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Are offshore companies required to keep books?

Bookkeeping by the companies is an issue closely related to the issues dealt with above. Those who are already owners or managers of a domestic company are perfectly aware of the amount of trouble that the various state bookkeeping regulations may cause. In most countries bookkeeping fulfils two purposes: on the one hand, it should inform the owners, creditors and business partners of the company of the financial and pecuniary position of the enterprise, while, on the other hand, it should satisfy certain, often rather stringent, requirements laid down by the authorities (Tax Office, Customs Authority, etc.). In this respect, offshore companies can be divided into two distinct categories:

  • It is provided by law that the company need not keep books for official purposes. This opportunity exists in those countries where the annual tax or duty is fixed (the Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, etc.). For the country of registration is not interested in the company's annual turnover and profit because the company's tax (state duty) is a fixed amount independent of turnover and profit. This concept offers extremely interesting and also cost reducing possibilities to a lot of entrepreneurs. This does not mean that if the owners of the company so decide they cannot keep internal books for the purpose of keeping themselves informed. This, however, is an internal matter for the company and no external authority has the right to intervene in the keeping of the books.

  • It is compulsory to keep books . Countries falling into this category are Ireland, Cyprus, Uruguay, etc. Of course, in this case, what we have in question is not just bookkeeping of any kind, but accounts of a nature that satisfy and comply with the legal rules of the given country and contain a clause by the local auditor guaranteeing the validity of the accounts. The bookkeeping of most offshore companies is not at all complicated, provided that the company has no tangible assets or real properties and pursues no cash transactions, because then the transactions effected on the company's bank account constitute the majority of the company's business. Although, compared with the situation described in the previous paragraph, the operation of the company appears to be considerably more complicated if books are required to be kept, this does not necessarily entail a permanent bookkeeping obligation. Most offshore companies obliged to keep books carry out their own bookkeeping requirements and have the report audited during the period preceding the submission of the report.
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