LONDON, March 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme does not promote tax avoidance or evasion, a report published last week by the multinational accounting firm Ernst and Young (EY) concluded. The report notes that “citizenship should be distinguished from tax residence” since the obligation to pay taxes is “built around the degree of personal socio-economic links with a country”, rather than one’s citizenship status.
EY provides four primary tests to establish tax residency, which it draws from the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital. These are: having a physical presence in a country for a minimum amount of time, for example just over half the days in the year; having a permanent home available in a country; having a centre of vital interests there; and having a habitual abode in a place, such as staying in a country as part of an individual’s settled routine.
St Kitts and Nevis refers primarily to common law jurisprudence in its determination of who is and is not liable to tax. This has resulted in the Federation looking at an individual’s degree of permanence and continuous physical presence and, in practice, in an evaluation of whether the individual has spent a minimum of six months in an income year in St Kitts and Nevis, and whether St Kitts and Nevis is his or her permanent home.
The EY report clearly sets apart citizenship and tax residence, which is reflected in its determination of whether CBI programmes, such as that of St Kitts and Nevis, should cause concern as regards tax reporting under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and the circumvention of tax obligations to third countries. It states: “citizenship is a concept distinct from tax residency. Citizenship should not give rise to tax avoidance and evasion opportunities, as the reporting rules are explicit in not using citizenship as a test.”
The St Kitts and Nevis CBI Programme can grant entrepreneurs and their families second citizenship in return for a contribution to a national development fund known as the Sustainable Growth Fund, which was introduced last year by Prime Minister Timothy Harris and is thought to be the most straightforward route to St Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship. The Programme prides itself on operating at an industry-recognised Platinum Standard and on its decades of experience in granting eligible applicants second citizenship. Established in 1984, the St Kitts and Nevis CBI Programme is the world’s longest-running and has pioneered many of the best practices used by other countries that operate CBI programmes today. Indeed, St Kitts and Nevis recently became the first Caribbean CBI jurisdiction to operate a digital fingerprinting system. St Kitts and Nevis does not operate a residence by investment programme, nor is there any intention to establish one in the future.