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Economic Citizenship – A Window of Opportunity
 

The global financial crisis has been making headline news for the past few months and shows no signs of abating. Around the world, government leaders are making pledges to ease the burdens of the recession for their respective country’s. But even these measures are tempered with caution as awareness grows of the widespread effect of the declining economy and even leaders hungry for power are aware that they can not make unrealistic promises in a climate of such unpredictability and turmoil.

But in this frightening climate of financial instability there are indeed windows of opportunity for all of us.  Whether you have a modest savings account or vast wealth to protect; let me open the shutters on one window and shine a light on the untaxed fresh sea air of the Eastern Caribbean islands! 

If your freedom to work, invest, manage your retirement funds, or purchase property where you choose is becoming increasingly controlled by your citizenship, then there is an alternative.

Economic citizenship!  Most countries require a foreigner to become a resident and live there for an average of five years or more before they are granted citizenship. But there is a quick route to a second passport in just a matter of months, without the need for residency.

A second passport is an extremely effective tool for international tax planning.  As a passport carrying citizen of two different states, you benefit from a great deal more privacy in banking and investment than you do on a single passport.   The government of the United States pursues even their non-resident citizens to tax them wherever they may live around the world.  So to avoid this, many US citizens renounce their US citizenship and become economic citizens, benefitting from citizenship in countries that are tax free on foreign income, wealth, capital gains, gift and inheritance tax.

There are of course other benefits to second citizenship which are not necessarily economically driven.  Citizenship and a passport from a small, peaceful country can even save your life when travelling and in times of political unrest, civil war, terrorism or other delicate situations. Many international business people and important persons who are active worldwide consider an alternative passport as the best life insurance money can buy.

In this particular global financial storm, second citizenship is an shrewd affordable choice and an investment for the future: Your second citizenship is for life, your spouse and children can be included, and there is normally no requirement to give up your present nationality, whilst enjoying the benefits of a legal second passport.

Of course, just as Offshore Corporations and Offshore Banking are looked on with official disfavour by many industrialised nations; economic citizenship is another secure method of avoiding the worst of the 'big brother' calls on our personal bank accounts, investments and retirements funds!  
 
In fact the official line shown by many governments is quite hypocritical, since these same countries will often offer passports by discretion -- mainly to the super-rich, in return for a very large chunk of change. Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire is worth a fortune, was granted US citizenship, for example.

Economic Citizenship Programmes are offered by only two secure sovereign nations, both tropical island tax havens in the Caribbean—the Commonwealth of Dominica and St. Kitts/Nevis.


What do Dominica and St.Kitts/Nevis get out of this arrangement?  Well, these two small countries want to secure jobs, accelerate resort development and grow their tourist industries by bringing in investment capital that they simply cannot afford to borrow from the international money markets. To achieve this both countries operate as offshore tax havens and offer economic citizenship, with a new passport, and permanent residence, if desired.

Dominica or St Kitts & Nevis both offer tax-free status on your foreign income, capital gains, gift, wealth and inheritance tax. The passport issued to you under these economic programmes is a passport for life, it is not revocable when the government changes or if the program should cease to exist. At one time Grenada and Belize also offered similar programmes but have now shut them down; so the window of opportunity is slowly shutting.

Second passports are never "sold" as a commodity and all applicants have to pass a thorough background check to ensure that only legitimate law abiding individuals are granted a passport.

Applications have to be made to agents, who are licensed by the Governments of Dominica and St. Kitts/Nevis to facilitate and qualify applications. 

Both countries are members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and also of Caricom (Caribbean Community of Trade and Culture).  A Dominican or St. Kittian passport entitles the holder to a Caricom passport for much easier regional travel.  The list of countries who provide Visa Free travel to Dominican, St. Kitts/Nevis and Caricom nationals is long, but constantly changing in line with global politics and economic strategies.

Choosing a second citizenship in Dominica is certainly the quickest Programme available.  The current time frame for an application is between 2 -3 months.  There are two options available, an individual or a family application.  Both require an investment to the government of Dominica with the fees payable to the government fixed at $75,000 and $100,000.

Additional fees are applicable to the due diligence agency who will do the background checks and their fees vary between $3,000 - $10,000 depending on factors that include how many countries the applicant has resided and their country of birth.

You will also need a government Licensed Agent to assist you with your application, review and submit the economic citizenship application on your behalf, for which you will have to pay a further fee of US$15,000.

The Licensed Agent will assist you every step of the way, liaising with you and the due diligence agency. There is no requirement for an applicant to go to Dominica until the due diligence process has been approved and the government have give pre-approval to your application.  It is at that stage that the investment funds need to be transferred to the Government escrow account and the applicant will be invited, at their own expense, to an interview in Dominica.
 
St Kitts & Nevis have a similar investment option to Dominica, called the Sugar Diversification Foundation, but prices start at $235,000 for a single applicant.

A far more attractive option in St Kitts & Nevis would be the Real Estate Investment option, which requires the payment of the government fee of US$35,000, plus an investment of not less than US$350,000 in one of several approved developments for new luxury villas and condos.

Typically once legal fees both for the application itself and for the purchase of the property have been added together, the cost of citizenship by investment into real estate comes out close to US$500,000. However, it’s a great investment and the benefit of the St. Kitts more expensive Programme is that you retain the equity of the real estate investment, which can eventually be sold after 5 years, and in the meantime, if you don’t intend to reside in St. Kitts, then the property can be rented out through a rental management programme.

A US citizen is fully entitled to hold dual nationality with St Kitts & Nevis or Dominica, but to stop paying US taxes he or she would need to renounce their US citizenship. Until recently, the US would continue to tax a US citizen who had renounced their citizenship for the next 10 years. This has recently been changed, when in June 17th 2008 a law was passed under the act known as  HEART - The Heroes Earnings and Assistance Relief Tax.  Section 301 in that law, states that citizens renouncing their citizenship will pay an Exit Tax instead.

There are as I said a number of windows of opportunity in this peculiarly volatile economic climate, the Economic Citizenship Programme in the eastern Caribbean is perfect for many people. For further information please contact us at Caribbean Land and Property Financial Services.

You will also need a government Licensed Agent to assist you with your application, review and submit the economic citizenship application on your behalf, for which you will have to pay a further fee of US$15,000.

The Licensed Agent will assist you every step of the way, liaising with you and the due diligence agency. There is no requirement for an applicant to go to Dominica until the due diligence process has been approved and the government have give pre-approval to your application.  It is at that stage that the investment funds need to be transferred to the Government escrow account and the applicant will be invited, at their own expense, to an interview in Dominica.
 
St Kitts & Nevis have a similar investment option to Dominica, called the Sugar Diversification Foundation, but prices start at $235,000 for a single applicant.

A far more attractive option in St Kitts & Nevis would be the Real Estate Investment option, which requires the payment of the government fee of US$35,000, plus an investment of not less than US$350,000 in one of several approved developments for new luxury villas and condos.

Typically once legal fees both for the application itself and for the purchase of the property have been added together, the cost of citizenship by investment into real estate comes out close to US$500,000. However, it’s a great investment and the benefit of the St. Kitts more expensive Programme is that you retain the equity of the real estate investment, which can eventually be sold after 5 years, and in the meantime, if you don’t intend to reside in St. Kitts, then the property can be rented out through a rental management programme.

A US citizen is fully entitled to hold dual nationality with St Kitts & Nevis or Dominica, but to stop paying US taxes he or she would need to renounce their US citizenship. Until recently, the US would continue to tax a US citizen who had renounced their citizenship for the next 10 years. This has recently been changed, when in June 17th 2008 a law was passed under the act known as  HEART - The Heroes Earnings and Assistance Relief Tax.  Section 301 in that law, states that citizens renouncing their citizenship will pay an Exit Tax instead.

There are as I said a number of windows of opportunity in this peculiarly volatile economic climate, the Economic Citizenship Programme in the eastern Caribbean is perfect for many people. For further information please contact us at Caribbean Land and Property Financial Services.

(c) Caribbean Land and Property January 2009

 
 
 
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Last Updated On 24 Nov 2017