International Taxation Paper

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1 International Taxation Paper Offshoring - A comparism between the two most important Offshoring places Bahamas vs. Cayman Islands BAHAMAS Best International Financial Centre in the Western Hemisphere!? The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a tax free English speaking jurisdiction in the Caribbean. It is a stable, independent sovereign country, with a democracy and government/judicial system modelled on the United Kingdom. The Bahamas is classified as an upper middle-income developing country and has the third highest per capita income in the western hemisphere (after the United States and Canada). The Bahamas has a long history as a major offshore financial center. The Bahamas offshore company is governed by the International Business Companies Act, 2000 (as amended) and is fully tax free in the Bahamas. The Bahamas also has no income tax, capital gains tax, withholding tax, gift tax or inheritance tax. Offshore finance is the second largest industry, accounting for about 15 per cent of GDP. The Bahamas is recipient of the Best International Financial Centre in the Western Hemisphere award from the Financial Times. Offshore companies registered in the Bahamas are tax free and there is no requirement to file annual returns or audited statements. A Bahamas IBC may do business anywhere in the world and there is no requirement for the Director(s) to be resident in the Bahamas. Unlike most other jurisdictions, a Bahamas IBC may do business locally and may own local real estate. Any such local transactions however, are subject to exchange

2 controls and stamp duty. Business conducted by the Bahamas IBC outside of the Bahamas is exempt. There are additional government fees for high capitalization (over US $50,000.00). Only one Director and one shareholder is required. The name of the Director(s) is filed with the Registrar, and is available to the Public; the name of the Beneficial Owner is not. The financial sector contributes over 20% to GDP, with annual expenditures in the local economy of the banking sector alone exceeding $470 million, assets at roughly $350 billion, and with sizeable assets under management. There are approximately 70 insurance companies (not including brokers and agents), with assets approaching $700 million. The 725+ Funds have assets under management totalling in excess of $212 billion. The Bahamas Ship Registry is one of the world's most prestigious and currently it is ranked as the 3rd largest ship registry in the world, with 1700 vessels representing some 43 million gross tons. Overall, The Bahamas offers a full range of financial services and products, including: asset management and protection; commercial banking, brokerage services, company formation & administration; information technology services; insurance & support services; investment management; fund administration; private banking; maritime registry & support services; support services (back office); and trust services. The Bahamas provides a tax neutral environment for international business. There is no direct taxation, i.e. on capital gains, corporate earnings, personal income, sales, inheritance or dividends.

3 CAYMAN ISLANDS The Cayman Islands have more registered businesses than it has people Caymanians and Caymanian companies are not subject to any form of direct taxation. However, an import tax of between 5% and 20% is levied on most imported goods. Import taxes on automobiles ranges from 27.5% to 40% for most vehicles while Hummers are taxed at 100% of their value. Many offshore jurisdictions specialise in the formation of collective investment vehicles, or mutual funds. The market leader is the Cayman Islands (the Cayman Islands have been estimated to home to about 75% of world s hedge funds, with nearly half the industry's estimated $1.1 trillion), followed by Bermuda, although a market shift has meant that a number of hedge funds are now formed in the British Virgin Islands. The Cayman Islands financial services industry encompasses banking, as already mentioned mutual funds, captive insurance, reinsurance, vessel registration, companies and partnerships, trusts, structured finance and the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange. At the moment, just over 70,000 companies were incorporated on the Cayman Islands including 430 banking and trust companies, 720 captive insurance firms and more than 7,000 funds. The government distinguishes between local (or "ordinary" companies), doing business primarily with the local population, and "exempted" companies conducting business primarily with overseas entities.

4 Comparison of the incorporation costs between the Cayman Islands and Germany/Switzerland: Germany Company Formation: Limited Liability Company A Limited Liability Company (GmbH) is the most common form of German company for entrepreneurs to set up. However, Germany's high corporate tax rates, complex tax legislation and high incorporation costs make company set up less attractive. Company set up fees are: Year 1: US$7,000 and Year 2 onwards US$4,250 Switzerland Company Formation: Limited Liability Company Switzerland is attractive for multinationals wishing to set up a global headquarters. If properly structured, a swiss company pays minimal tax. The company set up fees amount to US$12,500 in Year 1 and US$6,500 in Year 2. Cayman Islands Company Incorporation: Exempted Company A Caymans Exempted Company is a legal corporate structure with no annual reporting, accounting or auditing requirements and is, if properly-structured, a taxexempt company. The Cayman Islands company incorporation fees start at US$7,900 in Year 1 and US$3,600 in Year 2, depending on the corporate structure and range of professional services required. Bahamas Company Incorporation: Incorporation & 1st Year Fees: US $1550 Nominee Director Power of Attorney Embossed Metal Seal No Charge No Charge No Charge Bank Account US $375

5 Courier US $60 Total with Courier: US $1985 BAHAMAS CAYMAN ISLANDS GDP $6,524 billion $1,939 billion GDP per capita $17,843 $43,800 Cost of company incorporation $2500 $1900 No. of IBC s 100,092 49,456 No. of Offshore Banks No. of Mutual Funds No. of Insurance Companies No.3 for ship registering No.1 for aircraft registering no direct taxation no direct taxation

6 Sources: Bannister, Tina, 2000, Offshore Financial Services: An Overview, the Eastern Caribbean Banker, Vol. 2 (September). Financial Stability Forum, Press Release: Financial Stability Forum Releases Grouping of Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs) to Assist in Setting Priorities for Assessment, and Report of the Working group on Offshore Financial Centers, April 2000 Higgins, J. Kevin 2000, Offshore Financial Services: An Introduction, The Eastern Caribbean Banker, Vol. 2 (July).

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