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Is Panama a good destination for tax residency for digital nomads?

 

in Panama by @anonym | 6yr  | 23 comments

Iโ€™m from Europe and is looking for a country where I can declare my residency, mostly for tax purposes. Panama seems to fit everything. The plan is:

  • Get permanent residency using โ€œFriendly Nations Visaโ€
  • Create a company and get a work permit
  • Get clients to pay me in that company

Since Panama has territorial tax, all income earned outside Panama has zero taxation.

Is it just that good or is there some hidden catch? I live in a Scandinavian country and they just hate to let people go. Will there be problems in paradise?

The plan is to visit Panama once a year and after five years get a passport.

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@whereskristin | 5yr

Seems like this question was already answered by the whole Panama Papers thingโ€ฆ haha

But yes, Panama does have attractive tax schemes. Actually, much of Latin America has similar regulation. Countries like Malta also have attractive schemes to bring in new residents. Iโ€™m not an accountant or tax attorney so this isnโ€™t professional advice but just general knowledge from living abroad for a long time.

As far as I understand it, most EU citizens can change their tax domicile after 180 days in a foreign country (and going through any process at home to change your country of residence). You might not necessarily have to get permanent residency in another country to pay taxes there or be considered a resident for tax purposes. It depends on your country of citizenship and immigration/tourist visa rules, how long you can stay on a passport in the destination country, etc.

Although it may seem too good to be true, some countries like Panama and Costa Rica explicitly donโ€™t tax income thatโ€™s generated abroad or repatriated to the country from abroad, or it can depend on a lot of different factors such as where your customers are located. So in many countries there seem to be blatantly legal ways to significantly or completely lower oneโ€™s tax liability. Of course, if youโ€™re American you still have to pay taxes on worldwide income and declare everything per the IRS website. But I have known British citizens for example who lived in Costa Rica and were paid to accounts in Panama and allegedly didnโ€™t have to pay taxes anywhere.

The bottom line is to seek professional counsel in your country of citizenship and country of destination so that you can be covered on both sides. Never make personal financial decisions based on what you read in an online forum. Taxation is a very important topic thatโ€™s very individual to each person, and only you can make such determinations in collaboration with a tax advisor in each country youโ€™re living or operating a business in. Anyone who canโ€™t yet afford to hire an accountant or tax attorney may want to wait until s/he can before making such a big move. It will definitely cost less than making a mistake and paying fines in the future.

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@riennn | 6yr

But you will be more protected against bankruptcy, lawsuits and personal taxes, as long as you donโ€™t take out too much of that cash right now. You could consider it your pension fund and it is the asset you are building.

The idea is then to obtain a tax residency in a country where you wonโ€™t be taxed a huge amount of the money you want to take out of that HK company. Depending on your current situation, this process will be harder or easier and it might even involve giving up your current nationality, if you have a more drastic approach.

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@flyonthewall | 6yr

@manu So in such a case, your citizenship permitting, it is better to not incorporate at all?

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@refuseillusion | 6yr

if you just want to be able to tax 0% you should check out a Hong Kong Limited. I think that although it is a little sketchier you would save a ton of money compared to the Panama approach.
I recommend this blog post: https://boldanddetermined.com/hong-kong-business-guide/

Especially this can save you a lot of money and hassle:

Foreigners can own 100% of a Hong Kong company and are free to be the sole directors and shareholders of a Hong Kong company. There are no local resident requirements and there are no restrictions on nationality.
To open a Hong Kong company, you donโ€™t need a physical address in Hong Kong and your physical presence is Hong Kong is not required

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@flagtheory | 6yr

That post does not discuss or take into consideration personal residency taxation.
Corporate taxes are taxes on your corporation and legal entity.
Personal* taxes are usually based on where you are a residency (except for American and Eritrian citizens who are taxed on a worldwide basis regardless of residency)

To open a Hong Kong company, you donโ€™t need a physical address in Hong
Kong and your physical presence is Hong Kong is not required

While you donโ€™t need to be present for the HK company, You are required to be present to open a bank account in Hong Kong. Also there are better options for digital nomads opening up a legal entity. See FlagTheory.com/digital-nomad

Personal taxation are taxes on flow through income to you personally, which is what this article is discussing under the context of Panamanian residency.

Regarding Panama, - yes this country is a good option for residency to lower effective personal income tax rate. You might apply under executive decree 343 which basically requires investment in real estate and a company. More details at Passports.IO/Panama

Final thought on Panamanian companies - not as good as other options as there are 3 directors required and all the documents are in spanish. However - if applying under decree 343 a company and investment in real estate is required.

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@flyonthewall | 6yr

@FlagTheory If you are the sole controlling member of a corporation, most countries will view your corporation as resident where you are resident. This is what @anonym is referring to. Having a Panama or HK corp without considering your personal residency situation is an incomplete analysis.

If you are the controlling person for a company, your tax residence matters, both at personal and corporate level.

Of course if you are NOT tax resident anywhere then itโ€™s fine. This depends on your nationality and how much time you spend in each country.

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@flagtheory | 6yr

We both (and anonym) agree that refuse illusion had an incomplete analysis. Probably just linkbait for that blog as really it doesnโ€™t have anything to do with the initial question.

These are complicated issues, we also agree that most countries will view your corporation resident if you are the sole controlling shareholder/director of a corporation.

These laws are oftentimes called CFC laws (controlled foreign corporation laws) and is also sometimes referred to as โ€œanti-avoidanceโ€ legislation.

Here is a post I wrote with more details about this: [Is your Corporation Really Tax Free? Flag 2: Residence][1]

This is really important for digital nomads to consider:

  1. Where they are a resident?

  2. Does that jurisdiction have CFC or anti-avoidance laws?
    3a. If NOT then perhaps an offshore company would be a good fit.
    3b. If YES then perhaps setting up a company in that jurisdiction is better.

  3. Are you american?
    3a. If YES - the above does not apply as americans are subject to tax on a worldwide basis.
    3b. If NO - this could apply, talk to an accountant in your jurisdiction.

This is very simplistic and not tax advice, but can provide a framework to think about these things. Hope this is useful!
[1]: http://flagtheory.com/residency

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@manu | 6yr

Great clarification Edmund. CFC rules are often overlooked. I pointed this out in my AMA many times. Whatโ€™s your take on the case where people have no residence, but incorporate somewhere. Usually the DTAs between your home country and the place of incorporation fall back to your citizenship.

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@anonym | 6yr

Iโ€™m not seeing how creating an company in Hong Kong solves anything. There is a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) law in nearly every country that taxes you if you have a company like that and thatโ€™s why you need a second residency. You tax where you live.

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@alexanderjoo | 6yr

This is exactly what I found out โ€“ after creating an HK company. That company doesnโ€™t have to pay taxes (on all revenue made outside of Hong Kong) but youโ€™ll personally get taxed when you pay yourself. Itโ€™s not the solution that I was looking for.

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@gonzohall | 6yr

Iโ€™m looking for the sameโ€ฆ In Portugal the taxes are getting wild, and 45% of your income is for the taxesโ€ฆ too much for me. Iโ€™ll study Panama as well.

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@reganha | 5yr

@Gonzohall I feel youโ€ฆ and itโ€™s 48% after 8k/month, itโ€™s insane.

Iโ€™m thinking that there are two/three different approaches to this, depending on your business and if you are ready to live 6 months away from Portugal every year.

If you sell stuff in Portugal/Europe or need to be VAT registered, Iโ€™d open a Bulgarian company and, if needed, a Portuguese subsidiary.

CFC rules donโ€™t apply to European Union countries, so the portuguese gov can only tax what you actually take from the company.

If you can live out of Portugal for 6 months, get Bulgarian residency (super easy for an EU citizen), but you should have someone else has manager of the Portuguese subsidiary otherwise they may consider Portugal as your โ€œcenter of economic interestโ€.

The other option is going full hardcore tax havenoffshore, Panama residency and a company there or IBV or something, but that will only work for services mostly.

IMO, I like Bulgaria, EU country, not known as a tax haven, low accounting costs, limited social security payments, 10% flat rate at company level and personal level, and 5% for dividends

PS: This is not professional advice.

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@munly_leong | 6yr

Im currently pursuing this as well. Friendly Nations visa is reportedly under review so youโ€™d need to get in fast. Iโ€™ve already got all the paperwork done but a deal I was waiting on fell through and and now Im trying to line up remote work to support myself to jump on this while it is still available.

Basing a startup out of Panama is a bad idea though if you need to hire locally. Ive still yet to confirm how many founders can come per company or if it is only one visa per company.

Hopefully in the next few months I can come back and update everyone on how it went. In the meantime, Panama like most LatAm countries seems to be weak on local coding talent and community. No CS in their universities, closest being systems engineering/information systems equivalent. Would be nice if there were more of us there :slight_smile:

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Iโ€™m curious about this too. What is the friendly nations visa? Iโ€™m also wondering how it would work if your residence is Panama, and you earn money online through US companies (like Google Adsense, for example), both as a US citizen or as a citizen of somewhere else (like France, for example).

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@nycnomad | 6yr

Great to see you doing this. Are you doing this on your own?

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@munly_leong | 6yr

Yup.

I sound crazy and out of left field to most Iโ€™ve described it to, particularly first worlders. Only people here seem to understand lol. Yourself? were you looking for a comrade-in-arms?

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Howdy! Yes, most likely doing it on my ownโ€ฆ oh, I have to write at least 70 charactersโ€ฆ haha.

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Oh whoops I thought that was in response to my response. Iโ€™m a little new here. :smiley:

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@neutron | 5yr

Hi Munly_Leong,

Would love to find out how you got on. Any update on the application, and whether the review went ok?

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@munly_leong | 5yr

I havenโ€™t gone out yet though Iโ€™m still looking to do it ASAP. Building some location independent income streams before I head out first though so that a remote job is another option and not a necessity for living. Curious to see if anyone else has gone out yet though?

As much as Iโ€™d like to go out there asap as soon as I can via work income immediately, Iโ€™m trying to be a little smarter about it

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@jakegibson | 5yr

@Munly_Leong Did you end up getting residency?

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@munly_leong | 5yr

@jakegibson no, that will probably be the easy part. Iโ€™m mid interview process with a few remote roles but basically I wonโ€™t go out there without a remote job lined up on top for the first year at least in case my sales fall off a cliff lol. Hopefully those conclude positively first since this is still my biggest priority right now.

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@flyonthewall | 6yr

Iโ€™m also interested in more info on this. Sounds like a very interesting option. I do think you have to establish tax residency somehow though? I donโ€™t know the criteria for that but just running a company there remotely or just visiting a few days a year might not count.

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Read and participate in 14,067 discussions on Nomad List

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Are there any digital nomads in the Islands e.g Bermuda, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis?


in Antigua, Guatemala by @momo11 | 1mo 1 month ago | 0 comments

Does anyone ever travel to any Islands like Bermuda, Barbados, Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis?

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Tax advisor for permanent nomads?


by @eljaques | 1mo 1 month ago | 1 comment

I'm in need of a tax advisor who understands "our" typical situation. I'm all good on being legal on taxes at this point, but as I'm doing more investing and there's more compliance and KYC and such, it's getting more complicated to deal with this topic. Not living in my country of citizenship, company in another country, resident in yet another country, banking in a different country ... you know how it is, a pile of red flags.

Would be great to find a good tax advisor to sort things in a way that makes my situation as "explainable" and easily dealt with as possible. Any leads?

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How to get into the digital nomad lifestyle?


in Switzerland by @filiptk | 2mo 1 month ago | 1 comment

Hi, I've got a question to anyone who had experience with the digital nomad lifestyle. I'm 24, I'm in my last year of university doing computer science, got 3 years of experience mostly doing web development.

I never liked the idea of staying in one place, getting a job and growing roots - hence the will to take the opportunity and travel the world. My main question is โ€“ how do I go about it? Are there any useful resources I could look into?

How do I go about insurance and such once I decide to move. I currently live in Switzerland and do freelance work for one company. It's not a lot, since my studies don't allow me to pick up a full time job, but it allows me to cover simple expenses.

I'd be happy to get some insight into how things work and also happy to network with anyone interested.

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What is the best online insurance for digital nomads ?


by @berberos | 4mo 3 months ago | 4 comments

Hi guys ! hope you are doing well.

I would love to get your feedback regarding the best insurance for digital nomads. i'm traveling around Asia since 1 year and for next 4 or 5 years. Would love to buy an insurance to cover especially :

- health

- laptop, phone ...

- Flights

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Any Ph.D students dissertating while a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 8mo 7 months ago | 5 comments

Anyone know of any groups or resources for Ph.D. students working on dissertation while living as a digital nomad? I know there are several virtual writing groups around, but wondered if there were any specifically for digital nomads, particularly those who are dissertating.

Thanks!

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Does international health insurance for digital nomads exist?

 

by @al_steffen | 8mo 8 months ago | 59 comments

Hey Nomads!

Iโ€™m looking for an international health insurance (no travel insurance) for my nomadic life. It should cover the basic services and at least be accepted in the EU (itโ€™s ok if itโ€™s not accepted in the US as Iโ€™m aware they rarely are). Nice to have: enter into a contract online. Anyone got a good experience or a recommendation?

Thanks in advance!

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Issues with not being a tax resident anywhere?


by @lightworker | 9mo 8 months ago | 2 comments

Anyone with knowledge regarding complications of not being a tax resident anywhere in the world? Iโ€™m aware that primary health care, bank account opening and incorperation can be problematic but are there other practical or legal factors I should be aware of?

And what about paying myself salary from a self-owned OECD company? I would like to know if I risk potentieal issues with the tax authorities in the jurisdiction of the company, especially regarding withholding tax.

Appreciate your input!

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I dream of being a digital nomad? How do I do it?


by @programmingmark | 9mo 9 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

I have made attempts in the past to start an online business, but these fizzle out quite quickly when I do not see traction especially when the goal I have set myself is too high.

Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. Thatโ€™s it.

I need some advice from you please!

  • Is $50 profit too low? How long did it take you to earn $50 profit per month?

  • What is a good way of achieving this goal?

Thanks
Mark
aka the $0 online business entrepreneur

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How do digital nomads pay tax?


by @rodriigovieira | 10mo 9 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! Iโ€™m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesnโ€™t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if youโ€™re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your โ€œoriginal countryโ€ and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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Are there nomad families here and how do you choose your next destination?


by @martinratinaud | 10mo 10 months ago | 4 comments

All members of my family has different needs and hobbies so how do you pick the perfect places?

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Best place for Digital Nomad in Latin America?


by @rose_davis | 12mo 11 months ago | 7 comments

Hi!

I am planning to move to Latin America for 3-4 months (Oct-January). Iโ€™ve narrowed down 6 different places that I want to visit before committing to settling down, but Iโ€™d love to get some community input.

Here are the cities Iโ€™m considering:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Medellin, Columbia
  • Cartagena, Columbia
  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala

The most important things Iโ€™m looking for:

  • Fast/easily accessible internet
  • Easy to meet other nomads/make friends in general
  • Safe for women
  • Some sort of spiritual community (Iโ€™m also a yoga teacher)
  • Easily walkable city

Anyone have any experience with these places and can give some insight? Iโ€™m also completely open to other recommendations.

Thanks!
Rose

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How do we solve housing for digital nomads?

 

by @levelsio | 1yr 1 year ago | 61 comments

Thereโ€™s been a lot of discussion on this recently.

Nomads usually stay in hostels, hotels and short-term apartments. But itโ€™s all not very optimal.

Iโ€™ve heard people suggest getting funding and building a network of houses you can stay at for a subscription price (e.g. Bruno Haid is working on that).

I donโ€™t want do physical stuff, so Iโ€™m thinking of building a platform around making housing better for nomads.

What are the housing problems nomads face? And how can we solve them with products/services?

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How is Sicily for digital nomads?


by @gaelm | 1yr 1 year ago | 15 comments

Hi all, I was looking for a cool spot in Southern Europe for winter and Iโ€™m considering Sicilyโ€ฆ Have you ever been there? If yes, how was your experience? If not, why?
thanks!

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How is Bari, Italy for digital nomads?


in Bari, Italy by @mitch_dina | 1yr 1 year ago | 7 comments

Greetings!
Does anyone have experience in Bari, Italy please? We are thinking of going from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari by boat in mid-March. Has anyone taken a boat across? Is it nice or can it be choppy? (We are trying to avoid planes, to reduce our carbon footprint, so adding more surface travel.) Also, any info you might be able to offer about Bari and the surrounds? Next step will likely be trains up Italy as the Spring progresses.

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Where to move for tax purposes as a non-US citizen?


by @mender | 1yr 1 year ago | 5 comments

I am a New Zealander looking to travel for a couple of years in different countries. For this purpose I would ideally like to shift my company to a lower tax territory where I will live part time, as I am currently taxed at roughly 33% in New Zealand, however itโ€™s closer to 40% when I add in all the hidden taxes.

With a move I wonโ€™t be living in NZ so Iโ€™ll no longer be obliged to pay any tax after 320 days.

I ideally would wish to be a tax resident of the country I incorporate in. What country is easiest to do this through? A large chunk of my business relies on PayPal which requires your bank account to be from the same country your company is registered. Thus I canโ€™t do anything such as BVI or small islands.

Tbh my best bet looks to be Dubai Free Zones at this point and I can do some travel in europe from there.

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How is Mauritius for digital nomads?


in Mauritius by @wakkos | 1yr 1 year ago | 14 comments

Hello all,

Iโ€™m planning on spending a couple of month in Mauritius Island and even when Iโ€™ve been there for a week, never rented or worked there.

Does anyone here has tips or experience to share about Mauritius?

Cheers!

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Are there any digital nomad fitness retreats?


by @ryanjames | 1yr 1 year ago | 1 comment

Hey all:

Does anyone here have any experience attending a full time fitness bootcamp or a fitness resort while working? I know there is one in Cambodia for digital nomads (Fitness Retreat Resort Kep Gym), unfortunately the time difference vs my work schedule would make my life suck if I tried to go there. Iโ€™m looking for a place between US and Europe timezones that lets you live with them, kicks your butt with fitness, but would also have good WiFi/accommodate working eight hours a day. Iโ€™m also open to other tangential ideas for something close-ish to get that same experience.

Thanks for any help!

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Where to recyle in Panama?


in Panama by @karlamoura | 1yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

Iโ€™m in a small town on the coast of Panama, and I was told that here they donโ€™t separate the organic from the reciclable residues. Have you been anywhere in Panama? Have you recycled?

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Best place to set up a company selling digital services?


by @pras_k | 1yr 1 year ago | 10 comments

Whatโ€™s the best place?
For residency Iโ€™m looking at Portugal and they have the NHR (non habitual resident) program which would exempt dividends from foreign income.
So all Iโ€™m really looking for is the best place to actually start the company.
Biggest factors are of course low taxes and ease of setting up the company plus a business bank account that enables me to receive payments through Stripe.

What I found so far:
Hong Kong
Corporate tax rate of 16.5% (8.25% for the first HK$2 million)
โŠ•/โŠ– offshore income from outside HK is exempt from taxation but itโ€™s not clear whether this can be done in the first year and prorated or if itโ€™s only through filing the offshore exemption claim. This might take two years and requires not income from HK at all. More info on that would be great
โŠ– seems very difficult to get a business bank account
โŠ– necessary services and fees are roughly around โ‚ฌ2000 / year
โŠ– accounting requirements seem to be very strict
โŠ• Doesnโ€™t require local partner
โŠ• Agencies available that seem to handle most of the work

Singapore
Corporate tax rate of 17% (0% on the first S$100k, 8.5% up to S$300k)
โŠ– requires a local director. What are the implications of this?

Malta
Corporate tax rate of 35%
There is the โ€œfull imputation systemโ€ but I donโ€™t really understand it.
"In most cases, the tax refund to the shareholder is 6/7 of the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends. The tax refund rate may be different in the following cases: " This would result in an effective corporate tax of around 5%.
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that

Cyprus
Corporate tax rate of 12.5% and there seem to be ways to lower this
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that
โŠ– requires staying in Cyprus for 2 months / year

I find it surprising how much research this requires and how much โ€œit dependsโ€ information is out there when Iโ€™d assume that there are probably thousands of digital nomads who probably have very similar requirements.

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Do you "out" yourself as a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 1yr 1 year ago | 2 comments

When you meet new people or reconnect with old friends, do you โ€œoutโ€ yourself as a digital nomad? The simple question โ€œwhere do you live?โ€ makes us uncertain now. We wonder if some places may be less welcoming to digital nomads, or if โ€œdigital nomadโ€ has a negative connotation in some places. If you are forthcoming from the start, does your status as a digital nomad make it hard to form friendships?

We would love to hear how other people navigate thisโ€ฆ how to balance being authentic in relationships vs. withholding the context (and allowing people to assume youโ€™re on vacation, for example).

Thanks!

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