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Offshore Tax Havens: Panama vs Switzerland

Apr 11, 2008
With more wealth in the world today than any time in man's history that means there are many people with crippling tax burdens who seek out the relief that can be found through the use of offshore tax havens. The best jurisdictions for investors today are Switzerland and Panama due to their rock solid banking secrecy laws and advantageous tax laws that encourage foreign investment.

Panama and Switzerland are both great at gaurding your personal and financial data since the reputations they have built are literally worth billions of dollars to uphold. Since Switzerland has tightened it's restrictions and now requires a larger investment Panama has picked up the slack from the mid sized and smaller businesses since they do not have the capital requirements that Switzerland does.

Due to the high pressure from other countries, and tax treaties with certain countries, Switzerland has undergone changes in its banking policies and security laws. Panama however, does not have tax treaties with other countries and operates independently, so it is able to uphold the laws that it has in place.

This is not to take away from Switzerland's mystique as a tax haven of choice. It is located in Europe, it was the first tax haven formed, it has a stable economy and government with neutral politics. In short it is the most secure place in the world to keep your money so long as you qualify to meet their requirements. With so many scams popping up in the Carribbean knowing your money is safe in a bank in Europe may be worth it even if their rules are more strict.

Most people really underestimate Panama thinking it is a third world country in Central America as such should not be trusted as a tax haven. Many first time visitors to Panama City are surprised to see the 50 and 60 floor banking buildings that are located there. They are quite a site to behold and there are a lot of them. What you won't find is Panama mentioned at the heart of a tax investigation as a place that gives up people's names. I challenge any reader to find a story where a Panama bank official has turned over lists of people using their bank like has happened in so many other jurisdictions.

Panamanian banks do provide a higher level of asset protection, if only for the fact that they operate without any tax treaties from other countries and will not release an individuals information. The only case of bank secrecy being lifted in Panama is in the case of a severe criminal investigation, and even then the agency looking to lift the secrecy will have to make a strong case and go through the proper channels.

There are of course many other countries and jurisdictions available for you to establish an offshore banking account or an offshore incorporation. While many of these countries are also viewed as tax havens and top choices for investment, if you are looking for the best you should consider placing your investment into a facility that is located in a Switzerland or Panamanian jurisdiction. That way, you can rest assured that your money is in an established facility that will offer you the protection that your assets need.
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