The Bahamas is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean consisting of more than 7,000 islands; it is one of the globally recognized offshore zones which, compared to a number of other offshore jurisdictions, still has a favorable tax regime for international commercial companies. The absence of income tax and financial statement filing and auditing requirements for international commercial companies is an undeniable advantage of this jurisdiction.
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Along with other offshore jurisdictions the Bahamas changed legislation regarding international business companies (IBCs). In 2018, the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act was adopted that sets out economic substance requirements for companies that conduct relevant activities.
Legislation of the Bahamas does not contain requirements as to filing and public disclosure of financial statements. International business companies, however, must keep accounting records, financial statements and source documents that reflect the company’s financial position (Section 67 (1) of the International Business Companies Act).
The period of keeping accounting records and documents is not less than 5 years after making the transaction.
Accounting records must be accessible to the company’s registered agent. In accordance with the International Business Companies (Accounting Records) Order, 2016, a declaration must be kept in the company’s office confirming that the company keeps accounting records and that accounting records are accessible to the company’s agent.
The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are adopted as national reporting standards in the Bahamas.
There is no requirement to audit IBCs’ financial statements.
Accounts of companies incorporated in accordance with the Companies Act of 1992 must be audited in accordance with the International Standards on Auditing (ISA). An auditor’s opinion can only be prepared by a specialist who holds a special license and is a member of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA).
IBCs are not required to file financial statements. Companies, however, must file a declaration of accessibility of accounting records with the Registrar. The deadline for filing the declaration is 30 September of every year (previously, 31 January). For new companies, a copy of the declaration must be confirmed by the agent at the Registrar’s office within 90 days after the company’s incorporation. When changing the agent, a copy of the declaration must be filed with the Registrar by the new agent within 30 days after its appointment (Section 2 (4) of the International Business Companies (Accounting Records) Order).
Since the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act was adopted, companies must file accounts confirming that the company has or does not have economic substance in the Bahamas. An annual report on economic substance must be filed within 90 days after the end of the financial year. Accounts can be filed electronically, and their form depends on the result of activity qualification:
In the case of failure to file a country-by-country report, an administrative penalty of 4 000 USD may be imposed on the parent company.
In the case of filing a report containing false information, the penalty amounts to 5 000 USD.
Consolidated accounts of resident companies are prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
In accordance with the Multinational Entities Financial Reporting Act, 2018, a parent company of a group that is resident in the Bahamas must make and file a country-by-country report not later than 12 months after the end of the reporting period. Consolidated accounts of a group of companies can be the source of information for a country-by-country report.