Legality of Offshore Investments
An over view of offshore investments and the procedures one must consider and comply with to ensure these investments remain a legal estate planning tool.
As any good tax attorney will be able to explain to you there is a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is the use of legally employable strategies to reduce the amount of tax one has to pay. Tax evasion, on the other hand, is the use of illegal means to do the same thing. So the goal of any transaction that you would like to undertake offshore is to make certain that you are a tax avoider and not a tax evader. A lawyer will never be a willing party to tax evasion, if that lawyer is behaving within the cannon of professional ethics as well as the accepted norms of safeguarding their client’s best interest.
To begin with it is illegal to have a secret bank account in another country that you don’t tell the IRS about. It is also illegal to move unreported cash even if it is your money. The penalty for either of these offenses makes bank robbery look like a more attractive option.
However, with our own country continuing to advance the goal of globalization, of course it is legal to invest in, and to interact with, foreign markets and there are some tremendous incentives to do so. The key to taking advantage of these opportunities is to start modestly and remember that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true. Secondly, it is your duty as an American citizen to report your financial activities to the IRS. So divest yourself of notions of secrecy in the absolute and think in terms of tax savings rather than not paying taxes. If someone tells you that they can help you avoid paying any tax whatsoever, they are offering to help you engage in a criminal enterprise. And if you already are a criminal of some sort then perhaps you should look into the matter, but for the vast majority of those reading this article, don’t endanger a life spent being a law abiding citizen by buying into an outrageous scheme.
As I said before, U.S. citizens and permanent residents are required to disclose their banking accounts abroad, where they are located and what the account numbers are, on a form called a TDF 90-22.
1. However, there are exceptions to having to file this report and taxpayers are confused about the definition of these exceptions as well as the meaning of key terms within the document. One excellent way to begin to understand what must be reported, and when, is to look to the Jacobs Report. The Jacobs report which can be found at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/jacobsreport/ and it is an extensive document filled with the applicable law and IRS instructions as well as the accumulated wisdom of many web sites and foreign bank reports.
Remember, the cardinal rule when beginning your inquiry into offshore banking is to find out about these matters in detail. You need to check into things yourself and keep in mind that if a deal sounds too good to be true then it is. In addition, keep in mind the fact that you want to be a tax avoider not a tax evader. Consult your estate planner and a tax specialist because the laws in many of the nations that provide tax havens have changed somewhat since the beginning of the War with Afghanistan and Iraq, because the U.
S. is looking for hidden terrorist cash reserves and that has changed the way discretion is handled in many tax haven nations that are friendly with our government.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ronald Hudkins is a retired U.S. Army Military Police member that was assigned as a staff researcher. He has coordinated with military and criminal investigators, set on court marshals and worked closely with the Staff Judge Advocate Generals Office (JAG). He has a keen sense of legal matters - their interpretation, initiatives and guidelines. For imperative financial planning needs he suggests his book “Asset Protection and Estate Planning for All Ages.” Additionally, he offers a Free Newsletter at his web site: http://www.AssetProtectNow.com