In understanding the difference between domestic and offshore mutual funds, it is important to know what these funds are. It is true that there are a number of different mutual funds that are available to investors, but the basic construction of a mutual fund is that it is created by a firm that takes the money of many investors and invests that money into stocks, short-term money markets, bonds, and other types of securities. It is then that the manager of the portfolio manages that money by investing and trading the underlying securities of that fund. What happens is that capital gains or losses are realized and those gains and losses are then passed to each individual investor.
The United States and Canada have mutual funds that operate in a similar manner. These funds are open-end funds, closed-end funds, and unit investment trusts. Those investing in offshore mutual funds may find that the term is used more broadly. It is used to refer to any type of collective investment. The names that the investor may see these referred by include open-ended investment companies, unit trusts, undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities, and unitized insurance funds. That may seem like a lot to swallow, but many investors find that their offshore mutual fund investment opportunities are not as restricted because there are more types of mutual funds to invest in.
The offshore mutual fund
There are tax advantages to the offshore mutual fund that individuals will not find with their domestic mutual funds. Unless one of the rare loopholes is found, United States residents will still be fully taxed on their offshore mutual fund. This is usually referred to as “foreign arising income” on IRS tax forms. Nevertheless, individuals have found that investor-friendly countries allow savings on investments through tax incentives. Some offshore locations, such as the Virgin Islands, do not require tax to be paid. This allows the portion of the gain that would normally go to tax to be reinvested.
There are certain organizations that argue that allowing no tax to be paid or reducing the amount of tax is a form of legalized tax evasion. However, tax incentives are a way for individuals to invest into that economy, making that economy even stronger.
But what one will find is that there is a high degree of regulation when it comes to offshore mutual funds. One may find that there may be a minimum investment of $100,000 and that an individual is required to identify him or herself as a “professional investor.” In the U.S., Canada, and various other countries around the world, a person does not have to be a professional investor to invest in mutual funds. They have brokers who can take care of that for them and guide them through the process or simply take care of 100% of the account transactions.
There may also be instances in which the number of investors is limited because of stipulations set forth in constitutional documents. It is these types of regulations that can limit the number of foreign investors in mutual funds, but they can prove to be quite profitable.
So as you can see, there are differences between domestic mutual funds and offshore mutual funds. Offshore mutual funds can be a fantastic investment for the investor once the hurdles are cleared. Domestic mutual funds may be easier to invest in, but an individual may find that the return on their investment is not as high. However, many prefer their domestic mutual funds over the confusion that surrounds offshore mutual funds. Nevertheless, many find that the confusion is worth it and that the process becomes easier for them over time.