attitude that deposit insurance is somewhat of a moral hazard and have much lower insurance maximums than other developed countries.

 

Singapore, for one, also does not insure deposits in foreign currencies, which again matches their goal of protecting smaller, domestic depositors who need the money, not foreigners looking to diversify their assets.

 

While most of the developed world does insure bank deposits, a few Offshore Jurisdictions do not. Andorra, for example, has a deposit insurance scheme which is hard to understand and it is unclear how the fund would actually repay depositors of a failed bank.

 

Of course, you should again evaluate the stability and history of any Offshore Banking Centre where you plan to put your money to make sure you won’t get Cyprus-ed in the future (For those of you who aren’t aware Cyprus passed a law a year or two back authorizing the Cyprus government to seize a sizeable percentage of all funds held in Cyprus Banks).

 

Many Offshore jurisdictions worldwide are open to accepting foreign customers, although some have many hoops you must jump through. An unfortunate part of the global “war on terror” is the OECD’s heightened “Know Your Customer” requirements, (which means it takes longer now to open an Offshore Account  than what it used to).

 

Some Offshore banks, require you to visit them to open your account (eg Hong Kong Banks, Singaporean Banks and most Swiss Banks). However, there are plenty of Offshore Banks that open accounts remotely.

 

Along those lines, an important consideration to make is which type of Offshore Bank you feel most comfortable with.

 

You may prefer a more liquid, local bank over a huge multi-national. It should also be considered that it may be easier for your government agency, court, or plaintiff’s lawyer in your home country to access funds in a bank which maintains a presence there: It will be easier to get the “Offshore” Bank to hand over your funds if the bank also does business in your home country and could be sanctioned for not doing as they’re told.

 

Another important factor is taxation. While many International Offshore Financial Centers boast a territorial tax system (ie where income earned outside the jurisdiction isn’t subject to tax), income earned in their banks certainly meets the “local source” test. Some of these jurisdictions do tax interest, others do not. Those that do tax interest may require a local tax ID number to be obtained and/or a return to be filed.

 

Finally, you should consider the range of services each Offshore Bank offers. If you are moving money to another jurisdiction to avoid sovereign risk, you may well want to hold your foreign deposits in another currency.

 

Obviously, each country has its own currency which will be the default currency that most people there hold their assets in. You may or may not be comfortable holding your deposit in that currency, however, and may want to choose a bank that offers an array of currencies to choose from. The good news is most, if not all, “Offshore” Banks offer multi-currency accounts (ie the ability to hold monies in a range of currencies).

 

When opening an Offshore account in a foreign currency, you should consider the stability of the currency, its exchange rate history, and other factors that may come in the future. A number of countries are looking to devalue their currencies, which you should take into account.

 

For example, is the currency backed by resources in the country? Is it pegged to another currency?

 

The Hong Kong dollar, for instance, is pegged to a tight range of the US dollar. However, some commentators believe that the Hong Kong authorities will be forced to re-peg the value against the dollar, causing an immediate change in value, or peg it to the Chinese yuan. You should do your homework to understand any currency you choose to hold your assets in.

 

At the same time, foreign currencies whose countries haven’t set interest rates at zero may also offer higher interest rates. Many emerging Offshore Banking jurisdictions offer high – even sky high – interest rates out of need for foreign capital and to generate an ability to loan money at uber-usurious rates. Places like Australia simply haven’t joined the global race to the bottom because they haven’t needed to. But again, always do your homework.

 

The media and government want you to believe international banking is illegal. It’s not. Millions of expats from around the world live outside their home country and maintain bank accounts in their places of residence.

 

You, too, can achieve global diversification and take advantage of a better banking environment elsewhere in the world. For many, it’s amazing to think that a number of Offshore Banking Centres have never experienced a bank failure in their history (and many haven’t had one for decades). Suffice it to say you can hedge against this risk also by holding Offshore Accounts at several different Offshore Banks.

 

Offshore Banking (particularly when funds are held by a tailor designed Offshore Corporate structure) and multi-currency accounts are a great way to protect yourself against sovereign risk (ie the risk of government confiscating your money), predatory law suits (ie Courts in your home country ordering you to hand over your money) and sudden currency devaluations (as happened recently in Switzerland when the Swiss Franc was devalued significantly overnight).

 

As always speak to your tax adviser and or your lawyer before committing to embark on such an endeavor.