Countries with zero income taxes

Tax havens

Personal income taxes are a huge source of revenue for most governments, and the debate on taxes has been a hot-button issue in recent elections in the United States and Europe. But there are some countries where you can be 100% certain you don't have to pay income tax.

Below is a list of 10 countries that have no income tax, based a 2012 KPMG survey of 114 countries. Some are well-known tax havens, while others have managed to use natural resources to fund government expenses.

These Caribbean and Middle Eastern nations derive their revenue from other sources, including tourism and abundant natural resources.

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

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

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 the tourism, construction and offshore financial services sectors continued to face downside risks based on the uncertainty of an economic recovery in the United States.

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

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

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

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 nearly half of a 14% payroll tax that the employer pays 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%, depending on the annual rental value of the land as determined by the government. A stamp duty of 5% to 20% also applies to inheritances and estates, depending on the value of the property.

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

There is currently no personal income tax in Brunei Darussalam.
There is an Employee Trust Fund and Supplemental Contributory Pensions Scheme.
There are no other individual taxes

Cayman Islands
Well known as an offshore financial center, the Cayman Islands is a big draw for the wealthy with its zero personal-income and capital-gains taxes and because it has no mandatory social security contributions.

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

In August, the British territory killed a plan to tax foreign workers' income shortly after proposing it in a last-ditch attempt to overcome budget shortfalls. The government backtracked on the plan after several industry associations voiced their opposition to the tax, saying it would lead to investor flight. Foreign workers make up about 50% of the islands' workforce.

Kuwait boasts the world's sixth-largest oil reserves, which account for nearly half its GDP, more than 90% of export revenues and 80% of government income, according to OPEC.

While the emirate has no income tax, Kuwaiti nationals must contribute 7.5% of their salaries for social security benefits; their employers make an 11% contribution. While Kuwait is already one of the world's wealthiest countries per capita, in 2012 the government introduced a 25% increase in wages in response to strikes and protests mounted by public-sector workers unhappy about pay. In reaction, the International Monetary Fund warned Kuwait in May that such spending could impact the sustainability of its public finances. Only 7% 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, having ushered in five new parliaments in the past six years. The country has also 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.

Like neighboring countries in the Middle East, 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% of its total revenue, rose 30% 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% of their monthly salaries toward social security benefits. A stamp duty of 3% is also charged on the purchase of property.

Despite its oil wealth, Oman has been rocked by a series of protests since 2011, with residents demanding jobs and employment benefits. Resentment is growing in the country over jobs offered to foreigners, who account for about 40% 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.

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

Qatar relies on its natural gas reserves -- 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 pay a 35% tax rate. The country levies no taxes on personal incomes, dividends, royalties, profits, capital gains or property. Qatari nationals, however, have to pay 5% of their income for social security benefits, while employers contribute 10% 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% of the country's GDP in 2011. Other indirect taxes include a 5% charge on imported goods.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia does not impose a tax on salaries. However, self-employed expatriates are taxed at a rate of 20 percent.

The tax year-end is usually 31 December. Self-employed expatriates must file a tax return within 120 days of the end of the financial year. For all Saudi employees there is a 9 percent employee contribution plus a 9 percent employer contribution to the General Organization Social Insurance (GOSI) in Saudi Arabia.

For all employees (Saudi and expatriates) there is an additional 2 percent occupational hazard charge payable to GOSI. There are no other individual tax.

United Arab Emirates
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, relies on money from oil companies that pay up to 55% in corporate taxes. Foreign banks pay about 20%. About 30% of the country's gross domestic product is directly based on oil and gas output, according to the OPEC.

While expatriate employees in the UAE don't pay for social security, its citizens must make monthly contributions of 5% of their total earnings for social security. Employers of citizens also have to make monthly contributions of 12.5% to 15% of their workers' base salaries for social security and pensions. Other indirect taxes include housing fees, road tolls and municipal taxes. The UAE charges an overall 30% tax on alcohol and an additional 50% sales tax on alcohol sold in Dubai.

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