Please note that you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer which is not compatible with some elements of the site. We strongly urge you to update to a newer version for optimal browsing experience.

Beware buying abroad for tax benefits

02 Mar 2015

There are many benefits to investing in a residency or citizenship by investment programme: lifestyle, financial, investment, more business opportunities and freedom of travel with fewer if any visa requirements. However, a change in tax domicile is not always a benefit.

Investors should also bear in mind that not all residents and citizens who qualify for their status through a residency or citizenship by investment programme qualify for tax benefits in their new country.

This is according to James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, who says it only benefits an investor if they have moved their tax residence to the new country of residency, provided that the new tax jurisdiction is more beneficial by offering a lower rate of taxation than their current jurisdiction.

So just how does a residency or citizenship programme benefit the investor in terms of them being within a new tax jurisdiction?

Bowling says to be cautions, as it’s not always beneficial to move tax jurisdictions. He cites the US as an example: in the US, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has an aggressive and thorough tax collection programme, which has caused many Americans to give up their citizenship on an annual basis. Therefore, by gaining US citizenship and falling under their tax jurisdiction, investors may well be worse off when it comes to tax affairs, he says.

Investors should also bear in mind that not all residents and citizens who qualify for their status through a residency or citizenship by investment programme qualify for tax benefits in their new country.

“Different countries have different rules. In some countries, investors will only benefit on tax earned in that country, while other countries offer tax benefits on global un-taxed income, remitted into the country.”

Bowling says those looking to gain from living in a new tax domicile need to ensure that the country they are moving to has lower income tax, that a double taxation agreement is in place, and that no estate duty or inheritance tax is payable. Some countries also offer lower corporate tax structures.

Investors should be warned that some countries don’t have double taxation agreements in place, and that higher tax brackets may apply.

This 5 phase development in Mauritius is in a prime position on the ocean front - click here to view.

Double taxation is a factor that investors should take into consideration when deciding on which residency or citizenship by investment programme to choose. Bowling says it depends on what the investor is looking to do in that country.

If they are not going to accrue income in that country, then a double taxation agreement or lack thereof won’t be an influencing factor in their decision, he says. However, if they are accruing income in the country and there is no double taxation agreement with their current country of residence, they will be taxed twice, he says.

Bowling says South Africa offers double taxation agreements with a number of other countries. This means that the tax charged in the foreign country is offset against the amount that the investor would be liable to pay in South Africa. For example, if the foreign country's tax is 7%, the investor would still be liable to pay the additional 7% to total South Africa’s 14% tax rate.

“Malta offers the best improvement on personal and corporate tax exposure for South Africans as expats or non-Maltese citizens only pay tax on their income derived in Malta, and are not liable for tax on their worldwide income, while they are not a tax resident.”

If you choose to become a tax resident in Malta, you could structure your affairs to effectively only pay a corporate tax rate of approximately 3% of their worldwide earnings, says Bowling.

He says Mauritius, St Kitts and Nevis are other low tax jurisdictions for residency and citizenship by investment.

Print Print
Top Articles
Savvy buyers can find great property options at lower prices in times of reduced confidence, and with signs of recovery and banks giving more bonds, it's a good time to buy...

While the commercial market may be slower than in recent years, it is by no means stagnating and demand in certain sectors continues to drive ongoing development.

Tourists are paying up to R4 400 per day in Cape Town’s mixed-use Waterfront and Foreshore, with visitor numbers expected to climb to 21 million by 2030. Read on...

Loading

Your browser is out of date!

It looks like you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer.

If you are using Internet Explorer 8 or higher, please verify that your Internet Explorer compatibility view settings are not enabled.

For the best browsing experience, update to the latest Version of Internet Explorer or try out Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.


Please contact our Property24 Support Team for further assistance. Tel. +27 (0)861 111 724