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 Serangoon . 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 Serangoon 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 Tax Advisor 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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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. 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.
Branch Office - Registration of the branch office is done by ACRA and it is treated as an extension of the foreign company. It is the least popular option with foreign companies because
- Head office accounts have to be submitted for taxation purposes. Many companies may not be comfortable doing this.
- Head office bears all the liabilities of the actions of branch office
- Branch office cannot claim local tax benefits
The name of the Branch Office and the foreign office must be same and should be approved by ACRA before registration. Branch office has to appoint two agents that are resident in Singapore. The Branch office can repatriate all its earnings and capital. Only that part of earnings derived from local operations are taxed at local tax rates.
Subsidiary Company - This is the most preferred option for setting up business by the foreign companies because:
- Its liabilities are not transferred to parent company. It is considered a separate company.
- It enjoys the local taxation benefits.
- It can have a local name which is different from the parent company.
One or more directors need to be appointed and at least one director has to be a local resident.
Representative Office - It is used for having a presence in the country while not conducting any business activity. It does not have any legal status and cannot enter into any contracts.
- It can undertake promotional activities for the parent company
- It can negotiate but cannot conclude on deals
- Parent company bears liability for activities of the office.
- It must be staffed by at least one representative from the head office
International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) is the registration authority for Representative Offices for manufacturing, business services, commerce and other sectors. Banking, finance, insurance needs to be registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
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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.