Only the world’s wealthiest have the time and money to spend travelling the world on a luxury cruise liner to avoid paying taxes.
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The dream is a reality for a few wealthy residents of The World- a 644-foot ship with 165 exclusive homes on board.
Since 2002, The World has circumnavigated the world almost non-stop.
The ship is like a block of flats – each cabin owner buy their own residence and part owns the vessel.
Because the ship only docks in port for a few days every now and then, residents on the floating palace have no tax residency.
The sea is our home
The World web site proudly proclaims ‘the sea is our home’. So how would that lifestyle affect the tax status of someone sailing the seas, calling nowhere nut their boat home?
First, of course you would have to earn a significant income to even have to worry about tax avoidance.
Presumably, the money would come from investments or a trust.
But remaining stateless is not as simple as it seems.
Any sailor would need a passport to prove identity and nationality to move between countries. Being stateless would make that a problem.
Then there’s some careful ship’s log entries to keep.
Maritime law means most countries claim the seas around their borders for 12miles out from landfall.
Nomads of the sea
That means anchoring or passing through within the 12-mile limit means a seafarer would be counted as spending a day in that country.
Some countries have huge coastlines – and some have overseas territories where sailing through maritime waters constitutes clocking up time in the home nation. France is one country with long Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines plus numerous overseas territories in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Making a mistake with dates or navigation could easily make a sea gypsy tax resident.
The World has solved this problem for the rich by visiting more than 900 ports in 140 countries on a continuous global itinerary that takes the cruise ship around the world every two or three years.
The residents set the route with the captain, deciding the final ports of call with a community vote.
On average, The World is home to 150 people spending three to six months a year on board.
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