Thailand: Long-stay visa to waive personal income tax

The cabinet has approved waiving personal income tax for three foreign groups of taxpayers: high-income earners, retirees and those who want to work remotely from Thailand, said Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

Mr Arkhom said on Tuesday that the beneficiaries would be considered investors in Thailand as required by the government offering them long-term residence (LTR) visas.

The first group must invest at least US$500,000 (16.35 million baht) in government bonds, property or otherwise in the form of foreign direct investment. They must have amassed at least $80,000 in income over the last two years and have $1 million in assets.

Foreign retirees must be at least 50 years old, have an annual income of $40,000 or more, and invest $250,000 in government bonds or real estate.

Professionals interested in working remotely from Thailand must prove they have annual income of at least $40,000, a master’s degree or higher or rights in intellectual property, and five years of experience in a research field.

However, a fourth group eligible for the visa would be taxed.

Experts in digital services are required to work for SET-listed companies or have worked for at least three years in private companies that earn revenue of $50 million a year or more. 

This group is being regarded as highly skilled professionals. They are required to work in targeted industries or as academic experts in universities or state agencies.

“However, if [the last group] earns any income after they are in Thailand, they are required to pay personal income tax at the normal rate,” Mr Arkhom said.

Traisulee Traisoranakul, deputy government spokeswoman, said the Finance Ministry reported to the cabinet that the government would not lose any revenue from the plan because the three groups are not paying any taxes here at present.

However, the government stands to benefit by levying a 17% personal income tax on certain highly skilled professionals, she said.

Mr Arkhom said the economic and investment stimulus measures will help attract high potential foreigners to Thailand. Wealthy foreigners and experts will be enticed to work in the country.

“(High potential foreigners) will help broaden the personal income tax base, stimulate domestic consumption and investment, and enhance the country’s competitiveness, which will contribute to economic growth. It’s expected that 1 million foreigners will stay in Thailand,” said the finance minister.

The Interior Ministry’s proposals provide for LTR visas for up to four family members, including children up to 20 years old.

The visas will be valid for five years and renewable for up to another five years, with a final cap at 10 years. Visa holders will have to pay an annual fee of 10,000 baht and report their residential address once a year.

After receiving the visa, the foreigners can apply for work permits.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) projects the policy will draw one million arrivals in five years, generating 1 trillion baht in income.