Potential entrepreneurs or investors who want to avoid taxes in their countries of residence are increasingly looking to take advantage of the citizenship-by-investment programs offered by many Caribbean countries. The popularity of such programs has been increasing recently as more Caribbean nations join the pool.
St Kitts and Nevis is the oldest nation in the Caribbean to offer a citizenship by investment program since 1984. St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados, Dominica, and Turks and Caicos have followed suit.
These Caribbean nations’ economies depend greatly on tourism, and therefore these citizenship programs are necessary to fund infrastructure projects, according to Puerto Rican lawyer Christian Sobrino. “It’s an additional approach to meet those goals”, says Sobrino.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, any investor who is interested in getting the country’s citizenship has to make a minimum donation of $250,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation or make a minimum investment of $400,000 in government-approved real estate projects.
According to real estate firm Christophe Harbour, most investors who use this program are over 55 years of age with annual incomes above $750,000. Christophe Harbour has sold about $100 million worth of property since 2008. Its main buyers have been investors from Russia, the UK and the US.
The citizenship-through-investment programs offered by the Caribbean islands are particularly attractive to investors who are from countries that tax citizens irrespective of their current place of residence, feels lawyer Edgardo Rios. “The last time I checked, 25 countries were part of worldwide taxation, which means they are pursuing their own citizens for merely being citizens and urge them to pay taxes even if you don’t live there anymore”, he said.
According to Sobrino, the Caribbean islands also represent a tourism paradise with excellent economic, political, diplomatic relations with Europe. “What makes a destination unique are the ‘amenities’, not the citizenship that is tied to them”, he said.
So far these programs have been successfully running in several Caribbean nations except for Grenada, which had to cancel their citizenship-through-investment program due to world-wide accusations of money laundering. However since 2013, Granada has restarted its program, increasing the required investment from $40,000 to about $310,000.