Companies and legal entitities

Companies and legal entities

Business transfers

Handing over any business, either to third-parties or to the owner’s future heirs, is a delicate operation. No matter what is the moment or the reason for the transfer, it still requires a thorough in-depth analysis covering not only the legal implications of the handover but also the need to ensure that the business will continue to exist.

Even the civil and commercial (legal) aspects of the transfer need to be examined, as it is often on the basis of their tax implications that decisions on the transfer’s setup are taken. It is always possible, while ensuring that the company will continue to exist, to introduce a solution that is favourable in tax terms for all parties concerned.

Structuring international companies

The globalisation of a company’s business usually leads to the creation of branches and subsidiaries abroad. These operations often have considerable impact on the global tax costs of the group.

The way they are structured needs, every time, an in-depth analysis taking into account:

  • the local taxation regime applicable for each new establishment
  • contracts to be drawn up  between different units belonging to the group
  • international tax rules, and especially rules on fixing transfer prices for transfers made inside the group

Shareholder anonymity

For entirely legitimate reasons relating to trade, finance or the economy, company shareholders often seek maximum discretion (anonymity) in the conduct of their investments. In Belgium, the disappearance of bearer shareholder certificates has rendered this anonymity a lot more difficult to achieve. However, a large number of solutions (both national and foreign) still guarantee that they have this anonymity which is so often indispensible in the management of their investments. Put in place entirely legally, these solutions are also fiscally neutral, even profitable.

The Afschrift Law Firm has a number of international offices, especially our Luxembourg office, that stand ready to help you by closely examining your situation and suggetsing tailor-made solutions.

Holding companies 

Belgium is the perfect country for creating holding companies. They benefit from a favourable tax regime which has been kept entirely stable over the course of the past few years. That means that Belgian holding companies are constantly a good option, both for international groups wanting to optimise the taxation structure for their business and for Belgian companies looking for tax-neutral solutions for organising their shareholdings.

In some cases, other foreign structures are able to perform better, particularly those in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Israel, Honk-Kong and Spain. The Afschrift Law Firm has offices in all these countries which will help you choose the option best suited to your needs.

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

For the past few years the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has been aware that it is able to offer a lot more than bank secrecy (which is now under attack).  Many different forms of companies may be used in Luxembourg in the context of making legally valid arrangements for tax optimisation.

Thanks to the stability of the Luxembourg system, the SOPARFI, (Société à Participation Financière), which has a tax regime very similar to that of a Belgian holding company, may sometimes be preferred above the others, particularly because it still allows people to hold bearer shares and bonds .

The Luxembourg  form of family estate management company (SPF) is exempt from practically all taxation in Luxembourg and may, under certain conditions, be chosen for the holding of an estate’s movable assets.

Finally, we are also able to help you with the setting up of different types of investment, including private blocks of shares in an open-ended investment fund (SICAV), in specialised investment funds or in a venture capital investment (SICAR).

 

 Real estate

Property deals, especially when conducted by companies, raise quite a few tax-related questions. These go far beyond the framework of income tax and include both land registration tax and VAT.

There are still many options to choose from:

  • rental and leasing contracts
  • techniques for dividing up the property: usufruct, lease-holding, parcelling out .. • creation of a property [real estate] company or a property investment company (SICAFI)
  • issue of land certificates

Every property deal has to be subjected to a prior in-depth examination to determine which option will be the most advantageous once the whole set of taxation elements has been taken into account.