Some of the most popular countries that offer the financial benefit of having no income tax are Bermuda, Monaco, the Bahamas, Andorra and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are a number of countries without the burden of income taxes, and many of them are very pleasant countries in which to live. However, taking advantage of living in a no-income-tax country is not as easy as packing a suitcase and buying a plane ticket.
Escaping Taxes by Renouncing Citizenship
Citizens of the United States cannot escape paying U.S. income taxes just by moving to another country. All U.S. citizens, regardless of where they choose to reside, are still legally obligated to file U.S. income taxes in the same way as if they were living in the U.S. It may seem appealing, but renouncing citizenship is not an easy task.
First of all, many countries do not offer easy access to citizenship. In most instances, the process is lengthy and expensive. Some countries will purposefully keep the barrier of entry high so as to only attract top investment.
Secondly, U.S. tax authorities were hit hard by the loss of dozens of multimillionaires and billionaires who have chosen to obtain citizenship in more tax-friendly countries. In response, these authorities have made it increasingly difficult and expensive to renounce U.S. citizenship, imposing an expatriation tax that can become extremely expensive.
For some, repatriating means more to them than the tax penalty incurred. Below are some countries which are entirely livable—and quite beautiful—that do not impose an income tax.
United Arab Emirates
There are a number of oil countries in the Middle East that have no income tax, and the UAE is considered one of the most attractive with a relatively stable government and economy. The UAE has a thriving economy and a more multicultural environment than the majority of countries in the Middle East. This translates into excellent dining and entertainment options. There are also very good educational facilities available and a strong English-speaking populace.
Enjoying the benefit of not having to pay income taxes in the Bahamas depends on residency, not on actually obtaining citizenship, making it one of the easier countries in which to access an income tax-free life. There is a minimum residency requirement for permanent residents of at least 90 days in order to qualify for the tax break, and expatriates may not stay in another country for more than 183 days.
As Caribbean islands go, the Bahamas is one of the relatively less-expensive ones in which to live. Overall, the country has good infrastructure and services. The one area where services are considered a bit below par is the area of medicine. Many U.S. expats who have chosen to make the Bahamas home still travel back to the U.S. for significant medical care.
Nassau, as is to be expected within a heavily touristic area, has a somewhat high crime rate. Overall, the distance to the U.S. and the beautiful atmosphere make the Bahamas a great place for many tax expats.
Bermuda is an even more attractive Caribbean income tax-free destination than the Bahamas; however, it is also a much more expensive country in which to live. Its relatively isolated location makes Bermuda one of the most expensive cost of living spots in the Western world.
A gallon of milk costs between $10 and $15 and even a modestly nice apartment can run as high as $2,000 a month or more.
Bermuda is much more developed than most Caribbean islands, with excellent roads and public transportation. And beyond that, from its famous pink sand beaches to its upscale restaurants, Bermuda is considered one of the most scenic and pleasant countries in the Caribbean. The majority of U.S. expatriates living in Bermuda are employed in the extensive financial sector that exists in the country.
Well-known as a perennial vacation playground for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, Monaco has long been considered one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live in Europe. Located on the French Riviera, Monaco has extensive, well-developed marinas that are usually occupied by a selection of yachts from around the world. A favorite of the rich is the Monaco Grand Prix, with many apartments renting for $10,000 or more a night during the event.
Monaco is a city-state that is not much larger than the Vatican. It has one of the lowest crime rates of any country in the world. However, one drawback is Monaco is also one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Accessing Monaco's income tax-free financial environment is quick but not cheap. A legal residence permit can be obtained in less than three months but requires depositing approximately half a million dollars in a Monaco bank.
Honorable Mention: Andorra
Located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, Andorra imposes a scalable tax rate capped at 10% for individuals making over 40,000 euros each year. Andorra's mountain location makes it a scenic spot for skiers and mountain climbers. Other than skiing tourists, life in Andorra is relatively quiet and easygoing. Andorra is renowned for not only for their low tax rates, but also for being with a value-added tax (VAT), bringing many Europeans driving in for the day to purchase cigarettes, liquor, apparel, or electronics. In keeping with its tax-friendly attitude, Andorra is noted for having one of the most well-developed offshore banking industries in the world. The path to Andorra citizenship is one of the lengthiest, with naturalization taking more than 10 years.