We’ve all heard the term in the media, or tossed around by savvy financial planners or accountants. But what are corporate tax havens? Are they legal? And can they help you reduce your tax liability?
Read on to learn more…
What is a Corporate Tax Haven?
In lay terms, a “tax haven” refers to any jurisdiction or country that offers minimal or substantially reduced tax liability to foreign businesses and individuals.
These so-called havens typically place an emphasis on privacy, sharing little to no financial information with other foreign tax authorities, and often do not require residency or a physical business presence within their borders for a business or individual to benefit.
Criteria to Qualify as a Tax Haven
Interestingly, there are a number of qualifying factors that a jurisdiction must meet in order to qualify as a tax haven. The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), in 1998, offered a number of criteria that could be used to identify such financial centers worldwide.
Tax Haven Characteristics:
- Zero, or minimal imposed tax on income
- Privacy standards and no exchange of information with other parties
- A lack of transparency (to improve privacy/anonymity)
What do Governments Have to Gain?
Tax havens are certainly attractive to investors, business professionals, and wealthy individuals. But what do governments stand to gain by establishing their jurisdiction as a tax haven?
Turns out tax havens have a lot to gain as well.
Benefits of Tax Havens for Countries and Governments:
- Despite the name, tax havens aren’t typically “free” of cost or fees. Although favorable from a tax liability perspective, they often charge a nominal tax rate while making up for fees in other areas such as high import duties.
- Registration fees and annual renewals. Some tax havens charge fees for registration, annual licensing and other fees.
- The attraction of foreign investors and money brings with it a vital infusion of capital into the local economy. Further, the country may benefit from ongoing business operations within its borders, such as investments in local infrastructure, offices, job opportunities and more.
As you can see, there are a number of built-in incentives for a government to operate a tax haven, including capital injection into the country’s economy where investments may flow into local businesses, financial institutions, and other vehicles.
Key Tax Haven Benefits
International tax havens have long been the preferred domicile for Fortune 100 companies, astute investors and privacy-minded individuals. But why?
1. No (or minimal) Tax Liability
As the name clearly suggests, these domiciles are havens for corporations, individuals and investors seeking to reduce their tax liability. Many developed countries have implemented a “progressive” tax system that places an increasing burden on those with higher income.
International tax havens offer a clear path to minimizing taxes safely and effectively, with many locales having zero corporate taxes, capital gains tax, personal income tax and more.
2. Privacy and Discretion
Corporate tax havens offer more than just tax savings. These locations boast unmatched privacy for individuals and corporations alike. Many tax havens accomplish this by not keeping any publicly accessible bank account or company information, and policies preventing them from sharing any recorded information with outside third parties (such as international tax agencies). For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, it is actually illegal for a bank to disclose account holder information to any third party. Interestingly, not even Antigua and Barbuda’s own government can access this information.
3. Security and Peace of Mind
International tax havens often play by their own rules, outside of the jurisdiction of (sometimes) overbearing nations such as the United States or the governing bodies of the EU. This level of independence can be a major benefit for individuals who have concerns about their privacy and outside governmental agencies such as the IRS, FAFT, OECD, and others overstepping their bounds.
Furthermore, most corporate tax havens do not participate in what are known as TIEAs or “Tax Information Exchange Agreements” with the EU or USA.
This means that even if outside organizations try to investigate or uncover information, there is no legal framework in place to allow them to do so.
For those seeking alternative locales to do financial business, corporate tax havens are attractive options due to their simplicity and well-defined processes for setting up new accounts. In fact, due to their business-friendly legislation, getting set up with many tax havens can take as little as 2-4 days. Not to mention business registration is typically low, with many jurisdictions charging $500 or less and can be done all without even visiting the country.
But that’s not where the convenience factor ends. In an effort to attract more business, many corporate tax havens work to make the process of running and managing a business within their domicile as easy as possible. This typically manifests as less paperwork and administration.
Highlighted Tax Havens
The number of popular tax havens is extensive. Below we’ll highlight two popular corporate tax haven destinations.
The nation island of Malta is a member state of the EU (European Union), a key reason why Malta passports are highly sought after around the world. Malta is a safe country, rich in culture and strategically located between Africa and Europe. Their program, simply named Malta’s Individual Investor Program (MIIP) is a popular option for many investors worldwide.
Malta’s Individual Investor Program (MIIP) Requirements:
- Contribution of €650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund
- Contribution of €25,000 for minor children and a spouse of the primary applicant
- Contribution of €50,000 for each dependent child age 18-26 or dependent parents age 55 or older
- Due diligence fees
- Residence in Malta for 5 years
- Purchase of property valued at €350,000 or lease a property at €16,000 or more per month
- €150,000 deposit in a government-approved financial instrument
Benefit of the Program:
- Advantageous tax system
- Tax concessions
- Centralized business hub
- Tax treaties with over 50 countries
- English as the primary language of business
- Access to free EU healthcare and education systems
- Malta passport opens up visa travel to over 160 countries
- Stable and safe country
- Lifetime citizenship can be passed to future generations
2. Saint Kitts and Nevis
The duel island nation, also sometimes referred to as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, represents one of the most popular corporate tax havens. Known for its charming islands and beautiful backdrop, the two offer what is known as the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program. This program, established in 1984 is the longest-running economic citizenship program worldwide.
Benefits of the Saint Kitts & Nevis Citizenship Program:
- Passport can be obtained within 6 months
- Enjoy citizenship in a Commonwealth country
- Dual citizenship is allowed
- Enjoy visa-free travel to more than 168 countries
- No physical residence required
- No education, test or interview requirements
- No tax on worldwide income
- Full citizenship for life that can be passed on to future generations
3. Other Popular Corporate Tax Havens Include
- Cayman Islands
- Isle of Man
- The Channel Islands
Corporate tax havens provide a myriad of benefits for those businesses and professionals seeking to reduce their tax liability, increase privacy, obtain second citizenships/passports and more. These benefits are key drivers for so many corporations, large and small, to seek out these domiciles for their business and investments. With proper due diligence and planning, you too can take advantage of all these havens have to offer.
5 Steps How to Build an International Brand
As you might find yourself succeed in doing business in your country, you will likely start thinking about going further in this direction. Yet, what can go after the initial success then? The answer is quite simple and that would be the international success. As you manage to pull a great revenue in your country, you can do just the same in another one. That’s exactly what many other entrepreneurs like you have been thinking about within the past few years. Internationalization does open a lot of other opportunities aside from the potentially boosted revenue. But what is the most effective way to expand internationally and how can you do that? Let’s find out!
Essentials of Getting Global
With our extremely fast-changing and interconnected world, doing business internationally is a relatively safe venture with a potentially huge payoff. One of the best ways to start doing international business is to establish your presence in another country. And the best way to do that is to take smaller steps, such as launching your brand. Branding, in turn, largely consists of marketing and other communications with your customers. Thinking about the international expansion this way largely simplifies the whole deal as there is a couple of proven tricks that tend to work in nearly every situation. Here are some of them.
- Studying your brand. You might say something like “what? Why would I need to study what I have created myself?” Yes, that does sound absurd, yet, the point here is that no matter how well you know your brand, your customers look at it from a totally different perspective, which turns the perception of your brand upside down. You must, hence, to study your brand thoroughly not as its creator and owner but as a customer who’s going to follow it and buy the related products. This will make your job of appealing to the foreign audiences much easier as all you’ll have to do is to transform (or not) your brand to make it attractive in your target country.
- Studying the new audience. This is the second basic ingredient of a successful branding and marketing campaign. Obviously, you must know your audience before you go. By doing so, you will find out what people you plan to sell your products to like and what they need. Learn the consumer trends of your target country, the buying power of people there, and how people are influenced by various means of media communication. Combined with the knowledge of your brand, you’ll be able to move further to the next step, which is (possible) brand transformation.
- Changing your brand coherently. After you learned how your brand is perceived by your already established audience, as well as your potential audience in the new country, you might want to adapt your brand to new customers. You might not change it at all, or you might want to make a complete rebranding. The main point is that don’t try to sell fish of what you’re selling is meat. If originally your brand is about fast food, it won’t sell as healthy food in another country as people will likely get confused and choose to simply pass your brand by.
- Learn about localization and apply it. While a mere translation might be enough for the formal parts of your brand, such as the documents and licenses, it will certainly not be enough for the marketing campaign and branding. Essentially, you can transform your brand any way you like, but you must certainly address the best translation services with experts in localization. This way, you’ll be able to adapt your brand to the cultural norms and perception of your audience exactly as it’s needed to be appealing.
- Partner with local professionals to present your brand. Those might be the marketing specialist or the local celebrities that agree to advertise your brand. In any case, there must be local internal support for your brand. As you work with people in their native country, they’ll be able to help you make your marketing campaign and branding as efficient as it can be.
Be Patient, Move Slowly
The most important thing you must understand that despite the world turning fast and changing rapidly, quick results of your international branding are very unlikely. The studying phase might take quite a lot of time and that only takes two out of five steps. Yet, however challenging it might be, it’s also rewarding as time is money and as you invest enough time, you’ll get a return as a similar amount of revenue. So, make sure to take baby steps and brand thoroughly, no matter how slow it might seem in the short run.
10 Reasons Why Learning a New Language Can Make You a Successful Entrepreneur
Like for any other person, learning new skills for an entrepreneur is very important as the current world is extremely dynamic, so constantly improving oneself is a must today. At the same time, in business, internationalization becomes a trend, so all skills related to that become extremely valuable. And one of such skills is a new language, of course. There’s a vast number of arguments and facts, both scientific and non-scientific, in the favor of learning a new language for anyone. Yet, this skill might become vital for the entrepreneurs within a few years to come, and here are some of the reasons.
The Role of Languages for Entrepreneurs
Just like the world today, entrepreneurs are very dynamic people that never stop learning and keep exploring new horizons. Learning languages might be especially useful to the entrepreneurs as it largely stimulates the brain to work faster and distribute the concentration when performing numerous tasks at the same time. Yet, these are only the most considerable reasons for an entrepreneur to learn at least one more language. Here are ten other reasons to learn languages if you’re considering starting your own business.
- Thinking outside of the box. As you learn a new language, familiar things are viewed from a different perspective. Such perspectives might seem like minor details, but they play a huge role on a bigger scale. As you learn to perceive the things you know from the perspective of another language, it becomes much easier to look at anything differently.
- Improved communication skills. Now when you’re able to look at things from a different perspective, you can communicate your thoughts and ideas based on how your partner might perceive those thoughts and ideas. Basically, you are able to step into your communication partner’s shoes and hear what you’re saying from his or her standpoint.
- Traveling made easier. While learning, you can travel much easier as you’ll unlikely stumble upon such a thing as a language barrier, which is still relevant today. You might get yourself lost in translation only in very exclusive cases when you travel to a very isolated area where a very specific dialect is spoken. Otherwise, you’ll be able to travel to a new country easily as soon as you learn a new language. This is especially important for entrepreneurs who want to go international.
- Fewer problems with travel documents. It might be easier to communicate with people on the streets in the country you travel to as you learn a new language. But remember that you first must enter this country before you can even do that. That’s when you have to understand the essentials of traveling documents. Even if you work with some of the best document translation services over here, you might still need to know what’s there in your papers. So, learning a new language might be of vital importance.
- Use more learning materials. Learning languages is important, yet, there are many other skills for an entrepreneur to master. But not all of the materials to help you do that might be available in your native language. So, learning a new language can and should also be done for the learning’s sake itself.
- Improved decision-making. Like it was said before, learning a new language allows you to look at things from a new perspective. For you as an entrepreneur, this also means that you can think certain decisions over from that different perspective, which might be more efficient in the end.
- Learning on the go. As you expand your business into a country that uses the language you’re familiar with, you can learn from the experiences of other businesses in this country. For example, you can learn how the media communicate something new on the market and do something similar to yourself, thus, becoming more successful with your marketing campaign.
- Swifter thinking. Again, when you decide to go internationally, you might find yourself doing that along with your competitors. As you’re more familiar with the language of the country you plan to enter, you’re having a huge heads-up before the competitors that don’t speak that language. The competition becomes simpler for you as you become the first one to get a more sufficient idea for your business.
- Reputation boost. You will certainly look like a person who can make some considerable effort and learn a new skill, which is never an easy feat. At the same time, if you show that you can communicate with your customers in their language, you will gain their attention and praise as a business that respects other cultures.
- Finally, because why not? There’s so much to do in the world, so why not make learning a new language one of such things? You never know what might get handy for you at any given moment. Considering that learning a new language is a very useful skill on its own, it will very likely become a handy skill to you as an entrepreneur.
See the World and Speak to It
As you steadily improve personally and as a professional over time, you might find yourself being able to learn and master nearly anything that comes in your way. And confidence is a very important factor in human success. Lots of people fail simply because they are too shy and doubting to try. You, on the other hand, are open to all the opportunities the world can offer you when you set yourself to constantly learn and progress with this ever-changing and rapidly moving world.
4 Steps to a Successful International Expansion
Doing business internationally is not only a trivial thing nowadays but is also a must for many entrepreneurs who want to go further and develop their venture. With a number of benefits that the business internationalization offers, opening a company in another country is a challenge to take that, however, strongly pays off in the future. But in business, like everywhere else, going to another country means stepping into an unknown land, which is unpredictable and might pose a variety of hazards. However, if you go there prepared, this should not be a problem. The main thing to remember is to look for solutions right away, rather than merely for the problems that might expect you in another and not-so-well-known country.
Main Ingredients of the International Business Campaign
Obviously, you always have to take certain challenges prepared, especially those that imply the investment of time, effort, and money. In business, there’s almost no room for improvisation. You must have a plan for every aspect of your expansion, from the legal and internal business matter to the marketing campaign, PR, and other communication with your customers, including the post-sell service and user experience. Here are the four basic points to consider whenever venturing into a foreign land.
- Doing deep research and acquiring local partners. In order to open your business in another country, you must know it extremely well, as if you were born and lived there your entire life. You must know at least the legal framework of the country in general, how the business is done there, how tough is the competition, what consumers prefer, how the media communicates, and so on. While without being actually born or at least living in that country for a decent number of years, it is impossible to become familiar with the country like that, you can get as close to that as possible. One of the top reasonable recommendations for the international expansion you’ll hear today is, perhaps, acquiring the local partners for your business. Those could be anybody, from co-directors to employees or external partners such as suppliers or retailers.
- Dealing with the formal matter. After you research everything, make sure to have all formalities done strictly right. That mostly relates to the legal and tax aspects. Ensure that you have all the needed documents and licenses in place and that all of them are valid and properly translated. Address the specialists, use only the best professional translation services for such purposes. This will largely save you time and unnecessary costs caused by possible delays as your business might be frozen while the legal matter is settled. In most cases, you’ll not be welcomed by the competitors and regulative organs in another country, so make sure to settle as safely as possible while doing business internationally.
- When dealing with marketing, don’t just translate, localize. While working with the formal things for the internal purposes of your business translation is a must and may be enough. Yet, when it comes to communication with your potential audience, doing a mere translation of your products and marketing campaign may be a serious oversight. For your customers to understand what you’re trying to give them, you must adapt your product to their worldview and cultural background. That’s what the localization is about and for the start, you can use this localization service to understand the idea. The true localization professionals will guide you through the whole process and explain how and why everything is done.
- Develop a double strategy. While you might have everything considered very well and be as prepared as you can only be, there’s still room for the exit strategy. Regardless of how prepared you are, there’s always a chance that something will not work out. That won’t make you a bad entrepreneur or mean that you should not expand internationally in the future. This will essentially mean that you’ve managed to get the experience in this area, which will allow you to do better on your future try. Yet, retreating smoothly is better, of course.
Just as you might use the tips for your ventures in the nearest future, you can use your experience garnered during this venture to look even further. Regardless of the result, experience always grants you a heads-up and the ability to look one step further even when you encounter a yet unfamiliar situation. As you shouldn’t underestimate all the aspects of other country economies ’ entry, you must not underestimate your resources and, more importantly, your potential. As you go international, remember to be brave and always try to predict your own movements one step ahead.
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