When it comes to discussing offshore anything and US citizens - from offshore trusts to investments, from offshore banking to company incorporation - it's important to note the following facts: -
- US citizens are taxed on their worldwide income. This includes income from interest, dividends and gains whether onshore or offshore.
- The US government allows money and assets to be moved offshore freely; however it requires full disclosure relating to the amount of money or assets moved and when they are moved.
- The US government has task forces committed to the prevention of money laundering and tax evasion.
- The US government makes it clear that US citizens must comply with all reporting and taxation demands.
So, does this effectively render the offshore world inaccessible or at least useless for US citizens?
No, far from it in fact!
The utilization of offshore trusts and bank accounts can be an excellent way for US citizens to legally and securely protect their assets and themselves from litigation for example.
Offshore trusts offer an individual a fair degree of personal confidentiality, privacy and asset protection from claimants such as an ex-spouse or business client for example; and if properly structured, offshore bank accounts can offer degrees of financial protection from potential future claims as well.
There are many companies and individuals who claim to be able to offer US citizens offshore solutions for taxation reduction or negation purposes. The bottom line is - as stated previously - US citizens are taxed on worldwide income. Therefore it is at best unlikely that the services being advertised will apply to a US citizen and at worst the opportunity will require the US citizen in question to break the law.
So how can offshore asset protection trusts potentially benefit US Citizens?
Any form of asset protection trust - whether onshore or offshore - can be used to protect assets from personal or professional litigation or creditor attack.
Whether established in an offshore jurisdiction or not, most assets protected by the given trust for a US citizen can remain in America. The assets usually remain under the indirect control of the Settlor (the person establishing the trust) as well.
Such a trust will usually be 'irrevocable' for a set term, and during that period the settlor will not be a direct beneficiary of the trust.
Depending on circumstances and best advice, many US asset protection specialists favor structuring offshore or foreign trusts in such a way so that they are taxed as domestic grantor trusts.
If the trust is created properly, any creditor or anyone suing the settlor will be unable to reach or claim the assets within the trust.
If the offshore asset protection trust has been structured as an irrevocable trust for a set term, at the end of the term provided there is no current or ongoing threat, the assets can be returned to the control and direct 'ownership' of the settlor.
When it comes to the utilization of offshore solutions there are circumstances in which US citizens can benefit from properly structured offshore solutions.
At all times US citizens must be aware that it is their legal duty to comply with American taxation and reporting requirements.
The purpose of effective offshore asset protection planning is the negation of any economic incentive to sue.
Rhiannon Williamson is an experienced publisher who has produced articles for leading travel and tourism guides and financial magazines. Her specialist knowledge about both travel and finance gives her site Shelter Offshore the unique ability to literally cover every single aspect of moving & living abroad - including the often less discussed offshore tax advantages that can be available when leaving our homeland. Check out her website to find out how you can escape from the rat race, relocate overseas, and profit from your move!