вторник, 31 января 2012 г.

Top 10 Tax Havens

This country is imploding, and not because of the mounting job losses and mortgage foreclosures, or ex-bankers pole-dancing to put food on the table, or Latvian-owned brothels refusing to accept credit cards. No, I’m talking about something far more dangerous: the rush among the world’s “elite” governments to wage war on simple wealthy folk to recover taxes on income believed to be hiding in offshore shelters.

There are many reasons why this is wrongheaded, foremost of which is a disgraceful lack of respect for the autonomy of the world’s more diminutive nations. Hey, if a small country wants to set a zero-tax policy, as opposed to the 35 percent tax rate in the States, I will defend their sovereign right to do so with well, maybe not my life, but certainly the lives of several thousand of my working-class countrymen.
Herewith, then, is a list of the safest offshore sites for your spare millions. 

 A mere 15-minute suborbital rocket flight from Florida, these three little islands south of Cuba attract one big swinging industry: hedge funds. Start up an exempted corporation here and there’s no tax on income, profits, capital, wealth, capital gains, property, sales, estate, or inheritance I’d go on, but the excitement of an equity spike makes me squirt. The capital, and the financial and business center, George Town, is home to more registered businesses than people, a fact that prompted Barack Obama in a 2008 campaign stump speech to attack the Ugland House, a five-story office building that, according to Mr. Big Govern- ment, houses 12,000 corporations. “That’s either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record,” he said. “And I think we know which one it is.”
I felt like I’d been gut-punched by Karl Marx (easily the least funny of the brothers), so I checked Obama’s “information.” Sure enough, he was wrong: It’s not 12,000 corporations that are registered at Ugland House, but 18,857. Let’s stick with the facts, Mr. President. 


In a picturesque mountain valley between Switzerland and Austria sits the world’s oldest tax haven, a tiny pimple of land no bigger than the dog run behind my second home, a micro- state called Liechtenstein. How thrilled am I about its extremely strict bank- secrecy laws? When visiting, I send my underlings out to give every one of its 135,000 citizens a high five (in German, of course—hoch fünf !). But even better, I love Liechtenstein for its famed “rent-a-state” program: For as many as 1,200 at people between $320 and $530 a day per person, you can rent the entire country, granting you access to its restaurants, hotels, castles, and clothing-optional ski slopes—there’s simply no better way to demonstrate wealth than to slalom downhill with three poles exposed. A few years ago, my hadgefund partner, Morty, rented Liechtenstein for his son Benjamin’s bar mitzvah; I’ll be doing the same soon for my son, Grant—and we’re not even Jewish.

 Not even the frigid Alpine altitudes will freeze your assets here. The Swiss have long provided a refuge for us financially persecuted types; their fabled tax loopholes are why they control 40 percent of the world’s private wealth, and also why I named my firstborn Heidi, even though my firstborn is a boy. There are more banks in this offshore Shangrilathan anywhere else in the world: big banks, private banks, savings banks, Ernie Banks, mortgage banks, and commercial banks. This allows me to diversify investments while protecting myself from creditors, the ravenous IRS, my wife, and my girlfriend.
There’s been quite a scare lately about the Swiss bank UBS surrendering the identities of its American cus- tomers, but as long as you avoid a Swiss bank that has employees in the United States, you’re safe from attack. For the record, whereas most countries will merely fire a bank employee who leaks information, the Swiss will throw him in jail. There, conditions are so punctual and precise and crushingly dull that he will be yodeling a confession in no time, out of sheer boredom. 
 no.4  PANAMA 
If Switzerland wore a thong, it would look a lot like Panama, which has nearly identically impenetrable bank-secrecy laws. This is important because checks written from a foreign account allow you to enjoy “float time,” usually three weeks between the writing of a check and its arrival at the bank for clearing. During that period, you continue to earn interest on the money in your account—a time I refer to as “Pan-a-Mania.”
Panama is home to plenty of freedom-loving Americans who relish the absence of a personal-income tax on money they earn offshore.
You can also drink the water, and the American-style AC/DC electrical system allows me to use my paper shredder with impunity.

But while it’s easy to avoid taxes there, it’s more difficult to avoid mosquitoes. They swarm like malarial Democrat pests chasing me into my stretch Hummer. If you must walk outside, I suggest hiring local children to shoo them away by fanning you vigorously with W-9 tax forms.  

 no.5   GIBRALTAR 
Gibraltar, aka “the Rock,” is a monkey- infested 1,400-foot limestone protuberance rising from a bay on the southern tip of Spain. It was designed as a monolithic tribute to Prudential. And rightly so, for upon the Rock’s solid foundation I incorporated an Internet gaming company, Jonesing4Poker .com, which capitalizes on the fact that Brits don’t pay taxes on winnings from gaming companies based in Gibraltar (see also: PartyGaming.com, Ladbrokes.com, and 888.com). Even more impressive than the low tax
rates are the hundreds of free-ranging Barbary apes that roam the city. (Technically, they’re macaques a kind of monkey and the only nonhuman primates living in Europe, unless you count Silvio Berlusconi.) One was wily enough to steal my copy of Sean Hannity’s Let Freedom Ring on a recent visit, and then return it highlighted.  
Whoever said “No man is an island” never set up a shell corporation in the South Pacific. The 15 stunningly green volcanic Cook Islands, located near New Zealand and Tahiti, embody lagoon capitalism at its best, particularly in the capital of Rarotonga. There you’ll find full-service, oh-so-lightly regulated English-speaking banks and plenty of Internet access. Combined with the fact that it’s only three hours behind California time, this Polynesian outpost is the perfect place to swing on a hammock with a rum drink in hand (ask for “the Reagan”), press play on the iPod, and fill your brain with the sounds of Buffett not Jimmy, Warren.
Is this one country or two? I’m not even sure! But I do know that in the 1980s, St. Kitts and Nevis transformed from a sugar colony whose economy was frequently ravaged by hurricanes into a rocksolid tax haven. This would have prompted a vigorous “thumbs up” from Nevis’s favorite son, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. This tiny east Caribbean nation grants full citizenship if you buy property worth more than $350,000, allowing you tax-free foreign income, capital gains, gifts, wealth, and inheritance. I bought a house in the capital of Basseterre, sight unseen, that included a family of six, an in ground pool and stunning views of Oprah Winfrey. 
   no.9 BELIZE
 For me, this former British colony with its unrivaled scuba diving, dense rain forests (home to the rare scarlet macaw, whose throaty mating call sounds like “div-div-dividend!”), and ancient Mayan ruins—represents a great investment opportunity. The country’s QRP, the Qualified Retired Persons program, has attractive benefits for those who wish to spend their golden years in Belize. I’ll be settling my parents there in a fourstar, full-service hotel; we’re suing for the legal rights to build it inside a centuries-old Mayan temple. It’ll be called the Cashmore, and my father’s income from working there as a bellboy, and my mother’s as a chambermaid, will be transferred into a Belizean trust, where it will gain interest virtually tax-free. 

no.10  NEVADA 
I wish my accountant, Vern, had advised me about the tax havens here in the States before I renounced my citizenship and started taking daily estrogen shots to grow breasts to alter my identity. But it’s true: Nevada’s official website promotes its “limited reporting and disclosure requirements” and ultraconvenient one-hour incorporation services. It’s like getting married, except Elvis won’t be presiding and nobody takes half your stuff when you cancel the contract. A “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (the state doesn’t ask for the names of your company’s shareholders, and it won’t normally tell the feds) has attracted more than 400,000 registered corporations— that’s a company for one person at every blackjack table in the city. And for foreigners, Nevada is a great place to stash cash, since it does not tax the interest income they earn.
If you don’t believe me, ask any foreigner, such as Belize’s newest citizens my parents.  



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