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Best Jurisdictions For Offshore Companies

29 Oct
Best Jurisdictions For Offshore Companies

Best Jurisdictions For Offshore Companies

How To Choose The Best Offshore Jurisdiction For You

Dozens of jurisdictions offer offshore corporations, LLCs, trusts, and foundations, but every offshore attorney has his go-to choices. My Belize attorney prefers St. Lucia because a St. Lucia structure can help to mitigate tax liability when doing business in Belize. One U.S. attorney I know works mostly with Belize entities; another likes Nevis.

How should you choose where to set up whatever offshore entities you decide you need?

The most important thing to understand when considering your options is whether a jurisdiction would tax income of the entity. You don’t want to pay taxes in the country where the investment is located as well as taxes in the country where the entity is located. This means that the “tax haven” jurisdictions can be your best options. The trouble is that this still leaves a long list to choose from.

If you’re setting up an active company, where you’ll be doing business can help to determine the best place to incorporate. It’s a topic for discussion with the lawyers in the country where your business will operate (as opposed to something your attorney back home can help with).

In addition to taxes, other considerations when trying to choose one jurisdiction over another include things like how many directors are needed, annual reporting requirements, annual meeting requirements, and annual audit requirements.

When we were living in Ireland, I considered opening a company in that country… until I discovered that every Irish corporation must undergo an annual audit by a charted accountant. For a small company, that expense could be painful.

Panama requires three directors for every Panamanian corporation, at least one of which is meant to be resident in Panama. A tightly held small corporation (a husband and a wife team, for example) might not want to put a third director on the corporate documents.

My Personal Favorite Jurisdiction?

My jurisdiction of choice is Nevis. This is not because I have detailed knowledge of Nevis entities versus entities in other jurisdictions, but simply because, years ago, an offshore attorney I worked with set up some entities in Nevis for me. Now I’m comfortable with the idea… it’s what I do. I have entities in other jurisdictions for specific reasons, but I’ve found Nevis entities to be affordable and low hassle. Plus it’s easier to keep up with multiple entities if they are all under the same registered agent in the same country.

In an effort to add flexibility and value to their entities, Nevis has made some improvements to relevant laws. For example, a Nevis corporation now can have just a single director. Officers are now discretionary, and share certificates are optional, meaning the share register is the primary record for shareholders.

In addition, Nevis now offers statutory recognition of single member LLCs as well as statutory recognition that LLCs can be converted to corporations.

And the jurisdiction now offers statutory recognition of unlimited duration and accumulation of income for a trust, as well as expanded powers for protectors.

These changes show that Nevis is continuing to improve its entity products to continue to attract business for its offshore services industry. That’s a good thing for those of us shopping jurisdictions.

Lief Simon


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