As governments in industrialised nations crack down harder on their citizens and demand greater taxation and less personal privacy, so an increased number of citizens begin to wonder if there isn’t a more private way to save, bank and do business.  This is when people begin to explore their offshore options.

The one thing to remember is that going offshore is not illegal – in fact, for many people it can make a lot of sense.  The only thing that is illegal is lack of disclosure if the government of the nation in which you’re tax resident insists upon it.  Therefore, if you’re interested in finding out which are the top 5 tax havens of the world through which you can save your money, protect your assets, grow your wealth or conduct your business, read on.

There are literally hundreds of tax havens in the world – and even the likes of the US and the UK have tax havens of their own!  So determining which is the right tax haven for you will require professional assistance.  This is so that you’re certain the jurisdiction in question will support your requirements and protect your assets and privacy.

If you’re a resident of Europe, many of the traditional European tax havens will be of little benefit to you whatsoever, this is because of a European Union Savings Tax Directive.  However, there are still offshore jurisdictions where you can protect your assets and your privacy – but speak to a financial adviser before you move any money!  Additionally, if you’re a citizen of the United States, your nation places incredibly strict controls on what you can and cannot do with your assets and your wealth and remain within the law.  Therefore, again you need to seek professional and ongoing assistance before you offshore any of your assets in order that you remain within the law.

1)  Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man

For non-European tax residents, these highly respectable British offshore tax havens can be very attractive indeed.  They offer significant levels of investor protection, superior levels of investor privacy, and each centre is world renowned in its own right for the integrity of the governing authorities and the careful guidelines they ensure all financial institutions on their shores operate under.  This gives someone selecting one of these tax havens confidence in those who manage and look after their assets, wealth or business dealings.

2) Monaco

A tax haven or a tax exile’s home?  Monaco is notorious as being home to some of the world’s richest people from the fields of sport and entertainment, it is also home to over 300,000 bank accounts that are protected by the jurisdiction’s very strict secrecy laws.  It used to be the case that one had to own a property in the principality in order to qualify for residency and therefore tax exile status, but this was a law that was changed in 1998 and now, if you’re an EU citizen with at least EUR 7 million to invest in Monaco and you lease a property and visit it at least occasionally each year, then you may well qualify for a 10 year residency permit and tax free living!

3) Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein has received a great deal of negative publicity in recent months as it has been claimed that it is sheltering the assets of many people who have not declared them in their own home nation.  The likes of Germany and the US have put pressure on the jurisdiction to ease their world famous, impenetrable secrecy laws, and the tiny country has only relented a little.  It has said that it will disclose evidence of bank accounts etc., if an individual is already under investigation – they will not however disclose the details of foreign nationals will accounts in Lichtenstein as par for the course.  This is therefore a particularly popular offshore centre will those who want absolute privacy.

4) Panama

For those seeking a tax haven in which to live, perhaps Panama is one of the most attractive.  For qualifying residents any income you earn or capital you have outside of Panama can remain 100% tax-free.  Also the nation is undergoing a significant transformation as billions of dollars worth of investment is flooding in to extend the Panama Canal.  It has become a relocation haven for many from the US and the UK, the climate is favourable, crime rates are relatively low, English is widely spoken and, as stated, you can live in Panama pretty much tax-free!

5) The Caribbean

The Caribbean region is home to a myriad of fantastic tax haven islands – from Nevis to the British Virgin Islands, from Anguilla to Bermuda, Barbados and the Turks and Caicos – all offer significant tax haven advantages from being the perfect place to incorporate an international business company, to being an ideal location to get a second passport and related taxation benefits.  Each individual jurisdiction offers its own unique benefits however, and so an individual should take care when selecting which one is right for them.

If you are interested in taking your wealth, assets, savings, investment, bank deposits or business offshore, there are many individuals who can assist you.  Just ensure that they are qualified to give you advice and that you are doing the best for your personal situation by going offshore.  Finally, remember what we said about declaration and disclosure – stay within the law.