Offshore companies

Offshore companies in Spain

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Consider the benefits of setting up an offshore company, including privacy and a reduced tax liability.

Offshore companies are businesses that have been registered, established or incorporated outside of the country of residence.

Offshore incorporation is a straightforward process in all of the popular offshore financial centres and tax havens and can provide a wide range of benefits to the company and company principal(s). Offshore company registration is undertaken by individuals primarily for the following reasons:

  • Privacy
  • Asset protection
  • Reduced tax liability
  • Protection against lawsuits
  • Flexible business laws
  • Ease of operation
  • Confidentiality


Advantages of offshore companies

An offshore company offers numerous benefits to an existing business or to an individual on a multitude of levels. Overseas company formation can provide offshore asset protection, confidentiality, enhanced privacy, tax savings or simply grow your business outside of the European Union.

Conducting business and undertaking banking transactions in the name of a legal entity, such as an offshore corporation, provide significant privacy and confidentiality benefits. The names of the officers, directors and shareholders can be excluded from the company's documentation in many jurisdictions. Most offshore financial centres will not divulge the responsible individuals to a third party or foreign government. However, exceptions will be made in the event that an act of terrorism or a criminal atrocity has taken place and is being investigated.

Asset protection

The placing of assets into offshore corporations can provide a strong layer of protection from future liabilities. By having trusts, investments or bank accounts and other assets owned by your offshore corporation, it makes tracking them down via an asset search difficult. Offshore companies provide highly effective asset protection and effectively screen your finances from public view.

Legal protection through incorporating offshore

If a legal opponent is pursuing a legal action against you, it typically involves an asset search to make sure there will be money to pay out, were a judgment awarded against you. Forming offshore companies and having assets held by the overseas company mean they are no longer associated with your name. Therefore your assets can be effectively shielded from legal opponents, judges and court rulings simply by incorporating offshore.

An additional benefit is simplicity and ease of operation. Most overseas jurisdictions make it simple for anyone who is interested in offshore incorporation, as they appreciate that time is, literally, money. The statutory obligations in the running of the offshore entity have been made simple too.

Disadvantages of offshore companies

In Spain, withholding tax of 21 percent is payable on interest and dividend payments, whether domestic or to non-treaty countries. However, where dividends are paid to a company which has share capital that has been held during the prior year – equal to or above 5 percent – withholding tax does not apply. This means that tax is deducted before monies can be remitted or transferred to an offshore company.

Spanish wealth tax is charged on the value of your assets held on 31 December each year and both residents and non-residents alike are liable. Non-residents pay the tax on any property they own in Spain, while residents have to pay it on all their worldwide assets – in each case, net of liabilities. Residents at least benefit from quite generous tax-free allowances, but there are no such allowances for non-residents – a considerable disadvantage of operating an offshore company in Spain.

Risks related to an offshore company

As from 1 January 2007, tax avoidance measures came to an end and owning assets in Spain through an offshore structure lost any fiscal benefit. In line with the rest of Europe, the Spanish authorities have been trying to introduce legislation that will curtail tax evasion and money laundering by entities located in offshore tax centres. The main thrust of the legislation is in forcing such companies to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that their underlying activities are truly carried out in their respective offshore centre, and that these are indeed normal business activities.

Some offshore jurisdictions are more secure than others, whether in terms of political or economic stability. The physical distance, lack of knowledge of local customers, government and social attributes can increase the risks of financial loss occurring in some countries.

Renowned offshore locations

The following locations are well-known offshore locations:

  • Belize
  • The Caribbean
  • Nevis
  • Bahamas
  • The British Virgin Islands



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1 Comment To This Article

  • posted:

    on 28th May 2013, 23:20:36 - Reply

    An offshore corporation is the one chartered under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction also called haven. It does not engage in active business within the foreign jurisdiction. The purpose of this corporation is mostly tax advantages, privacy, easy and low cost management as well as asset management. Seychelles, Belize, British Virgin Island, Anguilla and Panama are famous jurisdictions for offshore corporations.