Offshore Company CFC Rules Explained


CFC Rules or Controlled Foreign Corporation Rules have been implemented by several Governments around the world to curb tax avoidance.

Controlled Foreign Company rules in the UK do not apply to individual shareholders, but otherwise bear many similarities to U.S. rules. UK resident companies can be subject to a charge for tax on undistributed income of low tax controlled foreign companies of which they are shareholders. Control for this purpose is not a mechanical test, rather one of factual control. However, control is considered to exist if the shareholder (or shareholder group of companies) own 40% or more of voting interests.

A controlled foreign company is a company that is tax resident outside the UK and it is subject to a charge to tax less than it would have been were it a UK resident company. This is determined by comparing the actual charge to tax to a corresponding UK tax. In computing the corresponding tax, lower UK rates of tax on small companies are considered. Further, there are taken into account certain adjustments to income and fiscal years.

Certain exemptions apply. Generally, a foreign company will not be considered a controlled foreign company if it meets any of the following tests:

  • It is tax resident in a "white list" of countries not considered to be tax havens, as maintained by HMRC,
  • The foreign company maintains a policy whereby it distributed 90% or more of its available earnings each year (no longer applicable since 1 July 2009),
  • The company qualifies for a De Minimis level of accounting profits being less than £200,000. This level of income has been in place since 1 January 2011. Previously the level was set at £50,000 of profits that would be chargeable to UK corporation tax if the company were UK resident (not necessarily the same as accounting profits).
  • The foreign company meets an active business test,
  • The foreign company is publicly quoted on a recognized securities exchange, or
  • The group meets a no-tax-reduction motive test.

Please Contact Us   to find out further details about how you or your company can meet the criteria for establishing an overseas business.