Cyprus offers a number of tax incentives to high-net-worth individuals. For example, foreign nationals who earn €100,000 per annum from employment in Cyprus are eligible for a 50% tax exemption on their income irrespective of the status of their tax residency or domicile. Further, Cyprus is party to more than 65 tax treaties, which allows it to charge zero or minimal withholding tax rates on incomes such as pensions, royalties, dividends and interest received from abroad.
When property interests are given away during life or at death, taxes are imposed on their transfer. Such taxes are known as estate and gift taxes. The simplicity of Cyprus's tax system, especially with regard to estate and gift taxes, is one of the major attractions for the many high-net-worth individuals and companies that choose Cyprus as their place of business or residence.
The Central Bank of Cyprus recently issued a circular which clarifies dubious and vague information regarding shell companies and entities in Cyprus and advises banks and service providers on how to deal with them. As Cyprus remains an attractive jurisdiction for registering offshore entities, the circular's revised definition of 'shell companies' will assist banks when opening accounts for international businesses and corporate service providers.
Typically, a parent's main concern is being able to pay for their children's education and ensuring the best start for them when they grow up and want to purchase property or launch their own business. One way to accomplish these goals is to set up a Cyprus investment trust (CIT), which allows a trustee to manage its assets for the good of the beneficiaries. Setting up a CIT for children is easy and allows parents to tailor a trust to fit their unique circumstances.
Cyprus international trusts, which are subject to the International Trusts (Amendment) Law 1992, provide a significant number of tax advantages and can be used as part of an international tax planning strategy. In order to estimate the tax that should be imposed on a trust, its specifications, purpose and any other relevant circumstances must be considered.
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It is well known that new investment company listings have been relatively sporadic of late – this is not entirely due to Brexit, but it is clear that Brexit has stalled a number of fundraisings which have gone out to market. Fortunately, once there is some clarity on the way forward, there may be a race to market. Data from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to the end of January 2019 shows that Guernsey is home to more non-UK incorporated companies listed on the LSE than any other jurisdiction globally.
Two recent cases in the Guernsey Royal Court – one relating to the variation of a settlement and one relating to the winding up of a trust – demonstrate the complex trusts cases that regularly come before the court. The first case involved an application from two mothers on behalf of their children, whose father is a famous professional footballer. In the second, an investment firm, as the sole member of a discretionary class of beneficiaries, applied for a trust to be terminated and the trust fund to be distributed to it.
The Income Tax (Substance Requirements) (Implementation) Regulations 2018, as amended, came into effect on 1 January 2019 and apply to accounting periods commencing on or after that date. The new economic substance requirements apply to certain Guernsey tax-resident companies and have been passed in order to comply with the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation. This article summarises the current position relating to the substance requirements for fund management companies.
Increasingly stark and startling messages relating to the environment and climate change are now commonplace in the media. That is why it is so refreshing to know that Guernsey is taking a leading role on the world stage and using its strengths to produce a significant positive impact, including through the implementation of the Guernsey Green Fund.
Wealth-related disputes are common – even when family and relationships are valued over material needs. As family businesses and relationship circles get larger and more complex, parties often seek to separate commercial control, ownership and interests and achieve greater independence. This brings to the fore the significance of family settlements, which allow families to achieve these objectives amicably while preserving their values and honouring the wishes of all family members.
Following the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, India has introduced a statutory requirement for the identification and disclosure of significant beneficial owners, whether Indian or foreign, of every company incorporated in India. This is a landmark development which will lead to a significant push towards transparency.
With the slow but inexorable process of tokenisation, whereby real-world assets are moved onto blockchains and represented by tokens, it is only a matter of time before trust practitioners will need to look at blockchain-based trusts or 'smart trusts'. However, the beauty of the modern trust is its flexibility and the beauty of blockchain is its pre-programmability and immutability. Can these two worlds really come together?
The first-ever challenge to a decision of Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman Douglas Melville has been heard by the Jersey Royal Court. The court upheld the ombudsman's decision that local mortgage broker and lender Future Finance pay two individuals more than £63,000 in compensation.
Anyone that has been refused planning or building permission or disagrees with a condition that has been attached to a planning or building permission or anyone that owns or occupies a building or land where a building, place or tree has been listed can appeal against a planning decision. However, Jersey planning appeals raise numerous questions regarding costs and the appeal process.
The Taxation Law 2019 has introduced new economic substance requirements which apply to certain Jersey tax-resident companies. The requirements were passed to comply with the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation for the purpose of demonstrating that the profits generated by Jersey companies which carry on certain specified geographically mobile activities are commensurate with their economic activities and substantial economic presence in Jersey.
Jersey's environmental legislation covers areas including water pollution, nuisance, planning, wildlife and waste disposal. Further, the minister for planning and the environment has the power to exercise enforcement in a number of ways. This system ensures that all development within Jersey is carried out in accordance with the local legislation and any specific conditions imposed by the minister. However, even with active and engaged enforcement, legislation can only go so far.
A recent Royal Court judgment has indicated that delays in bringing an application to set aside a transfer of property to a Jersey trust due to mistake will be considered by the court when exercising its discretion as to whether to grant relief. In particular, this decision clarifies that delay is a factor that the court will consider when determining whether the mistake is of so serious a character as to render it just to make a declaration setting aside a disposition into trust.