Offshore banking has often been associated with the underground economy and organized crime, via tax evasion and money laundering; however, legally, offshore banking does not prevent assets from being subject to personal income tax on interest. Except for certain persons who meet fairly complex requirements , the personal income tax of most countries makes no distinction between interest earned in local banks and those earned abroad. Persons subject to US income tax, for example, are required to declare on penalty of perjury, any offshore bank accounts–which may or may not be numbered bank accounts–they may have. Although offshore banks may decide not to report income to other tax authorities, and have no legal obligation to do so as they are protected by bank secrecy, this does not make the non-declaration of the income by the tax-payer or the evasion of the tax on that income legal. Following September 11, 2001, there have been many calls for more regulation on international finance, in particular concerning offshore banks, tax havens and clearing houses such as Clearstream, based in Luxembourg, being accused of being a crossroads for major illegal money flows.
An offshore bank is a bank located outside the country of residence of the depositor, typically in a low tax jurisdiction (or tax haven) that provides financial and legal advantages. These advantages typically include some or all of:
* Strong privacy
* Less restrictive legal regulation
* Low or no taxation (i.e. tax havens)
* Easy access to deposits (at least in terms of regulation)
* Protection against local political or financial instability
While the term originates from the Channel Islands “offshore” from Britain, and most offshore banks are located in island nations to this day, the term is used figuratively to refer to such banks regardless of location (Switzerland, Luxembourg and Andorra in particular are landlocked).
What type of services are available from offshore banks? The same as the services from any high street bank, plus the extremely confidential Swiss style numbered accounts. Many of the offshore banks listed on this site are respected AA credit rated international banks, that everyone has heard of before. They have simply set up an offshore division or branch division within a tax haven to attract a share of the enormous international trade, and offer almost the same services as any domestic bank. Such as the following:
* Personal and corporate current/checking account
* Personal and corporate savings accounts
* Secure internet banking facilities
* Anonymous numbered accounts (extremely confidential)
* Debit and ATM cards, which are accepted globally
* Credit cards
Going offshore in simple terms means placing your savings, investments, assets or business concerns outside of your home country, within one of the many tax havens. A tax haven is a country that has very favourable tax advantages, which means that your savings, investments, assets or business profits can grow free of almost any taxation. Although taxation is only one reason why many decide to go offshore.