The word 'offshore' has gained a distorted image in much of the mainstream press and the minds of many individuals. The impression given is of wealthy individuals hiding money from the taxman and other people, while laundering assets through offshore companies and trusts.
Money laundering and tax evasion have been features of offshore centres in the past, as they have been of London, New York and other major international financial centres. Regulations, however, have been significantly extended in recent years to require the collection and exchange of information across borders to prevent money laundering and tax evasion, while governments have simultaneously been reducing the opportunities for legitimate tax planning as well.
Nevertheless, offshore planning has always been an important feature of legitimate wealth management strategies. In the simplest definition from a UK perspective, offshore planning means holding assets outside the UK. This may be for tax planning, investment, asset protection or succession planning reasons. In appropriate circumstances, this strategy can complement onshore financial planning.
For UK residents, there are more opportunities for offshore planning open to non-UK domiciled individuals.
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