A Nevada LLC Should Not Be Blindly Trusted… Nothing Should

Some bad news for those who think Nevada is some sort of Magical Talisman against creditors:
 
“This Opinion once again illustrates, as have so many similar opinions before it, that it is not nearly enough that a person set up a labyrinth of legal structures to protect themselves, but that for the legal structures to hold up against creditors they must be respected as such. Here, the debtor set up a complicated structure that might normally have put off creditors, but then treated the structure willy-nilly, transferred assets around with little or no purpose or documentation, and then also — the Mortal Sin in creditor-debtor law from time immemorial — personally used and benefitted from the very assets that he claimed were not his.
 
We also again see the implicit application of the ancient legal maxim of delicatus debitor est odiosus in lege, which is translated as “the extravagant debtor is condemned in the eyes of the law”. In other words, a debtor who continues to live a wealthy lifestyle should get no sympathy from the court. So it is here, another case where the debtor claims that he has no money with which to pay their creditors, but maintains a wealthy lifestyle including the use of residences in both in Las Vegas and Southern California. Is it really any wonder that the courts frequently go out of their way to slam such debtors? Not paying one’s debtors while living it up is not only flipping The Bird to creditors, but is also doing the same thing to the Court which has an interest in seeing that judgments are enforced. Why do debtors have such a hard time seeing that?
 
The problem is fundamentally one of clients (1) having some common sense and knowing when they should live an austere lifestyle, and (2) being able to actually follow the legal structure that was created for them. An attorney can create the very best asset protection structure for a client, but if the client then starts ignoring the structure and treating all the assets as his own, then good luck defending that.”
 
Another problem with Nevada noted in the article: Nevada has a very thin record of court rulings compared with other states, and as a result tends to favor California law in the absence of Nevada decisions. This is never a good thing.
 

Can the IRS take your US Passport? Yes.

The IRS can now take away your passport.

A little-noticed provision in the highway funding bill Congress passed this week threatens a right most Americans take for granted: the right to travel abroad. The provision in question gives the Internal Revenue Service the authority to revoke the passport of anyone the IRS claims owes more than $50,000 in back taxes.

Congress is giving the IRS this new power because a decline in gas tax receipts has bankrupted the federal highway trust fund. Of course, Congress would rather squeeze more money from the American people than reduce spending, repeal costly regulations, or return responsibility for highway construction to the states, local governments, and the private sector. On the other hand, most in Congress fear the political consequences of raising gas, or other, taxes. Giving the IRS new powers allows politicians to increase government revenue without having to increase tax rates. Some even brag about how they are “cracking down on tax cheats.”

If you think this is nothing to worry about then you are not paying attention. The IRS can and does routinely fabricate/estimate tax liabilities prior to auditing someone for a variety of reasons. Usually it involves some kind of missed filing or missing documentation. But the IRS is now a highly politicized organization that has been used to attack political opponents. This measure will make it even easier. The IRS can simply “estimate” that you owe more than $50,000 and you will not allowed to leave the country. Beware. You need a second passport more than ever if you plan on staying in the USA.

read more:  Ron Paul: Will The IRS Take Your Passport? – OpEd

Why You Need a Second Passport

passports

There is a great deal of confusion about the issue of getting a second passport or citizenship. What is the difference between residency and citizenship? Is it legal to have another citizenship? Do I need to abandon my current citizenship? What are the reasons?

Residency is the right of a foreigner to live in a country and perhaps work in that country. The rights of a foreign resident are often significantly less than that of a citizen. Not only can foreign residents not vote, but they are also denied many civil and economic benefits usually granted to citizens. In some countries ownership of land is restricted in various ways as is the right to form companies, operate businesses, get jobs, etc. Also, the very status of a foreign resident can be terminated or denied at will, property rights can be suspended, and constitutional rights are often absent or limited. Not so for a citizen. Being a citizen of a country imparts much greater benefits.

Is it legal to have a second citizenship, and will I have to abandon my current citizenship? In most countries the answer is yes, it is legal, and no, you will not have to abandon your current citizenship. Even in those countries that do not allow dual citizenship for its citizens, enforcement is often lax or non-existent. All the same it would be wise to seek legal advise regarding your country’s rules and regulations.

What are the reasons to get a second passport? There are many reasons, and they vary from person to person, but the primary ones are:

  • Banking Options – for some people it is very difficult to establish foreign bank accounts. Due to recent changes in US law it is extremely difficult to open bank accounts as a citizen of the USA.  It can often be much easier with a second passport.
  • Economic Benefits – It is often much easier to establish and operate businesses, and invest in real estate when you are a citizen of the country. Almost every country has some form of restrictions on business ownership, operation, and land ownership by foreigners. Becoming a citizen solves this problem.
  • Expat Lifestyle Benefits – If you plan on becoming an expat (or expatriate) it is often very helpful to have a citizenship from another country for tax purposes as well as security issues. In order to claim expat tax privileges you usually have to prove that you are domiciled outside your home country.
  • Travel Security – When you travel abroad not all passports are treated equally. Yes, US citizens are treated very well at most airports by the immigration control officers, but not so well by criminals, terrorists, etc. Often having a US (or other major country’s) passport makes you a target. In some situations having a more neutral passport could save your life.
  • Domestic Insecurity – People in democratic nations often take their freedoms for granted, specifically the right to travel outside the country. Historically most regimes that are under pressure and experiencing domestic unrest limit the ability of its citizens to leave. They impose capital restrictions to keep you from moving your assets, reporting requirements on foreign assets and travel, exit visa requirements in order to discourage leaving, restrictions on the issuance of passports except under government approved purposes, and finally complete restrictions on exiting the country at all. When this happens foreign nationals (those with foreign passports) are generally allowed to leave. Having a foreign passport may mean you can leave your country without being smuggled out, and without becoming an “undocumented” refugee or worse. You will also have a place to go to if things get bad. Something to think about.
  • Renunciation of Current Citizenship – there are a lot of reasons why people want to renounce their citizenship: political, economic, religious, philosophical, etc. Renouncing your citizenship is a very serious matter and should not be done without considering all the options, and obtaining competent legal advice, but for some there are a lot of benefits. For some it is lower taxes, and for others it is obtaining significant economic or political freedoms. For some it may simply be escaping an intolerable situation. If you are even considering renouncing your current citizenship, you need to have another citizenship and a passport from that country to prove it.

gepassportThe Republic of Georgia offers some very appealing programs for those looking to obtain legal residency and citizenship. Georgia is one of the last bastions of free market capitalism in the world, and it offers great opportunities for those who wish to participate. Of particular interest is the Georgian Presidential Citizenship Program. Under this program the President of Georgia is given a great deal of discretion in regards to issuing citizenship. Click here for more information: [GEORGIAN CITIZENSHIP]. Georgia is also a good place to obtain a legal residency. It is fast and easy, and once obtained provides many benefits.

Important Updates to the Privacy Passport®

Nothing ever stays the same, but sometimes things get better. This is the case for the Privacy Passport®. For more information see:

http://www.alexander-hay.com/offshore-financial-planning/the-privacy-passport/

 

 

Why a United Kingdom Limited Partnership?

business_2172838bFor clients who wish to protect their assets, reduce their taxes, and obtain financial privacy using a corporate entity is ideal. One of my favorits is the United Kingdom Limited Partnership (UK LP).

The UK LP is easy to establish, and once established requires zero reporting since it is a truly 100% “pass through” entity. The income from the UK LP is attributed to the partners without the need to file a partnership return in the UK. If the partners are not in the UK and the income is not derived from UK business, there will be no UK taxes and thereby no reports or tax returns that need to be filed. Now since the UK has some of the best tax treaties around, this income may also be tax exempt in your home country.

In addition, as long as you are not “doing business” in the USA (this usually means making, providing, storing and/or transporting goods or services inside the USA), there will be no tax liability in the USA either, although you may end up owing taxes on the profits of the UK LP if you are a citizen or resident of the USA and depending upon how ownership was set-up.

There are many ways of setting up a UK LP depending upon the needs of the client. Let’s chat if you have any questions!

Why should you worry about asset protection?

DisasterTrain-e1338163025954Bad things can happen to good people. We work hard, do the right things, and yet things can happen that can ruin everything. Sometimes it’s not our fault, and sometimes it is, but all the same a single mistake can take everything you have. A few things that can destroy everything you have been working for, and leave you and your family with nothing:

    • Simple business transactions that have been entered into time and time again without problem can become disaster due to unexpected changed conditions outside our control.
    • Errors in judgment regarding simple matters that seem unimportant at the time.
    • Business partners that turn out to be untrustworthy.
    • Mistakes committed by family and/or friends (or perhaps even by yourself).
    • Family problems.
    • Driving an automobile (even when you are insured and “protected”).
    • Business transactions with trusted friends executed with a handshake.
    • Just plain bad luck.

I have found that very smart people often don’t like thinking about what can go wrong. This is a big mistake. It is very important that you review the possible risks you face in your personal and business life. It is important that you be realistic about these risks. What are some of the “worst-case” scenarios that could happen to you?

Once this is done it is possible to determine what you need to do in order to protect your assets and insure that you and your family are protected. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone needs the same level of protection. It is for this reason that I created the Wealth Preservation Fortress®. It is modular system so that each person receives the customized care he or she needs and the protection he or she deserves without having to reinvent the wheel each and every time.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, or you can simply request a copy of my free ebook “Building Your Wealth Preservation Fortress®.

How and Why an International Privacy Trust can Help You!

privacyI often advise clients to use an “International Privacy Trust” to own the business entities they form in order to provide them with greater asset protection, tax planning, and financial privacy. But I also tell them, “The only thing you want to do with the International Privacy Trust is to have it passively own the shares in those companies; no bank accounts, no contracts, no financial transactions, etc.”

This seems to cause a lot of confusion, “If the International Privacy Trust is so great, why don’t we use that instead of the US LLC, UK LP, or Belize IBC?”

A good question.

Without going into complicated legal issues it is important to understand that the “Trust” was developed through a totally different legal process than was the “Company”. Trust Law is different than Corporate Law. There are different rules that apply, and things are interpreted differently.

For example: If you set up a Trust, and you name yourself to an important position in the Trust, or in some way just maintain effective control over the officers of the trust, there is a real risk that the entire trust will be set aside as a “grantor’s trust” or worse a “sham entity”. However, if you set up a company, you can be the sole shareholder, sole officer, sole employee, chief bottle-washer, etc. and have no such problems.

Again, this is because a Trust is treated differently than a Company. This does not mean the Trust is not useful; it is very useful. It simply means you must be cautious in how you use the Trust.

A Trust is very helpful in providing arms-length ownership of assets that you want removed from your estate. A Trust is very helpful at providing added privacy and confidentiality. With careful design and execution, the Trust can be a very helpful tool.

In order to avoid the charge that the Trust is a grantor’s trust, which will result in negative tax implications, (at least under “common law” jurisdictions) certain precautions need to be taken. The client cannot be the Trustee, Sole Protector, Beneficiary, etc. of a Trust. The client also needs to be at “arms-length” distance from the Trust in all transactions; that is the client cannot have effective day-to-day control of the Trust despite what the paperwork says. By limiting what the Trust actually does, this risk is lowered, and hopefully eliminated.

Another risk is the accusation that the Trust is just the “alter-ego” of the client, or a “sham entity” which will result in the entire Trust being set aside. Again, this is when the client for one reason or another is deemed to have effective day-to-day control over the actions of the Trust. Again, limiting the actions of the Trust to only passive actions such as holding shares in business entities removes this as a reasonable risk to be concerned about.

So, I advise my clients to have an International Privacy Trust that DOES NOTHING OTHER THAN own the shares of the business entity they establish. The client gets the benefit of having an effective Trust that removes the assets from his or her estate thereby providing legal and legitimate asset protection and tax benefits, but can still take an active role in the business with the business entity which is owned by the Trust. This is often referred to as a “hybrid” entity approach.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

The Attorney-Client Privilege

I usually write about Asset Protection, Tax Planning and Financial Privacy, so I thought I would discuss a somewhat related topic; the Attorney-Client Privilege. The Attorney-Client Privilege is a legal concept that protects certain communications between a client and an attorney and keeps those communications confidential. This privilege is “owned” by the client, and it protects the communications even if the client is only a prospective client.

attorney-client-privilege-tulsa-oklahoma-lawyer

For a communication to be considered privileged (that is protected from disclosure) three (3) things must be established:

  1. The holder of the privilege is a client or a prospective client;
  2. The communication is made confidentially with a licensed attorney or subordinate; and
  3. The communication is made with the intent securing legal advice and/or representation.

This privilege is one of the most important concepts in Western legal studies. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood issues even among lawyers.

As with all rules, it is in the exceptions that we find the heart of the matter.

The communication must be with an attorney. There is no such thing as an Accountant-Client Privilege. If you describe a troubling situation regarding past tax returns with an attorney, the attorney will most likely be required to keep the communications confidential. Even upon subpoena the attorney would be required to refuse to answer questions. However, an accountant in the same situation may be required to report what the client said to the authorities as the accountant’s foremost duty is to the taxing authority.

A communication is only privileged if it was intended to be confidential. Speaking in front of 3rd parties destroys the privilege, so attorneys and clients should avoid those elevator conversations. No one wants to hear what you are saying anyway!

The communication is privileged, not the facts. So if you toss a bloody knife onto your attorney’s desk and ask, “What should I do if I just killed my wife with that knife?” the question is privileged as is the possible answer, but the fact that you had a bloody knife in your possession is not protected.

The privilege does not apply in the face of an ongoing or prospective criminal activity or conspiracy. Telling your attorney about your criminal activities in the past may be protected, but if you describe how you intend to continue with such activities the attorney may have a duty to the courts to inform the authorities. A very troubling situation to be in if you are an attorney. If the attorney is not careful he may be considered an accessory or even a co-conspirator to a crime if he fails to disclose the information, or he may be held in violation of his duty to the client if he discloses it inappropriately.

The privilege can also be waived by the client. Remember, the privilege is “owned” by the client. If the client chooses to disclose the content of the communication that is privileged, well it is not privileged anymore. Now this raises an interesting issue (at least to me): to what degree does a partial disclosure of privileged communications waive the remaining undisclosed communications? Under some rules partial disclosure by a client waives the entire privilege, and under other rules partial disclosure only serves as a narrow waiver regarding the exact facts that were disclosed. For instance, let us say that the client files a grievance/complaint against the lawyer. Obviously, the lawyer has the right to defend himself. In Texas, this waiver of privilege is limited to those communications that serve to defend the attorney’s interests, and does not serve to waive the privilege in regards to other forums. However, if the client discloses confidential communications in open court before the Federal Courts, this disclosure may result in a broad and universal waiver of ALL communications between the client and the attorney. OUCH!

The Attorney-Client Privilege is a powerful right that gives people the ability to speak candidly to their attorney even if they do not end up retaining the attorney. But it is not as simple as some believe, and it certainly does not cover everything you say to an attorney. As always, caution is the rule!

When Going “Offshore” Should be Avoided

Many people come to me saying that they want to go offshore to protect their assets and reduce their taxes, but are often not ideal candidates. I try to explain that I do not offshore-financial-advicehelp people go “offshore”. What I do is help people protect their assets, reduce their taxes, and obtain greater financial privacy, all in a legal and ethical manner. Offshore structures are just some of the tools that sometimes come in handy to reach these goals.

For many people, “Going Offshore” is not just the wrong tool to use to accomplish these goals, but for many it is a very dangerous and unwise tool. As I described in my prior article, “What is Jurisdiction?”, the point of going “offshore” is to take advantage of another jurisdiction that may provide more friendly laws and regulations in regards to taxes, asset protection and privacy.

However, just setting up a foreign company and then doing business inside the old jurisdiction will not work. You need to be in a situation where some or all of your business can be successfully transplanted to that new more friendly jurisdiction. Examples of “offshore” friendly businesses are: importing/exporting, software design (particularly if you are already using offshore technicians or have significant offshore clients), Internet services, financial services, entertainment industry, and other types of intellectual property. If you do not have a business that lends itself to “going offshore” then it would be wise to focus on more cost-effective domestic alternatives.

If what you are doing is entirely defined as “US Source Income” (that is you are making, providing, storing, and/or delivering a product or service inside the USA from resources located inside the USA) then there is very little reason to “go offshore”. Setting up a foreign company that is going to do business inside the USA will require the foreign company to submit itself to the laws and tax regulations of the jurisdiction. Far from reducing taxes and protecting assets, this often results in some very negative tax consequences and subjects otherwise safe assets to US liabilities. It is for this reason that most non-US companies and investors usually establish US companies to act as affiliates and/or subsidiaries of the non-US structure.

So the bad news is that “going offshore” may be unsuitable for many if not most US taxpayers.

The good news is that there are a lot of reasonably priced alternatives that can still help to protect your assets, reduce your taxes, and obtain greater financial privacy.

The easiest and simplest of these is the good old tried and true “S Corporation” which combines limited liability protection with a convenient “pass through” tax treatment. A favorite of small businesses and investors for decades, the S Corporation provides adequate asset protection by segregating the liabilities of the business from the assets of the owners. Establishing an S Corporation is simple and even a Limited Liability Company (hereinafter an LLC) can be used for those like me who think the LLC is simply the greatest thing since sliced bread. In addition the S Corporation can provide significant savings in “self-employment” taxes (the 15.3% you have to pay for Social Security and Medicare). Instead of having to pay the self-employment tax of 15.3% up to the $113,700 cap (for 2013), you can give yourself a modest salary, and take the rest of the profits as profit distributions. Although you will have to pay taxes on the profit distributions, the savings of 15% can add up very quickly and is a safe and secure way of saving taxes as long as you pay yourself a “reasonable” salary with withholding. For additional privacy you can use a Revocable Trust to own the shares and appoint a nominee officer to be named in any official papers, thus obtaining near anonymous treatment.

For most small businesses an S Corporation is all they need to protect their assets and significantly reduce their taxes. However, if the operations of the business require significant investment of capital and involve significant exposure to liabilities, additional efforts may need to be taken to insure necessary protection is in place. For such situations we have developed the “Advanced Corporate Fortress”. This combines three (3) US entities that are used together to limit the exposure of the business assets to liabilities, and to maximize the tax savings of the owners. First a C Corporation is established that will stand alone as a taxable entity. All assets of the business will be placed into this C Corporation for protection. An LLC treated as a “disregarded entity” will be established to do anything that involves any exposure to liability. Although the LLC will be owned 100% by the C Corporation, it will have little or no assets that could be seized by a potential litigant. Finally an S Corporation is established to provide management and possibly employee payroll services for the LLC. In summary the C Corporation holds the assets of the business behind its protective wall, the LLC acts as a shield to protect the C Corporation since the LLC will be exposed to any and all liabilities but has no assets, and the S Corporation helps further protect the owner’s interests and reduce the owners taxes as described above. There are also several other advanced strategies that can be used to take advantage of the fact that the C Corporation has a very low initial tax bracket, thus allowing you to place some income into the C Corporation at a reduced tax rate and then lending it out to the S Corporation which can then deduct the interest payments on the loan as deductible expenses thereby further reducing the taxes of the owners.

Now for some people, none of this is necessary. They have no business and are only concerned with protecting their assets. For these people the “Personal Preservation Fortress” is ideal. It is simple yet provides extremely powerful protection. The Personal Preservation Fortress uses two entities to provide the ultimate in asset protection. An LLC is established to hold all the assets of the individual(s). The individual(s) will receive 99% of the shares of the LLC. An Irrevocable Trust is established naming someone other than the owner(s) of the LLC as beneficiaries (this is usually children, grandchildren, pets, etc.). The Trust will receive a 1% interest in the LLC and nothing else. Here is why this system works: creditors can only take what you have. If all you have is a partial interest in an LLC, then the creditors can only take that. Now in most states creditors who seize an LLC interest of less than 100% receive only an “assignment” of that interest, not the interest itself. As such they cannot vote the shares, and they cannot demand distributions from the LLC. This is because the LLC is treated as a partnership and most states provide protection to the other partners from being forced to accept as full members involuntary additions to the partnership. Although the creditor cannot vote the shares and cannot demand a distribution of income or assets, the creditor may be liable for demands of additional capital. That is the creditor may be required to pay additional funds into the LLC in order to maintain its economic position. Finally, if the LLC produces taxable income this income does not need to be distributed to the members, but the members still must pay taxes on the income. So the creditor would have to pay taxes on income earned by the LLC which the creditor did not actually receive. Finally, the only remaining voting member of the LLC is the Trust, which is “influenced” by the owners who act as members of the Trust Committee. The Trust Committee can remove the Trustee if the Trustee fails to satisfy the Trust Committee. As you can see, this is a very unpleasant situation for a creditor to be in, and you can expect them to start negotiating on reasonable terms. The best part about this system is that it applies to all creditors including the dreaded Internal Revenue System.

Finally, there is a unique structure that combines the benefits of an Individual Retirement Account with a tax-free entity:”The IRA Rescue Plan”. This program was initially established to assist people with large amounts of IRA money earning low rates of return who wanted to invest in unconventional investments that would otherwise be prohibited or difficult with a traditional IRA. First, the funds in your current IRA must be transferred to a more cooperative Custodian (conventional Custodians like banks, brokers, etc. only make money when you trade or keep your funds in their institution). We then establish a LLC following the dictates of an important US Tax Court ruling and have the IRA Custodian buy 100% of the shares of the new LLC. The client is then appointed President of the LLC, and does whatever he or she wants to do with the money (subject to basic good faith business limitations). The IRS requires that certain rules be maintained regarding distribution of funds from the LLC to the client, but these rules essentially involve reasonable compensation to insure that the client is not “defrauding” the LLC and thus unreasonably avoiding taxes and penalties on the IRA withdrawal. The long and short of it is that the IRS does not want you to transfer the funds from your IRA to an LLC, and then raid the piggy bank and avoid paying the withdrawal fees and penalties. If care is taken, funds can be paid to the client. Now, not only do we have the IRA funds in an entity managed by the client totally free and clear of the IRA limitations as to investments, the LLC is also a tax exempt entity since all profits of the LLC “pass through” to the IRA which pays no taxes on interest, dividends and/or capital gains. Furthermore, the IRA is one of the few entities to withstand the recent changes to the Bankruptcy Code. Funds in an IRA are still safe from creditors, and the LLC, being owned by the IRA, is thus protected.

As you can see, there is an amazing number of options available for people who may find “offshore” planning too risky, or who simply do not fall into a category whereby they could benefit from “going offshore”. If anything, the choice may be too much to deal with. But that is a good thing. Having plenty of options on how to protect your assets, reduce your taxes, and obtain greater financial privacy is a consumers dream come true. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

What is Jurisdiction?

I thought I would discuss the important issue of “Jurisdiction”. This is because I have been hearing a lot about some countries enacting “draconian” anti-offshore rules and regulations. I thought I would explain how and why most of these stories are rather apocryphal and mostly just propaganda to scare people into submission.

Here is a fairly good definition of jurisdiction:

‘In law, jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning “law” and dicere meaning “to speak”) is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility.’ (Wikipedia)

Now if, let’s say, Australia (or the USA, or the UK, etc.) says in its propaganda literature produced by the tax authorities that new laws are being enacted to do away with “illegal offshore tax dodges”, I want to explain why people should not be too terrified. If done properly, systems can be created that will legally remove the transactions from the jurisdiction of that country making the hyperbole meaningless.

I would like to try to explain what Jurisdiction is by using an allegory.

Let us pretend that there is an odd little country named OustMuensterMark. No one really knows quite where this place is, but it is a fairly backward place. It is ruled by a rather mad Baron named Ruprecht the Red. Ruprecht recently enacted a series of tax laws which require any company doing business in OustMuensterMark to pay roughly 150% of its net profits in taxes, and require the officers to submit their eldest children hostage to the Secret Police. Although the taxes are punitive, there are so many loopholes and exceptions to the tax rules that business manages to limp along in the country, but the place is far from prosperous.

Now let us further pretend that you have a little company chartered and operating out of Florida. Your company’s name is “Wingnuts R Us, LLC” and you sell wingnuts. Every month the Museum for the Science and History of Torture and Decapitation of OustMuensterMark orders $5.35 in wingnuts to be used to tightly enclose their numerous and ever growing display cases. Are you now bound by the laws of OustMuensterMark? Should you be forking over all your money to either Ruprecht’s Tax Collection and Torture Agency or to tax attorneys in OustMuensterMark? Perhaps you should hand over your eldest child to the Secret Police? I think it is fairly clear that your sale of wingnuts to the Museum does not bring you under the jurisdiction of Ruprecht the Red. Have no fear!

One day, Ruprecht wakes up and leaps out of bed stark naked and starts running through the palace screaming, “The British are coming! The British are coming! To Arms! To Arms!!!!” The only British that are found are a few nannies on their way to work at the Royal Orphanage. After directing the thorough interrogation and torture of the unfortunate nannies to no effect, Ruprecht collapses on the floor, a victim of his own hysterical energies. His attendants put pants on him, his doctors put a straight-jacket on him, and the Thingamajig, the Legislature of OustMuensterMark, meets and finally declares Ruprecht the Red to be unfit to rule, and appoints Waldwak the Wise, an adopted child of one of Ruprecht’s distant cousins, to become the new Baron. Luckily for the unhappy state, Waldwak does not suffer from any of the mental infirmities so common in Ruprecht and his other relations. Waldwak completely abolishes the tax code and torture (putting thousands of tax attorneys and tax collectors out of work). Instead of the confusing tax code of Ruprecht, a simple 10% sales tax on goods sold inside the country is imposed and things start to change for the better. Business booms, tax receipts grow, and the Thingamajig votes to rename the country OustWaldwakMark (hereinafter OWM).

One day you get an email from an enterprising tax attorney from OWM offering to establish a Limited Liability Company for you. The email explains that your taxes will be next to nothing, and that you will be able to keep the rest of the money for your pet project of saving orphaned giraffes. You sign up and immediately notice the dramatic increase in your cash register since you are no longer paying Florida and US taxes, and you only have to pay $0.54 cents in taxes a month for the sale of wingnuts to the Museum.

At least until the State of Florida and the US IRS impound your bank accounts, factory, warehouse, cars, house, furnishings, inventory, and dental work. Although you were in complete compliance with the laws of OWM, you were under the jurisdiction of the State of Florida and the USA since your factory, warehouse, distribution center, headquarters, house, car and bank accounts were all located there. Just as the repressive and illogical laws of Ruprecht the Red had no effect upon you when you sold a few wingnuts to the Museum, neither did the enlightened actions of Waldwak the Wise protect you from the jurisdiction of the location where you are located and doing business. And simply establishing a company in OWM did not change that since the new company simply came under the same jurisdiction for the same reasons.

If only you had better understood the concept of jurisdiction! You see, the idea was not so bad, it was just the sloppy, perhaps greedy, execution of the system that was flawed. It was possible to take advantage of the benefits of an OWM Company, but you needed to structure things very differently. First of all, the Florida company should not have been terminated, but should have been kept for the purpose of managing the domestic production and sale of wingnuts. The OWM Company should have been used to manage your considerable foreign sales. The Florida Company should have sold wingnuts to the OWM Company at a reasonable profit based on wholesale prices (not retail), and then the OWM Company would have sold the wingnuts around the world out of their modest offices in OWM. If only $5.35 in wingnuts were sold in OWM, then the tax would remain at $0.54, but if $10,000,000 in wingnuts were sold elsewhere (except the USA) these sales would be tax free. Although the US tax authorities may or may not like such a transaction, as long as the initial wholesale transaction from the Florida Company to the OWM Company was legitimate and resulted in reasonable taxable gains, the additional profits earned by the OWM Company in global sales are simply outside the jurisdiction of the USA. This system is legal, ethical and completely acceptable.

Now on a more philosophical note…

How can jurisdiction be established?

  1. A nation has jurisdiction over you because you were born there and you are forever subject to its whims; or
  2. Jurisdiction is based upon an agreement between the individual and the governing entity.

In the first case, jurisdiction seems to be based upon some strange power that is imputed to a location. Rather like the saying that you can pick your friends but are stuck with your family. But this seems irrational and unreasonable. Why should an individual be subject to the jurisdiction of a particular place merely because of an accident of birth? The second choice seems more logical. You are subject to a particular jurisdiction because you “agree” by your actions and/or your presence. The agreement may be far from voluntary, but it is an agreement to submit to authority all the same. If someone holds a knife to your throat, holds your family and all your property hostage, and deprives you of the ability to go elsewhere, although it may be morally repugnant, accepting this person’s authority is all the same a choice you made even if under duress.

History suggests that most agreements regarding jurisdiction have been formed in just such coercive ways. In a way it is only logical, since authority is something that must be imposed to one degree or another. Only in recent history has the concept of jurisdictional agreement been treated as a matter of true choice which a “free” person can choose to accept or reject. In point of fact, this right to reject a jurisdiction is the basis of most of Western Political thought. But this is still mostly philosophical. The fact of the matter is that you are bound by a jurisdiction simply because you are within the grasp and power of the authorities, and it would be foolish to ever expect such authorities to willfully relinquish that which gives them power.

What can we make of this? In most modern democratic countries it is possible to take advantage of different jurisdictions in order to protect your assets, reduce your taxes, and to obtain greater financial privacy. This is because even as they complain about the loss of tax revenue, these nations still acknowledge the ancient concept of jurisdiction. However, this must be done with attention to the laws and with proper execution. If you wish to take advantage of the low tax rates of a “tax haven” you must make sure that the transactions which you are imputing to the “tax haven” do not fall within the jurisdiction of another more rapacious government authority. Simply getting a company from another country and waiving it around like a magic wand will only make you look foolish and cause you great harm when the trick does not work.

If you would like to chat about asset protection, tax planning, and financial privacy, please feel free to contact me.