Get Outta Here

The Basics

The professional name increasingly used to identify a legal tax haven is an International Financial Center (IFC). An IFC is a nation or independent legal jurisdiction that has passed important legislation to protect and attract international clients. To date, there are about 69 jurisdictions throughout the world that have taken steps to be known as IFCs.

Sophisticated global money managers consider the use of IFCs to be a safe and reasonable way to conduct business. And every single day, more Americans discover the benefits that come with taking at least portions of their assets offshore. In fact, according to Arnold Goldstein, a widely published expert in offshore matters and the president of Arnold S. Goldstein & Associates PA in Deerfield Beach, Florida, "about one in four Americans who earn over $100,000 a year now enjoy use of one or more safe-haven jurisdictions."

A recent issue of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) newsletter unequivocally endorsed offshore planning. The publication printed a bulletin last year that stated the following: "To prepare for the 21st century, CPAs must be aware of the hottest, most important tax-savings and asset-protection devices. Once thought of as reserved for the very rich, offshore planning is available for virtually all clients and should be part of overall planning."

Aaron Young, an entrepreneurial consultant in Portland, Oregon, says, "Americans move money to offshore jurisdictions in order to better protect their assets, improve their privacy, increase rates of return, and reduce risks, taxes and costs." And he should know-he's personally worked with hundreds of business owners who've made the step offshore.

Clearly, offshore tax havens can legally net entrepreneurs substantial fiscal savings. Case in point: In the United States, the death tax can consume as much as 55 percent of an estate. But enter offshore havens into the picture: "Today's fortunes are [often] made through family businesses, and the value is in the equity of these enterprises," says Quinn Sutton, a small-business consultant in Alpine, Utah. "But with confiscatory taxes, these generators of wealth are pried out of the hands of families and sold to big corporations in order to satisfy inheritance taxes. Such inequity has spawned the Kill the Death Tax Coalition and other groups that oppose inheritance taxes by lobbying for legislative reform. But until you really can fight city hall, there are alternatives to losing family-built enterprises to the taxman. And these alternatives often involve using offshore investment vehicles for privacy, asset protection and legal tax avoidance."

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get Outta Here.

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