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How do taxes work for perpetual travelers?


by @whirledover | 3yr  | 5 comments

Hereโ€™s a question (actually a bunch of related questions) thatโ€™s been a bit of a thorn in my side lately. Iโ€™ve already combed this forum as well as several others but would love some more insight from more knowledgable people.

So, here goesโ€ฆ

Background: Iโ€™m a perpetual traveler and havenโ€™t stayed in a single country longer than 6 months for around 5 years now. Iโ€™m a non-US person so no IRS worries but my country of citizenship (Korea) has a residential tax system and since I havenโ€™t claimed residency anywhere else, it seems possible for my government to claim me as a tax citizen.

Which brings me to my first question: At what point does forming a solid business structure to cover your taxable a** become worth the hassle? $100K/year? At $200K/year? I sort of feel like most governments wouldnโ€™t bother with this because itโ€™s relatively โ€œsmall fishโ€ - thoughts?

And that brings me to another question: If Iโ€™m not needlessly spending time worrying and I should finally pull the trigger and set something up that makes me more โ€œlegitโ€ - even if it requires paperwork - whatโ€™s my best option? Hereโ€™s what Iโ€™ve come up with:

Set up an offshore company - Iโ€™m leaning toward RAK Offshore since it seems to have no paperwork requirements and has no taxes - and use that to hold and re-invest the income I receive while paying myself a nominal amount every month, like $3,000, which I then file Korean (income) taxes for. This makes sense in my head since thatโ€™s roughly the amount I spend every month anyway but would this qualify as tax evasion?

Last question: for all of you who are perpetual travelers and arenโ€™t filing tax returns with your country of citizenship/last tax residency - what are you doing in terms of investing the money youโ€™ve saved? From what Iโ€™ve read, banks will report accounts that hold over a certain amount to the country of the account holder and online brokerage accounts seem to be the same.
Oh, and is the money accrued (without being reported tax-wise) considered black money?!

Okay, Iโ€™m done for now. Apologies for writing a book - Iโ€™m not so learned on this topic. Would appreciate any insights. Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

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@working_9to5 | 3yr

Hey, thanks so much for the detailed responses, theyโ€™re really helpful! Itโ€™s making a bit more sense now - so it seems the best thing to do is change my personal residency (domicile) rather than incorporate since that wouldnโ€™t change my tax situation anyway.

I think you need to think about incorporating somewhere as well (preferably not in the same country as your country of residence). Not sure what it is you are doing now in terms of work, but if not for anything else but getting less of a personal liability.

Either way make sure you qualify for residence somewhere (Dubai is a good one, so is Malaysia, not sure about Panama, but a lot of members here seem to favor it).
Setup an offshore company (and just as important but way more difficult an offshore bank account).

Now you are ready to pay less taxes. Do keep in mind that for all the money youโ€™ve earned up until this tax year you still Korea taxes.

I sort of feel like most governments wouldnโ€™t bother with this because itโ€™s relatively โ€œsmall fishโ€ - thoughts?

Yes itโ€™s downright illegal, not sure about the chances of getting caught, but Iโ€™d rather be on the safe side myself.

Last question: for all of you who are perpetual travelers and arenโ€™t filing tax returns with your country of citizenship/last tax residency - what are you doing in terms of investing the money youโ€™ve saved? From what Iโ€™ve read, banks will report accounts that hold over a certain amount to the country of the account holder and online brokerage accounts seem to be the same.
Oh, and is the money accrued (without being reported tax-wise) considered black money?!

So mind you I do my tax returns, but investing money can be quite hard without residence, pretty much all brokerage accounts will require you to show proof of residence, even the bigger crypto currency exchanges these days require you to do so.

And yes money that youโ€™ve earned and which you should have paid taxes over but deliberately decided to hide from the IRS is considered โ€œblackโ€ money. Although most governments allow you to back report these taxes sometimes with a small penalty fee, assuming you initiate it.

When you are talking about banks reporting assets, what you are probably referring to is the new common reporting standard, the exact scope is unclear right now but in theory any amount of money held in a foreign bank account by a non-citizen should be reported back to his/her home country. So letโ€™s say you have a bank account in Singapore then the bank in Singapore should report your 2017 balance to the Korean government in 2018.

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@whirledover | 3yr

Hey, thanks so much for the detailed responses, theyโ€™re really helpful! Itโ€™s making a bit more sense now - so it seems the best thing to do is change my personal residency (domicile) rather than incorporate since that wouldnโ€™t change my tax situation anyway.
With a rough calculation, applying for a second residency is worth it but yes, Iโ€™ll hold off on everything until I get back to Korea and can get local tax advice. As of now, Iโ€™m leaning toward Panama.
@miked, out of curiosity, where did you choose to change your domicile to?

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@miked | 3yr

I did the research earlier and picked Panama as well (friendly nations visa), because most other countries require you to actually live there at least 6 months a year in order to get the residency, but in Panama you can get a permanent residency and maintain it with minimum staying requirements.

There is a lot of bureaucracy (make sure you get a really good lawyer), requires several visits and the process can be lengthy for the set up, but I think in the end itโ€™s worth it. Iโ€™d estimate the cost is about $5-10K for the initial setup (youโ€™d likely get lower estimates from firms who specialize in it, but there are often some extra costs after), and up to $1k per year to maintain.

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@flagtheory | 3yr

Hi whirledover,

This is not tax advice, just general information regarding your questions.

Set up an offshore company and retain and re-invest profits through it, could not be effective from a tax minimization standpoint, because South Korea has โ€œcontrolled foreign companiesโ€ regulation.

These regulations state that any Korean tax resident who owns at least 10% of a foreign entity with average income tax rate for the three most recent years 15% or less, its undistributed earnings will be deemed to be paid as a dividend to the Korean citizen and subject to tax in Korea.

As Miked said, to legally reduce taxes, the key is personal tax residency.

The first point is that in absence of tax treaties, if you have domicile in South Korea or own assets in the country you may be deemed to be tax resident there and pay tax on your worldwide income. If there is tax treaty, these rules may change.

One solution could be, if your goal is incorporate a company in UAE, set up a FZE at Fujairah Free Zone. Is the cheapest โ€œonshoreโ€ option for UAE. This set up will allow you to get a residence permit, you can live there a significant period of time during the first year and claim your tax residency. Taxes in UAE are 0% both personal and corporate. With the permit you can live wherever in UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabiโ€ฆ) UAE has tax treaty with Korea so you may check there what says regarding personal tax residency.

The main issue is that this option is costly, for incorporation+residency budget over $7-8K. The company registration fee is about $1,000 and annual government fees are about $2,000-$3,500 depends on activity. Note that no reporting fillings or audits are required. No minimum paid up capital required.

I am not sure if it is worth in your case.

There are other cheaper options that depending on your situation, that may be suitable.
Here you can find some countries where you can live potentially tax-free if you are a tax resident.

If you want to know about residence permits available it may be useful this site and this one to consult South Korean tax treaties.

Always before take an action, consult with tax advisors.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any question donโ€™t hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards

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@miked | 3yr

I went through a similar process and the first thing I did (and you should) is:

  1. Find a really good local tax attorney in your current residency country, prefereably one who specializes in offshore structures, and consult. Every country has different tax laws. Do not take any serious steps or decisions until youโ€™ve spoken to at least two experienced tax lawyers in your country so you get a good idea.

  2. Itโ€™s often worth it even below $100k per year in revenue, if you do not spend most time in your home country. Basically as long as the tax savings are substantially higher than the setup cost. But every country is different, also take into account what you can potentially lose if you change your residence oficially.
    If you keep your main residency in Korea, set up an offshore company, keep some of revenues in it and do not report them in your home country, it will likely qualify as tax evasion. Itโ€™s not worth the risk: banks, countries share a lot of financial information these days and the tax evasion penalties can be high. Besides, you would not want to have to worry about this constantly.
    There may be a way to legally avoid taxes on the money you keep in your offshore company (and report at home) and do not withdraw - depends on your local tax laws.
    The best solution is usually to change your tax residency to a country with no taxation on offshore earnings (e.g. UAE), so youโ€™re not legally liable for taxes in your home country. You will likely have to spend some time in that country as well, every year.

  3. Something similar to the flag theory - get second passport, legal, permanent residency in a country with no taxation for offshore revenue, change your residency status in your home country and spend less than 6 months per year in it (or whatever the min residency requirement is). Invest in real estate, stocks, other venues internationally.

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I've heard travel to CO from USA is blocked until September. Any news on this and may this change anytime soon?

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Introduce yourself โ€” who are you, where are you and what do you do?

 

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tl;dr: introduce yourself in this thread.

We must all get sick of the same backpacker travel questions when we meet new friends, I know I do.

You know the ones - where are you from, whereโ€™ve you been, where are you going, what do you do, how long have you been doing it - etc.

The novelty of answering these questions wears off after maybe a week, but theyโ€™re nonetheless insightful and no matter how much we hate them, we find ourselves asking others.

So letโ€™s bring the dreaded backpacker questionnaire to NomadForum and introduce ourselves shall we?

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Best Place in South East Asia to stay for 6 months+ (Tax purposes)

 

in Indonesia by @miklaskroager | 3d 3 days ago | 0 comments

We're looking for a country in south east asia that can function as our base, mainly for tax purposes. Meaning it will have to be a place where we can stay for the 183 days required without too much hassle.

We've been looking at Thailand, but have heard that it's very hard to do visa runs etc., so what other can you recommend? Indonesia looked like a good option, but the income rate is a flat 20% and very high for the region.

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Anyone wants to learn to sail in the Mediterranean? (Sep or Oct)

 

by @viktor | 6d 6 days ago | 1 comment

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Where do you work from in Lisbon? ๐Ÿงณโ˜•


in Lisbon, Portugal by @dominiksobe | 9d 8 days ago | 1 comment

Hi everyone,

I am going to move to Lisbon in July and I was wondering where you guys work from? Do you have any recommendations for working on a budget? Any good cafรจs or cheap coworking spaces?

I did some research and found some coworking spaces for > ~ 100โ‚ฌ p. month which is pretty reasonable but too much for me right now.

Thanks!

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Remote worker in Amsterdam: taxes and legal status?


in Amsterdam, Netherlands by @think | 2yr 1 year ago | 1 comment

Hi all,

I am moving to Amsterdam in January and looking for advice regarding legal status.

I work for a small French company. They agreed to let me move to Amsterdam as a remote worker starting January. :v:

However, they have no business entity and no employee in the Netherlands, so we have no idea how to set up the whole thing legally speaking. Should I remain an employee of the French entity, should I charge them as a consultant/contractor?

Of course, I am looking for a solution that is both simple and with minimum taxes :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Thank you for your help!!
Steph

PS: If you can recommend a good accountant that is competent on the topic, I an happy to pay for the service too!

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Where to pay taxes if self employed non-resident of the UK, travelling Europe?


by @jadi4nd | 2yr 2 years ago | 5 comments

Hi, I know there are a few posts around this topic but none of them quite answer my questions.

I am British and currently a resident in the UK.
Next year I am going to become a non-resident and spend over a year traveling mostly around Europe, moving every few weeks never staying anywhere longer than a month. (My first venture into becoming a digital nomad!)

I am remote, self employed, software developer working mostly for one client based in the UK.

Where am I liable to pay taxes?
From what I have read I will not be liable to pay taxes in UK, can anyone confirm this?
If not the UK then where if I am moving every few weeks?
If possible I want to avoid starting a company as this seems unnecessarily complicated for my work setup.

Thank you in advance for any help :slight_smile:

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What's best internet solution for travelers? SkyRoam vs Global Roaming Data plans


by @alexmarinov | 3yr 3 years ago | 2 comments

Whatโ€™s up nomads!

What do you use to get internet for work when you travel? Iโ€™m trying to figure out the best option to get internet when Iโ€™m traveling. For now mostly in Europe and mostly for conference calls with screen sharing. Iโ€™m willing to spend $200-300 per month.

I need to:

  1. tether my laptop to my data plan on my phone, or on another device (like SkyRoam which I donโ€™t have yet, but considering)
  2. have data on my phone for essentials like Google Maps when driving around.

My US carrier is Sprint Wireless. I have unlimited data, which I can enable globally at no extra charge but itโ€™s supposedly 3G, but doesnโ€™t really work. Sprint also has a plan called Sprint Global Roaming, which offers high speed internet, but itโ€™s $30 per 1GB which can add up to $500-$600 per month given my usage.

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Any experience with gadgets like SkyRoam or similar ones from Verizon or AT&T? How good and reliable are those?

Any ideas? What do you use?

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How to best set up your taxes, residency and and business as a digital nomad?

 

by @theglobalcitizen | 4yr 3 years ago | 60 comments

The purpose of this post is to discuss the benefits, downsides, and challenges of setting up an international business.

Comment with what you want to know, or with what knowledge you can offer others based on your experience.

  • Do you want to set up an offshore company but donโ€™t know
    where to start?
  • Do you have questions with setting up legal entities or bank accounts?
  • Do you have questions with regards to paying taxes and residency.

Before becoming a DN I worked in Dubai as a corporate service provider. I helped 100s of international entrepreneurs to set up their companies, engage in tax planning and obtaining residency. Most of them in Dubai, but also in other jurisdictions like Panama, Hong Kong & Seychelles.

Share your biggest struggles or tips!

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If you don't have a residence, where do you pay taxes as a European citizen?

 

by @mpp | 4yr 4 years ago | 68 comments

While his type of question has been asked before, please bear with me as the existing threads donโ€™t match/answer my questions.

tl;dr

German citizen working as a consultant for a US startup and moving perpetually every < 3months.

  • (Where) Do I pay taxes when I technically donโ€™t have a residence?
  • Is it allowed by European/German law to not have a residence?
  • Are there countries where you can get a residence w/o staying 6 month/year or large investments, that do not tax non-remitted foreign-sourced income?
  • Can you recommend a good European/German tax advisor who could give a professional opinion?
  • Do I need to start a company to invoice an US company for consultancy work?

less short version:

Inspired by this community & @levelsio, Iโ€™m in the process of becoming a digital nomad myself. The one issue that is currently blocking me is sorting out what the best way to handle taxes is. Iโ€™ve been offered a job by a US startup, they want to hire me as a remote consultant (contractor). Iโ€™m not limited to a location and free to move where/as often as I want.

As the German tax authorities are known for not joking around, I want to make sure I handle the tax issue correctly. My research so far leads me to believe that as long as I donโ€™t own any property in Germany or do any business there, I should be fine with not paying taxes there. Switching countries at least once every three months also should be sufficient to not create any tax obligations in the respecitive countries.

While in theory this sounds like you donโ€™t have to have a residence anywhere and are not obliged to pay taxes, I have a hard time believing that this is not covered by International/European/German law. Did anyone (ideally European/German citizen) consult a tax advisor / lawyer on this and can give an educated answer to this? Iโ€™d also be thankful for recommendations for good tax advisors specialized on this topic.

Last but not least, as I havenโ€™t freelanced before: Do I need to start a company to be able to invoice the US company for my consultancy work or could I just do this as an individual?

Sorry for this rather long post, thanks to everyone whoโ€™ll take the time to answer <3

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Canadian resident looking for advice on reducing taxes


by @yesmad | 4yr 4 years ago | 4 comments

My girlfriend and I are Canadian residents that make a full-time income online, though affiliate commissions and ad revenue. As of right now, we have bank accounts in the US and most income is earned in USD.

The thing is that our income taxes are quickly rising to the point that itโ€™s absurd and would be well worth the time and money spent to reduce them somehow.

Can anyone comment on our options here?

Weโ€™ve considered moving around and not staying in any one country long enough to owe taxes anywhere, but that seems very difficult as a Canadian resident:

Reading up on the stipulations for being a โ€œresident for tax purposesโ€ in Canada, they basically want you to sell all of your belongings and cut ties with your family in order to not be a taxed resident. Is this true?

Another option weโ€™re interested in is incorporating in an offshore country that has low or zero corporation taxes. Does anyone have any suggestions here?

Iโ€™ve been looking into setting up a Canadian corporation, but the corporation tax is still upwards of 15%, plus youโ€™re taxed on what you take out of the corporation.

If anyone here has knowledge about any of this Iโ€™d love to hear your advice.

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Advice on remote working, taxes & moving to another country


by @magalhini | 4yr 4 years ago | 4 comments

Hi there!

I realise this isnโ€™t the right way of asking for legal advice, but Iโ€™d appreciate some initial loose pointers on where to go and what to do.

Iโ€™m currently working for a company which is UK-based (full-time contract), where Iโ€™m paying my taxes, own bank accounts, and so on. However, being a remote worker, Iโ€™ve been working from Berlin this year and for personal reasons, I really donโ€™t want to move back to the UK.

So, being aware that I would need to spend at least 90 days in the UK if I want to continue to legally work, what are my options to avoid this entirely?

  • Should I register as freelancer in Germany and have my company employ me as a freelancer? Would this exempt me from the 90 days rule? If so, what would happen to my pension scheme in the UK?

  • Should, if itโ€™s possible at all, still be employed by this company (non-freelance) but pay my taxes in Germany instead of the UK? Again, is this wise and would it exempt me from the 90 days in the UK rule? (the company has no German affiliate)

Funny enough, I canโ€™t find an available accountant in Berlin to ask all of these questions, hence why Iโ€™m hoping some of you wise folks would point me in some direction :slight_smile:

Thank you!

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Should I elect my LLC as an S-Corp for taxes, I'm a US citizen in Europe?


by @robetus | 5yr 4 years ago | 3 comments

I have an LLC formed in Portland, Oregon. I am the only member and do not ever plan on adding more members. Should I elect to have my LLC treated as an S-Corp for my taxes? I am a US citizen living in Europe but I do not qualify for the foreign income exclusion yet. Can anyone give advice that has made this election? I know that as an S-Corp I can pay myself a reasonable salary based on the companyโ€™s income and then pay the rest to myself in dividends that are exempt from certain taxes.

If I chose to pay myself 70% of the companyโ€™s income as my salary am I required to pay myself the other 30% in dividends or can I leave that 30% in the companyโ€™s coffers for legal fees, large chargebacks, and the like? Thank you for reading and with any help provided.

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Are there any taxes in HK?


by @mikedolev | 5yr 4 years ago | 6 comments

Hey guys, Iโ€™m Mike and Iโ€™m in the process of moving to Thailand right now, I plan to register my company in Hong Kong and I heard thereโ€™s 16.5% taxes from some people and some people told me they pay 0% taxesโ€ฆ

Whatโ€™s true here?

How much taxes do you actually pay in HK?

Thanks! :smile:

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Can I adjust my US taxes for the foreign income exclusion?


by @wanderingdev | 5yr 4 years ago | 7 comments

I am a US citizen working for a US company living abroad. I plan to qualify for the foreign income exclusion this year and Iโ€™m wondering if it would be ok to adjust my taxes now so I have less withheld and get paid more now. I could use an extra $1200 cash a month instead of paying it to taxes and having to wait to get it back next year. Does anyone else do this? Thanks!

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