Tax-Free Living For Fun, Profit, And Adventure
Belize is the perfect location for your offshore or remote business, and she could be a great location for an onshore business—with the right consideration and research.
Belize’s government is so keen to attract investment, it’s offering streamlined Temporary Investment Visas that will make you eligible to work and, eventually, eligible to full permanent residency and citizenship.
Any investment can qualify you, including a vacation home, but if you have the desire to operate your own business in Belize, the government will give you residency and help iron out the other wrinkles for you.
The Smart Entrepreneur Adapts To The Environment
Belize is a beautiful country ripe for opportunity. Just by coming from a more sophisticated and efficient market, the average North American can see countless opportunities for success, offering time-tested solutions Belizeans haven’t stumbled across yet.
However, I do have some suggestions for you…
Business In The Digital Age
You needn’t be tied to a physical place to succeed. Set up a portable office, become a full-on digital nomad, or simply generate as much or as little cash flow as you want to make your life easier.
Working online or consulting remotely for non-Belizean clients is tax-free in Belize… no work permit required, either.
Here are some examples of suitable online businesses for Belize…
- Writing. If you’ve got the gift of gab or a passion for prose, writing can be done from a laptop from anywhere in the world… especially under a thatch roof on a beach, perhaps on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker.
- Consulting. Convert your professional or work experience into online consultancy and training for the less experienced.
- Amazon FBA seller. Aspiring wheeler-dealers can become online traders of real items, and Amazon has a platform—Fulfillment By Amazon—to assist you.
- Stock and currency trading. Training courses online can teach you how to trade stocks and currency from the comfort of your own home.
- Programmers and web designers. Those with training or aptitude for programming and web design are always in demand in this day and age. Plus, operating from a low-cost country can make your income go a lot further.
Brick-And-Mortar In Paradise
Of course, not everyone wants to be flummoxed by technology every day, especially at the pace it’s advancing. Or maybe those years as a corporate drone are well left behind, or you finally seized the chance to become an entrepreneur.
Belize wholeheartedly encourages inward investments. Suitable investments, especially in new ideas or innovative technologies, can be eligible for tax holidays, duty-free exemptions for materials, and equipment and advisory assistance.
But there’s no need for you to come up with a complex business scheme. Here are some onshore physical businesses suitable for Belize…
- Offshore outsourcing. Call centers are a hot commodity in Belize. Investing in one can garner great returns, as local workers are paid US$3 per hour—nearly twice the minimum wage—but the service is hired out to U.S. companies for US$13 to US$16 per hour… resulting in 500% returns before overheads.
- Tourism businesses. If you’ve ever wanted to own a small resort or operate a business catering to tourists, Belize is your chance, especially as tourism arrivals are on the rise. Here are some business models you could dive into:
- Charters: Want to spend your semi-retirement sailing or driving your boat around the best reef in the world, and get paid a bundle to do so? Game fishing charters can be particularly lucrative.
- Adventure: Interested in more vigorous work under the Caribbean sun? Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rappeling, and zip-lining tours are becoming more popular in Belize.
- Ecotourism: Do you have a passion for bird-watching or nature-spotting? Iguana hatcheries, butterfly farms, and exotic animal breeding stations are all successful tourism attractions in Belize. Here’s a tip: Belize has no privately owned reptile house… yet.
- Educational centers: Draw upon your experience and become a teacher. Yoga retreats, permaculture centers, language schools, and voluntourism businesses are all successfully undertaken in Belize.
- Hotels: Can be hugely successful and lucrative if you have the right temperament. Expat friends of mine here have birding lodges, accommodations next to Maya ruins, fishing resorts, and beachfront cabanas.
- Bar or restaurant: Many people dream about owning their own pub (or maybe that’s just an Irish thing). Lax laws and licensing requirements make Belize an ideal location. With licenses costing as little as US$500 per year and no liability insurance requirements, you can’t get into the bar business cheaper than this.
- Export raw materials. Belize has an abundance of natural resources including tropical hardwoods, oil and gas, and limestone and dolomite. More recently, the government has allowed the exploitation of gold deposits with a license. The processing of raw materials before they are exported also can be lucrative.
- Agricultural businesses. A fertile land, Belize is very suited to this primary sector. The government welcomes this via the Export Processing Zone and Commercial Free Zone designations, which are available for qualifying investments in Belize. Buying inexpensive land and planting exotic hardwoods or fruit trees for the export market can provide medium-term income along with long-term capital appreciation… with low-to-medium management and attention.
Expats Have Needs, Too
Think your skills won’t fit in Belize or won’t be in demand among Belizeans? You might find that what you do is in demand and un-catered for in the expat market.
I know chiropractors, massage therapists, counselors, therapists, and interior designers who cater exclusively to the expat market, and make a nice living from it.
One of the biggest advantages of moving to Belize is the opportunity to simplify your life.
Downsizing can be an amazing relief. Get rid of 30 years of possessions that have turned the tables and are now possessing you. Reclaim your freedom.
In the tropics a huge home can be wholly unnecessary. With no snow or cold weather to speak of, outdoor living is ideal.
People can spend their entire lives on their covered porches enjoying nature, cooling breezes, and shade on hot days. Indoors are often just for sleeping and cooking. A small house with a large deck is a great choice for some.
I know plenty of people who move their entire kitchens outside onto the porch so they can cook in cooler temperatures in communion with nature.
Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, A Massive Benefit For Americans
The biggest tax advantage of moving offshore and starting a business is the FEIE.
If you qualify, you can earn US$104,100 in 2018 without having to pay any U.S. income tax. In conjunction with the Foreign Housing Credit, you can be eligible to earn another US$14,500 in tax-free income in Belize.
Married couples can claim double and earn nearly a quarter of a million dollars of tax-free income annually in Belize.
Residency, Tax-Free Income, And A Free Home And Land
Did you know that foreign real estate held in your name (that you don’t make money from) is the only asset not reportable to the IRS?
Buying a parcel of land in Belize can qualify you for temporary residency, which will lead to permanent residency. If you divide your land into three pieces or less, avoiding the drawn-out process of dividing your land through the LUA (Land Utilization Act), you’ll have two parcels of land to sell and one to build on. If you sell the excess parcels, you can recoup your initial investment and have enough funds to build your dream home.
Not bad for a few days’ work.
To get the full benefit for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, you should start a personal service business like consultancy or anything where you sell your time for money, not something that leverages your efforts using capital.
If you’re using capital like bank financing or lots of equipment to produce a product you can only claim 30% of your FEIE.
Independence And Self-Sufficiency
Another incentive to move to Belize is the ease with which you can become moderately or completely self-sufficient.
Whether you do so to save money and get the biggest bang for your tax-free buck… for peace of mind and to control what goes into your food and body… or to hedge against uncertain times ahead… Belize is an ideal location.
With abundant sunshine, plentiful rainfall and waterways, and up to three growing seasons, Belize is a self-sufficiency paradise. And, from the bounty of your garden, you could even brew your own beer, wine, or even distil your own alcohol for home consumption or to put in your car…
Using soilless growing techniques like hydro- and aquaponics, massive amounts of food can be grown on small spaces.
You can also wean yourself off the power grid… We are in the fair tropics here, with abundant sun for solar-power generation.
Take Charge Of Your Security
Last year, I gave you the lowdown on crime in Belize. Keeping yourself and what’s yours safe isn’t as expensive as you think…
Residents of Belize can get gun licenses for hunting relatively easily… Or, with more effort, you could get a gun license for personal protection if you have a reasonable excuse to warrant one. The reasons aren’t that onerous, so long as you don’t tell the police inspector conducting the interview the gun is to shoot at your neighbors.
A dog is a bigger deterrent to intruders here than a gun is anyway.
So, why not come to Belize?
It’s a place where U.S. citizens can earn up to almost a quarter of a million dollars tax-free (other nationals can earn unlimited amounts tax-free), work deals that effectively get you a free house, and live the independent, self-sufficient life you always dreamed of.