Situated in Europe between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein is a small landlocked country in Western Europe (right between Austria and Switzerland). Liechtenstein is home to one of the smallest populations in the world and is considered to be one of the most politically stable countries in the world. Liechtenstein may be small in size, but it has a strong economy and low rates of unemployment, as well as a well-reputed education system.
Liechtenstein is a member of the European Economic Area and is linked with Switzerland in a Customs Union.
Liechtenstein laws recognize several forms of businesses, but one of the most popular ones is the joint stock company. This type of business brings several advantages to investors; it offers limited liability to its shareholders while allowing them to trade its shares on the Stock Market.
The joint stock company, or the public limited company (the Aktiengesellschaft, A.G.)
The joint stock company can be incorporated with a minimum registered capital of 50,000 CHF, EUR or USD that has to be paid in full when the registration takes place.
The characteristics of the joint stock company:
To form a Company Limited by Shares at least two Founders, who may be natural persons or legal entities,
are mandatory. However, after the formation, the shares may be held by a single person (one-person
Company Limited by Shares is permitted). The capital may also be fully or partly paid in as contributions in kind (property or rights).
The following three organs are required when setting up a Joint Stock Company in Liechtenstein:
1 General Meeting
3 Audit Authority
4 Representative (in case the company is not commercially active in Liechtenstein)
Other advantages of opening a Joint Stock Company in Liechtenstein:
- Liability of Shareholders
The liability of the shareholders of a Liechtenstein AG is limited up to the unpaid amount of the shares they hold.
- Restriction on Nationality/Residency of Shareholders
There is no restriction on the nationality or residency of the shareholders.
- Registered Shareholders
The details of registered shareholders are not available on public record.
- Financial Statements
The accounts are not publicly accessible.
The standard corporate income tax rate is 12.5%. A minimum tax of CHF1,200 generally applies. Taxpayers who undertake commercial activities are not subject to the minimum tax if their average balance sheet total over the previous three fiscal years does not exceed CHF500,000.
VAT is generally levied on the domestic supply of goods and services and on the importation of goods. The term “domestic” refers to both Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The standard VAT rate is 8%. A reduced rate of 2.5% applies to certain supplies, such as food products, medicines, and newspapers, books, and magazines. A special rate of 3.8% applies to accommodation services. Certain supplies are VAT exempt, including healthcare services, social services, educational services, cultural services, insurance and reinsurance, certain financial services, and exports of goods and related services.
Liechtenstein has also signed various double tax treaties over time which provide for lower corporate taxes depending on the structure of the company.