Why St. Maarten
St. Maarten Island is a beautiful tropical paradise, but also the meeting ground for two European cultures. One part of the island is governed by the Dutch, and the other part is governed by the French. It’s a short trip to enjoy the uniqueness of both cultures without ever leaving St. Maarten! Coexisting is the rich cultural societies of Africa, the Caribbean and America, making for a potpourri of cultural, dining, and historical experiences.
Top 10 Reasons to Invest in St. Maarten
- Tax Free Living: There are no property taxes, capital gains taxes, goods and services taxes, sales taxes or harmonized sales taxes.
- Real estate investments hold their value: steady increase of market value over time.
- World-class telecommunications: broadband Internet connections available everywhere from different providers.
- Excellent business climate: St. Maarten allows foreign investors to operate without mandatory local partners (as in many other Caribbean countries)
- Customs duties are zero on imported items: no import taxes, no bureaucratic red tape. Bring your car, furniture, boat and wine cellar.
- Legal residency: available with very low effort on your part.
- Offshore investment and banking: Excellent investment opportunities available with several offshore banking centers only 15 air minutes away.
- Modern infrastructure: two international airports and world-class marinas. St. Maarten draws the international jet-set.
- Vibrant real estate market with international appeal: mostly immune to the U.S. and European real estate bubble bursts.
- Investment friendly climate: A liberal and open investment climate with various incentives for international investors.
About Offshore Companies
Just south of St. Maarten is the island nation of St.Kitts/Nevis which offers one of the most investment-friendly business climates in the world. Under Nevis law, investors are provided much more protection from taxation and liability relative to the laws of the United States, Canada or most other industrial nations. Some of the specific benefits include:
- The opportunity to incorporate as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), thus protecting your personal assets from court-imposed seizure:
- Specific laws that go further in making court-imposed seizures of investor property more difficult;
- No income taxes on Nevis-incorporated firms;
- No taxes on distributions or dividends that are earned elsewhere than on Nevis;
- No financial statements or annual reports are required to be filed;
- Owners do not have to reveal their identities
As you may expect, given the investment-friendly approach the government has adopted and defends, it is very easy to establish an off-shore corporation on Nevis and on other, similar island-nations in the Caribbean (all of which are close geographically and by telecommunications).
The simplest definition of an off-shore company is one that is formed outside of the jurisdiction you reside in. If you live in Canada, the U.S. or St. Maarten, if you incorporate on Nevis or, say, Anguilla, you are “off-shore.” There would be no particular reason to do this, except that many sovereign nations, in order to promote investment and banking in their territory, offer very attractive incentives for “foreigners” to incorporate in their countries. In addition, the paperwork and regulatory burden for businesses incorporated is greatly reduced or negligible.
In particular, the ownership of real property under the name of an off-shore company can provide protections not otherwise available if the property is owned individually or in joint tenancy. For example, if the corporation is renting the property to someone, and the tenant in injured on the property and brings litigation against the company, the laws of these islands insulates the corporate owners from court-imposed penalties. Further, the transfer of property held by the corporation can be easily accomplished with a minimum or no paperwork, and no need to go through probate. Since the corporation will be set up with ownership shares, the shares are easily transferable from the company to other companies or persons (e.g., children) with no transfer or estate taxes. Real estate transfers become even easier if a will or trust is established under the laws of one of the investment-friendly island nations. In that case, your wishes can be carried out automatically regarding the property of the corporation. In short, the corporation, under your ownership, is treated much like a real person, with the advantages that the purchase, sale or transfer of real estate is pretty much seamless and tax-free.
What else can you do as an off-shore company? You can set up a bank account in the company’s name. The company can act as a director or secretary of another company. [Note that you do not have to be a citizen or resident of the host island nation.] The principal office of the company can be anywhere in the world, not necessarily on the host off-share nation. Addresses, phone numbers, on-line accounts – all are available to you as the managing owner of the company.
How Much is this Going to Cost?
Short answer, not much. There are many companies advertised on the internet that will do all the paperwork for you. For establishing a company in a Caribbean island-nation, plan on $3,000 to $4,000 to set up the form of corporation and do whatever filing and fees are applicable. There may be a few extras you want to tack on, but that will be the basic costs of incorporating with all required paperwork in place. If you require on-going services to manage or ensure your corporation remains undisturbed, you can also incur annual services fees ($1,500 is common) from management companies (be sure to check this out before signing on the dotted line). Another option is to establish a foundation and place the property in the name of the foundation.
Accompanying the establishment of a foundation is a “Letter of Wishes” from you, expressing your intent of not ever having the foundation’s property ascribed to your estate, and leaving it there for the future enjoyment of whomever you designate (which includes the sale of the property, if necessary).
We would be happy to arrange the incorporation of an off-shore company through our experienced and trusted legal partners.
If you want to pursue this path, we will need:
- Colored Copy(s) of Client(s) passport(s). (Originals, no faxed copies).
- Original Bank reference letter.
- Suggested names for Offshore Corporations
- Suggested names for Private Foundations (if share will be held in a Private Foundation name).
Regarding management services, we will:
- Open a bank account on behalf of the Corporation (should you wish to do so)
- Manage the account
- Pay for utilities and household personnel on the company's behalf.
You can contact Andrew Dawid via email with any questions or by phone at: 1 (416) 917-0653.