Mauritius: Mauritius As A Trust Platform

Mauritius International Financial Centre

Mauritius has, over the years, meticulously crafted the prerequisites to make the island a really advantageous, safe, business friendly location of high quality for the investor community. The financial services sector has seen significant growth for more than a decade and the authorities have been extremely prudent by adopting best international practices in our laws and regulations to prevent mis-use of the jurisdiction. This has resulted in a financial industry that has matured quickly and is always ready to embrace innovative and best international standards.

In 2001, new legislation was enacted relating to the administration of trusts and companies as well as the regulation of offshore service providers. Mauritius has a modern Trusts Act compared with other jurisdictions; it brings about a number of innovative features as well as allowing for the creation of a number of different types of trusts, namely fixed, discretionary, protective, purpose, charitable as well as private trusts.

Salient Features

Trusts can be put to a number of uses such as accumulation and preservation of Wealth, Succession Planning, Asset Protection, Investment and Tax Planning. All trusts are limited to a perpetuity period of 99 years from the date of their creation, unless terminated earlier, with the exception of charitable trusts which may be of perpetual duration and non-charitable purpose trusts which are limited to 25 years.

Moreover, confidentiality is enshrined in the provisions of the Trusts Act 2001. Trustees are not required to disclose any confidential information to any third party. Trustees can only release confidential information about beneficiaries if a court order has been issued in this respect. These confidentiality provisions are enhanced by the lack of any mandatory registration requirement of a trust in Mauritius.

In addition, some countries, especially civil law jurisdictions, impose limits on how a person's estate is to be distributed upon his death. The Mauritian Trusts Act 2001, on the other hand, contains some interesting provisions to prevent a trust from being attacked on the basis of forced heirship rules. It also allows for the split in trusteeship into a Custodian and a Managing Trustee, for the office of the Protector of the trust, and in the case of a purpose trust, for the office of the Enforcer of the trust. Migration of foreign trusts in and out of Mauritius is also possible.

Indeed, the Mauritian Trusts Act protects any individual assets, and various structures can be set up at competitive cost. The most common type of trust so far has been the discretionary trust which can be used in tax planning and wealth protection. Mauritius also recently introduced the Private Trust Company (PTC) to add to the bouquet of products already available on the financial services landscape in the context of private wealth management. A Private Trust Company is, essentially, a company formed for the specific purpose of acting as trustee of a single trust, or a group of related trusts. With a PTC, the Settlor, members of his family or his advisors can be appointed to the Board of Directors (this assumes underlying companies) and in this capacity they are in a position to influence the manner in which the trust is administered

Why Mauritius?

Mauritius is today among the few jurisdictions that have a modern Trust Law as elaborated above. It is also recognized worldwide for political and economic stability. It is a Presidential Democracy modeled on the British parliamentary system, which guarantees the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. The country offers a diligent, educated, multilingual and experienced professional labour force. The literacy rate is currently well above 90%, depending on measures of literacy.

The country benefits from a low cost of operations and offers a series of attractive fiscal incentives such as no tax on dividends from local companies, no withholding tax on interest, royalties and dividends, no estate duty, inheritance, wealth or gift taxes, no stamp duties and no registration duties. Foreign-sourced income also enjoys a number of tax advantages.

Mauritius has recently undergone a total makeover of the business and investment climate that makes it advantageous as a premier investment destination. It offers a very friendly environment for business to start, grow and expand. Bold moves have been made to remove the remaining obstacles to investment and entrepreneurship, to allow enterprises to start new activities within three days, to attract investors and professionals to come, work and live in Mauritius without hassles.

The country has been ranked 24th out of 181 countries and 1st in the African Region in the World Bank Doing Business Survey 2009.


Resident Trust

  • Resident trusts taxable on their income less any distribution.
  • Trust holding a Category 1 Global Business Licence (GBL 1) is subject to tax at a tax incentive rate of 15%. It may claim a deemed foreign tax credit of 80% on foreign sourced-income, which reduces the effective rate of tax to 3%.
  • Distribution to resident beneficiaries is also subject to taxation.

Non Resident Trust

  • Non-resident trust, which is defined in the Mauritian Income Tax Act 1995 as a trust of which (i) the settlor is non resident or holds a Category 1 Global Business Licence (GBL 1) or a Category 2 Global Business Licence (GBL 2) and of which all the beneficiaries are non residents or hold Category 1 Global Business Licences (GBL 1) or Category 2 Global Business Licences (GBL 2); or (ii) a purpose trust whose purpose is carried out outside Mauritius is not subject to taxation in Mauritius.

Mauritius is a tried and tested jurisdiction and many conglomerates are already using the jurisdiction. The country provides exciting opportunities to do business in a friendly and safe environment and should certainly be considered by entrepreneurs looking at doing business in the Mauritius International Financial Centre.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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