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  • Writer's pictureCreimerman Product Team

Unlock your expat dream: 5 tax-friendly havens without capital gains taxes




Are you an expat in search of a tax haven to invest your money, unsure of where to start?


When deciding your overseas investment strategy, the impact of capital gains tax emerges as a primordial factor. This tax, levied on profits from real estate or financial asset sales like stocks and bonds, significantly influences your investment decisions and shapes the optimization of your global financial strategy.


Around the world, numerous countries refrain from imposing taxes on capital gains in one way or another. In this article, we spotlight nations that not only welcome expats but also offer an exceptional quality of life.


For investors opting to manage stocks and other assets in their own name, avoiding the complexities of offshore corporations, these countries not only waive capital gains taxes but also serve as strategic bases for crafting your Nomad lifestyle plan.



Switzerland


Switzerland, globally renowned for its prominence in banking and wealth storage, secures a spot on our list due to its absence of capital gains tax on securities trades.


Profits from the sale of private properties remain untaxed at the federal level, whereas gains from business properties are subject to income taxes. Both types of property, however, include cantonal and municipal taxes.


While Switzerland imposes taxes on capital gains from investments and stocks for individuals engaged in trading as a profession, no such taxes apply otherwise.


Switzerland's tax system exhibits a progressive structure, with the duration of property ownership influencing tax rates. Canton-level regulations dictate tax burdens for immovable property, ranging from 25% to 50%.


A noteworthy feature is the progressive relief mechanism based on ownership duration. After four to five years, a maximum relief of 50% to 70% of payable tax is permitted.


For short-term gains, a potential tax of up to 50% is applicable to properties sold within the initial four or five years. Switzerland's nuanced tax framework thus rewards long-term property ownership while ensuring fair taxation across various investment scenarios.



Belgium


In Belgium, capital gains are not entirely tax-free, and their taxation hinges on whether they are realized privately or associated with business or professional activities.


The taxability of capital gains often depends on whether they are considered part of the normal private management of personal assets, a somewhat subjective determination often influenced by case law.


If capital gains are deemed part of routine personal asset management, they typically remain untaxed. However, the interpretation of "normal" can vary, and in cases where the sale of shares occurs shortly after acquisition or there's a substantial difference between purchase and sale prices, such activity might be viewed as speculative intention, subjecting it to a 33% capital gains tax.


For companies, capital gains are subjected to the standard corporate income tax rate of 25%. Only the corporate tax is fixed at 25%, while other capital gains, involving "substantial participation," are taxed at a rate of 16.5%.


Various rules apply to specific scenarios such as mergers, splits, losses, shares of trading companies, and capital gains related to intellectual property, embedded royalties, and infringement compensation.


Though there are numerous caveats and exceptions, private capital gains on shares are generally tax-exempt, except for fixed income securities. The sale of a private residence is also tax-exempt if occupied for at least a year before selling. For other buildings sold within five years of purchase, a 16.5% tax rate applies; otherwise, it remains tax-free.


Capital gains from the sale of unbuilt land are taxed at a rate of 33%, unless the land is sold after being held for at least eight years.


Notably, if benefiting from the expatriate special personal income tax regime, the rules exclusively apply to Belgian-source capital gain tax.


While Belgium may not be considered a low-tax country, especially by European standards, its predominantly zero capital gains rate makes it a particularly appealing jurisdiction in Europe.



Malaysia


Malaysia stands out as a haven for investors, offering a tax-friendly environment with notable features.


Malaysia does not levy capital gains tax on equities, providing a favorable landscape for stock market investors. Furthermore, the country abolished its capital gains tax on real estate in 2007, offering a significant advantage for those involved in property transactions.


Additionally, Malaysia operates under a territorial tax system rather than a residential tax system. This means that non-Malaysian source income, including investment income generated offshore, is not subject to taxation in Malaysia. This policy extends to income remitted to Malaysia, offering flexibility for investors with international holdings.


Despite the absence of a capital gains tax on equities and real estate, the Malaysian government has implemented a de facto capital gains assessment on real estate, specifically targeting non-residents.


Non-residents are required to hold properties for at least five years to avoid a 30% tax withholding on gains. This measure, known as "real property gains tax," aims to curb speculative transactions, particularly in the bustling markets of Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.



The Cayman Islands


The Cayman Islands, renowned as a prominent tax haven and overseas banking hub, lives up to expectations by refraining from imposing capital gains taxes on any transaction within its jurisdiction.


While entities established in the Cayman Islands may be subject to taxes in other jurisdictions, this British overseas territory does not add an extra layer of taxation on capital gains. The pro-growth stance of the Cayman Islands extends to providing a tax-friendly environment for investors, making it an attractive destination.


This English-speaking island nation not only boasts a lack of capital gains taxes but also offers foreign investors a high quality of life.



Belize


Belize has long stood as an expat-friendly haven, attracting individuals seeking an ideal combination of tranquility and opportunity.


Since gaining independence from Britain in 1981, Belize has positioned itself as an attractive destination for expats with financial resources. Despite the competition from various second residency options in neighboring Central American countries, Belize's unique charm, being a small, independent, and English-speaking nation, continues to draw expatriates.


A significant allure lies in Belize's policy of imposing zero capital gains taxes, applying equally to both residents and non-residents. This fiscal advantage undoubtedly contributes to Belize's widespread appeal, making it a compelling choice for those in search of not only a picturesque setting but also a tax-friendly environment.


In conclusion, navigating the world of international finance as an expatriate presents a myriad of opportunities, and the choice of a tax-friendly haven can significantly shape the success of your global financial strategy. The absence of capital gains taxes in the highlighted destinations offers expats a unique advantage, allowing them to optimize investments without the burden of additional taxation.


Each of these havens not only welcomes expats but also provides a high quality of life, making them strategic bases for crafting the sought-after Nomad lifestyle.


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