Tax residency for a true (non-American) digital nomad?

Discussion in 'Taxes and Accounting' started by mitchell_1, Dec 27, 2020.

  1. Hypothetical:
    • I am a Canadian citizen (i.e. taxed based on residency, not citizenship)
    • I give up my rented apartment in Canada (and file the required exit-tax paperwork), and spend 2021 traveling the world, spending 1 week in 52 different countries, entering each as a tourist.
    • I trade while I am traveling.
    Where am I a tax resident for 2021?
    - I presume there's a general principle that one cannot be a tax resident of no jurisdiction(?)
    - Is there some kind of default presumption of tax residency in one's country of citizenship when one doesn't meet the tax residency test of any other country?
    - Could I simply choose the most tax-advantageous of the 52 countries I travel to as my tax 'home' for 2021? If not, does changing the time spent in each from 52 x 1 week to 26 x 2 weeks, or 12 x 1 month change this analysis?​
  2. Bugenhagen


    In general if you don't stay longer than 183 days in a year usually in any country and you are fine. Live between two countries and do a few weeks holidays in others to safely pad it, always keep a chunk of days if you needed to return for any emergency. This will tend to happen as you buy property and grow roots.

    Countries like Colombia still allow you to open a bank account on a passport so you can function very normally using a Bancolombia or other card for your day-to-day taking remittances from home. Similar in Panama just you will need two IDs. Assuming you are trading in the US and declared non-resident there.

    You might want to keep up contributory pension payments in your home country if thats the system in Canada, shame to lose it if you have a lot of years paid in.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2020
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  3. blink18


    Read Canadian tax laws first. Here in Europe when you move somewhere else, you have to get foreign tax certificate, and show papers to your home tax office: lease contract, foreign tax certificate, foreign bank account, work contract (if you have it), foreign address, foreign telephone number, foreign drivers license, foreign health insurance... + if you have a family they have to move with you. If everything is ok, you get non-resident status for tax purposes. But if you return back in less than 3-5 years, they will still tax you on the difference between tax rate abroad and their tax rate.

    Tax non-residency is not just "let's go somewhere else for 183 days and get back".
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  4. blink18


    Good recipe for being taxed abroad and in Canada.
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  5. Bugenhagen


    All I needed to do was declare myself non-tax resident* in the UK before leaving, got my tax refund from HMRC and left. Mind you it happened that the first six months I was studying trading with no income so yes, there is stuff to do if you have an overlap.

    Its not that complicated past this final return, just stay on tourist visas. I had very good tax advice, not winging it.

    Join some Digital Nomad groups, you will have to put up with loads of Americans replying no matter HOW CLEARLY you state this is not an American tax question :) It can be done though I'm just assuming Canada is somewhat similar to the UK.

    *I had a limited company so they just needed to agree it was closed and not to expect any more self-employed tax returns beyond that final tax year. If you time leaving on this its neat.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2020
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  6. I don't think this reply is quite on-topic...question isn't about legality of entering or staying in foreign countries...simply how to establish where one is a tax resident when living a nomadic existence.

    When you leave Canada, you are responsible for filing 'departure tax' / 'exit tax' forms where you're presumed to have disposed of any assets, property, stocks, etc at their current FMV and then immediately re-acquired them. IOW, Canada is essentially saying "OK, see ya, but before you go we're going to make sure you pay us capital gains tax on any appreciation of assets acquired while you lived here". But AFAIK there's no requirement that you tell them where you're going, or prove that you'll be a resident / tax resident there, or file any ongoing attestation(s) that you're living abroad. You tell them you're leaving, they get their last bite at the tax apple via the departure tax, and then you part ways. So in the OP hypothetical, I'm still not sure where you'd be presumed to be a tax resident when all you've established -- presuming you've indeed severed your Canadian ties -- is that it's not Canada. (Unless, as I wrote, there's a provision or interpretation I'm not aware of that in the event you don't satisfy any other country's tax residency requirements, Canada will deem you to be a tax resident of theirs even if you don't spend a day in the country.)
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  7. blink18


    OP should definitely visit Canadian tax lawyer first. It's not that simple to become tax non-resident as people usually think.
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  8. As you can imagine anything to do with taxes can get complicated quickly. You really need to talk to a tax lawyer, one that you trust (they can overcomplicate issues in about a millisecond). You want to make sure you have your ducks in a row before you (hypothetically) become a nomad so it doesn't come back to bite you later.
  9. DXBee


    Are you planning to keep your (Canadian?) bank and online broker for your trading? I would think you would have to declare to them where you are residing?

    I don't know anything about Canadian tax law, but if you still have "vital interests" there (including bank accounts) and cannot prove you actually have tax residence somewhere else they most likely can tax you on any income. That is regardless of how many days you have spent in the country.
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  10. MichalTr


    "Here in Europe.". Europe is quite large area with very different countries with very different law ;) What you are writing here is not "standard" for each country. It can be misleading for OP.
    #10     Dec 27, 2020
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