Information Guides

IBC and Panamanian Corporations: Separating Fact from Fiction with D&D

Myth #1: Panamanian Corporations Are Used for Illegal Activities
Myth #2: Panamanian Corporations and IBCs Are Completely Unregulated
Myth #3: All Panamanian Corporations Are in Corrupt Countries
Myth #4: Panamanian Corporations Never Pay Taxes
Myth #5: Panamanian Corporations and IBCs Are Illegal

When it comes to international business and taxation, few topics are as misunderstood as International Business Corporations (IBCs) and Panamanian Corporations. These corporate entities offer a wide range of benefits for entrepreneurs and established companies alike, but misconceptions about their legality and operation often deter potential investors. As experts in Panamanian law, Delvalle & Delvalle frequently encounter these myths and are committed to setting the record straight.

In this article, we will debunk some of the most persistent myths surrounding IBC and Panamanian Corporations. We will provide facts backed by legal expertise, much of it courtesy of Delvalle & Delvalle’s experienced attorneys who understand the intricacies of international corporate law. By the end of this read, you’ll have a clearer picture of what these entities are—and what they aren’t—helping you make informed decisions about whether establishing an IBC or a Panamanian Corporation aligns with your business goals.

Panama City skyline highlighting business district. Panamanian Corporations and IBCs

Myth #1: Panamanian Corporations Are Used for Illegal Activities

The Facts: Panama companies have a lot of flexibility. They get to participate in practically any business ventures that they can develop. But Panama does not let them commit acts regarded as crimes around the world.

According to Panama law, IBCs have privacy protection that prevents the government, or anyone else, from investigating their finances… unless the government has evidence that the company participates in illegal activity. If investigators have evidence, they can access a company’s bank records to make sure they only work in legitimate industries.

That said, here are activities that Panamanian corporations cannot engage in according to the law:

  • Drug Trafficking: Highly illegal and monitored by both local and international agencies.

  • Prostitution: Forbidden by Panamanian laws.

  • Murder for Hire: Obviously illegal and heavily penalized.

  • Extortion: Not allowed under any circumstance.

Yes, your Panama IBC gets to make its own business decisions without much government interference, but Panama still takes illegal activity seriously.

Myth #2: Panamanian Corporations and IBCs Are Completely Unregulated

Some people seem to believe that Panamanian corporations do not have to follow any regulations. That simply isn’t true. Panama corporations often have more freedom than companies located in countries like the United States, France, and Japan, but that doesn’t mean they get to evade all regulations.

Panama requires corporations and IBCs to follow very specific guidelines. A Panama IBC must have at least three directors. Panamanian corporations also have to file articles of incorporation before they can conduct business.

It isn’t a free-for-all that lets anyone do anything they want without any oversight, but it does give companies more freedom to make business decisions without political interference. For instance, companies in the United States cannot do business with Cuba because the U.S. has sanctions against the Communist country. By opening a Panama IBC, the company doesn’t face such unnecessary restrictions.

To sum it up, here are some key regulations that Panamanian corporations must adhere to:

  • Minimum Number of Directors: At least three directors are required for legal operation.
  • Articles of Incorporation: Must be filed before commencing business activities.
  • Oversight: Regular audits and reporting may be required depending on the type of business.

Myth #3: All Panamanian Corporations Are in Corrupt Countries

There are some corrupt countries that do their best to attract Panamanian corporations. Those countries, however, are not where informed businesses want to relocate. Government corruption doesn’t benefit anyone for very long. Smart businesses know this, so they head to jurisdictions where everyone must follow the law.

Panama stands out as an example. Panama’s court system is based on the one used in the United States. It has a system of checks and balances that helps prevent corruption. The people in Panama also have a commitment to the rule of law. Legitimate businesses in Panama don’t make backroom arrangements or pay off officials. Doing so is illegal, and they can be punished for breaking the law.

This system brings stability that attracts more corporations and IBCs to Panama.

Handshake between business professionals in Panamanian Corporations

Myth #4: Panamanian Corporations Never Pay Taxes

Business owners need to understand that each jurisdiction sets its own tax laws. While some Panamanian corporations pay little to no taxes, others don’t get that benefit.

It makes sense to find a Panamanian jurisdiction that gives you a sizeable tax incentive. Panama corporations pay a flat annual rate. No matter how much money your company earns, it pays the same amount as other Panamanian corporations.

This offers two major advantages. First, it keeps your business’s expenses lower. Second, it lets you plan for your annual expenses. When you know exactly how much money you have to pay the government, you can make better plans for expanding your IBC into new markets or industries.

Key Points about Panama’s Legal and Governance System:

  • Checks and Balances: A system similar to that of the United States helps maintain governance integrity.
  • Rule of Law: Panamanian citizens and institutions are generally committed to legal frameworks.
  • Expertise: Delvalle & Delvalle guides businesses in leveraging Panama’s stable governance for their operations.

Myth #5: Panamanian Corporations and IBCs Are Illegal

This is perhaps the most damaging myth because it prevents otherwise savvy entrepreneurs from taking advantage of the benefits offered by Panamanian jurisdictions.

It’s important for you to know that Panamanian corporations are not illegal. In most countries, you are free to start businesses wherever you please. That includes forming a Panamanian corporation or IBC.

Like other pernicious myths, this one is built on a misunderstanding of the law. It is not illegal to own a Panamanian corporation. Some Panamanian corporations do, however, break laws. This confuses the public so that some people believe all Panamanian corporations are illegal.

Owners need to understand that their home countries might have tax laws that force them to reveal how much money they earn. Depending on where you live, you might have to pay your home country some taxes. It varies from country to country. If you don’t follow those laws, then you could be found guilty of tax evasion.

No one needs that problem, so make sure you meet the legal requirements of your home and host jurisdictions. Delvalle and Delvalle have experienced attorneys who understand how Panama’s laws interact with those of other countries. These experts can help you stay within the law so that you get the most out of your Panama companies without getting into trouble at home.

To clarify further, here are some key points:

  • Legality: Owning a Panamanian Corporation or IBC is not illegal per se.
  • Compliance: Corporations must adhere to both Panamanian and home country laws.
  • Expert Guidance: Delvalle & Delvalle offers advice to ensure you meet all legal requirements, thereby debunking this harmful myth.

Myths and misconceptions about Panamanian Corporations and IBCs can act as unnecessary roadblocks for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to expand or protect their assets. As we’ve seen, these myths range from concerns about legality and corruption to misunderstandings about tax obligations. The truth is that Panama offers a robust, legally sound environment for businesses, regulated under a set of laws designed to protect and facilitate business ventures.

Understanding the intricacies of Panama’s corporate laws and the benefits it offers can be a complex task. That’s where experts like Delvalle & Delvalle come into the picture. With their comprehensive knowledge and experience in navigating both Panamanian and international laws, they can guide you in making informed decisions. Utilizing their expertise can help you debunk these myths, ensuring you maximize the potential of your Panamanian Corporation or IBC while remaining compliant with all legal requirements.

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