Why Choose Belize as an Offshore Tax Haven
Belize continues to be one of the Central America’s premier destination for offshore company formations. The country offers many tax advantages to both businesses and individuals.
Belize is a former British colony and a parliamentary democracy, much like Canada and Australia, with a long history of freedom and political stability. English is the official language, and the legal system is similar to that in the United Kingdom. Therefore, dealing with the government and understanding laws in Belize is simpler for most English-speaking people.
Those seeking offshore banking and corporate infrastructure in a stable, affordable tax haven close to the United States will find Belize optimal. It offers visitors and residents a great climate, an inclusive culture, and a high degree of economic freedom.
Benefits of Belize Offshore Company Formations
- Speedy and simple incorporation for fast reaction to financial planning needs (one hour incorporation)
- Total exemption from all forms of local taxation including Stamp Duty
- IBC's headquartered in Belize pay no taxes on profits earned outside the country
- Only one Shareholder is required – there is no public record of the Shareholder
- IBCs require only one Director who could be a corporation
- No residency or citizenship requirements for Directors of offshore companies
- Meetings of Shareholders and/or Directors may be held in any country, at any time and they may attend meetings by proxy
- No requirement to file accounts or to have accounts audited; public filing limited to certificate of incorporation, memorandum and articles of association, registered office and name and address of registered agent; companies in Belize are not required to have publicly accessible records.
- Capital may be expressed in any currency
- No minimum paid up capital requirements
- Offshore business activities are exempted from exchange control in Belize.
- IBCs may be used for financial management, investment holding, ship or property ownership, share ownership of other companies, leasing of assets, copyrighting and/or licensing, as well as general commercial trading
- Ease of transfer of companies to and from Belize
- Modern, flexible legislation for mutual funds, insurance and trusts
- No double taxation treaties with any other country
- Companies are not required to file an annual tax return
- The US dollar is widely accepted for business purposes in Belize; there is a flat rate of exchange for the US and Belize dollars: US$1 for $2 Belize
- English is the official language in Belize, though it is possible to incorporate an International Business Corporation (IBC) in any language in the nation; many Chinese language IBCs are incorporated in Belize
- Incorporated companies in Belize have the same legal powers as an individual
- The legal system in Belize is based on English Common Law and simple for anglo-based countries to understand
- Companies in Belize can maintain bank accounts in other popular tax havens
- Traditionally very welcoming for expatriates
- Under Belize's retired persons' incentive program, foreigners who are over 45 years old and have a monthly income of at least $2,000 are exempt from Belize's income tax.
- Real estate is still very affordable in Belize; a person can buy a lot in a planned community in Belize's Cayo District for just $25,000; a home with all the modern amenities can be built in such a community for just $100,000
- Belize has one of the world's most pleasant climates; the average low temperature in the nation is 75° Fahrenheit in January and the average high temperature is 80° Fahrenheit in July
- Belize is a popular destination for yachting and water sports; in addition to 450 offshore islands and the Belize Barrier Reef, the country is a popular destination for scuba diving and deep sea fishing
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In-Depth Information about Belize
Belize is located on the Caribbean seaboard of Central America between Mexico and Guatemala. It has an area of approximately 9,000 square miles; 174 miles at its longest point by 68 miles at its widest point. Built in 1970, Belmopan is the capital of the country.
Belize became a British Crown Colony in 1862. In the early 1900's, Belize had grown to nearly 40,000 inhabitants. But a destructive 1931 hurricane destroyed Belize City and by the 1930's, the economy was so poor that the residents began to call for independence.
By 1954 voting rights were extended to all adults, and by 1961, England agreed to begin the process of setting Belize free. In 1973, the colony's name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and on September 21, 1981, Belize's Independence was declared.
Belize is now a parliamentary democracy similar to Canada or the United Kingdom and is one of the most stable nations in Latin America. It has never suffered a military coup, a revolution, or guerrilla warfare. Queen Elizabeth II is Belize's head of state.
Economy and Infrastructure
Belize has a free enterprise system, although its government recently nationalized Belize Electric Limited (BEL), the nation's largest utility, and the telephone company, Belize Telemedia Limited or BTL.
Belize's economy is based on oil exports, fishing, agriculture, and tourism. There is a modern banking system and five large commercial banks in the nation.
There are excellent telecommunications: cell phone service, international cellular roaming service, high speed DSL, and full access to the Internet are widely available in Belize.
There are several major commercial banks in the Belize, which offer a full range of domestic and offshore services. The local currency is the Belize dollar which is tied to the US dollar at an exchange rate of BZ$2.00=US$1.00.
Airlines connect with major international routes through Miami, Houston and New Orleans. All major courier companies service Belize. Direct flights to Belize are available from several major U.S. cities, including Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles.
Language, Population and Culture
English is the official language of Belize. Official documents are written in English, and courts and government offices operate in English.
Though English is the official language, most people in Belize speak Spanish on a daily basis. The culture is Spanish with British political institutions. Most residents of Belize are of mixed Maya and Spanish ancestry. There is also a large minority of Creoles (people of mixed African and European heritage).
With a population of just 334,297 inhabitants, out of all the Central American countries, Belize has the lowest population density. Growing at just under 2% per year, the country's population growth rate is one of the highest in the western hemisphere and the second highest in the region.
A substantial North American expatriate community has developed in recent years because of ease of immigration from the United States and Canada.
Belize's legal system guarantees such basic rights as freedom of speech and religion. Although it is politically stable, Belize has suffered from a high rate of violent crime and drug trafficking in recent years.
There is no exchange control on offshore business and banking activities in Belize.
Type of Law
As a former British colony, the law of Belize is derived from English Common Law supplemented by local legislation. The court system is also similar to that of England and the final Court of Appeal is the Privy Council in England.
Contract and commercial law is based on English Common Law. Offshore business can be carried out in a tax-free environment. An IBC cannot carry on business with residents of Belize, or own real estate in Belize.
Principal Corporate Legislation
Offshore corporations in Belize are regulated under the International Business Companies Act of 1990, which was amended in 2000.
It normally takes one business day to incorporate an International Business Corporation (IBC) in Belize provided the name is available. There is no requirement to reveal beneficial ownership to government authorities, and no annual report is required, but companies are required to maintain a registered office in the nation.
An IBC must have at least one shareholder and one director in Belize; there is no requirement for these individuals to be residents of Belize.
An IBC based in Belize is not required to pay any tax on its operations outside the country. There is a Business Tax on any enterprise that earns more than $75,000 a year in Belize, but this tax does not apply to income earned outside the country.
Self-employed individuals that earn more than $20,000 a year are subject to the Business Tax if that revenue comes from activities in Belize. The Business Tax does not apply to income earned by individuals outside of Belize.
All firms that generate income from business activities in Belize have to get a Certificate of Clearance from the Income Tax Department. The Certificate is not required for IBCs as long as they confine their activities to offshore business.