Experts agree that finding suitable instruments for investment holding has been a long and on-going struggle. To make matters worse, recent world economic events have lead many global financial institutions to take more stringent and preventive measures to screen the simple acceptance of funds from undesirable sources. Internal policies implemented by many banks now stand as obstacles for offshore companies that wish to open new bank accounts. As a result, opening new offshore bank accounts can be an arduous process.
A viable investment holding option would be to make Singapore an offshore jurisdiction by incorporating a company in Singapore. A Singapore company can be viewed on par or even better than many other offshore companies. Services and products offered through a Singapore offshore international centre provide clients with wealth maximization and tax minimization benefits.
Many clients believe that it is impossible for Singapore to achieve the same results as other well known offshore jurisdictions, however this is a misconception. Following are some key considerations to support choosing Singapore as an offshore jurisdiction.
1. Incorporate Offshore for Substantial Tax Savings
One of the attractive features of going offshore to Singapore is that it has minimal tax. Recent developments in tax and corporate law in Singapore have made it easy to use a Singapore incorporated company to achieve the same results as that of a traditional tax haven company. Some of the tax and corporate law changes in Singapore include:
1. Singapore has abolished the two-tier tax system. Income of a corporation is only taxed once at the corporate level. Dividend payments by a Singapore company are not taxable to the recipients.
2. Income that is sourced from outside of Singapore is not taxable in Singapore.
3. Capital gains are not taxable in Singapore.
4. The corporate tax rate is 17%.
5. A company (of not more than 20 individual shareholders) with annual turnover of S$2.5 million or less (revised to S$5 million after one year) is exempt from annual statutory audits.
6. Singapore has a wide network of tax treaties. In certain cases, tax treaties can be used for the reduction of taxes in treaty countries where investments are held.
In summary Singapore offers many benefits for an offshore company. Individuals can open bank accounts with ease and hence carry on with financial transactions associated with the company without facing any problems. Singapore is regarded as a jurisdiction of a "premium stature" when compared to other offshore jurisdictions. This "premium stature" gives the investor a competitive advantage with regards to the clients, potential investors and business authorities.
2. Government incentives to support incorporation in Singapore
The Singapore government plays a keen and active role in developing a conducive environment for enterprise growth, nurturing innovative startups, developing key industry clusters, and growing dynamic and innovative growth-oriented enterprises. The government has implemented numerous schemes in line with developing and upgrading infrastructure and creating new market opportunities. For example the SME Management Action for Results (SMART) initiative provides Singapore based incorporated companies with consultancy advice and monetary support to develop enhanced management systems and processes.
The government provides assistance schemes in attaining an Employment Pass for foreign Entrepreneurs who are ready to incorporate a company in Singapore. They also provide Entrepreneurship Training for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.
To alleviate the financial burden, the government has financing schemes to support the growth of SME's. The Bridging Loan Program (BLP) provides loans of up to $5 million for local and foreign SMEs with a minimum 5% interest rate for loan tenure of 4 years and below. The Business Angels Funds provides Singapore-based companies a co-investment financing option from pre- approved angel groups, up to $1.5 million in matching capital. SPRING Singapore is a government department tasked with growing innovative companies and fostering a competitive SME sector.
It is apparent from the numerous government initiatives that Singapore provides a potentially profitable platform for company incorporation. The assistance and financial schemes help to create an environment conducive for company set up. Entrepreneurs who fulfill the stipulated criteria can easily attain government assistance to set up and grow their business operation.