How Foreign Real Estate Can Be Privacy Protection

December 19, 2020 by No Comments

I have written previously about privacy protection techniques you can use to make yourself largely invisible: Specifically, form a limited liability corporation (LLC). As a “juristic person,” an LLC can do almost all of the things a real person can do: open bank accounts, register a car, have a phone number, own property and so on. That means you can shift many of your personal affairs into an LLC and limit your personal exposure to the rapidly degenerating world of Big Data.

But there is an exception to this rule.

It’s one case where holding something in your own name is the best of privacy protection techniques… a technique that can also protect you from lawsuits, wealth confiscation and a range of other threats… ps5 for sale

Location, Location, Location

In the real estate business, houses that are indistinguishable from each other can have vastly different market values. That’s because the location of a property has a huge impact on its desirability as a place to live. For example, there are spectacular early 20th-century mansions in Detroit that have no market price at all: Nobody wants them.

But two things that every property in the U.S. has in common are a place on a searchable deeds register, and a tax valuation. These local and state government records are woven together into searchable national databases. And even if a U.S. property is owned by an LLC, a determined adversary can find out who the “beneficial owner” of that property is via LLC records. That makes it vulnerable to lawsuits and court judgments… including those involving taxation.

But that isn’t true at all when it comes to property in a foreign country… even when the property in question is owned by a U.S. citizen.

A Reporting Loophole

If you own property in a foreign country, it doesn’t form part of any U.S. property registry or tax database. There’s no way anyone can find out that you own it… with two exceptions.

The first exception is if you are ordered by a judge, under oath, to reveal all of your personal assets. You can’t lie in court. (Even then, it can be incredibly difficult for an adversary who wins a U.S. judgment to act against foreign property – they would have to argue and win their case all over again in a foreign court.)

The second exception is if you own a foreign property through a vehicle like a foreign corporation, partnership or other “juristic person.” In that case, your ownership interest in that foreign entity is considered a “financial account,” and is therefore reportable to the IRS and the Treasury Department under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Report of Foreign Bank Accounts (FBAR).

But if you own a foreign property¬†in your own name… registered to you as a legal person in your own right… you are under no obligation whatsoever to report its existence. Even if you earn income from the property, such as rental, you don’t have to identity the property when you file your tax returns.

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