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Introduction: What Future For The Trust?

Even the most devoted believer in the rights of humans to dispose of their own assets and to arrange their affairs to their own benefit would have to agree that the trust is an anachronism. But then so is offshore itself. The harmonisers would say that it is irrational and unacceptable to allow a person to separate himself artificially from his property for his personal gain. The tax authorities have dealt with the trust by ignoring it and bypassing it - the few that haven't yet done so will surely fall into line quite soon. So if the trust is not a barrier to a tax collector, why, logically, should it be a barrier to a creditor?

As much as the trust seems to be somehow unethical when used for personal enrichment or protection in defiance of the public interest, it is obviously the right instrument when used to hold assets on behalf of others. The 'Unit Trust', the pensions trustee and other quasi-public guardians of private interests are eminently acceptable, superior to the 'Code' equivalents, and would have had to be invented if they didn't already exist, as is amply proven by their wholesale adoption in 'Code' countries. A genuine generation-hopping anti-inheritance tax trust also seems OK, because this is a morally repugnant tax to many people.

So it's odd, isn't it, that the laws under which individuals gain protection against 'genuine' creditors through a 'fake' disposal of assets should if anything have become stronger, not weaker. This is an area in which the balkanised condition of international law (non-international law, in other words) shows no signs of the creeping globalisation affecting other walks of life. Banking, insurance, pensions, shipping, environment, accounting and a host of other bodies of law are converging. But not trust law, or the national court systems which cradle it. Why is this? Is it because lawyers are rich, too?

Logical or illogical, there is no sign that the trust has run its course, as our review of the main trust-friendly jurisdictions will show. Indeed, in 2006 the Swiss parliament approved the ratification of the Hague Convention on the Law applicable to Trusts and their Recognition.

Modifications to Swiss law to give effect to the Hague Convention concerned the Swiss International Private Law rules dealing with the recognition of foreign decisions and the jurisdiction of Swiss Courts in trust related matters, as well as the introduction into the solvency and bankruptcy law of the principle of segregation of trust assets.

Investec Trust Switzerland Managing Director Xavier Isaac stated at the time that the ratification had sent a clear signal to the international finance community that Switzerland recognised the importance of the Anglo-Saxon trust concept as an essential component of the wider wealth management proposition and of the need for an adequate legal framework when dealing with trust structures.

“It is a major development in the trust landscape internationally and for Switzerland,” he announced, continuing: “Ratification is great as it dissipates much of the uncertainty for trusts in the Swiss legal system.”

Mr Isaac added that high net worth individuals (HNWI) coming to Switzerland expect a secure environment for the structuring and management of their wealth.

“It is therefore the clients who will benefit most from ratification as more and more HNWI will continue to place their confidence in the Swiss financial sector, opening bank accounts and viewing trusts as sound vehicles for wealth management,” he observed.

“It will also give additional international credibility and standing to Switzerland as a proper jurisdiction for wealth management activities in a context where Switzerland is too often the target of some EU and other countries."

“Switzerland is adjusting its existing rules so that Swiss law can now interact with trusts from a legal perspective."

“The Swiss Tax Conference is reviewing the tax treatment on trusts. While the taxation of settlors and beneficiaries in Switzerland is the most complex and sensitive part of the discussion I hope that trusts, which have non-resident settlors and beneficiaries but have Swiss trustees and/or are being administrated in Switzerland, will be treated on tax neutral basis."

The Report

Offshore Trusts Guide: Introduction

Offshore Trusts Guide: Jurisdictions

Bahamas Barbados Bermuda British Virgin Islands Cayman Islands Cook Islands Cyprus Gibraltar Guernsey Isle of Man Jersey Liechtenstein Madeira Malta Mauritius Monaco Nevis New Zealand Panama Seychelles Turks & Caicos Vanuatu


Offshore Trusts News

Switzerland A Step Closer On Corporate Tax Reform
Friday 21/9/2018
The two houses of Switzerland's parliament have said that they are largely in agreement on the main points of the Government's proposed changes to the corporation tax system.

Australian PM Planning New SME Tax Changes
Tuesday 4/9/2018
Australia's new Prime Minister has said his Government is working on plans to help improve the tax competitiveness of small businesses.

Netherlands Ponders New Aviation Tax
Monday 16/7/2018
The Dutch Government has begun a public consultation exercise on plans to introduce a new tax on air travel by 2021.

Australian Tax Changes Effective From July 1
Friday 6/7/2018
The Australian Government has set out the numerous changes made to the tax system on July 1 and launched a consultation on new tax rules for "stapled structures."

IMF Urges US To Hike Indirect Taxes
Friday 6/7/2018
The International Monetary Fund has recommended that the United States raise indirect taxes to boost revenues, to offset the cost of recent tax cuts and spending increases.

Pakistani Tax Amnesties Extended Until July 31
Monday 9/7/2018
Pakistan's Government has approved a one-month extension to tax amnesties for companies and individuals, which were due to end on June 30, 2018.

OECD Welcomes Dutch Efforts To Counter BEPS
Wednesday 4/7/2018
The OECD has welcomed efforts by the Dutch Government to tackle base erosion and profit shifting but called for the overall tax regime to be simplified, including in area of value-added tax.

Australian Gov't Delays Company Tax Vote
Sunday 1/7/2018
The Australian Government is to postpone a Senate vote on its company tax cuts until after July's by-elections.

Skilled Foreigners Being Turned Away For UK Visas
Monday 18/6/2018
Lower-paid medical practitioners are increasingly having their request for UK working visas rejected, as a result of immigration quotas.

Seychelles Introduces Progressive PIT Regime
Thursday 21/6/2018
The Seychelles introduced a new progressive income tax system for individuals on June 1, 2018.