We’re living in turbulent times. Many countries worldwide have imposed unprecedented restrictions on freedom, which not only affect physical life, but are now also encroaching on the virtual. In the current state of affairs, merely having a different way of thinking is a courageous act. Publicly defending your opinion has become enough of a reason for you to be sent to a psychiatric ward (we’re not joking, this really happened in Germany). Having emigrated may have partially alleviated this issue for you. But not even this can protect us against the spite of others, or the so-called haters, as has been discovered by members of Tax Free Today on several occasions.
Fortunately, modern technology also provides a form of protection. We’re thankful for entrepreneurial creativity, technological expertise, and Flag Theory, which enable us to protect our small share of freedom. They stop us from being a lonely island, swept away by the current which takes everything in its path: cancelling bank accounts and blocking websites, snatching up people who think or live differently to them.
Unfortunately, more and more people are experiencing this kind of situation. They often face mockery and stigma from those who still believe that the world in which they live (the West) is the best of all time. Thus, they are steadily and obediently marching towards a dictatorship of opinion. They will undoubtedly be surprised when they realise that, like lemmings, they are heading towards the edge of the cliff, but by then it will be too late.
Be that as it may, with this article, we don’t wish to simply complain about what’s happening, but rather offer solutions.
For more than 3 years, Tax Free Today has been a point of reference for people who not only want to talk about freedom, but who want to experience it. These people adapt their lifestyles to the times in which they’re living, both through intelligently negotiating the legal framework, and the help of flag theory. Even in times where the tax burden is as high as 70% they don’t give up, and they know how to defend themselves when they are being robbed of the results of their productivity. These people don’t give in to measures which are becoming more and more totalitarian.
This article is intended as a short guide for those who are yet to give in. Who still believe in personal freedom, especially freedom of expression, regardless of whether the opinions themselves are correct. Who don’t let themselves get dragged into passivity by political correctness, mass hysteria, and the authorities’ scare tactics. Who know that logic and reason are on their side, even if there’s a long way to go before people agree with them.
For this, anyone who has a website will have to pay special attention to three of Flag Theory’s flags. If this is well executed, no harm can be done to you. You have to find:
- an appropriate legal form for operating a web page (anonymously)
- server and domain infrastructure which is hard to block
- a way to continue receiving money from sponsors and clients
A further flag may be added to all this, which is that of residency. Of course, the ideal situation would be to live in a country in which you cannot easily be “found”, and in the best of cases, to even be a perpetual traveller. At least, this is the best thing to do if you dare to reveal your personal identity on your blog.
It’s important to remember that something being bad for other people doesn’t mean that it has to be bad for you. People live comfortably in the Thai military dictatorship, or monarchical Dubai, or Russia’s authoritarian democracy, even while being critical of a certain regime. Having said this, it would have to be a foreign regime which had nothing to do with the local government.
We’re not actually going to address residency in this article (if you are interested in this, you can take a look at our blog, or buy the Encyclopaedia for Emigrants).
The appropriate legal forms for managing a web page (anonymously)
Up until a few years ago, it was easy to register and use anonymous shell companies, without any tax or reporting obligations. Unfortunately, this has become increasingly difficult due to several global regulations which have been put in place in recent years. However, there are still some legal forms which are worth considering as they can be implemented quickly and cheaply. For Spanish-speaking website operators, a company Limited by Guarantee (LBG) in England, or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the United States (especially in New Mexico or, even better, a combination of both legal forms) are particularly recommended.
Tax Free Today can directly set up companies for you in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Your Privacy Shield generally only takes one working day to certify. Neither of the two countries require clients to carry out KYC procedures in order to register the company.
A company limited by guarantee is a mixture between a limited company and a foundation. They differ from the typical company limited by shares because instead of having partners, there’s a guarantor. Therefore, they could technically be referred to as a “Limited Foundation Company”, due to the fact that they are a combination of a foundation and a company. Strictly speaking, family foundations do not appear in British common law. Therefore, one cannot speak of a true foundation, which is also reflected in its use. In Great Britain, it’s primarily non-profit organisations which are established as Ltd. by Guarantee. In the Spanish-speaking legal system, companies which are limited by guarantee are more similar to associations. As is the case with associations (or foundations), a company which is limited by guarantee belongs to itself.
However, compared to associations, this legal form has considerable advantages. It’s much faster to set up (often takes less than a day instead of 6 weeks), doesn’t require any members besides the founder themselves (instead of needing 3-7 members) and it’s much cheaper. If this company isn’t used for carrying out business, but rather as a holding company, then in Great Britain you only have to file your Dormant Accounts, which are practically a zero tax return. We can do this for you very cheaply.
Associations can undoubtedly be another good option, but the legal tradition of Common Law, which is rooted in custom, has historically had more respect for freedom of opinion, especially when expressed in a foreign language. And what’s more, following Brexit, we certainly won’t need to be wary of the European superstate.
All companies limited by guarantee need a director. Unfortunately, in the United Kingdom it’s prohibited to assign a company to act as director, you have to register a natural person. But those who figure on the registry instead of you can of course be nominees. This way all powers will rest with you, and you will also receive a waiver statement from them which, should it ever need to be enforced, you will just need to add your signature to. All of this can be arranged for a few hundred euros.
By the way, it’s not compulsory to add the legal form to the name of a company limited by guarantee. This means that it’s legal to simulate other legal forms or individuals, for example by simply calling it “John Doe” oe “S.L. company”. When combined with a virtual office in Spain or Argentina, for example, you can easily pass unnoticed. There are some creative ways to put it to use, for example, by using the company limited by guarantee as the director of a US LLC, or making it appear as a natural person by giving it an appropriate name (a John Smith, for example).
A company limited by guarantee is also very popular for those who are falsely self-employed, and debtors. Seeing as they do not own the company, they can use it and receive payments from it, despite being in a state of personal bankruptcy. Or it can even be used to bill a single client without them being easily identified as falsely self-employed.
US LLCs have already been explained in great detail in previous articles. They undoubtedly offer a good level of protection in this context. Their terms are ideal due to the fact that there is no exchange of information regarding the company’s accounts, that freedom of expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and that the owner of the company’s name does not have to appear on the public registry.
Be that as it may, in order for the LLC to use company accounts, a designated manager must appear on the registry so that they can open them. Although this registration can be discarded through an amendment once the accounts have been opened, the amendment document then appears on the registry and stays there. Even though it’s not possible to search for this document, and it isn’t indexed by search engines, it does clearly show the request to change the director. Therefore, it isn’t possible to achieve total anonymity on the US registry if you also want to have business accounts there.
Of course, the LLC can also be used with decentralized payment options, which will be explained in detail later on in this article. For this, the company should be directly set up in New Mexico, for example. New Mexico is the only state in the US in which LLCs don’t have to file a long-term Annual Report.
The Annual Report has nothing to do with accounting, but is rather a way of corroborating all of the essential information on the company, such as the names of it’s managers, members, and its business address. But it’s inevitable that at some point, names will appear on the registry if no nominees have been appointed.
For example, in Wyoming managers can only be hidden for the first two years. In Florida, a manager has to appear on the registry after one year at the latest. New Mexico is the only State where it isn’t necessary to give someone’s name when setting up the company and, due to the fact that there’s no requirement to submit an Annual Report, it can stay like this in the long term. This means that the existence of the company can be verified, but not its managers or owners. Of course, they must be listed internally, but they won’t be listed anywhere publicly.
Of course, there’s a practically limitless number of other jurisdictions and legal forms which could be useful for the purpose discussed here. The more protection needed, the wider and more complicated the structure needs to be. With legal forms such as trusts, family foundations, cooperatives, associations, companies limited by guarantee, offshore companies, and many more, you can cover various levels and create cross-connections.
Of course, the issue of cost should not be forgotten. Despite all the pleasures that can be derived from off-shore companies, a well thought-out structure with a single legal form can be more than enough.
Here, it’s appropriate to mention Nevis LLCs, which we can also directly set up in your name. Nevis is a small Caribbean island which, together with its sister island St Kitts, which is famous for offering the possibility of acquiring a second passport, constitute one of the most important off-shore jurisdictions in the world.
Furthermore, the private-domain service provider Njal.la, which is discussed further below, is established there. This is because of the extremely sophisticated laws regarding asset protection and protection against lawsuits.
In order to file a lawsuit, you must have made a deposit of 100,000 Nevis dollars (37 thousand USD) in cash at the local court. Naturally, they do not have a public commercial registry.
There are other jurisdictions which could be good options to consider. There’s Seychelles, which scored points with the Protected Cell Company, which functions in a similar way to series LLCs in some U.S. States. It’s a single company, but it has a cellular structure in terms of asset ownership. It could also be, for example, a domain or a server. Each cell has to be sued individually in order for it to disclose the assets that it contains, a process which is so complicated and costly that in most cases the complainant is quickly worn down.
The best server and domain infrastructure to avoid blockages and outages
In order to protect yourself in terms of the server and domain, a combination of the right provider and country is necessary. Generally speaking, Nordic countries have the best data protection laws, as well as the highest standards regarding freedom of expression. Both Sweden and Iceland stand out as examples. By the way, they are also some of the few countries which have managed to control the coronavirus situation without exercising totalitarian state power.
The Swedish server and domain provider Njal.la manages its services through an LLC in Nevis (see above) and also has a few data centers in Sweden. Njal.la isn’t a domain registration process, but rather an intermediary which acts as a nominee which owns your domain on your behalf. However, you still have full usage rights of the domain and can transfer the ownership rights to yourself whenever you want. Njal.la has cultivated an excellent reputation over the years.
Of course, it isn’t as cheap as typical web hosting packages from normal providers. Although on the other hand, 15€ per month for the “basic server” which provides optimum privacy doesn’t seem too much to ask for. Domains start at the same amount per year. Naturally, at Njal.la, you can pay the server and domain costs using different cryptocurrencies. As well as Bitcoin, there are others which are practically anonymous, such as Dash, Monero, or ZCash. However, Njal.la may not be easy for beginners.
If you are looking for security regarding your domain, this can be found in small, island states across the world. It’s therefore not surprising that the domains .to for Tango, .tv for Tuvalu, or .vy for Vanuatu are especially popular for those who offer streamed content, or share files. But .io (British Indian Ocean Territory) or .is (Iceland) are also becoming more widely used.
In principle, you could opt for larger countries, as long as the opinions you’re sharing are in line with (or at least not directly opposed to) the respective regime. Anyone criticizing Russia would be safe with a U.S. domain, just as critics of the United States could use a Russian one.
Nja.la has opted for a Laotian domain, but probably mostly because of the play on words. Either way, you must be aware that choosing “strange” domains may create problems for the SEO, as well as clients or readers. Besides, it’s very uncommon for a domain to be removed, whether it be a typical one like .com, .net, info.org or even a local one (.ar, .es, .mx, .cl, etc.). You have to be a lot more careful with the location of the server (hosting service).
Whistleblowers from all over the world usually go for servers in Iceland, and for good reason. Even the National Security Agency in the United States has difficulty accessing Icelandic servers.
One of the country’s oldest providers is OrangeWebsite.com, which has fairly accessible prices for those who are just starting out. There are basic packages which start from 3.40€ per month, and which can also be paid for with bitcoins. What’s more, you’d be doing something good for the environment: all the servers are run on renewable energy (geothermic).
As is the case with Njal.la, to register with OrangeWebsite, you just need an email address. No further data is necessarily required from you. Even in the unlikely event that the host is legally required to make the owner of the domain or server public, the only thing they’d have would be an unidentifiable email address (provided you’ve done your homework as far as your privacy is concerned) if you’ve paid with cryptocurrencies. Of course, this only works if any other clues pointing towards the owner are also unable to be identified. However, if your name and address are visible, you may be faced with certain requirements and direct liability.
To truly protect yourself, you have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. Depending on the number of visits and claims, we’d recommend a Virtual Private Server which starts at 30€ a month, or your own server which starts at 249€ a month. This, combined with a DDos-Protection package which costs 99€ per month, will mean that your webpage can’t be blocked as easily.
DDos stands for Distributed Denial of Service Attack, which is essentially an attempt to overload your web page through a stream of malicious data. Many standard hosting providers are not prepared for this, meaning that they take your website off the network, otherwise their entire network system would collapse. If you want to stay with your current hosting provider, we’d recommend that at the very least, you also use Cloudflare. This costs between 10-20€ a month and not only guarantees a visible improvement in performance, but also enough protection against DDos for normal webpages.
Of course, performance is an important factor which shouldn’t be forgotten about. Iceland, for example, is conveniently located between North America and the north of Europe, and can therefore offer good speeds in both regions.
The Tax Free Today blog itself is not currently hosted in Iceland, instead its servers are in Holland, which also offers a high degree of freedom of expression, and good data protection laws. Our provider is the American company Siteground.com, as we’ve chosen to not be anonymous. What we’re looking for is first class customer service, in case we have any problems with the websites that we use. Furthermore, the prices are very reasonable when you consider the excellent services that they offer. If you aren’t looking for absolute privacy, we can strongly recommend Siteground, having made use of their services for five years now.
Ways to continue receiving money from sponsors/clients
Once you have an anonymous webpage with an anonymous corporate structure and optimum asset protection, the next thing to consider is how you’re going to process payments.
How can you continue to receive money from your readers, sponsors, and clients? After all, many banks have been known to quickly shut their accounts when politics or bureaucracy command them to do so.
In principle, the first thing to do in order to protect yourself is to apply flag theory by setting up your bank accounts in a different country to the one in which you live, or which is linked to your website
For example,while it would certainly be practical for Spanish clients to pay into an account with a Spanish IBAN, this is also dangerous in terms of assets being frozen. Here, you shouldn’t trick yourself into thinking that a neighbouring country can help. The EU’s regulation on freezing accounts was signed by all countries, with the exception of England and Denmark. What’s more, the EU FATCA provides unrestricted access to information on all accounts within the EU.
Off-shore banks, such as EuroPacific-Bank, can be a solution in some scenarios. However, with transfer fees for anything within the realm of double digits, they aren’t particularly useful for many typical sources of revenue.
A good option can be to use online banks such as Transferwise Borderless, but this should only be done if and when possible. Mercury, Payoneer, or Relayfi can also be good options when combined with an LLC.
The subject of bank accounts must be considered alongside the legal forms that we’ve already looked at. Even when completely anonymous companies are possible, there’s nowhere in the world which will let you open company accounts for them. Therefore, it’s worth looking at alternatives to banks.
Of course, cryptocurrencies immediately come to mind, and in principle are a viable option. But this does of course largely depend on your target group.
From the start, Tax Free Today has accepted bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies as payment options for our consultations, help with setting up companies, and all our products. Despite the fact that many of our readers are familiar with cryptocurrencies, payments of this type account for less than 10% of our revenue.
This is not the time nor place to explain cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, which is the most well known, has a few weaknesses in terms of anonymity. Alternatives such as Dash, Monero, or zCash are more advanced in this sense.
We are currently speculating on cryptocurrency exchanges with ARRR (Piratechain), which brings together the best features regarding privacy, but which is, of course, still totally unknown. There are other cryptocurrencies which emphasise their anonymity, but which also come with a high risk of fraud.
Likewise, you should steer clear of “bitcoin mixers”, even when the coins really have been “washed”. Forensic investigation carried out by governments on the blockchain is very advanced, and they can now easily uncover these so-called “cover-up” methods.
If you pay your server using bitcoin, this should be done from a new wallet which cannot be used to track you down, and under no circumstances should you use a wallet which can be used to verify your personal data.
Luckily, there are ingenious entrepreneurs which value the advantages of bitcoins, without settling for the current level of acceptance, which is still very low. We highly recommend the Swiss company Intarium, which is authorized by the country’s financial supervisory authority. Through its credit management company, Intarium offers a Swiss bank account with an IBAN, into which clients can make payments in all kinds of fiat currencies. This money is automatically converted into bitcoins, and credited to the wallet of your choice. The easiest way to carry about payments is through the company’s own wallet Bitalo.de, where you are not necessarily required to identify yourself. From there, money can be sent at any time to secure bitcoin wallets.
All of this is a reference account, which means that the client has to select the appropriate reference when making the transfer so that the payment can be approved. Other than that, it’s a completely standard IBAN payment to a renowned Swiss bank. An invoice must be created manually for each transaction, but this takes about half a minute to do for new clients, and perhaps only 10 seconds for existing clients. Once you’ve received the money from the client, it will be transferred as bitcoins into the selected wallet, always on working days. It’s true that the 2% commission charged by Intarium is not a small amount. But this does mean that’s worthwhile for small payments: for transfers of 100€, you only pay 2€, for 10,000€ you pay 200€. In principle, there are no upper limits.
The good thing about Intarium is that no KYC procedures are required to use the service, which means that you don’t have to verify your identity. Your company’s details may appear on the invoice created by Intarium, but this isn’t necessary either.
Thus, this service provider is ideal for any business owners who haven’t been able to open any accounts with an IBAN so that their companies can invoice. Even those who aren’t bitcoin-experts will easily be able to create an infrastructure which will convert these bitcoins back into euros, or another type of fiat money.
Of course, Intarium can also be used to buy bitcoins anonymously. It’s generally cheaper to use other wallets, with a discount of 0.2%, but you do have to be verified.
[Attention: due to problems with the bank, Inarium has had to suspend its services, but we hope that they will soon find another bank which will allow them to continue offering their services.]
If you want to convert your bitcoins directly, we’d recommend the wallet Kraken.com. With this, you can safely keep your fiat currency, and whenever you want or need to, it can be paid into private accounts of your choice, as long as they allow the use of cryptocurrency.
Of course, through a cash-out process such as this you will partly lose the desired anonymity, unless you do OTC trading, that is, a practically private type of business with another party which is usually carried out in cash.
In the early stages of Bitcoin, the wallet LocalBitcoins was known primarily for such operations, but since then it has been banned in certain countries, including Germany. An alternative would be to find a trustworthy community of buyers and sellers of cryptocurrencies, whereby money is sent in exchange for bitcoins. Personally, this would be our preferred route.
Fortunately, the company Lamium offers this service in a completely decentralized way, whereby invoices are paid on behalf of other people. Lamium works a bit like Escrow, releasing what has been paid via Bitcoin or Dash after the invoice has been paid for in a fiat currency.
Let’s suppose that you have to pay 10,000€, you would only have to upload the details to Lamium and deposit this amount in bitcoins. After this, someone that wants your bitcoins can select this invoice and pay for it in euros from their account. Once proof of payment is authorized, the bitcoins are released and sent to whoever paid for the invoice. This happens quickly and reliably with all invoices of all types and amounts.
It would actually be possible for someone to run their company exclusively on the basis of bitcoin. There are also bitcoin credit cards, which many providers now offer. The most well known are Wirexapp.com, Crypterium.com or Cashaa.com, which can also open private and business accounts with an IBAN in many jurisdictions. However, it’s evidently better to use providers which grant you total control over the private keys for the cryptocurrencies, that is, when you don’t have “Counterparty Risk”, which is the risk of the provider being hacked, seizure, expropriation, or similar. For this, you could look at Plutus or Monolith.
We would recommend Monolith especially, although you do need a residency in the EU/EEA in order to use their visa card. Seeing as the verification generally only requires a photocopy of your passport, as an EU citizen you won’t have any issues, as long as you ask for the card to be sent to an EU postal address. If necessary, most cryptocurrency services accept account statements as proof of address, so that even if you have left your home country, these account statements will probably show an old address in the EU.
Monolith uses decentralized cryptocurrency wallets, and its Visa card supports StableCoins such as DAI. One of the greatest criticisms of bitcoin is that it is still highly volatile. In this way, StableCoins combine the decentralized advantages of bitcoin with the stability of the US dollar (which will benefit greatly from the coronavirus crisis and will increase in value in the coming months).
If you want liquidity, Stablecoins such as DAI are the perfect solution. They aren’t at all volatile, and what’s more, no State in the world can seize or expropriate them. Such an expropriation of normal accounts could easily happen over the next few months in many countries.
By using Monolith, neither DAI, ETH, or other possible currencies are in the hands of the provider, but rather stay entirely under your control, as only you have access to the private key.
Even if we think that the speculative boom ended two years ago, in this time frame the cryptocurrency ecosystem has developed a fair amount. And especially now, when we face the prospect of an unprecedented economic depression and increasingly authoritarian governments, it’s the ideal moment to really start using cryptocurrencies and make the most of the advantages that they bring.
Invoice your clients without any problems through Intarium, pay your own invoices with bitcoins by using Lamium, maintain liquidity with Stablecoins such as DAI (or speculate on the likely increase in bitcoin’s price) and spend with Monolith’s Visa card. Or even combine this with fiat money. It all depends on your preferences.
By doing this, you can develop your business free from the State’s influence, live comfortably, and what’s more, even if you’re critical of certain power groups or States, you don’t have to worry about facing ruin. Although many things we have mentioned may seem strange or completely new to you, with a bit of effort, within a few hours you will have enough understanding to be able to start applying everything you’ve learnt here.
As you already know, it’s your life!