A lot of people these days offer products for sale on Amazon.
Such a business lends itself well to an “Offshore” Corporate Structuring Plan.
Let’s look at atypical example…
In this example the client sells Jewelry online via Amazon.
How it works is:
• Any jewelry you want to manufacture/sell should be manufactured by/purchased by the Tax Free Offshore Company (“IBC”)
• The company would be incorporated in a nil tax jurisdiction and would be managed/controlled from an Offshore (ie nil tax) jurisdiction (which would entail the appointment of an Offshore/Tax Haven based Nominee Director – which is a service OCI would provide)
• The agreement with Amazon would be signed Offshore, by the Nominee Director, in the nil tax environment
• Any individual contracts to buy or sell or market the jewelry directly would be signed/concluded offshore (eg signed or ratified by the Nominee Director in a nil tax environment)
• In effect any/all profits generated have been generated online
• In the case of an online business typically tax liability lies only in the country from which the Company is managed and controlled
• As the Company has been structured with a (tax haven based) Nominee Director/Shareholder (ie management and control would be “Offshore” ie in a nil tax environment) any profits generated have been earned (and ideally banked) Offshore ie in a nil tax environment
Note Amazon only accepts sellers from certain jurisdictions. The full list can be viewed here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200417280
Nil or low tax jurisdictions acceptable to Amazon include:
• Costa Rica
• Hong Kong
• USA (eg Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, Oregon etc LLCs which when used with an IBC can produce a nil tax result)
HOW TO UTILIZE MONEYS BANKED BY YOUR IBC
There are 6 ways to bring home money from an IBC:
1. Set yourself up as an arms’ length consultant and have the IBC pay you consulting fees periodically. This means you would only have to pay tax on what you bring into your home country (and even that tax you should be able to minimise as a lot of what otherwise-might-be personal expenses could be written off as business costs, eg home office, utilities, car, phone, electrical/office equipment, stationery, computers travel etc etc etc). The rest of the IBC’s income can remain offshore and be (re)invested offshore potentially tax free. Say your target capital base is 3 million Euro and every year you leave at least half the IBC’s income offshore. Because you’re not paying tax yearly on all the IBCs income instead of taking 20 years to accumulate 3 million Euro, with the power of compounding, you could accumulate 3 million within 5 to 7 years. This is what my/our smarter clients do ie they pay a little bit of tax at home each year on their overseas earnings but most of their income is kept offshore and reinvested offshore.
2. Bring back the money as a loan. Yes this can be done but great attention to detail will be required particularly with respect to lending parties, loan terms and documentation.
3. Use an anonymous debit card and withdraw cash from automated teller machines. This can still work in some places though it should be noted that some of the bigger countries now have the ability to trace and connect one to such withdrawals.
4. Have your IBC buy Bitcoins and then make a transfer of bitcoins to you (you would need to firstly set up a bitcoin account). You can then buy valuable goods and services using bitcoin and none of these purchases would be seen by your local authorities.
5. Have your IBC form and fund a subsidiary ie 2nd tax free Offshore Company and then have that 2nd Offshore Company buy any substantial assets you’d like to have onshore (eg cars, real estate, shares, general investments etc). Yes in theory you could have your IBC buy these things but, given most likely there will be a Consultancy Agreement in place between you and the IBC (and payments going from the IBC to you which will be visible to your local tax authorities) the smarter thing to do would be to have a 2nd (seemingly unrelated) IBC buy these items for you.
6. Another option is to take the long hold view. What this entails is letting your capital base build over a period of years; Then, when you get to the stage where you are ready to close down your Offshore business, (or you are ready to retire) you can do one of two things: Either
(a) Expatriate your home country and become “non-resident for tax purposes”, shift to a country which has no income tax and/or CGT (eg Panama, Seychelles, Monaco, etc etc etc) and draw down the capital from your offshore entity (and bank the money tax free); or
(b) Expatriate your home country, become “non-resident for tax purposes”, and become a PT ie a Perpetual Traveller. How this can work is you spend say 4-5 months a years in one country, 4-5 months a year in another country and the rest of your time travelling. This way, assuming you are not seen to have substantial ties with any one country, you should not be considered as tax resident in any one country. Then you simply draw down the capital from your offshore entity (and bank the money tax free).
Note, provided you have successfully become a non-resident for tax purposes of your home country, there’s nothing stopping you from changing your mind a year or 2 later about the expat life and returning to your home country with a bunch of tax free dollars in your back pocket.
Note unless you (have expatriated or) live in a country that does not have CFC laws (and/or unless or are structured in a tax effective/compliant manner) you may still be required to declare and pay tax at home on your IBC’s earnings.