Curacao, the main Island of the Netherlands Antilles, accommodates several so-called Economic Zones (’E-Zones’) that provide a suitable location to set up international trade, services or e-commerce businesses.
What is an E-Zone?
An E-Zone is a specific appointed area within the Netherlands Antilles in which, amongst other, international trade and trade supportive services may be performed whether or not supported by electronical communication and information equipment (e-commerce). Such an area has a manager that coordinates admittance with the authorities. E-Zone companies benefit a very favorable tax regime in the Netherlands Antilles with respect to corporate income tax (the rate is 2%), custom duties, turnover tax and expatriate tax facilities as long as they are actual located an officially admitted in an E-zone.
Who may perform activities in an E-Zone?
Only legal entities with a capital divided into shares may perform activities in an E-Zone. The entity can either be domestic or non-Antillean. The activities of these companies must primarily be focused on trading goods or providing services to clients, which do not reside in the Netherlands Antilles.
However, conducting business with other companies in an E-Zone on the Netherlands Antilles is also allowed. If business is conducted with companies residing in the Netherlands Antilles, the company has to file a request with the competent authorities. If this request is granted, the company will receive a list of conditions that will have to be met. The conditions can relate to price setting, quality of the goods and services and the distribution of the goods. The turnover generated through local business may not exceed 25% to 30% of the total turnover and the profit generated through such local business is subject to the normal profit tax rate of 34.5% (island surcharge included).
How does one enter an E-Zone?
Legal entities with a capital divided into shares will be admitted to the E-Zone only if they perform activities as described above and furthermore, their business activities should contribute to the economical growth of the Netherlands Antilles either by generating foreign currency or employment.
A request should be filed with the local authorities in order to be admitted. The local authorities are entitled to impose certain conditions and restrictions to the entrance permit.
The local authorities will see to it (also through the manager of the E-zone) that the E-Zone companies meet the conditions as stated in the E-Zone legislation. If it appears that a company is located in the E-Zone, whilst not fulfilling the conditions, penalties can be imposed on the respective company and/or the entrance permit can be withdrawn.
The profit of the E-Zone companies will be taxed at 2% (surtax included) until January 1, 2026.
This 2% rate is not applicable on the profits of an E-Zone company, which are generated through the sale of goods or services to clients residing in the Netherlands Antilles.
Import duties and turnover tax
No import duties and turnover tax is due on goods entering the E-Zone and services rendered by a Netherlands Antilles company to an E-Zone company. Furthermore, no import duties and turnover tax is due on products delivered to or services rendered to other companies located in the E-Zone or outside the Netherlands Antilles.
Employees who lived for more than 5 years outside the Netherlands Antilles before starting to work for an E-Zone company, providing services in the telecommunication, could, if certain conditions are met, qualify for the so-called expatriate status. An E-Zone company is then allowed to calculate the wage tax on the net salary of the employee without being required to gross up the salary. Furthermore, the E-Zone company can then grant certain tax free benefits to the employee.
The aforementioned information on the Netherlands Antilles e-Zone legislation is designed to provide a general understanding of this Netherlands Antilles tax regime. The information provided should be used for guidance only.
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April 14, 2007
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