By Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor, International Man
Chances are that you have heard something about the stunning new laws in Puerto Rico that give unbelievable tax benefits for mainland Americans who move to the island. Benefits that are so incredible that many at first thought they were simply too good to be true…...but they most certainly are not.
With strategies that purport to legally allow US citizens to avoid having to pay taxes, the first thing that usually comes to mind is some sort of cockamamie scheme. This is because the US government is no slouch when it comes to shaking down its citizens. It’s mind boggling expenditures necessitate this. It would be dangerously foolish in the extreme to think you could slip one past them.
However, the tax benefits of becoming a resident of Puerto Rico are not an illusion, nor some type of scam. They are very real, 100% legal, and could change your life. That is not hyperbole. They have already changed the lives of many. These benefits are why scores of mainland Americans have already made the move—including two members of Casey Research. Many more have seriously considered it. To spur job growth and economic activity in general, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico introduced extraordinary tax incentives for incoming residents and service businesses.
Specifically, for Puerto Rican residents and businesses that qualify—mostly expatriates from the U.S. mainland or their enterprises—the recently enacted Act 22 and Act 20 provide for a zero tax rate on capital gains and certain interest and dividends earned by individuals, and for low single digit tax rates on qualifying service income earned by corporations operating in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is no novice at sculpting tax rules to attract foreign investors and expatriates. For decades the country has offered tax incentives to many types of businesses, especially manufacturers, which is why today you’ll find plants belonging to Praxair, Merck, Pfizer, and other big names dotting the island’s lush interior.
Due to the ever-increasing extra-territorial regulations they are forced to comply with, many countries and foreign financial institutions are showing American citizens the “unwelcome mat.” Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is a newly tax-friendly jurisdiction that is—and will continue to be—open to Americans.
One accountant who specializes in offshore structures remarked, “This is the biggest opportunity I’ve seen in 25 years.”
He’s right: this is truly an astounding and unique opportunity for individual Americans; there is no other way to legally escape the suffocating grip of these taxes besides death or renunciation of U.S. citizenship. This is because the US is the only country in the world that taxes its nonresident citizens on all of their income regardless of where they live and earn their money. For this reason, an American who moves to a zero tax jurisdiction like Dubai, for example, still pays a full U.S. tax bill. A Canadian expat working in Dubai would have no income tax bill at all.
Note: The US does exclude up to $99,200 of foreign earned income (salary, wages, etc.) from taxation if certain conditions are met, but there is no break for an overseas American’s investment income.
American are in the uniquely unfavorable position of having arguably the worst tax policies and a government that can effectively enforce them. For many, it is a tight and suffocating tax leash. It is no wonder, then, why record numbers of Americans are giving up their citizenship to escape these onerous requirements. Even if you do decide to take the plunge and renounce your US citizenship, there’s a good chance you’ll get stung with the costly exit tax and also may have trouble reentering the US.
There is, however, another way, thanks to the new options in Puerto Rico. American citizens can effectively gain many of the tax benefits of renunciation without actually having to do so. Due to Puerto Rico’s situation as a commonwealth of the U.S., its residents are not subject to US federal income taxes from income generated in Puerto Rico.
Previously this did not make any practical difference, because although Puerto Rican residents are not subject to U.S. federal taxes, they are subject to Puerto Rican taxes, which are often at similar levels to those on the U.S. mainland. However the situation has changed immensely, with the two powerful, new laws that exempt new Puerto Rican residents from certain key taxes from the Puerto Rican government.
Anyone who relocates to Puerto Rico can apply for these tax incentives—including mainland U.S. citizens, who can find similar benefits nowhere else in the world, thanks to the island’s unique legal situation.
Casey Research has done a thorough boots on the ground investigation and found that the tax advantages are real and that for many Americans, including individuals operating on a modest scale, they are a huge opportunity that could truly be life changing. The findings were recently published in a comprehensive A-Z guide on the Puerto Rico option. Click Here to Learn More.
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