Which is an ideal jurisdiction for company incorporation in Asia? Singapore and Hong Kong have been dominant players in the Asian region, vying for the position of “the best place to do business.” But the crucial questions are, which of these jurisdictions have an edge over the other? Is incorporating a business easier in Singapore or in Hong Kong?
Strategic location and attractive tax benefits make Singapore the most preferred location for the overseas companies to set up their business. Various options are – opening up a Branch Office, a Representative Office or a Subsidiary in Bukit Timah . The country also has liberal immigration policies. If the company wants to set up their regional head quarters in Singapore they are also provided with Financial Assistance.
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A key determinant for setting up a business in Bukit Timah is the tax regime in force. In this regard Singapore boast of being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the world. Detailed below is an overview of the tax system and CPA Accounting in Singapore.
Tax jurisdiction Singapore: Taxes are levied on a territorial principle i.e. companies and individuals are taxed on Singapore sourced income. In addition, the Foreign sourced income (branch profits, dividends, service income, etc.) are taxed when it is remitted or deemed remitted into Singapore unless the income was already subjected to taxes in a jurisdiction with headline tax rates of at least 15%.
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Tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) is an agreement between parties to transfer domestic tax information. It possesses no benefit to private third party. In fact, the government is the only party getting the benefit. The existence of such an arrangement will affect financial secrecy. It is considered as an important feature for some offshore investors. Experts of offshore banking and investments would not suggest their clients to do business in a country with a TIEA attachment.
TIEA is implemented to avoid a harmful tax practice. According to Organization For The Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the lack of effective exchange of information is one of the key criteria in determining harmful tax practices. It even has a working group aimed to develop a legal instrument that could be used to establish effective exchange of information. The Agreement represents the standard of effective exchange of information for the purposes of the OECD's initiative on harmful tax practices. The OECD even has developed a manual and tool-kit for automating the process of information exchange between countries. It also lists countries, which deemed to be unco-operative. Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Monaco listed by The OECD's Committee on Fiscal Affairs as unco-operative tax havens.
A recent act by the OECD was forcing tax haven characterized countries to favour for greater transparency and exchange of information. Singapore and Hong Kong was among the countries devoted to such and arrangements with OECD countries. Both of them were categorized as a tax haven country by offshore specialists.
For individuals this could means less privacy and little space to move. Tax haven is great place for an internet-based business. Own a monetized website, create an offshore account in a tax haven country, and you have a tax-free income. However, this strategy would soon be neglected, since the information and exchange agreement would be implemented and propagate rapidly. For your own convenience, offshore investment as a tax avoiding strategy should not be relied on. Contact a well-known CPA's or tax consultants for a better and legal tax minimizing strategy.
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In 2010, Singapore was ranked as the most competitive country in the world. Doing business in Singapore, therefore, means a more fulfilling business atmosphere and better chances of higher profits. However, anyone can say the same about any other country or city in the world. So, what sets Singapore aside from the others? What makes it unique and more business friendly? Why is it that many multinationals are moving their headquarters in to this 710 square kilometers span of an island?
What Makes Doing Business in Singapore Attractive?
1. Singapore is a modern city
Singapore is placed among the most dynamic cities to live in and work in the world today. It has global connections, is cosmopolitan and is also multi-cultural, accommodating a population of about 5 million inhabitants. It is also regarded as one of the most conducive cities for the knowledge-driven industries, globally.
2. It is pro business
Within the last 4 decades, this city has transformed itself from being a small business trade center to one of the world's top financial hubs. It has international air, sea hubs, and one of the most open economies for investment and trade.
3. Consistency in governance
This city is governed by consistent guidelines on business and investment where any business is guaranteed access to an impartial and competent judicial system. There is also clarity and commitment with regards to corporate governance and anti-corruption policy enhancement.
4. Ease of set up
The excellent infrastructure, a cosmopolitan labor force that is highly skilled, attractive tax laws that allow avoidance to double taxation, and low startup costs make starting a business in Singapore very attractive and easy to set up. Entrepreneurs are known to come in to Singapore and set up big businesses within a week!
5. Knowledge based industry
The economy of Singapore is skewed towards high knowledge based industries. There is a lot of emphasis towards innovation and this is what keeps this city very competitive business-wise. The government of this city-state is also relentless in its efforts to protect intellectual property to ensure that ideas and innovations nurtured here are well protected. This further enhances competitiveness.
6. Free trade
Being an active member of the World Trade Organization, Singapore businesses enjoy the luxury of investment guarantee agreements and the many free trade agreements with most other countries in Asia and around the world. International businesses here also get to enjoy 50 of the state's comprehensive double taxation avoidance agreements.
It is these powerful factors that have made Singapore to stand as one of the strongest financial hubs in the Asian region regardless of its small size and small, almost insignificant, population. It has grown in to an Asian region power house for international banking, maritime finance, asset and wealth management, trade finance, treasury operations and insurance.
Companies and businesses that seek to establish themselves in this city-state can easily tap in to the diverse and deep capital markets, while at the same time getting access to the many local and international professional service and financial institutions that are based here.
Simply put, doing business in Singapore is affordable, easy to set up, and fun for any serious business person.