This article is about where to start an EB-5 business. Where to set up an EB-5 visa company with 10 employees, get your US green card and passport, and pay near zero in US taxes. If you’re considering where to open an EB-5 visa business, I bet you’ve never considered this tax trick.
First, a bit on the EB-5 investors visa. With the EB-5 program, you can invest $500,000 in an approved project or start your own business and invest $1 million. That business must employ at least 10 people and operate until you get your US passport. This article is focused on entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business to immigrate to the United States.
After you setup a business, it takes about a year for your US green card to be issued (for your EB-5 application to be approved). Then you wait 5 years to gain citizenship. Once you have your US passport, you have all the rights of a natural born American… your citizenship can’t be taken away for any reason.
That is to say, you must keep your business going, and 10 employees working, for those 6 years (or a bit more). If you can do that with an investment of $1 million, great. If not, you’ll need to put in more. If you make a profit, you can take it out as a distribution… just keep the business going at all costs.
The EB-5 program has been growing quickly. Back in 2009, investments totaled $300 million. It’s increased by about 30% per year, and brought in finds of around $7 billion in 2015. Experts expect it to grow by 30% to 50% in 2017.
The largest number of investments have come from China. 8,156 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2015 compared to 111 visas to persons from India (the second largest group).
One reason 2017 is expected to be a record year is that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has proposed significant changes to the EB-5 investor visa program. They’re looking to increase the minimum from $500,000 to $1.35 million and the stand alone business amount from $1 million to $2 million. Those who file before the increase will be allowed to proceed under the lower amount.
Now on to the focus of this article, where to start an EB-5 business.
The best place to start an EB-5 visa is San Juan, Puerto Rico. Period, end of discussion. No area or city in the United States can compete with Puerto Rico when it comes to starting an EB-5 business.
The reason to set up your EB-5 business ub Puerto Rico is simple and can be stated in one word: TAXES.
Once you have your green card, and eventually your passport, you’ll be taxed on your worldwide income. That includes income earned in your home country and money made in the United States. The US IRS wants a cut of every dollar you make!
That includes capital gains and passive income. When you sell real estate, stocks, or any other capital asset, you must pay US capital gains tax on the sale. Capital gains are currently taxed 23.8% and this is expected to go down to 20% once Obamacare is eliminated.
The same goes for income from your EB-5 business. You’ll pay Federal income tax on your profits at about 35% and another 10% to your state (if you’re in New York or California). You must pay your taxes, and keep your business going for at least 6 years, to receive your passport.
The only EB-5 region of the United States that won’t tax your business income and capital gains is the territory of Puerto Rico. If structured properly, you’ll pay only 4% in corporate tax on your EB-5 profits and zero in capital gains and dividends from foreign corporations (such as those in your home country).
This is to say, an EB-5 business set up in Puerto Rico will pay 4% in corporate tax and you’ll pay zero on your foreign sourced income (profits earned outside of Puerto Rico). You can cut your US tax from 40% to 4% by setting up your EB-5 business in Puerto Rico.
In order to combine the US EB-5 investors visa with the tax benefits of Puerto Rico, we follow these steps:
- Form and license an Act 20 business in Puerto Rico with a minimum of 5 employees.
- Apply for the EB-5 visa.
- Once the EB-5 is granted, hire an additional 5 employees to reach the required number of 10. Act 20 required 5 employees while the EB-5 requires 10.
- You immigrate to the United States using your green card.
- Apply for the Act 22 personal tax holiday in Puerto Rico.
Once all of these steps are complete, you’ll have an Act 20 business taxed at 4% and zero tax on your worldwide income through Act 22. You’ll also have a green card and, if you keep the business going and in compliance, a passport after 5 years.
In order to qualify for Act 22 (step 5), you must be living in Puerto Rico. Specifically, you must buy a home on the island and spend at least 183 days a year there. You can spend the rest of your days abroad or in any part of the United States.
For example, we have clients that spend 100 days a year in New York, 183 days in Puerto Rico, and the remainder (80 days) traveling.
If you travel extensively, you must be sure to spend more time in Puerto Rico than you do in the United States. For example, 160 days in Puerto Rico, 40 days in the United States, and the rest traveling abroad.
I hope you’ve found this article on where to start an EB-5 business to be helpful. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (619) 550-2743 with any questions. We’ll be happy to assist you through all stages of this process.