The Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) is a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean lying 575 miles south east of Miami and some 30 miles south west of the Bahamas. Eight of the 30 islands in the territory are inhabited, with a total population of about 31,500. Providenciales, the third largest island in land area, is home to a large majority of the population whilst the administrative capital and seat of government is situated on Grand Turk.
TCI formed part of Britain’s Jamaica colony from 1873 and became a Crown Colony in its own right in 1962 when Jamaica was granted independence from the UK. From 1965, the governor of the Bahamas was also governor of the TCI and oversaw its affairs but when the Bahamas gained independence from the UK in 1973, TCI received its own governor. Since 1976, TCI has had its own government headed by a chief minister. Under a new constitution, which came into effect in October 2012, a unicameral House of Assembly consisting of 19 seats holds legislative power. Defence is the responsibility of the UK.
The territory’s legal system is based on English common law with local modifications, and a small number of laws have been adopted from Jamaica and the Bahamas. The judiciary is headed by a Supreme Court; appeals are heard by the court of appeals and final appeals by the UK’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
TCI’s emergence as an international financial services centre dates from the enactment of the Companies Ordinance 1981. The legislation was regarded as highly innovative and has been duplicated by other jurisdictions. The Ordinance continues to be amended to meet the changing demands of the international business community.
The depth of the professional infrastructure servicing the financial services industry is good. There are a number of legal firms and major accountancy firms also have a presence. Telecommunications are excellent. Providenciales International Airport is the main international airport and has regular services to the US, Canada and the UK.
The TCI Financial Services Commission (FSC) undertake the supervision and regulation of licensees under the financial services regulatory ordinances and the monitoring of financial services business. Since 2007, the FSC has been independent of the TCI government.
TCI’s anti-money laundering regime follows international best practices. Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing is a priority of the TCI Government and the FSC and all local service providers are obliged to comply with the regulations and are subject to FSC compliance audits.
TCI has no direct taxation. There are no corporate, income, capital gains, sales turnover or profits taxes, apart from on local tourism. Dividends, interest and royalties paid are not taxed in the TCI. Dividends received are also not taxed in the TCI. In addition, there are no thin capitalisation, controlled foreign company or transfer pricing rules. Proposals for the imposition of VAT and subsequently a services tax were considered in 2012 and early 2013 but have now been dropped.
There are no restrictions on foreign investment. TCI is not party to any double tax treaties, but has a network of tax information exchange agreements with a number of onshore jurisdictions.
TCI uses the US dollar. There are no restrictions on the transfer of money into or out of the TCI. However, funds of over US$500,000 coming into the TCI through local banks must be accompanied by satisfactory evidence of the source of funds, to comply with anti-money laundering guidelines.
TCI Financial Services Commission – www.tcifsc.tc
TCI Government – http://govtc.caribsoftindia.com