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Reasons to Operate a Business Offshore

Offshore companies offer many inherent benefits to entrepreneurs looking to work abroad. For one thing, the bureaucracy that may be prevalent in one country may be absent in another. Tax implications are another factor to consider and typically weigh heavily on the minds of business owners. Operating a foreign-based corporation is surprisingly easy to manage. In countries like the United States or the United Kingdom, the regulatory constraints on businesses are crippling. Even businesses with low overheads are burdened by the red tape that the tax authorities and government agencies impose upon them. Offshore corporations are popular as tax-friendly havens for many businesses.

Forms and Fussing with Regulatory Agencies

Most everyone you speak to who has decided to incorporate offshore points to the regulatory constraints that are so prevalent in developed economies. Throughout Europe, the UK, and North America, stifling regulatory requirements make the process of running and managing a business much more difficult. For many business owners, the reasons for incorporating abroad include things like privacy. In the United Kingdom, for example, businesses are required to list all particulars with the UK Government Register, known as Companies House. Anyone who wants details of the director or company’s owners can easily pay for that information. This cuts both ways: it’s beneficial when you’re looking for information on companies you want to work with, but it is also a privacy concern. Offshore corporations are not required to comply with those types of matters. Unless there are criminal complaints levied against a company, all information about its owners, assets, and management remains private.

What are the Pros of Incorporating Abroad?

For anyone thinking of establishing a business abroad, there are pros and cons. On the plus side, the regulatory constraints are certainly diminished overseas, and there are greater privacy controls over who has access to your personal information. Then there are the tangible concerns, such as taxation. Value-added tax is a high cost item in the UK. If a business is involved with merchandise that remains in the United Kingdom, that is a consideration. Much the same is true with taxes across the board. Businesses that are incorporated in the United Kingdom, or the European Union, must meet specific filing requirements with regulatory agencies.

If those companies are established abroad, the filing requirements are significantly different. Foreign-based businesses also offer many added advantages, such as mobility to the business owner/entrepreneur. If for any reason you need to relocate, the overseas business may simply require an amendment to a forwarding address. Throughout it all, it’s especially important to gauge market sentiment in the foreign country or jurisdiction. Things like political uncertainty, market volatility, or looming financial crises should always be factored in.

It’s Never a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

One of the biggest benefits of incorporating a business abroad is the tax component, notably the tax on repatriated profits. If you don’t repatriate your profits from foreign-based jurisdictions or countries, you may not be liable for taxation in your home country. It is always advisable to report all sources of income on your tax return, although not all sources of income are taxable based on specific considerations. Fortunately, there are ways to offset costs based on where the company management is located and how it runs the business. A common misconception about incorporating offshore is that there are no taxes to be paid. This is simply not true. The incorporating jurisdiction is subject to its own tax laws, and any business that incorporates there will be subject to those tax laws.

Things like double taxation should always be factored into the equation, because you certainly don’t want to be paying more than you would otherwise pay had you not incorporated abroad. The most important aspect of setting up shop overseas is the formations company that you use to get started. Not every entrepreneur is suited to an offshore corporation. Companies that trade in goods and services domestically will not be served by incorporating abroad, as there are import and export fees to consider. One of the most important reasons why people and companies incorporate abroad is portfolio diversification. The complex laws and interactions between foreign-based investment corporations and their investors means that SEC regulations can be skirted by various loopholes that are in effect.

For example, offshore companies allow investors to retain U.S. clients, thereby complying with the financial regulations of the Security and Exchange Commission. Portfolio diversification is especially important, since U.S. companies are subject to stringent regulation and litigation. Approximately 15 million lawsuits are filed per annum in the U.S. alone, and this puts the assets of U.S. residents and citizens at risk. By incorporating offshore, many of these threats can be eliminated. The stigma about offshore entities being tax shelters or illegal operations is simply not true. There are many benefits to be had by regular folks and corporations by incorporating abroad, especially when it comes to retirement planning.


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