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Alternative corporate tax havens

Offshore corporations in a changing offshore world. Alternative tax havens and offshore strategies. Offshore corporations in a changing offshore world. Alternative tax havens and offshore strategies.

Costa Rica

• Standard domestic company
• Little-known, low profile option
• Tax free if revenues arise abroad
• Corporate anonymity possible

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with Michael Isaacson

A strange omission from the OECD's blacklist of tax havens was Costa Rica -- a country often called the "Switzerland of Central America".

As far as Central America is concerned, Costa Rica is the most Spanish in character and has the most stable government and economy. The country is a favoured retirement location, with an outstanding record on ecology and the humanitarian nature of its politics -- especially in relation to some of its neighbours.

Costa Rica enjoys a laissez-faire form of capitalism that normally so disgusts the OECD.

Currently, Costa Rica is at the forefront of the cyber-casino market and one can imagine that it is only a matter of time before allegations of "cyber money laundering" in Costa Rica appear across the pages of the press. The United States is particularly uneasy about online gambling, as are others (United Kingdom, Australia...) who see revenue from gambling slipping away from their shores.

Costa Rica has a flexible corporate regime and bank secrecy is enshrined in law. A high degree of corporate anonymity is possible; there is no legal requirement to reveal beneficial ownership of companies.

Costa Rican companies pay no tax on income generated outside of the country.

Companies must use the Spanish suffix SA (sociedad anonima) to denote limited liability. However, it is non uncommon for Costa Rican companies owned by non-residents to have names such as Riverdale Investments Ltd SA or Hamburg Realty GmbH SA -- the Ltd or GmbH being a part of the legal name.

Costa Rica is not considered by many to be a tax haven as such -- you will rarely find any mention of it in the brochure of a typical offshore company formation agent. Though a little exotic, Costa Rica is nonetheless a secure alternative that does not suffer the problems associated with membership of the high-profile offshore club.


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