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    Services    Registration of off-shore companies
    General idea about off-shore companies
    Legislation of some countries of the world, called “off-shore zones”, allows not to pay any taxes or to pay taxes at the decreased rate. The bulk of such countries belong to developing ones. They take a certain fee for registration of an off-shore company and fill up their budget in such a way. The terms ‘off-shore business” and “an off-shore company” don’t have a definite legal, tax and business meaning. The main definition of an off-shore company is the following: “..... a separate legal person or it’s branch-office …… registered, located or controlled in a foreign country”.   

    Ready-made off-shore companies list

    Types of off-shore companies
    Foreign companies that may be of certain interest from the point of view of taxation and international business structuring optimization, may be divided into the three following groups:

    1. Companies registered in the so-called ‘classical’ off-shore jurisdictions. Mainly, they are characterized by the following features:
    • No requirement for tax payment or zero tax rates on condition of absence of business activity in the country of registration,
    • No requirement to have book-keeping and audit,
    • Requirement to pay annual fixed state duty.
    There are more than 50 off-shore jurisdictions in the world. Well known are British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, the Seychelles, Nevis, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Mauritius and others.

    2. Companies registered in low tax rate countries
    These countries are not territories of no taxation. They have a higher status than off-shore jurisdictions. Сompanies registered in such countries, upon fulfilling of certain requirements and conditions, may pay quite moderate taxes.
    Companies located in low tax rate countries are to have annual audit and submit book-keeping reports.
    Such countries are the Cyprus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    3. On-shore companies, characterized by the following:
    • located in countries with ordinary (or high) tax rate level;
    • obliged to have book-keeping in the country of registration,
    • possible to be used in agent schedules, build-up of holdings, as well as for usage of treaties and agreements aiming to avoid double taxation and, upon fulfillment of certain conditions, such companies may be taxable at the decreased rates.
    Such jurisdictions are: European countries (in particular, the U.K., Denmark,, Switzerland, Estonia), the USA, New Zealand and many others.

    For example, in the U.K. income tax rate varies from 21% to 28 % depending on the level of income. In New Zealand 33 % rate is applied for the income received from the source in New Zealand.

    Choice of an off-shore jurisdiction
    Conditions of taxation depend on the jurisdiction. Classical off-shore jurisdictions provide to companies either release from payment of taxes or zero taxation. In other countries, companies are to pay income tax: 10 % in the Cyprus, from 20% to 30 % in the U.K., 33 % in New Zealand.  
    Exclusions are the following:
    • Hong Kong, that is not an off-shore jurisdiction. But, in Hong Kong companies having business activity only abroad, are not to pay taxes. This feature makes Hong Kong one of the most attractive jurisdictions for company registration.
    • Estonia, one of the members of the European Community. A ‘zero’ income tax rate is applied in Estonia. Taxes are to be paid only for the income distributed between the owners of the company (for example, as dividends).  Skillful application of an Estonian company allows to be effective in the sphere of taxation.  

    Application of treaties aiming to avoid double taxations
    Classical off-shore countries seldom have conventions/agreements aiming to avoid double taxation which may be used for optimization of payments by the non-resident structures. Thus, countries of low tax rate level and off-shore jurisdictions become the most optimal countries for application of such conventions/agreements. In practice, the most convenient country is the Cyprus, in which it is easy to receive a «tax residence certificate» for your company (a certificate about a ‘tax residency of a company’).  

    Absence or presence of a country in the ‘Black List’ of countries, in which a company will execute its trading and investment activities.  
    “Black List” of countries includes the ones business relationship with which is restricted in a certain way. For example, there may be tax and currency restrictions applied. Classical off-shore jurisdictions (Panama, the Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, Belize and others) are included into the bulk of the ‘Black Lists’. But, there are also exclusions. E.g., Panama is not included into the ‘Black List’ of the Ukraine, the Seychelles are not included into the ‘Black List’ of Russian Federation. Hong Kong and the Cyprus are rather seldom included into such ‘Black Lists’.
    Of course, on shore jurisdictions (the U,K., New Zealand, Denmark, Estonia and others) are not included into any lists.

    Necessity to use a company
    Aims of company usage may be very different: optimization of taxes, defense of assets, investments, ownership of patents and royalty, registration of real estate. In the bulk of the cases it is necessary to receive a tax certificate in the country of the company registration.
    The Cyprus is one of the best solutions, as well as other countries in which taxable companies are to be registered.    

    Prestige of jurisdiction
    In case prestige of jurisdiction is important for you, it would be advisable for you to choose a country that is not an off-shore zone – such as, e.g., Hong Kong, the Cyprus, the U.K., New Zealand, Estonia and others.

    Business registers of the bulk of off-shire jurisdictions ( the Virgin Islands, Belize, Panama and others) contain data about a director of the company. But, in low-tax and on-shore jurisdictions (the Cyprus, Hong Kong, European countries) business registers contain the data about a director and about a stockholder. In this case, for provision of confidentiality, it is possible to use services of nominal directors and stockholders, as well as to issue shares to bearer.

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