In today’s hyper-competitive global market with rising costs and increasing challenges, saving on taxes can make or break a business and can mean the difference between a secure financial future or just “getting by.”
Increased tax burdens and unfavorable tax laws have left many individuals (perhaps even yourself) seeking what are known as “Tax Havens.” As the name so blatantly suggests, “tax havens” are those countries or places with extremely low “effective” tax rates that foreign investors can take advantage of.
Seeking the citizenship of any of the tax havens can significantly reduce one’s tax burdens. However, in the process, moving to or partially residing in the country is often required; this might be seen as a downside for many investors who don’t wish to leave their home country. However, this is not always the case as there are many citizenship by investment programs that don’t have a minimum residency requirement.
Below, we’ll help you explore several tax havens and understand how will they benefit you and your family in the process of tax planning.
Which Tax Haven Countries can Business Owners Move to?
Business owners are often hit hard by heavily taxed countries, making tax havens an attractive option. If executed correctly, there are a number of legally viable ways, such as offshore accounts and shell companies, that business owners can reduce tax their liabilities.
For example, investing through a company or trust that has been organized in a tax haven is perfectly legal as long as all compliance and regulatory requirements are met. Yet not all countries are a good fit for business owners.
Popular Tax Havens Often Cited Include: Luxembourg, The Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey (the island NOT the city), Ireland, Mauritius, Bermuda, Switzerland, Monaco, and the Bahamas
Although the aforementioned countries tend to get most of the spotlight when it comes to tax havens, they are by no means the only options. In fact, a number of other countries provide measurable tax benefits while also providing other opportunities such as second citizenship and passports that allow investors to enjoy greater freedom of travel, especially for those from Middle Eastern countries where travel restrictions may be an issue.
What are MENA Tax Havens?
MENA Tax Havens refer to those countries or locations that are open to accommodate the needs of those from Middle East and North African regions. The term MENA covers a vast geography stretching from Morocco to Iran and includes all Maghreb and Mashriq countries. The term is also synonymous or may alternatively be referred to as the “Greater Middle East”.
Popular MENA Tax Havens Include
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Since 2008 there has been a global crackdown on offshore finance and the secrecy that is often associated with tax havens. Political pressure and threats of sanctions from major world powers have forced many countries to open up their books, but not this little dual-island nation.
Investors in Saint Kitts and Nevis can unlock countless business opportunities by being able to open offshore bank accounts and companies while maintaining absolute anonymity and privacy of ownership. Furthermore, Saint Kitts and Nevis’ tax climate imposes 0% tax on global income, inheritance and gifts which makes the island a perfect investment destination for tax planning.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Saint Kitts and Nevis is an island with magnificent nature and climate that draws thousands of tourists each year. Dotted with golden beaches and ringed tropical volcanoes, Saint Kitts and Nevis is an attractive option for citizenship by investment.
A premier destination for those seeking offshore banking and financial products. The diversity of its financial offerings and incentives has made St. Lucia an attractive option for many businesses and wealthy individuals. Options include offshore bank accounts, trusts, corporations and more.
Best of all, the island touts the “absolute” confidentiality of client details and the security of all companies formed in the jurisdiction. As an added benefit, the islands have a long-standing, good reputation and have never been blacklisted or placed under international scrutiny from foreign governments to disclose details of its operations.
In addition to anonymity, the island promotes an easy incorporation process, low yearly fees, flexible share structures, no minimum share capital requirement, ZERO or low tax (1% if elected), absence of tax treaties, English Common Law System, and more.
Antigua & Barbuda
The Caribbean is known for its lucrative tax havens, and Antigua is no exception. Antigua, the largest of the Leeward Islands and its neighboring island Barbuda are often favored among businesses looking to legally reduce tax liabilities.
Antigua is a vibrant tourist destination, celebrated for its immaculate beaches and tropical weather. What many individuals may not realize, however, is that Antigua has developed a strong reputation for being a favorable tax haven. Local services include international business incorporation, the formation of trusts, offshore banking and more. Regulated by the Antigua Financial Services (AFSR), the island boasts a very favorable tax regime with a fifty-year local tax exemption on capital gains tax, estate tax, inheritance tax, and local income tax for revenue earned outside of Antigua.
Over 2 million years ago the little island of Grenada was actually an underwater volcano. Today, the nation, comprised of around 340+ square kilometers and inhabited by an estimated 110,000 people, is known as the “island of spice”, with exports ranging from nutmeg and mace to ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
Although tourism is the leading industry for Grenada, the nation is also known for being a favored tax haven among savvy business owner. Grenada is favored for its corporate privacy and Citizenship by Investment Program, providing numerous tax benefits. Furthermore, the country offers no withholding tax, no transfer tax, no tax on capital gains, no inheritance or estate tax, and a 20 years’ tax exemption for offshore companies among other benefits.
Other Prospective MENA Tax Havens
Other prospective tax havens worth mentioning include Malta (although it isn’t straightforward) , Dominica, Cyprus, Portugal, and Greece.
Personal Tax Benefit of Making the Move
The appeal of making the move to a tax haven isn’t only due to corporate benefits. Individuals invest in a tax haven in order to reduce personal tax liability on interest, personal income, inheritance, capital gains and more. Those wealthy enough stand to save millions of dollars by leveraging these legal loopholes and incentives.
Corporate Tax Considerations
Although the primary focus of most corporations is to save on taxes by reducing tax liability, there are a number of other considerations that must be taken into account. For example, what is the process like? Does your corporation qualify? What types of fees are involved? Is residency required? What will the ongoing costs of maintaining your corporation’s status in the haven look like and what will this cost you? Are there any regulatory, political or socioeconomic dangers or risks in the region?
These are just a few points to consider before taking the plunge.
How Will Making the Move Affect US Citizenship?
Generally speaking, US citizens and permanent residents are taxed by the IRS regardless of where they are physically residing. While the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion does offer a bit of relief, anyone earning over $105,900 in active income per year won’t be able to avoid taxation.
Moving to another country will not impact US Citizenship. However, those seeking to pay zero or close to zero taxes may find it useful to obtain second citizenship in any tax haven of their choice while also renouncing their US citizenship.
Bear in mind that the USA is the only country that enforces taxation based solely on the citizenship of the individual in question.
Closing Thoughts on Moving to a Tax Haven
There are many misconceptions regarding what it means to move to a tax haven, however, with the help of professional services that deal with these transitions you can largely avoid all of the potential pitfalls while reaping the many rewards.
Rasha Seikaly, an IMC member, is Bluemina’s Head of Marketing. Bluemina provides families, individuals, and investors with the best and most expedited Citizenship and Residency by investment programs