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INTRODUCTION TO OFFSHORE AND INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS
Financial common sense dictates that if there exists a legal and, crucially, regulated means to lower the amount of tax an investor pays, utilising that means would be a no-brainer decision. Via offshore financial centres (often referred to as ‘tax havens’), offshore investment provides a way to do so. Essentially, this means placing a sum of money in a territory other than the investor’s country of residence, and although there are understandably qualifying criteria for all offshore investors to meet, notably concerning the amount invested, this method of reducing taxes is open to investors both large and small. Legitimate investors can take advantage of lower rates of tax or higher rates of return in this way, presenting opportunities for more profitable investment activities.
ALL ABOVE BOARD!
Historically, due to poorly regulated tax havens where tax evasion, money laundering and the concealment of ‘ill-gotten gains’ was common, offshore banking generally earned a sour, mistrusted reputation as little more than criminal activity. This unfortunate situation even led in 1979 to the release of a highly critical song, Offshore Banking Business, by London punk band, The Members! However, the tightly regulated offshore financial centres of the modern age provide legal opportunities for genuine investors to pay lower rates of tax, and as they are available to anyone meeting the aforementioned criteria are commonly used. In fact, the use of offshore financial centres is now widespread that, according to Investopedia, “More than half of the world’s assets and investments are held in offshore jurisdictions, and many well-recognised companies have investment opportunities in offshore locales.”
MORE THAN ‘JUST’ BANKS
The primary motivation for offshore investment is understandably the payment of less tax, yet there are other forces driving this activity: a greater degree of privacy; specialist services tailored strictly to the needs of serious investors, and the opportunity for investment diversification are factors often cited by investors as among the benefits of offshore investment. Whatever the motivating forces for any individual investor or company, they are all a direct and positive result of responsible asset management.
Modern, well-regulated offshore centres allow legitimate investors to take advantage of higher rates of return, or lower rates of tax on that return.
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