You've probably read in the newspapers of various celebrities and successful business who manage to avoid or at least substantially reduce their UK taxes – whilst a significant proportion of the general public are paying close to 50% of their income in tax. Well, there's nothing to prevent you using some of these techniques to slash your UK taxes as well, depending on your circumstances.
Here's some of the techniques that the Rich & famous use:
Make the most of your offshore status
People like Mohammad al Fayed make tremendous use of their non UK domiciled status. If you're an overseas national and were born overseas (typically your father will also have been a non UK domiciliary at the date of your birth) you can avoid paying any tax on your overseas income and capital gains. The main condition to this is that you need to keep the income or proceeds outside of the UK. As you'd expect though there are ways around this to enable some of the proceeds and income to be brought into the UK free of taxes.
Make the most of your spouses offshore status.
If you're lucky enough to have a husband or wife that is either non UK resident or non UK domiciled you can use their offshore status to your advantage. This is what Philip Green did (the billionaire owner of BHS). His wife is a resident of Monaco and he ensured that she extracted dividends from his UK companies free of UK (and overseas) tax. This saved him paying UK tax of around £200Million that he would have otherwise had to pay if he'd extracted the dividends.
Using a tax efficient holding company.
Famous bands such as U2 and the Rolling stones make use of some of the best offshore tax companies to avoid paying tax on much of their income. U2 for example used to fall within the Irish tax regime which had a longstanding tax exemption for artists. When this loophole was tightened up, they moved their holding company to the Netherlands to take advantage of tax free royalties. There are lots of other countries that can also offer tax efficient holding companies such as Spain, Denmark and Cyprus.
Using tax efficient trading companies.
Multinationals such as Coca Cola make good use of a string of offshore companies to ensure that they can redistribute profits within the group to reduce the overall 'effective' rate of corporation tax. (It is reducing this effective rate that is the main focus of many in house tax lawyers lives!)
Actually move overseas Celebrities such as James Blunt, Michael Schumacher and Boris Becker have all moved offshore to ensure they have only limited UK tax obligations. They've based themselves in Switzerland and are local residents. The beauty of Switzerland is the 'fiscal deal' which allows the tax liability to be fixed at an artificially low amount.
So there you have it – some ideas to get you thinking about how you could use the offshore tax planning techniques of the rich and famous. For more detailed articles on offshore tax visit www.wealthprotectionreport.co.uk
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Lee has a tax consulting firm, specialising in capital gains tax, inheritance tax and business tax planning. He is editor of the popular tax planning website wealthprotectionreport featuring articles on all aspects of tax avoidance but especially focussing on Capital Gains Tax, Offshore Tax Havens and Inheritance Tax
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