• Woodward Partners

  • Woodward Partners

  • Woodward Partners

  • Woodward Partners

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Why invest offshore?

Offshore investing is often demonized in the media, which paints a picture of investors stashing their money with some illegal company located on an obscure Caribbean island where the tax rate is next to nothing. While it's true that there will always be instances of shady offshore deals, the vast majority of offshore investing is perfectly legal. In fact, depending on your situation, offshore investing may offer you many advantages.

What Is Offshore Investing? 

Offshore investing refers to a wide range of investment strategies that capitalize on advantages offered outside of an investor's home country. We will briefly touch on the advantages and disadvantages of offshore investing.

There is no shortage of money-market, bond and equity assets offered by reputable offshore companies that are fiscally sound, time-tested and, most importantly, legal.

Advantages 

There are several reasons why people invest offshore:

Tax Reduction - Many countries (known as tax havens) offer tax incentives to foreign investors. The favorable tax rates in an offshore country are designed to promote a healthy investment environment that attracts outside wealth. For a tiny country with very few resources and a small population, attracting investors can dramatically increase economic activity. Simply put, offshore investment occurs when offshore investors form a corporation in a foreign country. The corporation acts as a shell for the investors' accounts, shielding them from the higher tax burden that would be incurred in their home country. Because the corporation does not engage in local operations, little or no tax is imposed on the offshore corporation. Many foreign companies also enjoy tax-exempt status when they invest in U.S. markets. As such, making investments through foreign corporations can hold a distinct advantage over making investments as an individual.

Confidentiality - Many offshore jurisdictions offer the complimentary benefit of secrecy legislation. These countries have enacted laws establishing strict corporate and banking confidentiality. If this confidentiality is breached, there are serious consequences for the offending party. An example of a breach of banking confidentiality is divulging customer identities; disclosing shareholders is a breach of corporate confidentiality in some jurisdictions. However, this secrecy doesn't mean that offshore investors are criminals with something to hide. It's also important to note that offshore laws will allow identity disclosure in clear instances of drug trafficking, money laundering or other illegal activities. From the point of view of a high-profile investor, however, keeping information, such as the investor's identity, secret while accumulating shares of a public company can offer that investor a significant financial (and legal) advantage. High-profile investors don't like the public at large knowing what stocks they're investing in. Multi-millionaire investors don't want a bunch of little fish buying the same stocks that they have targeted for large volume share purchases - the little guys run up the prices.

Because nations are not required to accept the laws of a foreign government, offshore jurisdictions are, in most cases, immune to the laws that may apply where the investor resides. U.S. courts can assert jurisdiction over any assets that are located within U.S. borders. Therefore, it is prudent to be sure that the assets an investor is attempting to protect not be held physically in the United States.

Diversification of Investment - In some countries, regulations restrict the international investment opportunities of citizens. Many investors feel that such restriction hinders the establishment of a truly diversified investment portfolio. Offshore accounts are much more flexible, giving investor’s unlimited access to international markets and to all major exchanges. On top of that, there are many opportunities in developing nations, especially in those that are beginning to privatize sectors that were formerly under government control. China's willingness to privatize some industries has investors drooling over the world's largest consumer market.