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Belize - Taxation

Those who are moving to Belize should be aware that they will be liable for income taxes on any money earned within the country itself. Money that originates from outside the country is considered to be tax-free, although it is worth checking if you will still be liable for taxes in your country of origin.

The current income tax rates mean that those who earn less than BZ$20,000 per year (roughly US$10,000) will pay no income tax. After this rate there is a flat rate of 25% for income tax deductions when your salary is calculated. Payments are made using a PAYE system if you are employed by a company. Those who are not in the country for a minimum of 182 days in the tax year will find that they are not entitled to the BZ$20,000 threshold.

The employer is responsible for registering all employees’ details with the relevant government department. This will ensure that all workers have a social security card and number and contributions range from $1.75 to $9.10 per week, depending upon the amount earned, although the bulk of these contributions come from the employer.

Taxes are also payable in Belize in the form of a goods tax, the equivalent of Value Added Tax in some countries. The rate currently stands at 10% and is applied to most daily expenses, although some basic food items are exempt. Those who have fairly low electricity bills will also not be charged the goods tax. Costs associated with education and healthcare do not include any goods tax. There are no taxes applicable when inheriting monies or property although renting properties out will be classed as income and is subject to income tax. Capital gains made from selling property or other assets are only taxed as part of income rather than a separate tax.

If you have moved to Belize as a Qualified Retired Person you will find that there are a number of tax benefits available, and as your pension income is likely to derive from another country, it should not be taxed in Belize. However, this may mean that you are expected to pay tax on this income in its country of origin. If you have assets that you wish to transfer into the country it may be worth transferring them to an International Business Corporation, as there is no tax payable on the dividends from an IBC.

There are a number of items which are considered to be tax deductible. Contributions to charities which carry out educational, religious or cultural activities are tax deductible, as are contributions towards works which are intended to improve facilities in some of the towns and villages in the country. These contributions must be a minimum of $250 and must be accompanied by official receipts. Medical expenses are tax deductible and some education expenses can also be claimed.

In order to make income tax payments there are a number of offices located in the main towns where payments can be made in person. It is also possible to make payments online through the website of the tax office. The site also has all the forms and information required to complete the tax return and register with the government as a tax payer.

Belize does have a number of tax treaties in place so that its citizens can avoid paying taxes in more than one country on the same income. Prior to moving to Belize it is worth checking with the tax office in your home country to see if one of these agreements is in place and how it will affect you. If you choose to work in Belize and send money home to your family, that income may be subject to taxation in both countries.

Some countries also have an agreement in place where information on your earnings can be requested from the Belize government and you may be required to register with the tax office in your home country as having moved abroad. It is better not to overlook these details as you may find that you pay too much tax if you do.

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