The Eastern European nation of Lithuania, a member of the Baltic trio, has increasingly become a focal point of offshore tax strategies in recent years. With its comparatively lower tax rates, favourable business climate, and solid EU reputation, Lithuania is turning into one of the most sought-after tax havens in Europe.
The Appeal of Lithuania as an Offshore Tax Haven
The rise of Lithuania as a tax haven is largely attributed to its establishment of “free economic zones” — areas that provide lucrative benefits for offshore companies setting up shop. In total, there are seven such zones in Lithuania, offering reduced taxation and corporate-friendly legislation.
The country offers an enticing mix of low taxation and a business-friendly environment, all set against a backdrop of economic and political stability. Although traditional tax havens may seem to offer more appealing tax-saving features, they often lack the robust reputability that comes with owning an offshore company within the EU.
Advantages of Offshore Business Setup in Lithuania
The offshore corporate structure of choice in Lithuania is the Private Limited Company (UAB). For foreign nationals setting up a UAB as an offshore company, Lithuania offers several advantages:
- Competitive Corporate Tax: Lithuania’s standard Corporate Income Tax (CIT) is set at 15%, significantly lower than the EU average. Moreover, small businesses can avail of a 0% CIT rate in the first year and 5% thereafter if certain criteria are met.
- Incentives in Free Economic Zones: Companies conducting a minimum of 75% of their business in Lithuania’s seven “free economic zones” can benefit from significant tax incentives, as well as relaxed corporate laws and reporting requirements.
- Full Foreign Ownership: Foreign individuals or entities can wholly own the shares of a Lithuanian UAB.
- Minimal Setup Requirements: A UAB requires a minimum of one shareholder and director, who can be the same person or any legal entity.
- Limited Liability Protection: A UAB offers its shareholders limited liability protection, an ideal safeguard for offshore assets.
- Low Capital Requirements: A UAB requires a minimum registered share capital of €2,900.
- Efficient Incorporation Process: The filing process for a UAB can be completed in a day, entirely online. Approval from the trade register usually follows within six days.
- EU Reputation: As a full EU member, Lithuania offers access to the benefits of an EU-based company in a tax haven.
- Low Maintenance Costs: Apart from a setup fee of €100 and an approximately €60 registration fee, ongoing costs are minimal. These typically include hiring an accountant and paying a registered agent for third-party services.
- Lenient Reporting Requirements: Annual audits are only mandatory if a UAB’s gross revenue surpasses €1.4 million.
An Overview of Lithuania
Located in North-eastern Europe, Lithuania covers a land area of 65,300 square kilometers. The country shares borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and the Russian province of Kaliningrad, with a Baltic Sea coastline to the west.
Having regained its independence from the Soviet Union in March 1990, Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004. Lithuania follows a semi-presidential system, with the president serving alongside the prime minister and the cabinet.
Economic Landscape and Infrastructure
Boasting a “high-income economy” as classified by the World Bank, Lithuania is primarily service-oriented, with this sector accounting for 68.3% of its GDP. The country also has a well-developed infrastructure comparable with other first-world European nations.
Since January 2015, Lithuania’s currency is the euro. The country currently has no exchange controls.
Lithuanian law is part of the civil law legal system, largely influenced by the legal systems of France and Germany.
In Lithuania, corporate entities are mainly governed by the Civil Code and the Law on Companies, which regulate activities like registration, liquidation, member rights and duties, division, transformation, and the registration of branches.
In conclusion, Lithuania’s ascent as a preferred tax haven reflects its balanced approach to business-friendly legislation, low taxation, and EU membership benefits. With its streamlined processes, flexible regulations, and competitive advantages, it is likely to continue attracting offshore companies for the foreseeable future.