Is Sovereignman.com a fraud?
Until about a year ago I had never heard of Sovereign Man. Then I started having some of our readers send us articles from the Sovereign Man website. It’s right wing stuff. Sovereign Man articles cast doubt on science and lockdowns and complain about big media censorship, Black Lives matter, and “trans” people. Recently, they sympathized with Trump supporters over the media’s take on the January 6th storming of the Capitol.
I’ll never agree with these viewpoints.
Anyway, back to Sovereign Man and why I’m writing this post.
Writing right-wing blog posts is secondary on the Sovereign Man website. Its primary objective is writing about money, investing it wisely, and keeping it away from the greedy hands of government. He’ll inform you about getting 2nd passports and opening offshore bank accounts. He’ll even give you tax advice. And he charges a lot for these services (from $195 US per year to $1955 US per year depending on the subscription level you’ve chosen).
Knowing we were retiring in Spain, a helpful reader sent us a confidential tax briefing from Sovereign Man entitled “Here is how you can live in Spain and pay no taxes”.
THAT’S when I really got curious. “Who, or what, is Sovereign Man??”
Sovereign Man and “Simon Black”
“Simon Black” is the “founder” of Sovereign Man. It’s not his real name though. He says his real name is “James”. (I’m not linking the site. If you really want to go to the site you can do that on your own).
Description (from the site):
James is an international entrepreneur, investor, and prolific traveler; he has traveled to over 120 countries and started or acquired businesses all over the world, from a private bank to a major South American agriculture producer. He is the founder of Sovereign Man and writes under the pen name Simon Black.
The above is as much detail as you’ll get. I personally find it strange that “James” would go under a pen name, after all anyone with that much success would want to profit from that. You don’t see Warren Buffett using a pen name. Maybe “Simon Black/aka James” wants you to think he’s an international man of mystery like James Bond. Or this guy. I know I would want to be him.
Note: We received a legal notice from Sovereign Man accusing us of defamation and threatening legal action unless we edit or delete this post. They’ve told us some of our assertions were either wrong or out of date.
We’ve therefore gutted the rest of the contents of this post. We judged that – based on both the subject matter and the people it was bringing to the blog – that this post just wasn’t worth defending.
But back to that article that prompted this post: “Here is how you can live in Spain and pay no taxes”. I consulted with 4 different Tax advisors on the validity of the document. I commend Sovereign Man because there is some validity to their briefing. BUT like all that I’ve read on Sovereign Man, all of it is half-truths subject to specific circumstances that won’t apply to most people. I’ve written about that in detail here: Do Americans and Canadians living in Spain have to file taxes?
So is Sovereign Man a fraud? That’s up to you to decide. Obviously some people are very sensitive on the subject though which makes you wonder…
A few more reviews of Sovereign Man
Review of Simon Black’s Sovereign Man – Scam or Legit?
Lies, Scams, & Snake Oil — The promises of Easy Money
Related: What if Donald Trump was a Travel Blogger?
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Chile has become a Mecca for Doug Casey wannabes. Simon Black (now James) and a few others have gone full John Galt and present Chile as the last opportunity to bargain-hunt for bountiful agricultural land and create Libertarian enclaves for the herrenmenschen.
I am a long-term subscriber of Sovereign Man and met James (aka Simon Black) on several occasions.
Let me tell you, he is not the Singaporean lady that your investigation has led you to believe. Far from it. I can personally attest that the photo on the Sovereign Man website is real.
Here he is on Rich Dad’s podcast if you want to hear his voice [link deleted]
BTW I also moved to Spain based on the Sovereign Mans reports and verified independently the tax information in the report that you featured. Tax lawyers confirmed me exactly the same (I’ll be happy to give a reference)- with the Non-Lucrative Visa, at least now, Spanish tax authorities let you off the tax hook. If ever asked, you just need to present the certificate that you are a taxpayer elsewhere (but not in a tax haven). Well, it’s all written in the report.
And it makes sense to me – I calculated, that on average, my family and I pay about 1,000 euros in various taxes EVERY MONTH. Let’s not forget that besides INCOME taxes there is a whole list of other consumption taxes in Spain. Every time I rent or buy, rent a car, buy groceries, put gas in my car, go to any kind of store, a huge portion of what you spend goes directly to the government.
Don’t forget that the Value Added Tax in Spain is 21%! And it applies to pretty much everything you consume.
And I literally ask NOTHING in return besides good weather and delicious tapas. Even my health insurance is private.
So you met a guy called James who also calls himself Simon Black. And listening to this guy’s voice will convince me of what exactly?? And on top of that this guy has a photo?? You’ve got me convinced.
And why would you move to Spain if you’re getting screwed over so badly by the Spanish government? 21% Vat and private health care. Oh my. Yes, my private health care comes out to 56 Euros a month. Sorry, how much were you paying in the US?? Why would you want to live in a socialist country?
I call a whole lot of bullshit.
I tried to share some info with Frank also, as a kind of return for the enjoyment
received reading his website. Sadly, I believe that triggered this article, and a protracted
disagreement back and forth. (see further down in these comments)
Obviously, it seems others have figured out how to do things differently, and yes
possibly even better than Frank has. Saving 1,000 EUR per month is nothing to sneeze at.
I’m sure that make the tapas taste a lot sweeter!
Hoping for my own opportunity to meet James/Simon one of these days. I should
probably just go to the Lithuania camp. If you are ever in Eastern Europe, hit me up,
I’m sure like minds would share many interesting ideas.
Michael in Ukraine
I actually appreciated the article you sent me because it led me research our tax situation in Spain instead of blindly handing my taxes off to a tax guy. After speaking to 4 different tax advisors I wrote this follow up article. As I said, there’s some half truths to the Sovereign Man article – but presenting a certificate of tax residency is valid only under certain circumstances. It is not for everyone, contrary to what the article states.
People can do what they want and take their chances. But I’d rather do it the right way and not have the government up my butt.
PS. Tim didn’t say he’s saving 1000 Euros per month. He’s complaining about paying 1000 Euros per month.
this is a bit depressing, I think there are a number of people out there on the web with obviously hidden identities making profit and scaring people and making up conspiracy theories and these people have turned the right side of politics into a , pardon my french, complete shitshow. It’s not that far away from QAnon really in some ways, which I’m sure is a bunch of guys (apparently one is an American living in Philippines and he cant return home or he would face trial on charges of paedophilia, which is what QAnonists are supposedly railing against which in fact makes total sense i reckon) just trying to stir up others, part because of their political beliefs but also partly because it gives them a sense of power. It’s really, you know, f-ed. did i stray from the topic? Sorry if I did. The idea of moving somewhere to avoid taxes is pretty sucky too frankly. We all have to contribute in some way.
Andy, didn’t know you were a socialist 🙂
Your political bias is clearly evident in your writing. Sovereign man is a resource for individuals that see the dark times that are coming ahead and want to prepare accordingly. There is nothing “far right” about it.
The founder James (pen name: Simon Black) is a real person. The man featured on the website who you claim is a random stock photo is actually him! Go on YouTube and search: “simon black sovereign man”. You’ll find a video on the Rich Dad Poor Dad channel called “What does it mean to be a Sovereign Man? – Robert Kiyosaki and Simon Black”. In said video, the stock photo you speak of magically comes to life. There are other videos on the internet of him as well.
You should really research things thoroughly or have a high school student do it for you before you publish articles on the internet that are not even remotely factual.
What’s a “real person”? A guy you don’t know, who’s history you have no idea of (he lists all these different kinds of businesses he’s been part of but never names them), a guy who uses a pen name.
I’ve given the info which anyone can look up themselves. But if you don’t believe it please go ahead and send him/her your money. They’ve tapped into a good thing.
Welcome to the scum of the right-wing! I have not gone to their site. I won’t bother since you informed us, here. Gosh, is it any better than QAnon? LOL!
It’s crazy John.
From your own links —– Very interesting, but I’m guessing you didn’t read the whole thread? The OP’s research only proves that Ragini Dhanvantray, the administrative contact to his websites’ domain, got into some trouble.
That seems to be the only thing that the OP has to discredit sovereignman.com, and many others in the thread have defended sovereignman.com’s credibility.
As one person said, “It is not a crime to use a proxy to register your domains. it is also not a crime to have someone other than yourself be the administrative contact. Ragini Dhanvantray, whoever that is, just provides services to people or corporations that would like to use and does not necessarily mean that she is affiliated with simon black or his company”
You’re quoting the guy in the Forum thread Michael and I don’t take much at face value there. The link to the Singapore court that I include states that they were found guilty in 2010 of lodging “false information with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority”. I don’t know the specific details but it is definitely a crime because they were found guilty on 3 counts and charged $21,000.
But I haven’t accused Sovereign Man itself of Criminal activity. What I’m saying that they’re most likely misrepresenting themselves. And you’re ok with that? Because my experience with people misrepresenting themselves is that it’s only the tip of the iceberg…
And perhaps you like to read Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, or even Dr. Seuss? All also pen names.
Nobody pays Dr.Seuss $2000/yr to give them financial advice.
Me neither…. less than 20% of that number for lifetime access.
I only signed up after nearly three years of his free content, and my evolving
personal needs met what was/is being offered.
Well I am not out to defend or promote anyone, but you are
really overstating some things, and “cherry-picking” your negatives.
Sovereign Man is not for everyone, but to label them “right wing?”
Or does that just mean someone with ideas or opinions that do not
match your own? That would be at least 75 Million US voters you know.
SMan offers advice or information on many subjects. Ones that are
very popular in these times. Moving and living abroad (which we both
are already doing)
How to obtain residence permits, reviewing citizenship by investment
programs (MANY sleazy types in this market!)
But his content is about things like, individual countries, stocks, protecting
your online and digital accounts, alternate investment ideas, precious metals,
homeschooling, medical tourism, and an invaluable yearly guide on world banks.
Last years was a PDF of 150 pages, showing breakdowns and fiscal “health”
reports on banks from every corner of the world. Invaluable IMO.
(Tried to post a screen shot, but cannot)
What has SMan personally done for me? When I was trying to get my
family residence permits in the EU, I wrote them. They sent me a contact
in Hungary where my family and I now have multiyear residence permits.
Same thing in Slovenia, where I was given a local contact to steer me
through the local bureaucracy. I also have that residence permit now.
When I had a tricky expat tax question, I asked for advice. I was sent not
one, but three separate tax experts for guidance.
Total cost of the above services received? ZERO dollars to SMan.
Plus he puts on a great project for mentoring young entrepreneurs each
year. Fully financed by SMan. Lodging, food, everything.
He isn’t some fly-by-night whack job Frank.
Again, I haven’t said that their services aren’t good and even mentioned that some have said good things about their services. As far as their tax advice they had an interesting viewpoint that inspired me to consult with 4 different tax specialists. In the end though the advice they present as “for everyone” is not – it only works under specific conditions of the US/Spanish tax treaty and it most definitely does not work for everyone.
What I AM saying is that they are maybe misrepresenting themselves. I don’t know if there’s a “Sovereign Man”, but there’s definitely a Singaporean company named Rikvin that is in the same business. You’re sending me all these photos of this “Simon Black” at camp, mentoring people etc. There’s no Simon Black, they say it themselves. As I said, I have my doubts that there’s even a “James”. Those images/videos could be of anyone.
If you believe it and are satisfied with their services then I’m happy for you.
As far as the politics go, Sovereign Man definitely represents itself as right-wing. Anyone casting doubt on science, the effectiveness of masks, or somehow insinuating the Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol are patriots is “right wing”. It’s not “Republican”, it’s “right wing” and I don’t think that definition is an opinion but a fact.
Had never heard of this Rivken company.
But they seem to offer services to companies wanting to incorporate in
Singapore. ONLY Singapore specific.
And the content they are “offering” matches SMan about 5% maybe?
I meant they have the exact same fields of expertise, easy to diversify that.
Your comment: “all of it is half truths subject to specific circumstances that won’t apply to most people.” That in and of itself makes it sound like a “scam” or at least questionable. The most useful websites are from people who provide accurate information that is on the up and up. If someone then wants to hire their services to help with the paperwork, etc, that is valid. Most people don’t mind paying for expertise. However, hiding under a pseudonym makes me wary. Why would someone need to do that?
I think they get you in under the guise of helpful information, which everyone wants. And they tell you a “trick” that you haven’t heard before so you think they know something special. But then they’ll tell you that this is general information and that you should consult a tax advisor for your specific situation…and to write them for a reference to a tax advisor etc etc. So they hook you in with a sexy profile and “insider” information and then they upsell you on their services.
I have a question for you. Don’t you wonder why Spain will let you live there tax free? It really doesn’t make sense that you get to use their roads, hospitals etc and not pay a tax. Maybe not a big tax because you are retired but something? As an American I have to pay tax always to USA no matter where we end up living. I just think it’s interesting that some countries in Europe let you retired there for free and still use the system. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Hi Vicki. I’m not sure where you are getting your information.
You can’t live here tax free, if you’re a resident staying in Spain 183 days + you have to file taxes. There’s a tax treaty between Spain/US but since Spanish rates higher you’ll have some amount owing.
You can’t use the system for free. There are different applicable taxes and for healthcare you can’t use the public system – you have to get private insurance. See see my post on the non-lucrative visa, they don’t just let anyone in and you pay for the privilege.
And every European country has similar Visa rules, #1 being that as a resident you pay taxes and #2 you pay for your own private healthcare.
Americans who are permanent residents of a foreign country or who are not in the US more more than a month or so a year do not have to pay tax to the US on earned income under 105K or so. ( “Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)”) You do have to file, though. If you are getting interest income, you do have to pay tax on that, no matter where it comes from. I guess a lot of retirees get interest income. I don’t. Social Security sent abroad is not taxed by the US if you are a US citizen. Depending on the tax treaty between the US and the foreign country you are living in, it might not be taxed in that foreign country either. I don’t know about Spain. I live in Sweden and here I don’t have to pay tax on my American Social Security income.