How To Go Offshore: You Can Do It Yourself (Shocker)
This week’s Offshore Summit has been organized around a series of panel discussions, one for each of the Five Flags being considered.
Yesterday morning, Mark Nestmann, one of the world’s leading experts in offshore residency and second citizenship, led a panel discussion related to choosing where you might want to establish foreign residency or obtain a second passport and the particulars for how to go about it. Mark detailed nine criteria to consider when shopping for a place to establish a second, “back-up” residence and discussed the top choices today for second citizenship (by ancestry, residency, or investment).
Then, yesterday afternoon, five gentlemen took the stage–Joel Nagel, Tom Rowley, Chris Braun, Mark Nestmann, and Lief Simon–with, among them, nearly a century-and-a-half of experience helping Americans abroad address, manage, and mitigate their global tax obligations. These five guys are the heaviest hitters you’ll find in this arena. Having them on stage, together, to answer attendee questions for an hour, was, alone, worth the price of admission.
“You all are giving great advice and making great, practical suggestions,” one attendee remarked at the close of the discussion. “But now what do we do? Who helps us to follow through on all this? After we’ve relocated to a new country, for example, who helps us to file our U.S. tax return each year? Who makes sure we remain compliant with the IRS?”
“You can do your taxes yourself,” Lief pointed out, “even as an American abroad, using TurboTax. That’s how I prepare my own U.S. taxes each year. If your situation isn’t overly complicated, really, you can handle it on your own.”
Then Joel and Mark made specific suggestions for tax accountants who can help Americans abroad stay compliant if their situations are, in fact, complicated…or if they’d just feel more comfortable with professional support.
This morning’s workshop: Structures. What do you need…if, indeed, you need anything? That was the starting point for these discussions.
“The best strategy,” Lief counseled, “is to keep things simple. Maybe you don’t need an offshore corporation, a foundation, or a trust.”
The key is to understand the benefits of each of these structures and then to consider those advantages in the context of your personal circumstances. If you’re planning to purchase real estate in another country, perhaps you want to hold it in a corporation in that country. Maybe you want to hold it in a corporation in another jurisdiction. Maybe you want to hold it in your personal name. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. It depends on many things including the tax law of the country where the property is located.
“Sometimes it can make most sense to take title to a piece of property in another country in your own name,” Lief explained, “because some countries don’t charge capital gains taxes if the property being sold has been held in the name of an individual. Argentina, Croatia, and New Zealand are three examples.”
This afternoon’s panel discussion will feature Peter Zipper and Joel Nagel talking about where, how, and why to open an offshore bank account. Tomorrow, the final panel presentation will address business opportunities. Where best might you start one…
(Filling in for Lief Simon while he’s on stage)