Reasons for Going “Offshore” With Your Accounts

If you're not running for president, and don't have to worry about public relations, what are the legitimate reasons for moving money offshore?

Offshore accounts have been in the news recently and not without reason. For one thing, the IRS has been gunning for foreign accounts for some time. It just doesn’t like them.

Likely, you have seen a discussion (or two… or three) of the topic in connection with Mitt Romney and his use of such accounts. The truth is that such accounts are not all illegal or unpatriotic, and indeed, might just be a good idea.

If you’re interested, there are a few ideas to be gleaned from a recent article through SmartMoney regarding offshore accounts. Is the real reason tax minimization? Not always. The article suggests that taxes truly aren’t the sole motivation. Although it should be said that there are advantages, even though the U.S. government still thinks it’s owed a piece on everything you own internationally.

For one thing, an offshore account has a measure of “jurisdictional safety,” or more simply put, the U.S. courts have a harder time seizing your assets to satisfy litigation against you. Whatever the reason, it’s a growing trend.

One more offshore and growing trend: expatriation. As pointed out in a recent Forbes article, the rate of expatriation has soared 16% in 2011 over 2010. In many ways, the use of offshore accounts and some form of expatriation work together. One thing they do share is that neither is easy and both involve further layers of taxation (like the government would allow such an easy out).

If it is something worth thinking about – say if there are foreign and golden sands in your retirement future – it’s worth planning now, especially in light of global politics.

Reference: SmartMoney (February 13, 2012) “The Real Reasons the Rich Are Moving Cash to the Caymans”; and Forbes (February 14, 2012) “Celebrity Leavings: Bidding Stars Adieu

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