Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is It Worth Taking the Risk to Use Tax Havens to Avoid Paying Taxes?

Tax havens are considered to be a target by many countries across the world as these territories reduce the revenue of many governments across the globe. People resort to them to save on taxes and when taxes and assets are hidden from the government there is loss of revenue and that hampers to the functioning of the many projects that the governments introduce to benefit its people. Most of the people pay their taxes promptly, but there are others who will look at tax havens as an opportunity to avoid taxes. Corporate companies also use this as an option to reduce the corporate tax that they pay to the government.
What Is A Tax Haven Country?

Tax havens are countries that impose very low taxes or in any case no tax on investments and income earned out of that country. This is done to encourage people from investing in the country so as to boost the economic status of the country. Such countries will provide its investors with any or some of the following

Lower rates of taxation or no tax

Option to operate bank accounts in secrecy

No transparency in the tax system and way it operates

No effective information exchange with other countries

Generally most countries across the globe will have international treaties that are signed between them that will allow exchange of information relating to financial transactions and financial investments. But these countries will not have signed such treaties and therefore the exchanges of important financial information that are done by citizens of other countries in tax havens are not accessible. This is why it is not easy to identify such financial transactions to tax them and people often get ways by investing in such countries.

How are Tax Havens Used?

The most straightforward use of tax havens is when a person or a corporate opens a bank account in the country and routes a bulk of the payments received through that bank account. These offshore bank accounts will not be accessible to the tax authorities and therefore are not possible to be traced easily and this is a form of tax evasion that the tax authorities consider a serious act of hiding income and assets. There are also trusts and offshore corporations that are setup in these countries that will not have transparency about the owners and the promoters. Such foundations are clearly designed to hide information from the tax authorities and will help to hide some of the most important parts of a transaction. Tax authorities consider this as a type of aggressive personal and corporate tax planning and are labeled as tax evasion.

Is It Worth the Risk?

As there is very little transparency in the entire system, there have been reports where people have been swindled of their money in trying to resort to tax havens. If an event like this occurs, the individual or corporate cannot approach any organization to help them out as there will be no proper records of the transactions that are being made and they can be rest assured that the money they have lost is not recoverable. If the tax authorities identify you as a person who is using such countries to hide information from them, then you will face strict actions that will be taken by the officials. Apart from the 505 penalty that you will have to pay, there will also be criminal charges framed against you and that can lead to jail term up to 5 years and a fine of up to 200%. This is much higher when corporate are involved as corporate tax rates are generally higher than personal taxes. With such severe actions, it is definitely not worth taking the risk of investing in tax havens.

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