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Why Latin American Families Look to the US & Europe for Security and Comfort

Emilio Miguel brings more than 20 years of experience in international wealth planning to high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) across Latin America.

As Regional Head of Americas at JTC Group, Emilio is a leading expert in private wealth planning and preservation for Latin American HNWIs and UHNWIs, including Mexicans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Chileans, Colombians and Peruvians. Emilio has a wealth of experience helping successful Latin American business owners with multi asset and multi jurisdiction planning, and throughout the majority of his career, he has been focused on delivering the best U.S. Latin American cross-border solutions to clients and intermediaries across the region.

Emilio recently spoke at the Uglobal 2020 Wealth, Tax Planning & Immigration Virtual Expo panel, Preparing Ahead: Best strategies for international tax and wealth planning before making a move to a new country. He discussed issues that wealthy Latin Americans need to understand and address before moving to the U.S.

“It is a matter of perspective,” said Emilio. “I would say looking back at my over 20-years’ experience in working with ultra-high worth families, the main concern of the family is security – personal and family security. So, despite what you might consider a ‘big fire’ in the U.S. they would still happily consider a move there, because it offers legal and economic stability with certainty, which their home countries don’t.”

Brazil and Mexico are the leaders in HNWI and UHNWI population numbers across Latin America, followed by Chile, Colombia, Peru and Argentina, respectively, according to 2019 data from Goldman Sachs. Ultra-high net worth families are defined as having over $30 million in assets. Covering more than 8.5 million square kilometers and over 211 million people, Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country by area and the sixth most populous. Mexico’s population is estimated at 128.9 million people, at mid-year 2020, according to UN data.

The top six countries ranked by onshore investable assets are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Argentina is among the fastest growing in domestic wealth or the onshore investable assets market ($100,000 to $1,000,000) with 4.5 times growth from 2014 to 2019. Projections call for $52.4 billion in onshore investable assets from Argentina in 2023, and $794.5 billion from the top six HNWI and UHNWI Latin American populated countries, according to data from Goldman Sachs.

From the U.S. perspective, taxes could be a big burden, but from a Latin American perspective there are bigger issues.

“Legal, personal and family security are bigger issues than taxes to Latin Americans, and they are willing to move to the U.S. or Europe and pay more taxes to live a better life,” said Emilio. “We see a lot of that [at JTC Group] in our day-to-day.”

Families moving to or starting a business in the United States, or becoming residents or taxpayers, one way or the other, need to bear in mind what he considers the key U.S. tax considerations: Non-resident estate tax, income tax on your source investments and capital gains on U.S. real estate, which are one of the most typical investment situations they would face.

“When you sit down with a family or the family advisors, they want us to address basic needs because they see the U.S. as a secure place to invest, especially since their countries have been subject to a lot of political changes and economic downfalls,” said Emilio. “We talk about confidentiality, asset protection, succession planning and tax planning; normally in that order.”

Disclaimer: JTC does not provide tax advice and clients should obtain their own independent tax advice as appropriate.


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