Tag Archives: tax

OECD Tax Chief: ‘Paradise Papers’ Activity Mostly, If Not Totally, Legal

A parting note to that prior discussion of the so-called “Paradise Papers.” Vanessa Houlder reported the following on the Financial Times (UK) website Monday:

But for tax experts, the conclusions were less clear. They said the structures revealed so far in the new cache were very different from those exposed in a previous leak, last year’s Panama Papers. Pascal Saint-Amans, the top tax official at the Paris-based OECD said: “They are quite different from the Panama Papers.” He said the schemes in question were mostly, if not totally, legal. “Some are not even questionable from a legitimacy point of view.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’ll leave readers with this amusing bit from across the pond on the Daily Express (UK) website yesterday. Stephen Pollard wrote:

Take the headlines about the Queen. “Revealed: Queen’s private estate invested millions of pounds offshore” screamed The Guardian. The paper “revealed” that Her Majesty “through the Duchy of Lancaster has held and still holds investments via funds that have put money into an array of businesses, including the off-licence chain Threshers and the retailer BrightHouse, which has been criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families and vulnerable people”.

Are they really suggesting it is inappropriate for the Queen to hold investments anywhere except Britain? What about Bermuda or the Cayman Islands where, er, she is their head of state? She’s not allowed to invest in her own territories?

As for the phrase “offshore”: it is essentially meaningless. Britain is “offshore” for anyone who isn’t in Britain. One of the secrets of our economic success in recent decades is that we are an attractive place to invest money – offshore, that is, for the rest of the world.

If investing offshore is so appalling for the Queen, presumably it is for everyone else too – which means, from the perspective of Britain, everyone else on Earth except for us. Which means an end to all foreign investment in the UK. Then there is the hypocrisy of the reaction. According to Jeremy Corbyn anyone putting money into tax havens should “apologise”. As the Guido Fawkes website pointed out: the Labour Party rents its HQ via a tax exempt property fund based in Jersey. Nothing wrong with that, it’s completely legal…

But the gold medal for hypocrisy surely lies with The Guardian, which published the Paradise Papers and fulminated against people taking advantage of laws to minimise their taxes. Without mentioning, of course, The Guardian’s own “GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited”, which is based in the Caymans– to minimise its tax payments…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Not our circus, not our monkeys, as Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes merely focuses on the secured storage of legally-obtained and owned personal belongings outside the United States for a variety of legitimate reasons. And not offshore finance.

Still, begging to pointed out considering all the hoopla over the “Paradise Papers” in the legacy media these days?

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

Sources:

Houlder, Vanessa. “Paradise Papers spark political backlash over offshore finance.” Financial Times. 6 Nov. 2017. (https://www.ft.com/content/70aca220-c30a-11e7-b2bb-322b2cb39656). 9 Nov. 2017.

Pollard, Stephen. “Hypocrisy over the Paradise Papers is truly breathtaking says STEPHEN POLLARD.” Daily Express. 8 Nov. 2017. (http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/876903/Paradise-Papers-hypocrisy-shocking). 9 Nov. 2017.

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‘Asset Protection’ Joins ‘Offshore’ In Coming Under Attack?

Yesterday I noted the negative connotation associated with the word “offshore” these days.

Apparently, the term “asset protection” is increasingly being demonized as well.

Mark Nestmann, an expert in both these matters, shared his observations about growing villification back on September 26, 2017, in an article on The Nestmann Group’s website. Nestmann wrote in “‘Asset Protection’ Isn’t a Scam”:

In the last few months, I’ve noticed an increasing stream of articles in the professional journals I read with the same theme: only tax evaders, fraudsters, and criminals pursue asset protection.

If I were a trial lawyer who earned his living by suing defendants with deep pockets, I might feel the same way. But you shouldn’t…

Nestmann put forth some solid arguments in defense of Americans’ legal use of asset protection, which includes offshoring.

An interesting and insightful read, which you can view here on The Nestmann Group’s site.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: The mention of a particular business should not be construed as confirmation of services claimed to be provided or any sort of recommendation. A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

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‘Paradise Papers’ And Offshore Asset Protection Going Forward

Some time ago, an overseas safe deposit box facility contacted me about removing them from that list of offshore private vaults I maintain on this blog’s sister site.

The concern was over the use of the word “offshore” with the website- and the negative connotation associated with it these days.

I sympathized with the vault operator and happily complied with the request.

I was already well-acquainted with the demonization of pretty much anything having “offshore” attached to it while creating/naming the Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes blog and Offshore Private Vaults website four years ago. However, I was comfortable with the use of the word with these projects since the secured storage of lawfully-obtained/owned, privately-held belongings outside the United States (plenty of legitimate reasons to do so, and perfectly legal per Uncle Sam) is different from offshore banking (no financial transactions are being conducted).

Offshore finance is under attack today as the so-called “Paradise Papers”– “a huge leak of financial documents that throw light on the top end of the world of offshore finance” as BBC News calls it- makes headlines in the legacy media.

But note what the BBC also said concerning this material. Tucked away in a “Paradise Papers reporting team” web article yesterday:

The vast majority of the transactions involve no legal wrongdoing.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And there’s this “pop-up” accompanying a piece by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reportedly overseeing the investigation:

Please read the statement below before searching. There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

While the “Paradise Papers” may result in additional vilification of anything “offshore” among consumers of mainstream media, likely users of offshore products could shrug it off (while keeping in mind the importance of following the law). It’s conceivable this group ends up dismissing the matter after they contemplate/investigate potential agendas and/or influences.

I leave readers with this, which I posted on April 5, 2016, with the release of the “Panama Papers”:

Even though offshore corporate structures, offshore banking, and the like aren’t exactly my forte and not really areas this blog and sister site Offshore Private Vaults focus on, I feel I too should emphasize “offshore” doesn’t necessarily mean “criminal.”

The secured storage of legally-obtained and owned assets in bank and private, non-bank safe deposit boxes located outside the United States is perfectly within the law. And as regular readers of this blog know, Americans do it for a variety of reasons, including:

• Securing and having convenient access to valuables while residing, studying, travelling, and working overseas
• Geographically-diversifying wealth per the advice of financial/investment advisers
• “Prepping” for potential nationwide emergencies/disasters, where domestic access to privately-owned assets becomes impossible
• Protecting assets should “Uncle Sam” ever go rogue and join the growing wealth confiscation movement across the globe

While both the blog and website are aimed at the law-abiding, I still go so far as to communicate the following to visitors:

“Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes strongly condemns any attempted use of these overseas storage containers for illegal purposes.”

“Offshore Private Vaults strongly condemns any attempted use of these private vaulting facilities and their safe deposit boxes/lockers for illegal purposes.”

As it concerns U.S. government reporting requirements, just last week I blogged:

If “Uncle Sam” requires precious metals in an offshore bank safe deposit box to be reported, then by all means, you should do it.

And should taxes be involved, the way I see it, it’s like The Good Book says:

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…

In conclusion, who knows how far the fallout from the “Panama Papers” will extend. But it would be a real shame if offshore asset protection , and in particular the tool of the offshore safe deposit box, gets thrown under the bus from this event despite it being beneficial and legal for Americans to pursue.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

Sources:

Paradise Papers Reporting Team. “Paradise Papers: Tax haven secrets of ultra-rich exposed.” BBC News. 6 Nov. 2017. (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41876942?ocid=socialflow_twitter&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=twitter). 7 Nov. 2017.

“Offshore Trove Exposes Trump-Russia Links And Piggy Banks Of The Wealthiest 1 Percent.” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 5 Nov. 2017. (https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/paradise-papers-exposes-donald-trump-russia-links-and-piggy-banks-of-the-wealthiest-1-percent/). 7 Nov. 2017.

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Economist Martin Armstrong Warns Of Storing Assets In U.S. Bank Safe Deposit Boxes

We’re back after a short break. And to jump start the continued discussion about asset protection outside the United States, I’d like to point out a February 25 blog post by economist Martin Armstrong on his company’s website. Regular readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes know that Armstrong brings up bank safe deposit boxes from time to time, and the head of Armstrong Economics penned the following while I was away:

Keep in mind the government can close all banks for there is precedent. Whatever you have in a safe deposit box can also be seized and inspected.

There is no precise law against storing metal or cash in a safe deposit box. But law is malleable in the hands of any judge. He can seize the money or gold under the pretense of money laundering hiding it from the government. Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, they can assume the money is guilty of a crime being even tax evasion. It then is your burden to fight in court to get it back if you can hire a lawyer…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind that Armstrong is referring to safe deposit boxes in U.S. financial institutions here, not secured storage containers located in private vaults outside the American banking system.

That being said, the economist sees a “global trend” in the seizure of assets through claims of money laundering and tax evasion. I blogged back on June 6, 2016:

Martin Armstrong… has chimed in on the new HSBC safe deposit box regulations in Hong Kong. He issued this warning on his company’s blog Friday:

Governments are targeting safe-deposit boxes to look for cash that is hiding from taxation. HSBC, a U.K. bank, is now moving against claimed financial crimes by altering conditions for safe-deposit boxes. This is becoming a global trend. Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering. Governments want their taxes and all the laws are changing to ensure they get their money.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering”

Does that include legally-purchased and owned precious metals (with receipts to boot also showing taxes paid when applicable)?

Once again, these are bank safe deposit boxes Armstrong is talking about.

To date, I haven’t encountered anything by Mr. Armstrong about boxes in private, non-bank vaults.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

Source:

Armstrong, Martin. “Is it Safe to Store Gold in a Safe Deposit Box?” Armstrong Economics Blog. 25 Feb. 2017. (https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/markets-by-sector/precious-metals/gold/is-it-safe-to-store-gold-in-a-safe-deposit-box/). 7 Mar. 2017.

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Related Reading: Martin Armstrong Post On Problems With Bank Safe Deposit Boxes

Earlier this month I brought up a blog post by Martin Armstrong, economist at Armstrong Economics and the subject of the 2014 documentary The Forecaster, in which he warned:

Governments are targeting safe-deposit boxes to look for cash that is hiding from taxation… Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last Thursday, Armstrong blogged again about safe deposit boxes on his company’s website. Specifically, boxes in financial institutions and the “problems” associated with them. The post consisted of a “comment” submitted by a Texas attorney:

We have been advising clients NOT to use safe deposit boxes for years…

In the 1930s, boxes were systematically drilled by government officials looking for illegal gold. No warrants, as we understand them. Countless claims of government agent looted boxes were ignored…

We tell our clients not to use storage controlled by government regulated financial institutions and instead to find private, secure, fireproof and waterproof means of storing things of value. This is probably the same story as the buried Roman coin stories. Every government becomes organized crime, eventually, if they didn’t start that way in the first place

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Private, secure, fireproof and waterproof means of storing things of value”

Like a well-constructed private vault outside the banking system?

An interesting read from Armstrong (or rather, this attorney), which you can view in its entirety on his company website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

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Martin Armstrong: ‘Anything Of Value That Is Stored In A Safe-Deposit Box Is Now Considered Money Laundering’

Martin Armstrong, economist at Armstrong Economics and the subject of the 2014 documentary The Forecaster, has chimed in on the new HSBC safe deposit box regulations in Hong Kong. He issued this warning on his company’s blog Friday:

Governments are targeting safe-deposit boxes to look for cash that is hiding from taxation. HSBC, a U.K. bank, is now moving against claimed financial crimes by altering conditions for safe-deposit boxes. This is becoming a global trend. Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering. Governments want their taxes and all the laws are changing to ensure they get their money.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering”

Does that include legally-purchased and owned precious metals (with receipts to boot also showing taxes paid when applicable)?

Armstrong didn’t elaborate in his June 3 post, but back on March 29 I discussed how he thinks government will deal with precious metals. From that post:

On March 14, Armstrong talked more on this subject. He blogged:

Government will make transactions in gold or silver illegal and equivalent to money laundering. These people are not about to let anything circumvent their dreams…

The likelihood that you will be able to travel with gold is about zero. The likelihood that you will be able to go to the local grocery store and buy food with silver or gold coins is also zero. The more probable outcome is that this will provide a hedge against government to make the transition to the next monetary system. These people are fighting for dominance over society. Do you really think it will be that easy that everyone will be using gold and silver coins? They will not go down without a fight and the first blood draw will be on our side — not theirs.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I added:

If events unfold like Mr. Armstrong predicts they will, geographical diversification of precious metals in the physical form- particularly gold- in an offshore safe deposit box could prove to be a wise financial decision.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

Source:

Armstrong, Martin. “Hunt for Taxes: Safe-Deposit Boxes Under Attack.” ArmstrongEconomics.com. 3 June 2016. (https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/taxes/safe-deposit-boxes-under-attack-hunting-for-money/). 6 June 2016.

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Ecuador President Announces One-Time Tax On Millionaires, Workers After Earthquake

From an Associated Press article on the Fox News Latino website Thursday:

President Rafael Correa announced Wednesday night that he is raising sales taxes and will charge a one-time levy on millionaires to rebuild cities devastated by Ecuador’s worst earthquake in decades…

Using authority granted by the state of emergency he declared after Saturday night’s quake, Correa said sales taxes would increase to 14 percent from 12 percent for the coming year.

People with more than $1 million in assets will be charged a one-time tax of 0.9 percent on their wealth, while workers earning over $1,000 a month will be forced to contribute a day’s wages and those earning $5,000 a month the equivalent of five days’ pay.

Taxes on companies will also go up…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A “just” tax in the aftermath of a natural disaster? Wealth confiscation for a “just cause”? Just plain wealth confiscation?

Spanish international news agency Agencia EFE reported on the Fox News Latino site back on March 20 the Ecuadorian government was already seeking to hike taxes prior to the quake. From that piece:

Ecuador’s government is working on a reform package that will raise the taxes on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks to cover the budget deficit created by the drop in the price of oil, the Andean nation’s top export product, President Rafael Correa said.

“The price of petroleum keeps dropping” and the government must make “certain adjustments,” Correa said during his weekly show on Saturday…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Sin tax” hikes. Sounds like what’s routinely proposed/passed in my neck of the woods (Chicago).

If Ecuador follows through with this tax on millionaires and workers, some will be wondering if other governments won’t be following its implementation closely to serve as a model for a future “state of emergency” of their own.

Like a sovereign debt crisis, for example.

At the same time, I wonder what this could mean for bank safe deposit boxes (I don’t know of any private, non-bank safe deposit box facilities in Ecuador)? Will Ecuadorian government officials inspect secured containers belonging to suspected millionaires/millionaires suspected of under-reporting the value of their assets, in an attempt to ensure compliance with the announced tax levy?

Would box holders find themselves in a situation similar to what was announced in Greece last fall?

I blogged back on November 6, 2015:

Just when the reputation of bank safe deposit boxes couldn’t get any worse comes this out of Greece. Anthee Carasavva reported on The Times (UK) website back on October 12:

Greece’s government is raiding savers’ safe deposit boxes to raise revenue and stamp out tax evasion.

Tryfon Alexiadis, the deputy finance minister, said yesterday that Greeks owing more than €150,000 in back taxes would be targeted. Those suspected of tax evasion would also come under scrutiny and their bank deposit boxes prised open without notice

“Safe deposit boxes across the country will be subject to these inspections immediately,” Mr Alexiadis told an Athens-based TV network…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I added later:

Regarding that bit about tax evasion suspects, Mark Yaxley of Cayman Islands private vault Strategic Wealth Preservation penned back on October 20:

The government’s justification is that they’re chasing tax evaders, stating that they’re targeting those who owe more than €150,000 in back taxes. However, they have also revealed that they will target any boxes held by those who are “suspected” of tax evasion and, since literally anyone can become a suspect at any moment, without having to be charged with a crime, inspectors will have the authorisation to decide on the spot that a box holder is “suspected” of tax evasion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It was reported Greek tax inspectors would be allowed to open bank safe deposit boxes and confiscate as much as half of the cash they found. Stocks, bonds, jewelry, and works of art would be confiscated in their entirety.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

Sources:

“Ecuador to hike sales tax to help rebuild cities devastated by earthquake.” Associated Press. 21 Apr. 2016. (http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/04/21/ecuador-to-hike-sales-tax-to-help-rebuild-cities-devastated-by-earthquake/?intcmp=obinsite). 21 Apr. 2016.

“Ecuador plans to hike taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and soft drinks.” Agencia EFE. 20 Mar. 2016. (http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2016/03/20/ecuador-plans-to-hike-taxes-on-cigarettes-alcohol-and-soft-drinks/). 21 Apr. 2016.

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