Twenty years ago, very few offshore financial centers existed, and those that did were surrounded by myths of drug money and illicit activities. Quite a bit has changed since then: Today, the offshore industry has developed into a major business that spans the globe. It even involves, in one way or another, half the world's financial transactions by value. In fact, $2 trillion flows through offshore centers every day.
Fact is, going offshore could very well be a viable financial strategy for many entrepreneurs-assuming you understand the ins and outs of the offshore world. You're not alone, however, if you're unsure about traversing the complicated waters to tax havens like the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and Switzerland. The ride can get pretty murky out there, and the last thing you want to do is find yourself-not to mention your business-in a legal quagmire.
First things first: Don't take this journey solo. Enlist the help of a qualified professional, preferably an experienced consultant who understands the pertinent IRS codes and knows which traps to avoid. There are a number of qualified international tax attorneys skilled in the offshore arena. For a referral, call (604) 684-2622 (Canada), (503) 647-7730 (Oregon) or (869) 466-3794 (Caribbean). But in the end, finding the right help can reap substantial rewards-think guaranteed privacy, premiere asset protection, various tax-shelter options, and higher and safer investment returns-and certainly prove well worth the risk and effort it takes to get there.
Terry L. Neal, author, financial consultant and entrepreneur, is an expert on the offshore industry with 25 years of multijurisdictional experience. His most recent book, The Offshore Advantage (MasterMedia Publishing), can be ordered by calling (800) 334-8232.