If you ask someone what an offshore company is, they’ll often reply that it’s a company set up in a tax haven (so far, so good), but also that only traffickers, terrorists, and the mafia use them, and that they’re obviously immoral and illegal. Even the most well-informed people will tell you that it’s an expensive and complicated kind of company that isn’t worth the effort.
(I assume something similar happens when you ask about investing on the stock exchange.)
As you can guess, none of these statements are true, however widespread they may be. It’s no surprise; neither the State nor the media will go to great lengths to demystify the system.
The truth is that neither the State, nor the people who use it to make profits and live off others, have any right over your money or your property. In fact, however much they try, they can’t even prevent you from quitting the system, because you always have offshore companies at your disposal.
In today’s article, you can read about what an offshore company is and why creating one may be worthwhile. We’ll talk about the reality of tax havens and why taking advantage of them isn’t illegal, immoral, or even that complicated.
Note: tax haven and offshore are used as synonyms; onshore is the opposite of offshore.
Why you shouldn’t be afraid of registering companies in tax havens
Setting up an offshore company in any tax haven doesn’t constitute tax evasion or money laundering. Setting up an offshore company is:
- completely legal
- common practice among most of the big companies you know
- much cheaper than you may think
- simpler and quicker than you can imagine
- a piece of cake if you have the necessary contacts and knowledge
Transferring your company to a tax haven is just a decision: an intelligent decision to help you benefit from the opportunities of the global market (similar to transferring your residence). It simply means putting the maxim “go where they treat you best” into practice (which we talked about in Flag theory).
States don’t have the right or the capacity to control what you do. In fact, there’s great competition between them for you to become a citizen of their country (so you can pay taxes there, obviously).
“And if you aren’t convinced by the services and treatment offered by your State, then get out.”
Of course, States try to create cartels to take away your freedom of movement, resulting in associations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which promotes blacklists of tax havens in order to brush aside any country whose conditions are “too good” for their clients (i.e. citizens).
But this doesn’t matter to those States that depend on the income they earn as tax havens, and whose function only they truly understand:
“Serving our citizens, instead of milking them for every penny they have.”
Reasons to transfer your company to a tax haven
What factors lead business owners to transfer their companies to tax havens?
- They want to protect their assets from possible lawsuits and legal problems.
- They want to protect their companies from political and economic instability.
- They want to avoid their useless and costly duty to inform the government about the state of their companies’ finances (audits, forms, balance sheets, etc.).
- They want to escape the heavy tax burden that endangers their survival.
As you can see, it’s not a question of money laundering or tax evasion; the only thing they want is to increase their capital and save on taxes.
Taking advantage of the benefits of the offshore world is a simple option for any intelligent entrepreneurs who have decided to stop working for others, want to protect their shareholders, and are looking to maximise their profits. It’s a 100% legal method that lets them follow the rules imposed by their country of origin to the letter.
Wherever you’re from, you have nothing to fear, as long as you comply with the law.
Who should consider transferring their company to a tax haven?
At Tax Free Today, we have all kinds of readers. There are managers and students, young people and the elderly, people with international experience and people without… For many of you, it doesn’t make sense to set up an offshore company or transfer your existing one to a tax haven. In fact, you first have to focus on creating a business model that generates money.
To maintain an offshore company in a cost-effective jurisdiction, you have to bring in at least €500 a year. Logically, it doesn’t make sense to set up a company in a tax haven until you can save more in taxes than the costs of maintaining your company (in fact, you should think carefully about establishing any kind of company, whether onshore or offshore, before you have sufficient income to do so).
Besides these limitations, anyone can register their company in a tax haven, but some people will find it easier and more appropriate than others.
In particular, it’s simpler and more advantageous for digital nomads and entrepreneurs who aren’t tied down to any one place. If your business, project, or situation is one of the following, you have it easy:
- e-commerce and internet-based companies
- international companies
- succession and inheritance within companies
- investors and traders
- owners of mobile assets (like yachts, for example)
- beneficiaries of intellectual property
1. E-commerce and internet-based companies
For many people, this is the simplest gateway; in fact, it’s the most common kind of business for digital nomads. Tax Free Today itself is defined as an internet-based company.
And why not? These are globalised businesses that don’t require more than a laptop with access to the internet.
If your clients are spread out around the world and your company works in different countries, it makes sense to create an international business, doesn’t it?
Together with an offshore account, you can protect your company from the ever-present risk of inflation in your company, avoid capital controls like those in Greece, and bypass highly possible laws against keeping large sums of money in cash.
2. International companies
There are all kinds of international companies. Everyone knows Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and we often read about their fiscal practices in the news.
Anyone can do what their armies of lawyers and consultants do, no matter how small your company.
Giving your company an international vocation lets you make purchases and sales according to the laws of the offshore jurisdiction, often reflected in lower taxes.
Ireland, a country we’ve already discussed on this blog (the advantages of setting up a company in Ireland), is a place known for catering to the many technology companies that have established their European subsidiaries there. The 12.5% corporate tax burden is much more affordable than the 40% they pay in California.
Given the levels of income of these companies, they’ve gone above and beyond to find this method, which often lets them pay less than 5% tax. The “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich” model is especially notorious for reducing the tax burden in Europe, but now has an expiration date.
Without a doubt, the big multinationals will keep searching for ways to legally avoid taxes (and for the sake of their company and investors, it’s their duty to do so). These companies include Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Oracle, Starbucks, and Yahoo.
Many people think it’s unfair for these companies to pay so little tax, when in reality, the injustice is that smaller companies don’t have the money for specialist services to help them build the necessary structures. This is where the Tax Free Today blog can help. We offer free information (you can sign up for free so you don’t miss a thing) and direct support for a fraction of the price usually found on the market (if you want, you can hire our services).
3. Succession and inheritance within companies
You can combine your company with other companies in tax havens to optimise your taxes in succession cases, thereby avoiding the heavy tax burden on inheritance of property. Many medium-sized companies have to confront the serious burden of inheritance tax when the founder of a company dies and leaves everything to their successor. This tax can make a theoretically profitable company quickly cease to be so.
Going offshore in these cases is an especially attractive option when the inheritance is transferred from one country to another.
As a successful business owner who has built your company from the ground up, surely you’d rather support your family than leave a large portion of your property in the hands of the current heads of State, wouldn’t you?
At the end of the day, you’ve already given the State enough money over the course of your career.
4. Investors and traders
As with the other cases, if you’re an investor or trader, you’ll have no problem managing your profits with your company in a tax haven; you just have to observe the law.
5. Owners of mobile assets
There’s a good reason why so many boats sail under the Liberian or Maltan flag. These countries offer certain advantages for people who register their vessels there.
In fact, it’s possible to legally transfer anything up to houses from one country to another. This doesn’t mean you have to physically uproot it from its country of origin, obviously. The conditions to do so vary considerably from country to country; indeed, it’s a fairly complex process that requires very specialised knowledge.
6. Beneficiaries of intellectual property
If you have patents or branding rights, an offshore company will let you easily sell your rights and acquire new ones. It’s also much simpler to cede your rights to third parties in this way.
For consultants, the advantages of having a company in a tax haven are fairly clear. On the one hand, you save a lot on taxes, and on the other, you can manage your company in the simplest way possible, without having to worry about piles of paperwork and useless rules.
Why? Because in offshore jurisdictions, the requirements to keep company accounts and update the authorities are small to non-existent.
Just imagine: no more monthly or tri-monthly forms, no more audits, and no more tax returns!
We’ll discuss in more depth the features of offshore companies and the concrete means of establishing them in future articles.
For now, don’t forget to sign up below to our content at Tax Free Today. You can even download our exclusive e-book for subscribers, where you’ll find a summary of the information you need to decide where to take up residence, set up your company, and optimise your taxes, as well as a step-by-step guide to emigration.
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