What are the Tax Benefits of Offshore Companies?

Tax Benefits of Offshore Companies

Establishing offshore companies are in a trend at present time. Every business thinking of expanding their business is opting for setting up an offshore company. Offshore companies provide benefits better than any regular company. A company is registered offshore for a variety of reasons. The main purpose of an offshore company is to establish a business in a business-friendly jurisdiction and enjoy the tax benefits of offshore companies. Offshore investments offer many advantages such as tax benefits, privacy, and asset protection. Among all the advantages, the major advantage is that of tax. Companies looking for ways to reduce the operating cost, establish companies in offshore jurisdictions also known as tax havens or International Financial Centers. Tax benefits of offshore companies are that all the preferred offshore jurisdictions set nearly similar legislation.

‘Offshore company’ is a term used for those companies which are situated outside the country of its residence or incorporation. Some jurisdictions provide a favorable business environment so these countries are known as offshore jurisdictions or tax havens[1]. The very purpose of offshore jurisdictions is to promote business growth and legally reduce tax. These offshore jurisdictions are comparatively more stable than other jurisdictions when it comes to politics and the economy.

What are Tax Haven Jurisdictions?

Tax Haven jurisdictions are countries where investment gives rise to tax benefits. Tax havens have favorable tax laws as compared to other countries. Having an offshore subsidiary set up in a country with low corporate tax helps a company to save money and taxes. The characteristics of tax havens are as follows:

  • It allows foreign entities to register in the country but are not subject to corporate income tax.
  • Privacy on information regarding directors and owners of such company.
  • No tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with other countries.
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Tax Benefits of Offshore Companies

The tax benefits of offshore companies are as follows:

  1. The tax advantage of the Global Market
    Offshore jurisdictions often have lower tax rates in defined sectors and activities to promote foreign investment. Preferred offshore jurisdictions frame their policies and laws in a manner to minimize the net levy liability on local corporations. So businesses lawfully use foreign inclusions to vest their assets and take advantage of reduced taxes.
  2. Offshore business tax deferral
    One of the tax benefits of offshore companies in tax havens is that income tax is solely imposed on companies that are both locally traded as well as domicile. However, it requires the incorporation of a foreign business in such offshore jurisdiction which is then assigned a certain line of income.
  3. Tax Off-setting incentives
    One of the tax benefits of offshore companies is that they are low to no tax jurisdictions and they provide protection and exemption from stamp duties and excise duties on transactions. They also exempt tax on net profits, capital gains tax on foreign investment, salaries and on transfer of shares to shareholders.
  4. Diversified investment portfolio
    Countries that have lower tax rates become investment hubs for business and this creates a pathway for a diversified investment portfolio. Low to no tax rates entice foreign investors and provides flexibility and convenience for global stock exchanges.
  5. Undemanding Transfer of Assets
    Transfer of shares and other assets are less costly and are subject to lower stamp duties. Further, in such offshore jurisdiction it becomes easy to form a living will to recover a share or register interest after the death of the shareholder or owner of the asset.
  6. International Business Company (IBC)
    Business investors can also look for offshore jurisdictions which exempt payment of tax by companies incorporated in their jurisdiction but which do not operate in their jurisdiction. Such companies are known as International Business Companies (IBC) and such companies are only required to have a local office and an official representative in their country. Even though IBCs are required to pay annual levies prescribed by local tax legislation but such tax charges are meager as compared to other jurisdictions. Establishing a business in offshore centers significantly reduces the cost of setting up and maintenance costs of the company. Investors usually incorporate IBC in offshore locations to take the benefits of the business structure.
  7. Reduced Taxation
    Another tax benefit of Offshore companies is tax neutrality. The overall tax rates are low. Certain incomes and profits are completely exempt from taxation. In most offshore countries, IBCs are not required to pay taxes on profits and incomes. IBCs are also exempt from paying taxes if they meet certain requirements.
  8. Confidentiality
    Offshore companies provide privacy and confidentiality to their investors and protect the information regarding their investments. Confidentiality helps shareholders, debenture holders, and investors avoid taxes that otherwise would have been taxed in another country. Therefore, investors take refuge from the tax authorities of their country by investing or channeling their funds through offshore companies.
  9. Tax Optimization
    There are several ways in which a business can avail tax benefits of offshore companies. These advantages can be in the form of:
    • Transfer Pricing
      Under transfer pricing the transaction between two related companies in different companies are undertaken at optimized rates. Transfer pricing allows businesses to optimize their tax liability by setting prices at a level and reducing the overall tax burden. In this way, it results in a tax advantage for offshore companies.
    • Holding companies
      Holding companies are companies that hold shares of other companies. By establishing an offshore holding company in a low-tax rate jurisdiction, a company will be able to reduce its overall tax burden by shifting its income to the holding company.
    • International Tax Planning
      International Tax Planning involves decisions on structuring a company’s operations and investments in a manner that minimizes the overall tax burden. Businesses can include tax treaties, tax havens, and other strategies to reduce their tax liability.
    • Tax efficient financing
      A company can structure its finances in a tax-efficient manner and reduce the number of interest expenses which in turn will reduce the overall tax burden.
    • Royalty Structuring
      By transferring the ownership of intangible assets like patents, trademarks, and copyright to a subsidiary company in a tax haven country, a company can reduce the number of royalties thereby reducing the overall tax burden.
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All these are the tax benefits of offshore companies. Bettering the tax situation is one of the major reasons for setting up a business abroad. Businesses can explore trending offshore jurisdictions for better opportunities and exposure. However, these strategies should be applied carefully and must ensure compliance with local laws, regulations, and tax codes as failure to comply with them often amounts to tax evasion. Professional help and advice are necessary for expanding a business to have a global presence by setting up an offshore company.

Also Read:
A Complete Analysis on International Business Company
Offshore and Onshore Company: A Detailed Comparison

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