I remember the day I logged into TurboTax. I was filling out my taxes, and was asked to answer these questions:
- “Did you work outside of the United States this year?”
- “Did you reside in a foreign country for 330 dates or more?”
I was living in Singapore at the time, and so I answered yes to both. When I did, my entire tax bill disappeared.
“Something must be wrong,” I thought, imagining handcuffs from the FBI snapping onto my wrists the next time I visited my parents. “How can I not owe any tax?”
But it was true. According to the IRS website, the Foreign Earned Income credit a U.S. citizen living abroad can take on their taxes is $100,800. That means you only have to pay U.S. taxes if you make more than one hundred grand.
This truth took me from staring down a 24-year timeframe for paying off my high student debt, to a mere six-year timeframe. I thought I’d be paying off debt into my 50s but instead, I will celebrate my late-30s debt-free.
Don’t get too excited about the prospect of not paying any taxes just yet. You will have to pay some form of tax in whatever country you’re living in. If you want to target places with a low individual tax rate, consider these:
- Countries with NO Income Tax: The Bahamas, Bahrain, Cayman Islands, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (which include cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi), or the British Virgin Islands.
- Countries with 5% or less income tax: Guatemala, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Countries with zero to 10% income tax, depending on level of income: Bulgaria, Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Mongolia
- Countries with zero to 15% income tax, depending on level of income: Macau, Russia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Hungary, Mauritius
- Countries with zero to 25% income tax, depending on level of income: Belarus, Cambodia, Moldova, Egypt, Estonia, Isle of Man, Singapore*, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nepal, Nigeria*, Serbia, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago.
How much of an adventure do you crave? You might be thinking, “If I’m having difficulty finding a job, or a decent-paying job in the United States, won’t it be harder finding one in another country?”
The answer is “No.” It is not harder. You just need to know how to go about it. Read my blog on how to get a job abroad.
Quit letting fear run your life. Take a risk. You can go on an epic adventure and pay down your six-figure student debt.