An international business company or international business corporation (IBC) is an offshore company formed under the laws of some jurisdictions as a tax neutral company which is usually limited in terms of the activities it may conduct in, but not necessarily from, the jurisdiction in which it is incorporated.
While not taxable in the country of incorporation, an IBC or its owners, if resident in a country having "controlled foreign corporation" rules for instance can be taxable in other jurisdictions.
Characteristics of an IBC vary by jurisdiction, but will usually include:
Chart of an offshore company structure
exemption from local corporate taxation and stamp duty, provided that the company engages in no local business (annual agent's fees and company registration taxes are still payable, which are normally a few hundred U.S. dollars per year)
preservation of confidentiality of the beneficial owner of the company
wide corporate powers to engage in different businesses and activities
abrogation or restriction of the requirement to demonstrate corporate benefit
the ability to issue shares in either registered or bearer form (although many countries have restricted or eliminated bearer shares now)
an abrogation of any requirements to appoint local directors or officers
provision for a local registered agent or registered office
It must be noted that all of the above characteristics are also attributable to many "onshore" countries which have either a residency or territorial based tax system where setting up a company, LLC or LLP in the jurisdiction along with the use of "nominees" will offer all of the above characteristics. US LLCs, UK LLPs and Hong Kong companies are all examples which are widely used in similar capacity to IBCs and which meet all of the characteristics above.
However, under pressure from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), most offshore jurisdictions have removed or are removing the "ring fencing" of IBCs from local taxation. In most of the jurisdictions, this has been accompanied by reductions of levels of corporate tax to zero to avoid damaging the offshore finance industry.
In contrast, Seychelles residents are legally able to own and operate a Seychelles IBC as long as the IBC is not conducting business within Seychelles. Seychelles also has a "territorial" tax system meaning that Seychelles residents are only taxed on their locally sourced income. Therefore, there is no advantage to non-residents over residents and claims of "ring fencing" have no merit on the Seychelles IBC. This has been, and continues to be, used successfully by Seychelles in defense of the Seychelles IBC vs. international bodies such as the OECD and FATF. Boosting the defense even more is the fact that there are no restrictions on a Seychelles IBC owning shares of a Seychelles domestic company.
Further, most jurisdictions have either eliminated or highly restricted the issuing of bearer shares by IBCs due to international pressures.