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The Principality of Liechtenstein is located in the heart of Europe and borders with Austria and Switzerland. The population is about 35 000 people. The official language is German, but English and French are also popular.
Сlose economic and political relations with Switzerland made great influence on the national economy development, which early was predominantly agricultural. The development of industry and financial sector provide local population and foreigners from Austria, Switzerland and Germany with jobs.
Liechtenstein has a membership in the European Free Trade Association and is part of the European Economic Area, which gives access to the European market, but it is not a member of the European Union.
Growth in popularity of Liechtenstein as tax haven is provided by such factors as:
- Rapid development of the economy, particularly the financial and banking sector;
- High level of confidentiality and strict observance of banking secrecy;
- Wide opportunities for tax planning;
- Good conditions for assets protection;
- No foreign exchange controls;
- Image of solid international company, not related to the classical offshore zones;
- Ability to open corporate bank account in Liechtenstein as well as Switzerland and Austria.
Stock company (AG), Limited Liability Company (GmbH), Anstalt, Funds (Stiftung), Trusts are the most popular types of companies in Liechtenstein.
Companies in Liechtenstein may be holding (engaged in property and fund management) and domiciliary, i.e. having registered office and with no commercial business across the country. Companies with this status have opportunity of taxation reducing. The tax rate on corporate income to offshore Liechtenstein is 12.5%, an annual tax on capital is levied at 0.1% but not less than 1000 CHF from the net capital of the company and must be prepaid.
Liechtenstein is known for such types of business that traditionally used the tax benefits – Inccorporation (Anstalt) and Funds (Stiftung).
Anstalt (incorporation) is a legal entity with beneficiary, but without members of the board and shareholders. Most commonly, these companies act as managers or holding, but may engage in commercial activities. If incorporation is engaged in investment activities, its income is not taxed, and there is no needs to submit financial reporting and audit. The minimum capital is 30,000 CHF, which must be paid at the time of registration. Founder and the Board of Directors, one of whom must be a private person with country’s residency managed the company. Information about beneficiary is confidential.
Fund (Stiftung) - is the most popular form of companies, which are often more expensive than in other offshore areas, but is in demand due to the high degree of confidentiality. The property allocated by the right of Fund ownership acquires the status of independent legal entity and is no longer the property of the founder. Fund is a popular tool for property management and ownership of family assets. The minimum size entered in the capital fund – is 30,000 CHF, one can open bank account in Liechtenstein and Austria. Fund management is carried out by at least two members of the Board of the Fund, one of which must be registered in Liechtenstein. Fund is not taxed on income and capital, but there is tax on share capital and profits of the Fund at a rate of 0.1%, 0.075% - of the amount of the authorized capital more than 2 million CHF and 0.05% - of the amount of more than 10 million CHF, but not less than 1000 CHF. In this case, the property transferred by the founder is not taxed.
There are general requirements for these and other forms of companies in Liechtenstein:
- Company should have a charter, which is transmitted to the registrar for registration in a public register;
- One must have a legal address in Liechtenstein and registered agent.
Information about directors and shareholders are kept in the Public Registry; beneficiary data is available only to persons who conduct the registration. Company name should indicate the type of company (Limited, Foundation, etc.) and not misleading as to its objectives.
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