A research conducted by the British newspaper The Guardian demonstrates that the offshore ownership of properties in London has increased with 9% over the last 10 months. At present, companies registered in tax havens, such as Panama, Liechtenstein, Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, own around 40.000 commercial and residential buildings in Greater London. The most popular city areas chosen by offshore firms for investment include prestigious City of London, City of Westminster, Kensington, and Chelsea.
Firms registered in tax havens mostly purchase high-value properties, such as bingo club halls, pubs, and residential buildings. Offshore ownership provides high-net-worth individuals not only with privacy, but also with the opportunity to decrease certain tax burdens (e.g., inheritance tax). In the entire United Kingdom, the total number of properties owned by offshore firms reaches over 90.000. The four most popular tax havens for owning UK properties are the British Virgin Islands (22,849 properties), Jersey (20,900 properties), Guernsey (11,906 properties), and the Isle of Man (11,139 properties).
British government plans to introduce laws requiring all foreign companies that own properties in the UK to register publicly who really controls them. Such laws will reflect the ongoing global trend of increasing the transparency of offshore companies.
To avoid falling within the scope of UK laws applying to companies registered in offshore jurisdictions, it is worth considering incorporating asset planning companies in the European mid-shore jurisdictions, such as Bulgaria and Macedonia. Taking into account that such mid-shore jurisdictions combine the features of offshore and onshore jurisdictions but do not bear the negative connotation of offshore jurisdictions, they may greatly benefit those looking for real estate-planning solutions. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact our specialists.