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RELATED SECTIONS

- Taxation of Offshore E-commerce
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- Offshore E-commerce Applications

When a company or an individual decides to make use of 'offshore' there are a host of factors involved in selecting the right jurisdiction. The availability of a particular corporate form probably won't have played much of a role in the decision process, because by and large all offshore jurisdictions offer broadly similar forms. Once the jurisdiction is chosen, however, it becomes an important matter to choose the particular form which will give the optimal tax and operating result.

Some industries have their own particular forms; thus, insurance companies are 'captives', banks are sometimes 'offshore banking units', while investment funds and shipping companies have their own special regimes. More information can be found in the Offshore Business Review Section of Lowtax.net

Most new entrants to offshore, or entrants to new offshore jurisdictions, however, will want to choose between a small number of standard forms. These are individually described in each Lowtax.net Jurisdictions section, and include normal limited companies, trusts (usual for individuals) and partnerships. Many, if not most jurisdictions have offered/offer the International Business Company, which is an offshore limited company, usually prevented from trading locally, but traditionally immune from virtually all taxation, even when there is some in the jurisdiction concerned. However, in recent years, a great many jurisdictions have been forced to limit the tax benefits associated with IBCs, in response to the various OECD and EU initiatives on harmful tax competition, so this business form should probably be examined with especial care by those looking to establish offshore.

Firms of many types are able to give competent advice and practical assistance on the selection of a company form, including local or international accounting and tax consultancies, many law firms, and specialist company formation agencies in the jurisdictions, although these latter firms may not see the broad picture so well if they aren't part of a larger, multi-disciplinary organization.

Jurisdictions usually require some level of information about the promoters (owners) of newly-formed companies, which is more exacting if financial operations are intended. Usually it is necessary to file statutory documents, sometimes in the local language; and it is normal (but not invariable) for jurisdictions to require that local firms maintain the basic statutory records for a company. Statutory audit is rare for most normal commercial operations, and the regulatory burden is usually light in general - this being one of the advantages of offshore. It is usual for there to be (fairly low) fees for initial registration, and sometimes also annual fees afterwards. It is wise to ask your intended local administrator to be precise about fees in advance.

A check in the Lowtax.net Jurisdictions section will quickly establish the basic rules for company formation in your chosen IOFC. For details of professional firms offering offshore company formation in each jurisdiction see the Lowtax Services Directory for that jurisdiction.

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