The Cayman Islands' tax-free status has attracted numerous banks and other companies to its shores. More than 40,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2000, including almost 600 banks and trust companies, with banking assets exceeding $500 billion. Large corporations based in the Cayman Islands such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). The Cayman Islands Stock Exchange was opened in 1997.
No direct taxation is imposed on residents and Cayman Islands companies. The government receives the majority of its income from indirect taxation. Duty is levied against most imported goods, which is typically in the range of 22% to 25%. Some items are exempted, such as baby formula, books, cameras and certain items are taxed at 5%. Duty on automobiles depends on their value. The duty can amount to 29.5% up to $20,000.00 KYD CIF (cost, insurance and freight) and up to 42% over $30,000.00 KYD CIF for expensive models. The government charges flat licensing fees on financial institutions that operate in the islands and there are work permit fees on foreign labor. A 13% government tax is placed on all tourist accommodations in addition to US$25.00 airport departure tax which is built into the cost of an airline ticket.
There are no taxes on profits, capital gains, income or any withholding taxes charged to foreign investors. There is no estate or death duties payable on Cayman Islands real estate or other assets held in the Cayman Islands.
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