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The Cook Islands – is an island state, which is in the South part of the Pacific between Hawaii and New Zealand. The economy based on tourism and agriculture, stepped to a new level thanks to the development of financial services in the region. Formation of offshore industry began in the early 80s, the International Companies Act 1981-1982 was adopted it this period. Limited Liability Company Act was adopted in 2008.
Taxation in the Cook Islands eliminates the imposition of tax on capital gains and inheritance, but residents, private and legal entities subject to other types of taxes. The income tax rate is 25-30%, for resident companies the income tax received from the activity in any country is 20%. VAT is paid at a rate of 12.5%, the stamp duty is also charged. Different situation exists with foreign companies, which are exempt from all kinds of tax if activity doesn’t lead across the country.
There are the following reasons of popularity of this region for the offshore company’s registration:
- Solid image of jurisdiction (Cook Islands is in the OECD white list);
- Compliance with the high level of confidentiality (closed register of directors and shareholders);
- Wide opportunities for the trusts establishment (Cook Islands topped the list of offshore zones, which has the most favorable conditions for the assets protection);
- There is no exchange controls;
- Possibility of redomiciliation, i.e. one can change jurisdiction for both companies registered in another country and for companies registered in the Cook Islands.
Separately, it should be said about the current asset protection statement in the Cook Islands, which guarantees its safety for offshore companies and trusts, regardless of foreign court decisions. There are two basic types of companies: local, functioning on the basis of the Companies Act 1970-71`s, and international.
Local companies may conduct business across jurisdiction, and are tax resident. International companies, the most common type of business is Cook Islands International Business Company, are exempt from taxes and cannot conduct business in the country. The exception may be investment activity in the case of joint venture with local businessmen. Offshore companies may engage in any lawful business types (except banking, trust and insurance activities) without obtaining additional licenses.
One can open account in the Cook Islands both in foreign and local banks, providing full range of services and strictly observe the requirements of bank secrecy.
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