BELIZE OFFSHORE COMPANY
WHAT IS A BELIZE OFFSHORE COMPANY?
Belize IBC’s (International Business Companies) are companies that are commonly used for Offshore Banking to conduct international trade, investment activities and for asset protection. Belize IBC’s can be involved in buying and selling goods and services, holding bank accounts and operation of businesses. Belize IBC’s are also commonly used for the ownership of real estate property and land, for ownership of intellectual property, licensing and franchising, personal services by individuals working overseas and offshore e-business.
THE LAW BEHIND THE BELIZE OFFSHORE COMPANY
A Belize offshore company is a foreign non resident alien company incorporated under the International Business companies Act Chapter 270 of the Laws of Belize exempted by provisions of said Act from all or specific regulatory controls or taxes, on international business and investment activities.
The Belize Offshore company is a successor company modeled off the first International Business Companies Statute drafted in the British Virgin Islands by Lewis Hunte (1984) which is now a standard feature of offshore jurisdiction. The Belize Offshore Company is based on company law that allows a maximum degree of convenience, flexibility and variety consistent with modern commercial practice.
USES OF AN OFFSHORE COMPANY
- International trading, especially where the owner has no fixed residence
- Asset protection
- Captive insurance
- Yacht registration
- Tax avoidance
- Protection and ownership of intellectual property
- Succession planning
- Share ownership in other companies
- Financial management
- Investment holding
- Corporate trustee
- Leasing of other assets
- Real property ownership
- Ownership of intellectual property
TYPE OF OFFSHORE COMPANIES INCORPORATED IN BELIZE
Offshore Companies offer much greater financial privacy than an onshore company. The International Business Registry of Belize facilitates the Registration of 3 types of Offshore Company; International Business Companies (IBC), Limited Duration Companies (LDC) and Public Investments Company (PIC).
BENEFITS OF BELIZE OFFSHORE CORPORATION
No Exchange Controls: Conducting foreign currency denominated business with no exchange control regulation. No Reporting and Filing Requirements: Shareholder’s or director’s meetings may be held in any country and voting may be by proxy. Reporting requirements are minimal to protect confidentiality. There is no requirement for any financial statement or accounts records to be filed with any authority in Belize and these records may be held anywhere in the world as the directors may determine.
BENEFITS OF A BELIZE OFFSHORE COMPANY AS DECONTROLLED FOREIGN CORPORATION
If residents of the onshore state do not have ownership or control of a Belize offshore corporation, the corporation is deemed to be a decontrolled foreign corporation. Shareholders of decontrolled foreign corporations may not be liable to any kind of tax so long as the company does not engage in any trade or business in the onshore jurisdiction. A Belize offshore company may classify as a decontrolled foreign corporation if an irrevocable discretionary offshore trust holds the majority or all of the shareholdings of the company. Provided neither the settlor nor any resident of the onshore jurisdiction takes any vested interest in the trust or its assets the offshore company may classify as a decontrolled foreign corporation. Investors can ensure that although he/ she does not own or control such a corporation that he can exercise a position of influence and management in the corporation thereby protecting his investment by including in his letter of wishes that he be appointed managing director or investment adviser of the company.
CONTROLLED FOREIGN CORPORATIONS
An offshore corporation controlled by residents of the onshore state is deemed to be a controlled foreign corporation. United States, British and Canadian citizens as well as other citizens and residents of other countries are taxable on their world wide income irrespective of its source. There is now legislation in place that thwarts the remittance offshore of income and profits by tax payers. An example of this kind of legislation known as anti-deferral provisions can be found in sub- part- F of the US Inland Revenue Code Section 951 which taxes income kept offshore by residents of the onshore state. Offshore corporations controlled by resident shareholders of the onshore state are taxed by such legislation on their share of undistributed profits from offshore activities such as dividends, interest, royalties and capital gain from securities.
TAX EXEMPTION ON DIVIDENDS
In some jurisdictions shareholders of a decontrolled foreign corporation are liable to tax only on dividends he/she actually receives. This is usually a withholding tax on dividends but income earned on capital gains is not taxed. Such a company can also trade stocks and securities free of capital gains and other taxes. However if the foreign non-resident alien company is located in a county that has a double taxation treaty such a double taxation treaty may offer significant tax savings for investors who qualify for them.
One can argue for the legitimacy of financial confidentiality as a legal principle. It is no accident that the banking sector for example has long operated on the understanding of the value of the confidentiality ethic. This is supported by the common law, for example the Tournier case. In the cases of trusts, trustees have a well established duty under orthodox trust laws to keep the affairs of the trust confidential. It can be demonstrated that the viability of offshore financial products, including trusts, depends to a large extent on this characteristic confidentiality ethic. The offshore legal concept of confidentiality encompasses strict and extremely broad-based statutory duties of confidentiality, sometimes with criminal penalties attached in all aspects of business. The offshore legal concept of confidentiality is a good example of the efficiency and dynamism of offshore law. Confidentiality in offshore jurisdictions like Belize is valued in of itself and many investors chose Belize as an offshore jurisdiction specifically for added confidentiality norms. As such confidentiality is appropriately described as a financial or legal product in the offshore sector.
Confidentiality as an offshore law product, has been responsible for creating significant and sustaining opportunities in the offshore sector. Confidentiality has acquired something of a bad name for itself due to linkages, often erroneous, to money laundering, fraud and tax evasion. Powerful onshore nations such as the US have campaigned somewhat effectively, to whittle away the confidentiality norms in offshore states. Today therefore stricter anti-money laundering laws and increasing tax reporting and other information requirements have undermined the strong confidentially laws in place in offshore jurisdictions due to initiatives of the OECD insisting that offshore countries like Belize assist onshore countries in their tax initiative, Belize has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA’s) with twelve (12) countries i.e. United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Nertherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroes and Portugal. These TIEA’s will only apply where there is primafacie evidence of fraud or money laundering where confidentiality will and must succumb to the greater interest in disclosure and law enforcement, In contrast offshore jurisdictions have resisted attempts to automatically defeat confidentiality where routine reporting or disclosure relating to fiscal matters is involved. This approach is supported by the well established rule of international law that no country enforces the fiscal laws of another. While some onshore states have succumbed to onshore O.E.C.D. pressure and signed TIEA’s, the status quo in relation to confidentiality in such matters largely remains.
Belize does not have Double Taxation Treaties (DTA’s) with countries such as Canada, United States or Australia. These treaties are particularly useful for corporate structures such as the Belize International Business Company and may facilitate trading, financing offshore banking, manufacturing, e-commerce, and licensing. DTA’s however, will encompass provisions which mandate the exchange of tax information between treaty partners. Offshore jurisdictions have been anxious to avoid such provisions which seek to neutralize the rule on the non- enforcement of foreign fiscal law.
RESTRICTIONS ON A BELIZE OFFSHORE COMPANY
- Cannot carry on Business with persons resident in Belize.
- Cannot own real property in Belize other than a lease of property for use of an office.
- Cannot carry on banking business or the business of an insurance or a re-insurance company, insurance agent or insurance broker, the business of providing the registered office of companies.
- Cannot carry on trust business or the business of collective investment schemes without a license from the Government of Belize.
- Cannot hold shares, stock, debt obligations or other securities in a local Chapter 250 company.
- Cannot issue shares, stock debt obligations or other securities to any person resident in Belize or to any local Chapter 250 company