The 7 Best Countries to Hide Your Wealth
The release of the Panama Papers, a trove of documents tying world leaders and influential politicians to undeclared wealth and tax havens, has sparked a global outcry. As a matter of fact, the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was forced to resign when the leak tied him to hidden assets (sold to his wife for a dollar) in the British Virgin Islands.
That the world’s most wealthy and influential people seek to hide their assets is, of course, nothing new. However, the Panama Papers reveal just how widespread the practice is, even tying associates of Vladimir Putin (and possibly the man himself) to hidden assets totaling millions and even billions of dollars.
While it’s somewhat understandable that rich individuals might take whatever means necessary to protect their wealth, it does not justify the practice of willingly dodging tax liabilities. In achieving wealth, any rich person has necessarily had to rely upon public works, education, and the population at large. As such, they should be held accountable to these interests when the tax bill comes due.
To provide a better understanding of how these wealthy individuals (and corporations) seek to hide their assets, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the best countries in the world for hiding wealth. We think you’ll be surprised to learn where some of these tax havens are!
1. The Cayman Islands
At last check, the total population of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, sat at just under 60,000 people. Despite the small population, though, the Cayman Islands are home to one of the largest concentrations of banking assets in the entire world. At last estimate, these assets totaled one fifteenth of the total assets owned by banks in the world.
Naturally, rich and powerful people around the world take advantage of loopholes in the Cayman Islands’ tax system to hide and protect their assets. But, these tax laws are also taken advantage of by powerful corporations, as well. For example, companies like the drug-maker Pfizer and the soft-drink company Coca-Cola hold subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands.
Speaking of the drug-maker Pfizer, the company’s move into Ireland has become something of an issue during the 2016 United States presidential election. While politicians speak of the company’s move to the country as an issue of American jobs being sent overseas, it actually has more to do with Ireland’s status as a kind of tax haven.
Although the political officials in Ireland would assert otherwise, the country’s favorable tax rates and various loopholes attract companies from all over the world, including Pfizer and Apple, which is incorporated there. Speaking of the Pfizer itself, though, some estimates suggest that the company has been able to dodge taxes on nearly $150 billion in earnings by moving its operations to the land of Guinness…