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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Best places for tax - live in Dubai, die in Australia

Published 24/05/2015 | 02:30

Tom Halliday illustration
Tom Halliday illustration

Ireland fares poorly on the international stage when it comes to the everyday finances of its citizens.

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Its pension system has been described as unsustainable by international experts. Its inheritance tax is one of the highest in the world. The disposable income of Irish households is below the international average.

At €33,800, its higher rate of income tax kicks in incredibly early. So workers on the average wage or higher are kissing goodbye to more than half of anything they earn over €33,800 in tax. As most of those taxes have been used to get the country and its banks back on their feet over the last few years, benefits which workers got in return for their taxes before the austerity Budgets have long been slashed. Those benefits include a high rate of tax relief on medical expenses, tax-free maternity benefit and a free dental clean.

As Ireland's standard variable mortgage rates are almost twice the European average, borrowers are paying hundreds of euro more to repay their mortgage each month than their EU counterparts. So anyone living here might well be tempted to move to another country that is easier on the pocket.

Here's a round-up of seven of the best countries in the world to live in when it comes to your finances.

BEST PENSION SYSTEM: Denmark

Denmark has the best pension system in the world, according to the latest Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI). In the study, Denmark was the only nation to receive the top 'A' grade. Denmark has "a first-class and robust retirement income system that delivers good benefits, is sustainable and has a high level of integrity", said the report.

India, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Italy have some of the poorest pension systems in the world, according to the MMGPI.

"Many countries, such as developing nations, don't have any form of pension system," said Jerry Moriarty, ceo of the pension lobby group, the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF). "Sierra Leone has an average life expectancy of 38."

Ireland only scored a 'C' in the study, which described its pension system as having "major risks and shortcomings that should be addressed".

CHEAPEST CITIES: Saudi Arabia

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is home to the cheapest two cities in the world - Riyadh and Jeddah, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)'s latest cost-of-living survey. "Price controls on staples in Saudi Arabia continue to guarantee low prices for many goods," said the EIU survey.

For those not keen on the Middle East (because of the instability that often rattles the region), India's cities offer some of the best value for money - in particular, Mumbai and New Delhi, according to the EIU. That's as long as you're earning enough money.

"India's income inequality means that low wages proliferate, driving down household spending and keeping many tiers of pricing that keep the amount of money spent per person low," said the survey. "This, combined with a cheap and plentiful supply of goods into cities, as well as government subsidies on some products, has kept prices down, especially by Western standards."

Singapore is home to the most expensive city in the world - its capital, Singapore, according to the EIU. This is largely because of the strength of the Singapore dollar and the high cost of clothes and running a car.

The survey ranked Dublin as the 21st most expensive city in the world.

HIGHEST SPENDING MONEY: United States

When it comes to having enough money to buy the things you need to be comfortable and enjoy life, the United States is one of the best countries to live in. Its households enjoy the highest disposable income (the amount of money available to spend on goods and services) in the world, according to the latest OECD study on the subject. The US got a 10 out of 10 for disposable income in that study - and was the only country to do so. However, there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest in the US.

Other countries where the OECD study found disposable income to be high include Luxembourg, Switzerland and Australia. Households in Brazil have the lowest disposable income in the world.

Ireland's average disposable income is below the international average.

LOWEST INCOME TAXES: Dubai

For those who like nothing more than to shield their income from taxes, Dubai is one of the best places to live - top earners take home 100pc of their pay in Dubai. Russia and Slovakia aren't too far behind, according to the latest income-tax-burden study by the Louth accountants UHY Farrelly Dawe White, which found that wealthy individuals take home 87pc of their pay in Russia and about 75pc of their pay in Slovakia.

Dubai also has the lowest tax burden for low earners.

Belgium and Denmark have some of the highest income-tax burdens in the world for high earners, according to the UHY study, which cited Croatia and Uruguay as the countries with the highest tax burden for low earners.

Ireland's tax burden on high earners is the sixth-highest in the world, but it has the third-lowest tax burden for low earners, according to the same study.

Of course, islands such as the Bahamas and Cayman Islands are also well known for their tax-free status, as is the independent state of Monaco - unless you're a French national who is a resident of Monaco. (None of these three were included in the UHY study).

CHEAPEST CHILDCARE: Austria

At only 3pc of the average wage, Austria has the cheapest childcare in the world, according to the most recent OECD study on childcare costs. Hungary has the second cheapest childcare, followed by Sweden and Greece. The study found that Switzerland had the most expensive childcare - with fees there gobbling up more than two-thirds of the average wage.

Finland, well-known for the maternity package it gives to expectant months, was the 11th cheapest country for childcare - with fees there coming to about 14pc of the average wage. The Finnish maternity kit - a gift from the government - contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, baby bathing products, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

The childcare burden in Ireland is more than twice the European average.

LOWEST DEATH TAX: Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand both abolished inheritance tax a number of years ago. Other countries which don't have a death tax include Israel, Norway, Russia and China.

Ireland has one of the highest inheritance taxes in the world, according to UHY Farrelly Dawe White's latest study on death taxes. As a result, many Irish parents can no longer pass their properties onto one child without lumbering that child with a major inheritance tax bill. This is largely because of the government's decision to slash the inheritance tax thresholds (which limit the amount you can inherit tax-free) over the last few years - from €542,544 for a son or daughter in early 2009 to €225,000 today.

Sunday Indo Business

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