Five Non-Reportable Tax Shelters for US citizens

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LONDON, 20th June 2008, Peter Macfarlane reporting for The Q Wealth Report

With just ten days to go until the 30th June deadline for US persons who have bank and other financial accounts in a foreign country to report those accounts to the US Department of Treasury, the IRS has been making the most of the opportunity for publicity by issuing warnings.

Many expat Americans may hold a few small accounts in different parts of the world without realizing that their aggregate value has now exceeded $10,000, due to the fall in value of the dollar.

US persons are required to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), Form TD F 90-22.1, each year if they have a financial interest in or signature authority or other authority over any financial accounts, including bank, securities or other types of financial accounts, in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

As Tax-News.com reports:

There is nothing improper about setting up or maintaining such accounts, the IRS reassured taxpayers. However, IRS officials are concerned that US persons may overlook that their accounts are large enough to trigger reporting obligations.

“There are responsibilities that go along with owning such foreign bank and financial accounts,” announced IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, continuing:

“Foreign account owners must remember that they may have to report their accounts to the government, even if the accounts do not generate any taxable income.”

It might be time to look at what kind of offshore tax shelters do NOT trigger IRS reporting requirements. Here are five to get you started…

1. Buy securities from an offshore bank or brokerage. While a securities account is reportable, you can still buy securities in the old way – over the counter from a bank, with a paper certificate issued in return. Store the certificate securely offshore.

2. Real Estate is the ultimate non-reportable investment. (Of course if you derive income from it, for example by letting the property, you might find reporting requirements kick in. But the mere fact of having a property sitting there increasing in value and protecting your wealth is not reportable)

3. Foreign Safe Deposit Box. Neither the box, nor the contents of it, are a reportable account. Most banks will require you to open an account first before renting you a box, but provided you keep the account value under the $10,000 limit you don’t have to declare it. For added security and confidentiality, hold it through a corporation. Want to know where to rent a safe deposit box? Email [email protected] and ask me.

4. Valuables such as gold and diamonds kept in a safe deposit are not reportable either. Emeralds from Brazil are a great investment at the moment, performing better than diamonds. Of course you need to buy right. The Q Wealth Report offers a free report about investing in gemstones called Diamonds are Forever in the members area.

5.  Warehouse or depository receipts. Certificates that represent a specific asset (typically precious metals) are not reportable. A certificate should provide for “allocated” storage – that is specific bars, coins, barrels etc in a specified warehouse. A “pooled” account is probably reportable. The different typews of storage are explained in more detail in The Q Practical Offshore Banking Guide 2008.

Editor’s note: For more information like this, check Peter Macfarlane’s blog at www.petermacfarlane.net

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