The Best Strategy For Keeping Your Offshore Assets Tax Free

FATCA, officially known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, is probably the worst law that most Americans don’t know about…especially if you’re a U.S. citizen thinking of investing outside the U.S. It basically requires you to tell the U.S. government a yearly breakdown of all financial accounts you hold outside the country—from bank accounts to companies to rent-producing real estate.

Is This The Best Place for Americans to Bank?

Not that long ago, you could buy a CD in a U.S. bank and get a decent rate of return…4% or 5% annually was typical. Sure, you wouldn’t get rich this way. But it was a safe and affordable way to build a nest egg. Today of course, times are very different. For nearly a decade, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at zero. And instead of paying 4% to 5% annually on CDs, now you’re lucky to get 1%.

How to Legally and Safely Obtain Your Second Passport

One of my favorite scam stories is of the German lady living in Paraguay. Claudia Bettina Muller was arrested last year for printing fake passports in her basement. Police found printing and engraving machines, along with boxes of blank passports and counterfeit government forms. But before I had ever heard of Claudia Bettina Muller or the Paraguayan police caught up with her, I had heard of this scam. I had come across a speaker at an event in Nevada who claimed he could get anyone in the attentive audience a Paraguayan passport in as little as a month. This was possible he maintained, because he had high-level government contacts. The cost was only $45,000. (That's half of what any of the second citizenship programs I work with charge.) Right then, as he spoke, I knew it was a scam.

Two Ways to Bulletproof Your Assets

Why take your assets offshore with an international structure? Simple. It can make your assets virtually invulnerable to civil judgments. It can also protect you from risks such as civil forfeiture, exchange controls, repressive legislation, or political instability. It's more difficult for creditors to collect against international assets. No country automatically enforces U.S. civil judgments. Many countries don't enforce them at all. If you live in the States, a U.S. court can order you to repatriate your international assets. But if you've set up your structure properly, you won't have the power to bring the funds back. And that's a fantastic incentive for a creditor to settle the lawsuit.

How Going Offshore Can Save Your Retirement

In 1986, I walked into the main Credit Suisse branch in Chicago and told the doorman I wanted to open a Swiss bank account. I was led to a private office overlooking the Chicago skyline and was asked for my minimum deposit. Being just 31 at the time, I played it conservative and started with just $2,000 (about $4,300 in today's dollars). I was asked to fill out a one-page form and provide a copy of my driver's license. I gave him a check and away I went. It took all of 20 minutes. In 1986, "offshore" was still exotic. It was something regular people didn't really do. How things have changed in 29 years.