Utilising tax deferral benefits
Investing offshore may appeal to anyone who plans to live overseas, travels extensively, or wishes to look outside of their ‘home’ country for investment opportunities. Depending on where you reside, there will be various options available to you. Perhaps you already have money offshore and are looking to receive a better return; or you maybe you are planning to move abroad.
For the appropriate investor there are a number of advantages to investing offshore, particularly with regards to utilising the tax deferral benefits. You can defer paying tax for the lifetime of the investment, so your investment rolls up without tax being deducted, but you still have to pay tax at your highest rate when you cash the investment in. As a result, with careful planning, a variety of savers could put offshore investments to good use.
The investment vehicles are situated in financial centres located outside the United Kingdom and can add greater diversification to your existing portfolio. Cash can also be held offshore in deposit accounts, providing you with the choice about when you repatriate your money to the UK, perhaps to add to a retirement fund or to gift to children or grandchildren. Those who work overseas or have moved abroad to enjoy a different lifestyle often want to pay as little tax as is legally possible.
Many offshore funds offer tax deferral. The different types of investment vehicles available offshore include offshore bonds that allow the investor to defer tax within the policy until benefits are taken, rather than be subject to a basic rate tax liability within the underlying funds. This means that, if you are a higher rate tax payer in the UK, you could wait until your tax status changes before bringing your funds (and the gains) back into the UK.
The wide choice of different investment types available include offshore redemption policies, personalised policies, offshore unit trusts and OEICs. You may also choose to have access to investments or savings denominated in another currency.
Many banks, insurance companies and asset managers in offshore centres are subsidiaries of major UK, US and European institutions. If you decide to move abroad, you may not pay any tax at all when you cash-in an offshore investment, although this depends on the rules of your new country.
Regarding savings and taxation, what applies to you in your specific circumstances is generally determined by the UK tax regulations and whatever tax treaties exist between the UK and your host country. The UK has negotiated treaties with most countries so that UK expats in those countries are not taxed twice. Basically, if a non-domiciled UK resident is employed by a non-UK resident employer and performs all of their duties outside the UK, the income arising is only subject to UK tax if it is received in or remitted to the UK.
Investor compensation schemes tend not to be as developed as in the UK, so you should always obtain professional advice to ensure that you fully understand each jurisdiction. It is also important to ensure that you are investing in an offshore investment that is appropriate for the level of risk you wish to take.
If you are an expatriate you should find out if you are aware of all the investment opportunities available to you and that you are minimising your tax liability. Investing money offshore is a very complex area of financial planning and you should always obtain professional advice. Currency movements can also affect the value of an offshore investment.
The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back your original investment. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Tax benefits may vary as a result of statutory change and their value will depend on individual circumstances.