International Offshore Jurisdiction Review - Nevis as a Tax Haven
NEVIS A GLOBAL OFFSHORE JURISDICTION DESTINATION
Why Choose Nevis as a Tax Haven
Nevis offers companies and individuals ideal conditions for those looking to form an offshore company in an English-speaking jurisdiction, with a stable democracy, an easy-to-understand legal system founded on British Common Law together with a modernized corporate climate and an open economy.
In addition to being known as one of the most flexible tax havens for offshore company formation, Nevis offers an idyllic tropical climate. With its close proximity to Miami and only one hour ahead of New York's time zone, you may also want to consider this Caribbean island nation as a retirement destination.
Nevis is currently one of the most sought after jurisdictions offering well known offshore banking and insurance possibilities as well as offshore company formation that has strong security and asset protection clauses.
Nevis has a great reputation amongst the Caribbean island and is now considered a leader in offshore company registration.
Benefits of Nevis as a Tax Haven
- The government of Nevis has exhibited a total commitment to maintaining the privacy and protection of those involved in legitimate business practices. Neither Nevis nor St. Kitts have been tainted by reports of money laundering or tax evasion as has been the case in the past with a number of other offshore jurisdictions.
- A Nevis offshore company is exempt from taxation on income generated anywhere in the world outside of Nevis. There are no income taxes to be paid, nor are there estate, inheritance, gift, duty, or capital gains taxes.
- Nevis offers citizenship through its Citizenship by Investment Program; there are no residency requirements and citizenship is extended to all dependent family members including parents.
- Nevis is an independent country with a stable, democratically-elected government, based on British Common Law.
- Nevis has a well-educated, English-speaking workforce, a modern infrastructure of roads, air and seaports, and telecommunications, including both wireless and Internet service.
- Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECC). Its exchange risk is rated moderate in terms of economic and political risk and low in terms of financial system risk.
- The offices of the St. Kitts & Nevis Merchant Shipping Act and Maritime Regulations (SCANreg) are based upon English law and have been accredited by the American Bureau of Shipping.
- The rules and regulations that dictate Nevis offshore company formation and operation are spelled out in The Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance-1984. The latter has been modeled on Delaware corporate statutes and is considered to be one of the most flexible corporate statutes for a tax haven. Within this ordinance, the regulations are spelled out for the formation of Nevis companies, how the Nevis company registry is maintained and the duties of the office of the Nevis Registrar of Companies.
- The Nevis corporation law for international businesses (IBC) allows international portability of companies from their country of origin to Nevis. Known as the 're-domiciling provision'; a corporation in the United States, Great Britain, or any other country can be transferred smoothly and instantaneously to Nevis without any need to change its name or its date of incorporation.
- Nevis, with its tropical climate and easy-going lifestyle, coupled with a touch of old world charm is a pleasant place to visit or relocate to.
In-Depth Information About Nevis as a Tax Haven
Nevis, with its companion country of St. Kitts is located in the southeastern part of the Caribbean Sea in the Leeward Islands. The two entities combined make up the smallest sovereign state in the New World, both in size and in population. The two islands are of volcanic origin and are separated by a two-mile, shallow channel.
These two tropical islands lie approximately 1,200 miles from Miami, Florida and are east and slightly to the south of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The nearest islands are Anguilla, Antigua, Montserrat, and Guadeloupe. Nevis is in the UTC-4 time zone and is one hour ahead of New York and other Eastern Seaboard cities.
Nevis, along with St. Kitts, had been governed by England since early in the 17th century. For its part, Nevis was looked upon as being the Caribbean's 'richest jewel'. St. Kitts, founded in 1632, was the first British colony to be established in the Caribbean and was known as both the 'Mother Colony' and the 'cradle' of the Caribbean.
Both islands were for a time a part of the Crown Colony of the Leeward Islands and later became a part of the West Indies Federation. Both became governing states within the British Commonwealth in 1967, the two forming a federation together with Anguilla, which later seceded. In 1983 St. Kitts and Nevis achieved full independence from Great Britain although both still enjoy Commonwealth status.
Technically, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a Constitutional Monarchy, as the Queen of England is the Head of State. The Queen is represented by a Governor General, who has a number of constitutional duties and, on the surface, appears to have sweeping powers, but in reality can, in most instances, only act upon the advice of the prime minister.
The Head of Government of the Federation is the Prime Minister. There is a unicameral assembly, the National Assembly, which is the legislative branch of the government and consists of 15 members. Eleven of these members are directly elected while three are appointed by the Governor General. Two of the three are appointed upon the advice of the Prime Minister and the third is appointed upon the advice of the leader of the opposition party. These three hold the title of senators, while the attorney general is automatically given a seat as a fourth senator.
Since its beginnings, the government of the Federation has been characterized by political stability and continuity in its actions. General elections are held every five years excepting those times when the assembly has been dissolved by the Governor General, requiring elections to be scheduled.
There are checks and balances in that the Prime Minister can be removed from office by a vote of the Assembly, and can also be removed from office by the Governor-General if the Prime Minister no longer appears to have the support of the Assembly. In addition, the Governor-General can only dissolve the parliament upon the advice of the Prime Minister. The real political power largely rests in the hands of the Cabinet of Ministers, consisting of the Prime Minister and ministers drawn from membership of the Assembly.
While the St. Kitts-Nevis National Assembly represents the federal government for the two countries, Nevis has its own Assembly in addition to electing members to the National Assembly. The Nevis Assembly is only subordinate to the National Assembly in matters of external affairs. Nevis also has a Premier, a position analogous to the Federation's Prime Minister.
The High Court, located on St. Kitts, represents the judicial branch of the government.
Economy and Infrastructure
In addition to the benefits provided to the Nevisian economy by the offshore business sector, the tourist industry is a major driver of the economy, thanks to ongoing efforts to improve the island's infrastructure and increase the number of tourist-oriented developments.
Another driver is the electronics industry, with St. Kitts and Nevis combining to feature the largest electronics industry in the Eastern Caribbean. Yet another driver is a growing apparel industry. As the one-time mainstay of the economic performance of Nevis, sugar production has been phased out, and has been replaced with other crops.
The United States is the island's major trading partner, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total of both imports and exports. United Nations' data combines economic growth data for Nevis with that of St. Kitts, as do many other sources, but the growth statistics for both islands parallel one another in most cases.
As of 2011, Nevis had a significant trade deposit and the ratio of the country's debt to its gross national product was also unfavorable although the balance of payments has been improving. Both the GDP and per capita income have shown increases in recent years. Exchange rates (Eastern Caribbean dollars vs. U.S. Dollars) have held steady over the past decade.
Airline service to both St. Kitts and Nevis is mostly provided by Caribbean-based airlines. There is a direct connection between St. Kitts and Miami. St. Kitts has a deep-water port. Nevis can accommodate smaller vessels and is developing a port facility capable of servicing the smaller cruise ships. Both islands have cable and wireless services. More than 75% of the population uses the Internet.
The largest of the Nevis banks, where either personal or corporate accounts can be opened is the A&P Intertrust Corporation. A personal visit to the bank is not required to open an account. There are also several Nevis trust companies on the island and a number of Nevis capital LLC companies located outside of the island including in the United States. These banking and trust companies provide the necessary information and assistance in Nevis offshore company formation as well as Nevis company formation and Nevis LLC formation.
Nevis was at one time blacklisted as a tax haven by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This was part of a blanket blacklisting and there was no specific indication of wrongdoing on the part of Nevis or its island partner, St. Kitts. Nevertheless, the Federation took steps to ensure their books were in order.
St. Kitts and Nevis were eventually placed on the grey list and in 2010 the Federation was placed on the OECD white list. The federation has signed tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with a number of countries since that time.
The Citizenship by Residency Program has been in effect since 1984. Nevis claims to have a very high approval rating for upstanding citizens with the citizenship process usually taking less than 6 months. There are no dual-citizenship restrictions, and there are no taxes to be paid for citizens who decide to reside in St. Kitts or Nevis. Both citizenship and residency bring with them generous incentive packages. A citizen or resident of Nevis can reside in most other Caribbean countries as well.
Population, Language and Culture
The population of St. Kitts and Nevis in 2014 is estimated to be the order of 54,000. Based upon the 2001 census in which the population of Nevis consisted of slightly under 25% of the total population would put the 2014 population of Nevis at approximately 13,500. The official language of Nevis is English and is the language used in business and government affairs including in the investment sector. Within the general population the major spoken language is known as St. Kitts Creole English. St. Kitts Creole English is an English-based dialect featuring West African and French elements.
Those who live on Nevis are referred to as Nevisians, while residents of St. Kitts are called Kittitians. Folklore plays a major role in the culture of the islands. The population has a tendency towards being very superstitious and fearful of black magic, a common fear among many inhabitants of the Caribbean.
As one might expect from a nation that was a British Colony for nearly 350 years, the largest religious denomination is that of the Anglican Church with approximately one-half of the population belonging to that denomination. Other Protestant denominations are also present. Approximately 10% of the population is Catholic.
Nevisians mainly celebrate the traditional English Holidays including the Prince of Wales' Birthday. Labor Day on Nevis is celebrated on May 1st and Independence Day falls on September 19th.
Culturana, the Nevis equivalent of Carnival is held in late July while Carnival on St. Kitts is held from December 25 to January 2nd.
Perhaps one of the more unusual characteristics for a tropical island is the way those on Nevis dress. Western style clothing is the norm, with women wearing skirts and dresses and men wearing shirts and ties, especially on business occasions, or as a minimum, button-down shirts. School children wear uniforms, and on weekends, people tend to dress up rather than dress down.
Family relationships on Nevis are very strong, as is family loyalty with many households including members of the extended family in addition to the immediate family.
There are no exchange controls in Nevis for offshore companies locating in or investing in the country. An offshore company investing in the Nevis economy is known as an International Business Corporation, or IBC. Nevis does have exchange controls in place that are applied to the Currency Board Arrangement established within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, but these controls do not apply to offshore companies.
The purpose behind the absence of controls is that of encouraging foreign direct investment and encouraging companies to locate in Nevis. With respect to Nevis banking, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis is home to both the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. In addition to an absence of exchange controls, Nevis does not have tax treaties with other countries and will not exchange tax information with other countries.
Type of Law
Nevis law is based on English common law. With respect to offshore companies, Nevis law is based upon Nevis LLC legislation which is modeled after the Delaware LLC Act. Nevis asset protection is superior to that of most other offshore jurisdictions.
Nevis places significant restrictions on the rights of creditors; more so than is the case with Delaware LLC law. Nevis courts do not recognize U.S. judgments or judicial orders nor do they enforce them.
Principal Corporate Legislation
The Nevis Business Corporation Act Ordinance, No. 3 was enacted in 1984. The Act is along the lines of the Delaware LLC Act, although the Nevis Act has been updated a number of times since 1984.
The Act was updated in 2011 and is currently titled the Nevis Business Corporation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2011. The 1984 Act, Ordinance No. 3 is now referred to as the Principal Ordinance.
The amended ordinance requires that offshore companies keep detailed records and explanations of all transactions and should be able to allow their financial position to be determined at any time, within a reasonable period of time. The directors of these companies may keep these records at the address of the registered agent or in any other location where the directors think fit.
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