April 21 2009|04.55 PM UTC

Stan Reybern

15 Of The World’s Most Significant Tax Havens

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Grenada Tax HavenAs long as there have been taxes, there have been tax avoiders. And as long as there have been tax avoiders, there have been tax havens. Broadly speaking, any country that is known for helping individuals or businesses avoid taxes can be described as a tax haven. Some are very forthcoming and proudly advertise the tax advantages of living there, while others are more discreet. In either case, tax havens have a long and enduring legacy in civil society (with an estimated $11.5 trillion currently stashed in offshore accounts) and each one offers something different to aspiring tax dodgers.

Luxembourg

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Luxembourg is an attractive place for foreigners to stash excess wealth, as the entire country (said to be among the richest in the world – in per capita terms) seems to have a rather lax attitude toward tax collection. According to one website that profiles tax havens: “although they have taxes, nobody seems to work too hard on collecting them.”

Amenities: No tax on bank interest, investment dividends, or capital gains for non-residents.

Cook Islands

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The Cook Islands have much to offer prospective tax dodgers, including the sheer natural beauty of its beach climate. Combined with the tax advantages discussed below, it’s no wonder shamed Australian entrepreneur Alan Bond stashed his money here before it all came crumbling down on top of him. Not everyone has such a rosy view of the Cook Islands, however. AssetProtectionBook.com describes several instances where Cook Islands-based trusts were successfully invalidated by foreign judges and attorneys, some of whom actually specialize in going after trusts that are based there.

Amenities: No capital gains taxes, income taxes, or death taxes levied on investors.

Cayman Islands

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Hedge fund managers and investors have grown particularly fond of the Cayman Islands, which relies solely on indirect methods of taxation like import duties, tourist fees, and licensing fees to sustain its government and operations. The Caymans got major press during the 2008 Presidential debates when Barack Obama slammed their tax haven status, declaring “there’s a building in the Cayman Islands that houses supposedly 12,000 US-based corporations. That’s either the biggest building in the world or the biggest tax scam in the world, and we know which one it is.”

Amenities: No income, capital gains, gift, or estate taxes on individuals or offshore corporations.

Channel Islands

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Investors with real estate-based investment trusts (or REITs) in their portfolio will find the Channel Islands much to their liking. A 2007 Telegraph article notes that UK-based REIT investors are flocking to the Channel Islands (located between the shores of France and England) where their investment income is taxed at far lighter rates than the mainland UK. In addition to REIT investors, the Channel Islands are also apparently attracting their fair share of of e-commerce firms and web companies (including UK retailer Play.com.)

Amenities: Low taxes on property investment income, low incorporation costs.

Bermuda

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What could be better than floating in these crystal-clear waters and sipping an exotic drink with the knowledge that your business profits are completely shielded from taxation? These and other benefits help explain why entire companies (such as Tyco) have moved their operations to Bermuda. And while other tax havens are coming under intense legal scrutiny, a 2002 Seattle PI article notes that “what these American companies are doing in Bermuda appears to be perfectly legal under the tax code.”

Amenities: While Bermuda does not currently offer much in the way of tax benefits for individuals, businesses enjoy a total exemption from income and capital gains taxes.

Dubai

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Dubai is the tax haven of choice for those seeking to do business with Russian companies and investors. It is also home to a sizable pool of job talent and business contacts of all kinds. According to one website, Dubai is blossoming into “leading UAE commercial gateway to more than 1.5 billion consumers in Asia, Africa, Europe, India and the Middle East.”

Amenities: No taxes of any kind, no tax audits, no information shared with prying government agencies.

Lichtenstein

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Lichtenstein is rumored to be one of history’s earliest tax havens, and it has a well-deserved reputation among tax dodgers. Unfortunately, the success of evading taxes in Lichtenstein may be leading to its own undoing! Forbes recently reported that German spies have been dispatched to the country to hunt down suspicious activity from its own citizens.

Amenities: Very easy for foreigners to set up trusts (just use a locally-hired attorney or nominee.)

British Virgin Islands

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According to a Yahoo! News article, ‘More than 400,000 companies share a few local addresses” on the British Virgin Islands, despite having no employees there and often evading taxes in their native countries as well. Indeed, offshoring is so integral to the local economy that it provides over half of all government revenue.

Amenities: Business owners are attracted to the British Virgin Islands for, among other things, the extremely low incorporation and trust maintenance fees that the Islands have to offer.

Andorra

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Those who are looking for a “basic” tax shelter to avoid taxes on personal income (versus sophisticated tax avoidance schemes for hedge funds, corporations, or investment vehicles) will find what they have been looking for in Andorra, a small, landlocked country in Western Europe that is one of only three countries remaining on OCED’s blacklist of “uncooperative” tax havens. While Andorra recently instituted a small capital gains tax, the overall tax savings still far outweighs it’s liability.

Amenities: No personal income tax.

Switzerland

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No list of tax havens would be complete without the one that paved the way for them all: Switzerland. Famously utilized by celebrities and rich people around the world, Switzerland is best known for its “Swiss bank accounts”, which offer anonymity and protection from prying eyes of all kinds. An eye-opening article at Tax Justice USA describes how celebrities hide their money in Switzerland. It’s well worth a look!

Amenities: High level of secrecy and confidentiality, no taxes on money saved.

Gibraltar

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The UK colony of Gibraltar has a proud and distinguished history as a tax shelter and today, an online gambling epicenter. But as with many successful tax havens, Gibraltar’s reputation is landing it in hot water with countries who frown upon tax evasion. Most recently, Spain pleaded with OCED to blacklist Gibraltar as “uncooperative”, as a result of Spanish efforts to investigate financial corruption and, allegations that Gibraltar “shelters corrupt businesses.” The EU has also recently pressured the UK to stop offering tax breaks to offshore companies based in Gibraltar, but this yet too have resulted in any significant changes.

Amenities: Low gambling tax (1% on all winnings), low taxes on offshore corporations

Belize

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Not all countries are eager to advertise their coziness with tax dodgers, but Belize has nothing to hide. According to Shelter Offshore, Belize openly writes its laws with an eye toward tax avoidance, further noting that Belize “learned from the successes and mistakes of other tax havens around the world and designed its legislation carefully so that it would become THE most attractive tax haven globally.”

Amenities: Names of directors & shareholders of offshore companies are concealed, very fast incorporation time (1-3 days)

Vanuatu

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An important consideration in choosing a tax haven is whether the country in question will share information with governments or investigators. This is where the Micronesian Pacific island of Vanuatu shines, as it shares no account information whatsoever with law enforcement.

Amenities: Highest level of secrecy, no income, capital gains, or inheritance taxes.

Greneda

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Another tax haven with exceptional climate and cultural appeal beyond its tax advantages is Greneda, a favorite of banking trust investors around the world. But be careful! As recently as 2001, Grenada was entangled in a scandal that saw roughly $150 million stolen from some six thousand offshore American depositors. It was also reported that while many tax havens were beginning to clean up their act, Grenada “has proved a particularly poor regulator.”

Amenities: Strict confidentiality of offshore corporations and accounts, bank trust laws among the best in existence.

Cyprus

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Named in a recent survey as “one of the most attractive tax havens in Europe”, Cyprus has almost unprecedented support from the local civilian and business community regarding its taxation practices. In all of Europe, no other country’s citizens are as happy with the level of taxation currently in effect than those living in Cyprus. It is also described as an ideal country in which to form an offshore corporation.

Amenities: Low corporate tax rate (10%), no capital gains tax, no withholding tax on offshore companies

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Anita July 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I think this is an interesting discussion.

What I think would be nice to know are low (no) tax haven countries that allow relatively easy immigration. Where people can move with their money.

There are not many such countries in Europe. For example, a possibility might include immigration to Malta (with it’s 15% Tax)… but a fairly high amount of money must be brought in to the country to intiate. I think about $450,000. Another like that might be be Andorra. Cyprus, I believe is fairly easy.

Please, for those who know, comment on basic requirements for immigrating to any of the countries listed and/or places like: Malta, Cyprus, Andorra, Panama, Antigua, Guatemala, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Dubai, Qatar. For example – in Asia, some of the easier countries with retirement visa programs are Malaysia and Philippines. I believe in South America, Panama and Belize – have such programs. What are the low immigration income/investment threshold countries with low foreign resident tax benefits?
Regards,
Anita

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jin January 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

VAnuatu is the best of all. plz do a detailed research on vanuatu.

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Anonymous July 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

Dont forget to add Trinidad and Tobago guys as it is readily blossoming to be a great place to chill out your funds from extortion and wealth spreaders and criminal governments….

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Sovereign individual July 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

Dont forget Trinidad and Tobago…becoming a great place to chill out your funds from the extortionist governments and wealth spreaders/income redistributors….Taxes are a crime to the individual perfomed by so called govts…get u r money out and fast!!!!…

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Charles July 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Would someone please tell Edgar that the list clearly stated”BVI-BRITISH Virgin Islands”Obviously an Obama man

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sharlene July 7, 2009 at 5:28 am

Just pay your taxes people!!!

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Eugene Whitt July 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

I only count 13, not 15. Where is Monaco? It is missing, big time. What is the 15th that is also missing.

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Nick July 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Interesting posting. Thank you. Several of the comments above, have the word “liberal” as an insult and as an equivalence to being bad and trying to avoid taxes (presumably from US “patriot v. pinhead” Fox viewers). Its hard to see how tax avoidance- a smart move by anyone who works hard and tries to preserve earnings- can be categorised by political labels…

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Elizabeth September 7, 2012 at 3:59 am

‘Liberal’ has more than one meaning. It’s not just a political label.

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Al July 14, 2009 at 1:31 pm

No one mentioned the Isle of Man.

Also, most of Eastern Europe has crooked government officials……

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Mike July 18, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I think Dubai is a good place to hide your money..
I been hearing rumors that Switzerland is starting to give in to the EU now.. If that’s so alot of people are going to cancel there Swiss Bank Accounts

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Russ July 21, 2009 at 8:54 am

I think a all of you hiding money in these stupid places are going to lose as much to theft or poor handling by the banks or being cheated on the intrest as if you paid the tax to begin with and save yourself all this aggravtion. You alreay know money is the root of all evil and you are going to trust a total stranger to the greater part of your money by his word only or his banks word…silly boy! That’s what happened to Simple Simon. I agree this Obamer group idea of taxing the rich is in poor taste, he has a bunch of stuid people for advisors or we wouldn’t have given out all those billions to GM & Chrysler. Health are is a great idea if you have the money; right now we don’t have it and they keep pushing for it. So if it passes where’a the money to come from, the printing press. We’ll
end up with dollar bills that are not worth the paper they are printed on! What we need is to get the people back to work. Now we have the Gov. part owners in the auto buz. when they can’t run the Gov. properly

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Freedom Lover October 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I find it quite amusing that people who cannot even spell try to leave their idea of an intelligent remark. Many people who are looking for so called tax havens, have legitimate concerns about privacy, tax minimization, estate planning, etc. Also, there are those like myself who have endured abusive harrassment from the IRS. In case you have not noticed, our liberties are being continually eroded each year by our government in the name of “protecting us.” The main thing we need protection from now is the government’s intrusion into our lives. We can no longer say that a slurpee cures low blood sugar without inviting an FDA investigation. We cannot buy raw milk or true health foods because the government wants to protect us and the lobbyists who support them. And by the way, there are banking centers that insure each account up to 15MM, which makes our US bank amount of 250K look unsafe.

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kd July 21, 2009 at 2:15 pm

having places to keep your money from the real thieves the federal reserve and its collection agencey the irs is something everybody should ponder. a lot of folk are not aware these two enities are unconstitutional.

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Phytoforce July 26, 2009 at 11:37 am

For the Do-gooder named Randy,tax haven are simply contries with a low level of slavery. UK wants 50%tax it gives my money to alcoholics £12 a day for booze,addicts£74for drugs,
£2billion health/care for illegals, £3 bill to civil servants.£90P/week uk oldAPs,& £389P/w to Somali illegals to fund terrorism, billions on afganistan/Iraq, more on stop smoking adds, which closes 2000 pubs and clubs, who’s now unemployed staff noe require unemployment payments. The 50% tax is peanuts as every tranaction in uk pays 17.5% VAT,
fuel levy on petrol, on flights, £12 per car entering London, while the vermin making these demands on working people pay no tax and then cheat on expenses stealing billions more. There are no tax havens only sane governments who are happy to live and let live and let their ecomies add value and create wealth to reinvest show me an example the the poor who can help generate wealth.
Try the real world, Obama is a disaster looking for a place to happen. He is another communist Gordon Brownose/Tony B liar who’ll make a bad situation worse. Do yourself a favour gp to google home page click videos then type in New World Order and turn up the speakers if you want to see whats actually going to become a reality, if it’s not deep sixed fast.

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Anon August 8, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I find it interesting that people who make a living in countries where they benefit from the roads, security, educational system, and income earned from other citizens of those countries then do their damnedest to do anything possible to avoid contributing to the continuation of the very country that gave them “their money.” You want all the benefits without the taxation.

I believe there’s a word for you: parasites.

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Gregory July 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

People work hard many years of their productive lives and pay taxes on those earnings to actively support the building of roads, schools, security, etc. However, when it is my time to retire, I should have the freedom to take whatever earnings I have set aside for my remaining days, and do what I want with it, where I want with it, without the intrusive Government and the IRS having expectation that I am permanently “Ball and Chained” by their strong arm abusive tactics. If I decide to live my dream, travel the world, and take all my money with me to enjoy what I worked all my life for, I should have that right unimpeded, and free of harassment………I earned it.

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Litenin1954 August 28, 2009 at 11:34 pm

I don’t mind paying my fair share to fund and maintain infrastructure and the security of the U.S. What I do mind is the government taking my hard earned money and giving it away to those who have not put forth the effort to become productive members of society by obtaining an education or skills. When the government is using my money to buy votes from people accepting a welfare lifestyle I believe I have the right to choose not to support it. When the supposed “social rights” of the welfare society trumps the individuals rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Enough said, it is time to act!!

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Charley Robinson August 31, 2009 at 12:35 am

Here Here Litenin1954!

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louella September 4, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Unfortunately we have accepted this governmental system long enough, I don’t want to work my self to death to support a system that i have no say so over what my tax dollars are invested for.Why can’t they make a system were tax payers vote on what their money is spent for,instead of allowing the goverment to swindle money away as they see fit.I see clearly a simple solutions but doubt very seriously that the government would consider it, because it makes sense,but would also take the control out of their hands.Let me ponder as a layman for a moment and offer a infra structure that could work anywhere in the world, First of all foreigners when they decide to move to another country should be given a certain amount of time to adapt to the culture and learn the language spoken in the country they choose to reside in,given a period of 2 to 5 years in which case if they do not choose to adapt then they must return to their own country,It is known that foreingner are warned when visiting certain arab countries they must wear proper clothing ect,because of their religion and beliefs and laws,and they shall be respected, If nations all over the world would practice this,it would eliminate alot of problems all together,Either you adapt or your out period,The second thing is taxes, Tax payers should have the right to select what priorities should be dealt with first, and it’s simple according to the majority votes from citizins and tax payers in every state,Then those things should be done first ect. The roads in america are disgraceful and the medical system as well,creating neighbourhood programs where theres funding for teaching neighbourhoods how to help themselves and eachother, There is just so much we could do, but it would not benefit the mighty and greedy and they would not profit from us being sick on drugs, over weight and depressed, and now poisoned through our air and food,Or do you seriously think that americans are so big and sick because of something they are doing to themselves,it is not natural. Back to taxes it is also not fair to expect hard working people to have to foot the bills to fill the pockets of the greedy and the needy, if they continue under this system to be greedy and continue to spending our money on provoking useless wars and building underground cities for themselves to hide when the crap hits the fan,With their new world order, any half way intelligent person would’nt want to stick around to see the show. We need love and understanding in this world and theres just to little of it.why should anyone want to give there money away and then be unable to take care of themselves losing their homes and everything they work for.What A Crazy System that is.
No thankyou!!!!!!

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Anonymous February 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

Viva La France, they helped us get away from the brits, maybe they will help us get rid of this government also. These tax free countries have a good quality of life and education system that works and drug tests its teachers and government employees.

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bob September 28, 2009 at 10:41 am

I will love to see your blog posting the opposite of your current topic. How the investors will reach if they learn about the difference in taxation among countries.

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Tim Singleton October 7, 2009 at 3:33 am

Cry me a river, Randy. I do not care. As long as I am having to give up half my earnings at edict backed by gunpoint, I will continue to try to find every legal, ethical, and moral avenue for not contributing to people like you.

If knotheads like liberals would get their heads out of their nether regions and understand that rational taxation leads to more jobs and more prosperity, Americans would not be looking to take their capital elsewhere at the very time that FOREIGN nationals can park their money here tax advantaged. So, to sum up, bite me as far as your so called whiney A$$ concerns go.

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Irish Entrepreneur November 4, 2009 at 1:33 am

Cyprus looks the coolest of all this places! But I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay in those places for good once you’re there. I mean they just seem away from the “reality”, bet you know what I mean.

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Haidar November 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

Dubai is the BEST Tax heaven in the world…
Not only Dubai is a Tax heavan but also a fantastic
Touristic destination in the world with World tallest towers and lasrgest Malls, and bigest Palm Shaped Islands
housing the top stars of the world…. I personaly enjoy living in Dubai as a life style and enjoy my work , safety
and comfort in all ifustructurs…. LIVE, WORK , ENJOY and dont pay tax…………..
take my advice ……100% tax free .. not even 1% tax you have to pay in freezone or in the city ………
this is a country where dreams come true…… i came to Dubai with 100k $ and made 5 M $ in a year and i saw many other peope making way more than me……..

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Al September 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

wow, that is amazing.
what are opportunities in, in Dubai now?

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Chufty July 6, 2010 at 1:39 am

All this seems to be discussing business. Is there anywhere my father can take up citizenship to avoid paying any capital gains or death duty when he dies. He is a 63yr old British citizen. Obviously he wants to leave as much money if not all of it to my sister and I. His overall wealth is about £1.2 mil. He had heard about Gibraltar?

Regards, chufty.

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Mario Vella August 27, 2012 at 1:07 am

The only place that I found good is in Island of Malta, it’s 100% safe.

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