Tax-Free Living: Belize’s New Retiree Law Is One of The Best Programs Offered - Part Two
Reprinted from International Living
Low Financial Threshold to Qualify
Possibly the most attractive feature of the new law is the low financial threshold that you must meet to qualify. In many other countries, you have to make a significant financial commitment before you can obtain citizenship, permanent residence, or another status giving you the right to live there permanently. Preconditions range from making large investments or buying expensive homes to putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into long-term CDs or other government financial instruments.
The United States, for example, grants a green-card status to any foreigner willing to invest $1 million into a US business that creates a minimum of 10 jobs. For the privilege of living in the US, the foreigner must first pay the $1 million, and then he immediately becomes subject to US taxation on his worldwide income, whether he earns it in Detroit, Berlin or Kuala Lumpur.
In Belize, you’ll find very little “fine print” and few strings associated with the offer. As an QRP, you must show a monthly income of US$2,000 or arrange to deposit on or before the April 1 deadline each year $24,000 for your own general maintenance and support. You or your spouse must be at least 45 years old, and you should plan to set up an address in Belize. Minor children under 18 who are your dependants automatically qualify.
Few Strings Attached
There is no requirement that you buy property, invest in business, create jobs, or loan your money to the government on interest-free terms. You may seek professional assistance with the process, but it is not required. I'd advise you to act quickly if you're considering applying for ORP status. Insiders tell me that a ceiling of approximately 20,000 applications will be allowed before the program is closed to new applicants. This could take several years, as it did in the case of Costa Rica, or it could happen in as little as one year, depending on demand.
The program officially opened for business in mid-September 1999, and International Living is the first publication to report on it. As a QRP under the new Belize law, you can essentially be as active or inactive as you wish. Whether you direct your portfolio on-line, engage in international business, write a column for International Living, or spend your days fishing, diving, or reading a book in a hammock, I think Belize may prove just the right address for perfect tax-free living.
A Permanent "Virtual" Presence in Belize
If you're interested in taking advantage of Belize's new retiree law immediately but are not yet ready to establish your own residence there, a new program may be of interest to you. Two Belizean companies, the Georgetown Trust Company and Exotic Caye Beach Resort Ltd., have formed a turnkey package that, for as low as $100 a month, gives North Americans and UK nationals a permanent "virtual" presence and address in Belize.
The service includes an address, a phone, fax and E-mail services, mail forwarding, and discounts at a Caribbean resort for both short and extended stays on Ambergris Cay. Additional services include bill- paying services, assistance with driver’s licenses, and trust and other financial-investment services. Georgetown can also help process your initial QRP application.
As the law is currently written, there is no minimum number of days a “retiree” must spend in the country in order to keep his QRP status. However, Anthony Mahler, who is currently responsible for the legislation, says that the act is likely to be amended to stipulate that a QRP spend a minimum of two weeks per year in the country.
Copyright 2002 Nagel & Associates, LLC