An offshore bank is simply a bank where you can open an account but it is not in the country where you reside. Most people decide to open a bank account in a country where there is no tax to pay or the rates are extremely low, one that provides financial and legal benefits, opening a Cyprus bank account can give you many of these benefits.
Advantages to opening a bank account in Cyprus include a great deal of privacy and confidentiality as well as less restrictive legal laws and rules than those imposed by an offshore bank account. They offer their customers protection against any kind of local political or financial stability and have a greater access to deposits.
The majority of offshore banks are located on island nations; some of these include Cyprus, Jersey, The Isle of Man and Bermuda. They can also however be found in other countries that are not islands, such as Luxembourg.
Once offshore banking was associated with illegal activities, laundering money, organized crime and tax evasion, however there are plenty of law abiding citizens’ who maintain an offshore bank account as individuals or for their international business.
Offshore banks have no legal responsibility to report income to other tax authorities as they are protected by bank secrecy. This doesn’t make the practice legal of course, if you have an income that you don’t declare to your own tax authorities then it is illegal and if they do become aware that you have this account you could be in some serious trouble.
Since 2001 there have been more demands for increased directives on global finance, especially those relating to offshore banks and tax havens, due to their reputation and the easier risks of illegal money flows.
Why do people choose to open a bank account offshore? Generally, the offshore banks will offer higher interest rates than those that are on offer by the banks in the clients own countries. This is possible as their overheads are considerably lower due to the location and the absence of any involvement by the government of the jurisdiction.
For residents of countries that are politically and economically unstable, putting their lifesavings in a bank account can be a risky action. Offshore bank accounts can provide a safe and reliable place to put their money with no fear that it will be reduced or even frozen and they subsequently lose everything.
There are few industries that a small island community can earn money from, many of them are popular tourist destinations and tourism is their main industry.
Offshore banking provides another industry they can take on and compete with other countries. Also it can provide a way of creating investment and growth in the economy of the country as well as helping to spread out the world’s finances to the developing world.
When an offshore bank pays interest most of the time tax is not deducted. This is a huge benefit for those who don’t pay tax on global income and those who don’t pay tax until the tax return is decided. It is also possible to set up an anonymous bank account in Cyprus or another jurisdiction, this option isn’t available with domestic banks. Higher rate loans based on the risk and investment opportunities are also more viable than anywhere else.
Supporters of offshore banking claim that creating competition in the tax and banking world is a benefit to the industry, as it permits people to select a suitable equilibrium of services and taxes. Those against offshore banking say that the competition puts the banks at a disadvantage, as governments in developed countries are forced to deregulate their banking systems in order to stop everyone turning to offshore banks for their financial needs.
There are disadvantages of offshore banking and the main one is that it is often related to tax fraud and organized crime. Although there are instances and once there was a time when the majority of people who used offshore banks might have been involved in these kinds of activities, now a large number of expatriate and international workers use and open offshore bank accounts.
Due to the location of many offshore banks it can be difficult to get information and access the bank, contact would be mostly by telephone or via email and this isn’t always proficient.
Accounts can easily be set up online and all business transactions handled online, which many people prefer. Those people who receive high incomes usually seek out the services of offshore banks as they tend to pay a higher rate of tax and having an account offshore can save them money.