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British Virgin Islands: Domestic Corporate Taxation

Introduction

In the British Virgin Islands there is no capital gains or capital transfer tax, no inheritance tax, and no sales tax or VAT. There are stamp duties on certain transactions, and property taxes.

In September 2002, then Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Ralph T O'Neal confirmed that the government was seriously considering the abolition of both personal and corporate income tax on the Islands. Although he explained that no pressure had been brought to bear on the BVI government to impose a zero rate of income tax, as it stood, the jurisdiction's tax regime could have come under fire for 'ring-fencing' certain tax advantages; one of the criteria laid out by the OECD for defining 'harmful preferential tax regimes'.

In October 2004 former Chief Minister Orlando Smith informed the country's Legislative Council that a two-year transition period would be put in place to smooth the changeover to the Business Companies Act, which has lowered the income tax rate to 0% for both local and International Business Companies.

The new legislation, which took effect on 1st January 2005, was drafted to ensure the territory is fully compliant with the European Union (EU) Savings Tax Directive and EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation, as required by the United Kingdom of all its Overseas Territories.

Under the transition arrangements announced by Dr Smith, new incorporations were still possible under old legislation throughout 2005. From 2006, new incorporations were made under the new Business Companies Act, although companies already on the register were permitted to operate under the old IBC Act or Companies Act for an additional year. Since 1st January 2007, all companies are operating under the new legislation.

Under the new legislation, the existing income tax system for employees disappeared. However, in its place, a payroll tax is levied at a rate of 14%, 8% of which is paid by the employer and the remainder by the employee, although the first US$10,000 of income is tax free. The contribution for small business, defined as those employing less than seven people and with a payroll of less than US$150,000 per year, is 10%.

 

 

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