The Liberian foundation, modeled on the 1993 modern Austrian law of foundations (Stiftung), is a useful and flexible vehicle, used for various purposes, including charitable, public and personal.
Liberia have since WWII been one of the worlds largest and most well reputed international shipping bases. Many of the worlds leading cruise operators, tanker owners etc. are formally based in Liberia. Legal entities like a foundation is an expansion of the types of legal vehicles available from this jurisdiction.
Similar to all foundations, the Liberian private foundation is a separate legal entity and all assets transferred to it, usually in the form of a gift by a donor, are irrevocable and the sole property of the foundation. The private foundation is established through the memorandum of endowment, and an initial endowment (Donation/Gift). The donor(s) cannot withdraw the assets once they are donated or endowed to the foundation. The assets are placed at the disposal of the foundation.
Treasure Chest, Courtesy of Wiki Commons
As with the donor, there are no statutory restrictions on the residency or nationality of the officers or secretary. Moreover, there are no requirements for assets to be located in Liberia.
There are minimal filing requirements with Liberia, thus protecting the privacy of the beneficiaries and the donor. Once formed, there is a mandatory annual return for the privatefoundation, which must be signed by the Secretary and submitted to Liberia. The annual return confirms that the information filed in the extract is correct and that proper accounts are maintained. Liberia does not require submissions of financial accounts, nor are they required to publically file such information. Any changes or amendments to the extract must be filed with Liberia.
A foundation domiciled outside Liberia may, if permitted to do so by its constitution, apply to migrate its domicile to Liberia. In the same way, Liberian law allows for conversion of any recognised entity to a private foundation, provided its own constitution allows for this.
Liberia imposes no gift tax on the donated assets at the time the private foundation is established. Moreover, any income generated by the assets of the private foundation is exempt from tax in Liberia. However, there may be tax implications for the beneficiaries in their respective places of domicile for any income they receive.
In conclusion, a foundation is useful for preserving wealth and for asset protection, and allows for flexibility in international tax planning. The above gives a brief overview of how a Liberia foundations.