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Countries With Zero Income Taxes

Countries With Zero Income Taxes

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Photo: GSO Images | Getty Images

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: The only things certain in life are death and taxes.

Personal income taxes are a huge source of revenue for governments globally, and the debate on taxes has been a hot-button issue in recent elections in the U.S. and Europe.

But, there are some countries where you can be 100 percent certain that you don't have to pay income tax.

We've put together a list of 10 countries that have no income tax, based on KPMG's 2012 survey of 114 countries. Some of the countries are well-known tax havens, while others have managed to use natural resources to fund government expenses.

So, which countries have no personal income tax? Click ahead to find out.

By Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani
Updated: Feb. 5, 2013

United Arab Emirates

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Photo: Mark Horn | Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has one of the world's highest per-capita incomes at $49,000. It has no personal income or capital gains taxes.

Instead of generating revenue from personal income, the country, which has the world's seventh-largest crude oil and natural gas reserves, is dependent on money from oil companies that pay up to 55 percent in corporate taxes. Foreign banks pay about 20 percent. About 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is directly based on oil and gas output, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

While expatriate employees don't pay for social security in the Arab country, U.A.E. citizens must make monthly contributions of 5 percent of their total earnings for social security. Employers of citizens also have to make monthly contributions of 12.5 to 15 percent of the worker's base salary for social security and pensions. Other indirect taxes include housing fees, road tolls and municipal taxes. The U.A.E. charges a 30 percent tax on alcohol, and an additional 50 percent sales tax on alcohol sold in Dubai.

Pictured: Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE.

Qatar

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Gas-rich Qatar became the world’s richest country this year with GDP per capita of more than $88,000, according to Forbes.Relying on its natural gas reserves — which are the world’s third largest — for revenue, Qatar has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export the commodity. The country levies no taxes on personal incomes, dividends, royalties, profits, capital gains and property. Qatar nationals, however, have to pay 5 percent of their income for social security benefits, while
Photo: Celia Peterson | Getty Images

Gas-rich Qatar is the world's richest country with GDP per capita of $102,800, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Qatar relies on its natural gas reserves — which are the world's third largest — for revenue. It has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export the commodity. Businesses involved in oil and gas operations face a 35 percent tax rate. The country levies no taxes on personal incomes, dividends, royalties, profits, capital gains and property. Qatar nationals, however, have to pay 5 percent of their income for social security benefits, while employers contribute 10 percent for the fund.

Last year, reports surfaced that the government was considering a value-added tax in an attempt to broaden its revenue base and reduce its non-hydrocarbon deficit, which was equivalent to 17 percent of the country's GDP in 2011. Other indirect taxes include a 5 percent charge on imported goods.

Pictured: Doha corniche, Qatar.

Oman

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Photo: Jochen Tack | Getty Images

Like neighboring Middle Eastern countries, Oman derives the majority of its revenue from crude oil.

In the first half of last year, Oman's oil revenue, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of its total revenue, rose 30 percent to $13.7 billion from the same period in 2011, according to government statistics. Although, there is no individual income or capital gains taxes in Oman, citizens must contribute 6.5 percent of their monthly salary for social security benefits. A stamp duty of 3 percent is also charged on the purchase of property.

Despite its oil wealth, Oman has been rocked by a series of protests by residents demanding jobs and employment benefits since 2011. There's growing resentment in the country over the jobs offered to foreigners which account for about 40 percent of the population. In January, the government asked its departments to review policies on hiring foreign workers and assess which sectors should focus on employing Omani nationals, Reuters reported.

Pictured: Muscat, Oman.

Kuwait

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Photo: Celia Peterson | Getty Images

With the world's sixth-largest oil reserves, Kuwait's petroleum accounts for nearly half its GDP, over 90 percent of export revenues and 80 percent of government income, according to OPEC.

While there is no income tax in the country, Kuwaiti nationals must contribute 7.5 percent of their salaries for social security benefits; their employers make an 11 percent contribution. Despite being one of the world's wealthiest countries per capita, strikes and protests by public sector workers unhappy about pay have led the government to introduce a 25 percent increase in wages in 2012. The IMF, however, warned Kuwait in May last year that such spending could impact the sustainability of its public finances. Only 7 percent of Kuwaitis work in the private sector, and the rising cost of retirement could put pressure on government spending.

Kuwait is no stranger to political turmoil, ushering in five new parliaments in the past six years. The country has been marred by protests and corruption scandals implicating key political figures, while poor parliament-government relations have hampered policymaking. The IMF has recommended that Kuwait introduce a value-added tax and a comprehensive income tax system.

Pictured: Kuwaiti women walking through a souq.

Cayman Islands

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Photo: Noel Hendrickson | Getty Images

Well known as an offshore financial center, the Cayman Islands are a big draw for the wealthy with their zero personal income and capital gains taxes and because they have no mandatory social security contributions.

Employers, however, are required to provide a pension plan for all workers, including expatriates who have been working for a continuous nine months in the islands. While there is no value added tax or government sales tax, the country does have some indirect taxes such as import duties, which can range up to 25 percent.

In August, the British territory ditched plans to tax foreign worker's income just about two weeks after proposing it in a last-ditch attempt to overcome budget woes. The government backtracked on the plans after several industry associations opposed the tax, saying it would lead to a flight of investors. Foreign workers make up about 50 percent of the islands' workforce.

Pictured: Aerial view of downtown Georgetown, CaymanIslands.

Bahrain

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Photo: JD Dallet | Getty Images

With no personal income tax, Bahrain relies on output from the Abu Safa oilfield, which is shared with Saudi Arabia, for about 70 percent of its budget revenue.

For social security benefits, citizens contribute 7 percent of their total income to the government, while expatriates pay 1 percent. Employers must also make a contribution of 12 percent of a citizen's income for social insurance, and pay 3 percent for expatriate employees. Other indirect taxes include a stamp duty of up to 3 percent of the value of the property on real estate transfers. Expatriates also have to pay a 10 percent municipal tax for renting a home in the Persian Gulf state.

Despite its oil wealth, the Bahrain government's soaring spending on wages and other social measures in order to soothe social tensions has raised pressure on the country's public finances, which depends on hydrocarbons for about 88 percent of income. The government aims to cut spending by 6 percent in 2013 to curb its deficit to just over 6 percent of GDP this year, Reuters reported.

Pictured: The Manama Souk, Bahrain.

Bermuda

Bermuda's GDP per capita is over $93,000.
Photo: Michael Turek | Getty Images

Considered one of the world's most affluent countries, Bermuda also has among the world's highest costs of living.

While there is no income tax, workers may be asked by employers to contribute just under half of a 14 percent payroll tax that the employer has to pay to the government on the first $750,000 of an employee's income. Workers also have to pay $30.40 per week toward social security insurance, which is matched by the employer. Other taxes include a property tax of up to 19 percent depending on the annual rental value of the land determined by the government. A stamp duty also applies to inheritance/estates from 5 percent to 20 percent depending on the property value.

Custom duties levied on imported goods are a major source of revenue for the government. Individuals relocating to Bermuda are charged 25 percent for goods they bring. Given its relatively low taxes, the country is a big draw for international firms, with more than 20 percent of its population being foreign-born. However, a 10-year work permit in the country costs a whopping $20,000.

Pictured: Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The Bahamas

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Photo: Walter Bibikow | Getty Images

Among the wealthiest Caribbean countries, the Bahamas features an economy that's heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking.

About 70 percent of government revenue comes from duties on imported goods. Even though there is no personal income tax, employees have to contribute 3.9 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $31,200 annually, for a form of social security called National Insurance. Employers also have to contribute 5.9 percent of a worker's salary for National Insurance, while self-employed individuals are charged 8.8 percent. The country also has a property tax of up to 1 percent.

Despite its prosperity as a financial center, The Bahamas credit rating was downgraded by Moody's in December by one notch, on limited economic growth prospects. The ratings agency said tourism, offshore financial services and the construction sectors continued to face downside risks because of an uncertain recovery in the U.S.

Pictured: New Providence Island, Nassau, The Bahamas.

Saudi Arabia

Aldo Pavan | Lonely Planet | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia, the world's number one oil exporter, doesn't impose a tax on salaries, but self-employed expats are taxed at a rate of 20 percent.

Saudi employees make a contribution of 9 percent of their income for social security benefits, while employers add another 9 percent. Other notable taxes include a capital gains tax of 20 percent. Petroleum is the major source of funding for the government, accounting for about 75 percent of budget revenues, 45 percent of GDP and 90 percent of export earnings, according to OPEC.

The country's vast oil wealth has been a big draw for foreigners with more than one third of the population being foreigners. Private companies have also been able to capitalize on the growing number of workers from South or Southeast Asia, because they command lower wages than locals. The government estimates that roughly nine in 10 employees in private companies are expatriates. In response to this, the government has started introducing measures to lower unemployment among its citizens. For example, from last November, private companies with majorities of foreign workers are required to pay a fee of $640 a year for each excess foreigner, Reuters reported.


Brunei Darussalam

Anders Blomqvist | Lonely Planet | Getty Images

Brunei Darussalam is the only Asian country to make the list of the nations with zero income taxes.

While there is no income tax in Brunei, employees are required to contribute 5 percent of their wages to a social security trust fund, and 3.5 percent to a pension scheme, which are both matched by the employer. The wages of a non-resident director, however, are subject to a 20 percent withholding tax. Other taxes include a 12 percent tax on buildings located in the capital city of the sultanate -- Bandar Seri Begawan.

Like most countries with zero income taxes, oil and gas account for a bulk of the Brunei government's revenues as the fourth largest oil producer in Southeast Asia. Hydrocarbons take up over 90 percent of Brunei's exports and more than 50 percent of its GDP. However, depleting natural resources has led to a government push to diversify the economy, away from oil and gas. Plans include upgrading the labor force, reducing unemployment and strengthening the banking and tourism sectors.

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