Why Incorporate Offshore
By utilising an offshore company, it may be possible to secure a number of advantages. In the following notes we outline some of the structures which are available and give examples of uses which may be made of offshore companies. This is not intended as an exhaustive demonstration of offshore possibilities and we would always remind clients that the tax and other benefits which can be obtained by use of offshore entities usually depend upon the country of residence of the beneficial owner and its anti-avoidance legislation and regard has to be had, too, for the requirements of any other country with which the offshore entity might carry on its business.Our staff will be pleased to advise you on all aspects.Typical uses to which an offshore company might be put:
An importing or exporting company might establish itself in an offshore area. The offshore company would take orders directly from the customer, but have the goods delivered directly to that customer from the manufacturer or place of purchase. The profits arising out of the difference between purchase price and sales price would then be accumulated in either a tax free or low tax area. With such trading companies, it is important to choose an offshore area which has good communications as shipping and other documentation may be critical to the scheme.
Funds accumulated through investment companies set up in offshore areas can be invested or deposited throughout the world and whilst generally returns or interest payable in respect of these funds will be subject to local taxation, there are a number of offshore areas in which funds may be placed either in tax free bonds or as bank deposits where interest is paid gross. Similarly, in many offshore areas no capital gains taxes are applicable. Use of an offshore company incorporated in a suitable country allows the possibility of investing tax efficiently in a high tax country where there is a concessionary tax treaty in respect of investments made by companies incorporated in the offshore country.
Use may be made of an offshore holding company which would fund the operation of subsidiaries in various countries so that the subsidiaries obtain the benefit of tax deductions on interest paid. If the holding company is situated in an offshore area where there are no income or corporation taxes and no requirement that dividends must be paid, then the profits which are accumulated in the tax free climate can be used to fund the requirement of subsidiaries or reinvested as business convenience suggests.
Probate and Privacy
A high net worth individual with properties or other assets in a number of countries may wish to hold these through the medium of a personal holding company so that upon his demise probate would be applied for in the country in which his company was incorporated rather than in each of the countries in which he might hold assets. This saves legal fees and avoids publicity. Again, not everybody wishes to advertise wealth and an individual may wish to hold property through an offshore entity simply because of the privacy which the offshore arrangement gives.
Property Owning Companies
There are often great advantages in using an offshore property holding company for the purpose of holding an overseas property. Advantages of offshore property ownership include avoidance of inheritance tax, avoidance of capital gains tax, ease of sale which is achieved by transferring the shares in the company rather than transferring the property owned by the company and reduction of property purchase costs to the onward purchasers. Taking the example of investment in property in the United Kingdom by an offshore company, use of an appropriate offshore vehicle can offer relief from income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. It should be remembered, in particular, that when a nonresident company disposes of a property investment, no capital gains tax is charged and holding through an offshore company removes the application of inheritance tax which would apply if a non-domiciled investor held a UK property in his personal name.
Individuals who receive substantial fees in respect of their professional services in capacities such as designers,consultants, authors or entertainers, may assign or contract with an offshore company the right to receive those fees.
The offshore employment company may not have to pay tax on its profits which can be reinvested in a tax free climate to generate further income from the offshore company. Payments to the individuals concerned can be structured in such a way as to minimise their tax liabilities. One example in this regard in respect of an overseas employment is to increase subsistence expenses as against fees as such which would be paid to the individual.
The use of offshore shipping companies can eliminate direct or indirect taxation on shipping. Shipping companies may own or charter ships, the profits from which activities can be accumulated tax free. Tax and legal requirements generally dictate that the offshore company wning a shipping vessel should be incorporated in the jurisdiction whose flag the ship flies. The historic havens for these purposes have been Panama and Liberia. Latterly, the registries of other nations have expanded and consideration might be given to registrations at British Ports of Registry such as those in the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. A certain prestige attaches to the registration of a ship or indeed a yacht at a British port of registry and the vessel can be surveyed at most ports throughout the world by a surveyor recognised by the UK Department of Trade and Industry. The British flag has always been regarded as one of the world's most dependable.
Patent, Copyright and Royalty Companies
An offshore company can purchase or be assigned the right to use a copyright, patent, trademark or know-how by its original holders with a power to sublicence. Upon acquisition of the intellectual property right the offshore company can then enter into agreement with licensees around the world who would be able to exploit the intellectual property right in various countries. It is thought preferable to acquire, for example, a patent at the patent pending stage before it becomes very valuable so that the capital payment for the acquisition of the patent can be set at a lower amount. Often royalties paid out of a high tax area attract withholding taxes at source. In many cases an interposing holding company may allow a reduction in the rate of tax withheld at source.