Luxury Belize Real Estate Investment
Retiring or Living In Belize
Belize offers some of the world’s best conditions for conducting business and investing. Attractive and transparent legislation for foreign investment is now included in the International Business Companies Act, the Trusts Act, and the Offshore Banking Act. Belize is a British overseas protectorate and enjoys the protection of the crown, but is completely self-governing and a stable democracy with a strong legal system based on English Common Law.
To attract retirees from other countries, Belize has adopted a law creating the Qualified Retired Persons Program (QRP). QRP applications can be submitted by people as young as 45. Applications are fairly simple and inexpensive, so those that meet the criteria enjoy a relatively tax-free lifestyle and a surprisingly low cost of living.
Individuals and companies establishing themselves in Belize are finding a government committed to privacy and a low to zero-tax system. These advantages, combined with an English-speaking population and English Common Law similar to the USA and Canada, make Belize one of the world’s top investment destinations.
International Business Companies or IBC’s
In some cases, you may want to set up an International Business Company (IBC) as an offshore entity. Dividends you take from the IBC are usually not taxable. You can also transfer assets and income (though not real estate) through the IBC. Legal and tax advice is recommended if you pursue this avenue.
Taxation in Belize
The tax rates in Belize are generally considered low. Every person’s income and tax situation is slightly different and a local accountant can assist you accurately. Pension income is exempt from any taxes in Belize.
If you are staying in Belize for 183 days or more during any calendar year you will qualify for residency based tax and be liable for tax on income under Belize tax law if not a Qualified Retired Person (QRP). You may be liable to declare income in your home country as well, so consider all options with care. There’s no graduated scale of taxation like in the U.S. Belize uses a simpler income tax structure, so it may be worthwhile to claim income here. Once again, advice should be sought from a local accountant or tax adviser.
Property taxes depend entirely on the type of property and start at 1% of the assessed value. Belize currently has no capital gains tax, making it a great place to own property.
Retirement in Belize – The Qualified Retired Persons Program
In order to qualify to become a Qualified Retired Person (QRP) through the program, you don’t have to be retired. However you are required to be at least 45 years old and be able to demonstrate that you have adequate resources to deposit a monthly income of $2,000 or more. You can also make a single $24,000 deposit a year.
In addition to tax benefits, qualified retirees can import their personal and household goods as well as a motor vehicle, boat, and light aircraft, without having to pay import duties or taxes on the importation during their first year. To keep your Qualified Retired Person (QRP) status, you must spend a minimum of one month a year in Belize.
QRPs are considered non-residents for banking purposes; they can set up a U.S. dollar bank account with a local or offshore bank in Belize such as: Scotia Bank, CIBC -First Caribbean, Belize Bank, and Atlantic Bank. Qualified retirees are also allowed to engage in gainful employment as long as most of their business activity takes place outside of Belize and is conducted exclusively with non-residents of Belize. This is especially important for expats who wish to maintain a consulting business from their second home in Belize or an internet based business. QRPs are also allowed to own a business in Belize.
Always consult an experienced attorney to protect yourself before starting out on any emigration, tax, or business venture.