Tax laws and treaties, residency visa requirements, opportunities for obtaining second citizenship, documentation required to open a bank account, currency controls and exchange restrictions...as well as the political and the economic landscapes jurisdiction to jurisdicitonâ€¦all these things change all the time.
Unibank, a Panama City bank that we've been recommending as a good choice for foreigners looking to open accounts in Panama, decided two months ago that it would no longer accept foreign clients who haven't been resident in Panama for at least two years.
In 2008, Panama made wholesale changes to its residency permit requirements, increasing both the minimum required investment amounts for all categories and the income requirement for the pensionado visa.
Then, earlier this year, Panama created a whole new residency category that amounts to the easiest way anywhere in the world to establish foreign residency. It also provides for a work permit, something that is generally unheard-of. As Panama legal eagle Rainelda Mata-Kelly put it, "If you want to move to Panama, certainly if you'd like to have the option to work in Panama, you should jump on this. This unique opportunity will almost certainly disappear when the current administration is out of office."
While we were living in the country, Ireland changed its constitution to eliminate automatic citizenship for anyone born on the island. They have also, at various times, changed the rules associated with becoming a citizen through ancestry.
France has changed how the country taxes rental income. Foreign property owners are now meant to pay any associated social charges (although this is technically illegal under EU law).
A few years ago, Costa Rica changed both the minimum requirements and the benefits associated with its pensionado program.
This year, Argentina has imposed stricter currency controls making it very difficult to get hard currency out of that country.
Belize recently passed foundation laws to be competitive with jurisdictions offering foundations as a structures option. Now, in Belize, you can choose a trust or a foundation for your long-term planning.
Any list of the World's Top Offshore Havens is a moving target. In the face of this, how can you make a plan and take action?
By making your plan as diversified as possible. This is the big-picture point of the discussions here in Panama City this week.
Do your banking in one country (where you can feel reasonably secure your deposits are safe), reside in another (where you pay no tax), run your business in a third (where entrepreneurs are respected and incentivized), maybe acquire a second passport elsewhere...
Have gold on deposit in one jurisdiction, keep a physical mailing address in another, and arrange for phone and fax services, again, someplace else...
No, not everyone needs this level of diversification. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. My point is that, to protect yourself and to maximize your opportunities, you need to remain open-minded and flexible.
Plant your flags based on your current circumstances and agendas. But don't plant them in concrete. You might want to be able to move them around from time to time.
P.S. The discussions taking place at this week's Offshore Summit are detailed, pragmatic, practical, and invaluable. We're recording every one of them. While the conference continues (that is, for today only), you can purchase the complete collection of recordings, which will be bundled to create our all-new Offshore Self-Preservation Kit, for a specially discounted pre-publication price.
When the final speaker leaves the stage tonight, this discount will be off the table. Meantime, you can take advantage of it here now.Continue Reading:
Dec. 2, 2010
"Kathleen, are your Panama Circle members eligible for the new Bupa International Group Health Insurance Policy and discount offered to your new Overseas Retirement Circle group?
"Thanks and happy holidays to you all!"
--Bob and Denise R., Panama Circle Members, USA
Indeed, yes. We'll be in touch separately with all Panama Circle members with further details.
"I am looking for information about moving my U.S. internet company overseas. All income would be from U.S. sources.
"I need to know what the tax advantages/disadvantages are for different countries and the banking requirements."
--Ron M., United States
Resident international tax and business expert, attorney and friend Chris Rusch addressed these issues during his "Benefits Of Relocating Your Business Overseas" presentation at the conference this morning.
Here's Chris' comment in response to this reader's specific question:
"If you move abroad, you could form an offshore corporation, draw a salary equal to the foreign earned income exclusion (US$91,500 in 2010), retain the rest of your business profits in the corporation, and thereby eliminate or defer U.S. tax, depending on how much income you earn and whether you remain outside of the United States permanently.
"The banking recommendation depends on the type of internet business. There are many categories, from a retailer with zero chargebacks and 24 months of transaction history to MasterCard/Visa classified high risk (7995 coded) accounts, all with different cost structures and services." Continue Reading:
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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