American Bedu Guest Blog Post:
By I.J. Zemelman, EA,Taxes for Expats
Saudi Arabia is an attractive country for many expats because of its loose tax structure. What many US Citizens and Green Card Holders fail to recognize, however, is that even in as loose of a tax structure as Saudi Arabia, you are still required to file an annual US expat tax return and may be adversely affected by the rules and regulations of your host country. This article is intended to not only inform you on Saudi Arabia’s tax laws, but also to inform you of your responsibilities as a US Person living and working in Saudi Arabia.
If you are a US Citizens, Green Card Holder, and Permanent Resident of the United States, you are required to file a tax return with the IRS every year no matter where in the world you are living – as long as your earnings are above the minimum filing requirements (roughly $9,000). If you have over $10K in foreign accounts at any time during the tax year, you are also required to file Form TD F 90-22.1 with the US Department of Treasury.
Even though the IRS mandates every taxpayer to report international income, it also allows for various deductions which lessen the impact of US income tax liability. The primary deductions which help to prevent double taxation and reduce the taxes you owe in the US are:
- FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) – Allows US expats to deduct up to $92,900 of all foreign earned income from US taxable income.
- FTC (Foreign Tax Credit) – Allows US expats to clam a dollar for dollar credit against their US expat tax return for foreign taxes paid to the host country.
- Foreign Housing Deduction – Allows US expats to deduct qualifying housing costs incurred by moving and living overseas
If you take advantage of these deductions when filing a US expat tax return, you may be able to escape all tax liability with the United States. It’s important to understand, however, that even if you wind up owing nothing to the US after having taken all the deductions available to you, you are still required to file a US expat tax return. For more detailed information on US expat tax returns, make sure to read theUS Expat Tax Guide.
Income Tax in Saudi Arabia
Like many Gulf nations, Saudi Arabia does not assess taxes on regular income or individuals’ investment income. It does, however, require businesses to pay capital gains taxes on business investment income. If you are a resident of Saudi Arabia working in another country, you are also not going to be required to pay Saudi income taxes.
Definition of a Resident in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is unique in that it does not define a resident by how long he/she has been living in the country. Saudi Arabian residency is only recognized if you have obtained an Iqama (residence permit). If you are issued an Iqama, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in Saudi Arabia; you are considered a resident. If you are interested in becoming a resident of Saudi Arabia, you may apply for an Iqama at any Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Tax Due Date in Saudi Arabia
Because there are no income taxes in Saudi Arabia, there is no predefined tax year or tax filing date.
Saudi Arabian Social Security
Much like the United States, Saudi Arabia has a Social Security Regime. This regime collects social security from a variety of public sector workers and private sector workers. Some residents may voluntarily contribute to the Saudi Social Security Regime. Those who have the choice of whether or not to contribute include self employed workers, those who live and work abroad, and those who are no longer required by the Social Security Regime to make contributions.
If you choose to make Social Security contributions to Saudi Arabia, you will be taxed at 9% of your gross earnings, unless you are self employed. If you are self employed, the rate of Social Security taxation is 18%. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may have the options of paying into Saudi Arabia Social Security,US Social Security, or both.
Tax Treaty in Saudi Arabia
The United States has a variety of tax treaties with over 40 countries, but Saudi Arabia is one of them. If you are only responsible for individual income taxes, this will most likely not affect you. If you are a Saudi Arabian business owner, however, you may be responsible for business taxes in both Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Additional Saudi Arabian Taxes
Saudi Arabia is home to the lowest rates of taxation in the world. There aren’t any taxes assessed on individual capital gains, gifts, inheritances, or wealth. Additionally, there is no VAT (Value Added Tax) assessed on large purchases.
If you are attracted to Saudi Arabia like so many others for the loose tax structure and warm weather, remember that having a lower tax rate in Saudi Arabia may not automatically help you avoid US taxes. While you will be able to avail yourself of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, lack of any local taxes will preclude you from utilizing the Foreign Tax Credits.
If you have questions about your US tax obligations while living and working in Saudi Arabia or you need help filing your US expat tax return, we atTaxes for Expats have a team of tax professionals who can help you get the most out of your US expat tax return.
I. J. Zemelman, EA is the founder of Taxes for Expats.
She may be reached at 1.646.397.2887