Taxes get a bad rap, but every country needs them to sustain infrastructure and government functioning. Unfortunately, they tend to be complicated. Most people barely understand the tax systems of their home country. Here's what you need to know about taxes in Belize.
Belize is ranked among the world's tax havens. Investors and businessmen have long been drawn to the tax benefits. You might also enjoy these many benefits if you want to settle there. It’s worth it to do your due diligence, though and find out which of the many taxes will affect you most. If you have a complicated financial situation, it is wise to contact an accountant and/or tax lawyer. Check the services section to see who other expats have recommended.
Types of taxes
There are lots of different kinds of taxes and duties. Any time money or goods change hands or cross borders, you can almost guarantee the government will be getting a cut.
Income tax is generally levied at a rate of 25% of taxable income. There are deductions for residents that vary based on how much money you make. Note that you must be physically present in Belize for at least 183 consecutive days during a calendar year to be considered as a resident.
Good to know:
Unlike many other countries, there is no tax schedule in Belize, thus simplifying the system.
Only income sourced within Belize is taxed. So, for example, income from working online in other countries is not considered taxable in Belize. It may, however, be taxable in your country of origin.
Property and land taxes in Belize vary between 1 and 12% of the land's value. The rate depends on whether or not the property is developed, used as a rental, as well as its location. Property taxes outside cities are based on the value of land instead of the developed property in order to encourage further development.
Good to know:
Capital gains tax does not exist in Belize.
Real estate transfer tax is currently levied at a rate of 10%. The owner usually pays a 12.5% rate tax for closing costs based on the total property price.
Value added tax
General Sales Tax (GST) in Belize is levied at a 12.5% rate. This applies to most goods, as well as services. There are a few exemptions, such as basic food items and basic medical supplies.
You are required to pay a departure tax when you leave the country. If leaving via air, the tax is USD39.25. It is usually included in the price of your airline ticket. The fee is slightly less if leaving by land or sea. There is talk of this fee increasing substantially, so be sure to check before you travel.
Good to know:
The departure tax must be paid in US dollars and in cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
Businesses must pay taxes on gross receipts payable monthly. Rates vary, depending on the type of business, from 1% to 25%. There is also a corporate income tax payable yearly, but the business tax paid is deducted. This also applies to rental income over a certain amount.
Other taxes and duties
There are a few other taxes and duties that may or may not affect you depending on your personal circumstances.
Vehicle taxes are assessed when you register your vehicle.
Customs duties are levied on anything imported into Belize. Rates vary widely depending on what the good is, whether it is for personal or commercial use, and what country it is coming from. The duty can be as high as 50%. People who are part of the Qualified Retired Persons program are allowed to bring in their household goods and one vehicle duty free.