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Is Monaco really a tax haven? Myths and facts

Much has been written about whether Monaco is a tax haven or not. Media, YouTubers, journalists, and talk-show hosts pronounce themselves on the matter and, unfortunately, most of the time inaccuracies are committed.

What is exactly a “tax haven”?

Generally, people think that a tax haven is a low-tax jurisdiction where people go to defraud and hide money… but nothing could be further from the truth.

Nowadays the definition of tax haven has nothing to do with how much tax is paid.

Rather, it focuses on aspects such as transparency and the exchange of financial and tax information: a tax haven is not a country with low or zero taxes, but a country that does not exchange tax information with others and does not have double taxation avoidance agreements with information exchange clauses.

Thus, both the main national and supranational organizations don’t consider jurisdictions with zero taxation such as UAE or Qatar to be tax havens, but do so with those that do not share any tax information such as Panama or Fiji.

Who determines if a country is a tax haven?

Tax haven lists include those countries considered as such by other jurisdictions or international organizations. The main lists of tax havens that exist are as follows:

  • National are those established by a country to decide which jurisdictions to consider as tax havens.
  • International supranational organizations, such as the OECD or the EU, with major banking and business implications.
  • International NGOs or the United Nations are understood more as a thermometer of good practices or social trends than as a real listing.

And, yes, Monaco was for decades in the national and international lists of tax havens due to the application of banking secrecy and the lack of exchange of information on tax matters with other countries.

In other words, for years money could be hidden in Monaco without the country of tax residence knowing about it. Nor was there very strong scrutiny of where that money came from.

So, is Monaco a tax haven nowadays?

No, Monaco is no longer considered a tax haven on any international listing for these reasons:

  • Transparency and international cooperation commitments adopted by Monaco.
  • Bilateral agreements on the exchange of tax information “on request”.
  • The automatic exchange of information agreement or “Common Reporting Standard” (“CRS”) of the OECD.

EU and OECD criteria

  • In April 2009, the OECD decided to remove Monaco from the list of non-cooperative tax havens in light of its commitments to transparency and effective exchange of information.
  • Monaco is not a non-cooperative tax haven.
  • It adhered to the BEPS inclusive framework, which implied that in 2017 ECOFIN agreed to leave Monaco definitively off the list of non-cooperative countries.

In short, does anyone consider Monaco a tax haven?

Currently, most OECD members and all EU members recognize Monaco as a tax-approved jurisdiction and not as a tax haven. However, some Latin American countries still consider Monaco a tax haven and the restrictive Intermon Oxfam list still considers Monaco a tax haven, although this has no legal implications.

Therefore, Monaco is internationally considered a country that complies with the requirements demanded according to the international tax principles, tax fairness, and transparency imposed by the same Union.

Neither the OECD nor the European Union consider Monaco as a non-cooperative jurisdiction or tax haven.

If you are interested in changing your tax residence to Monaco, we recommend reading the report “The definitive guide to living in Monaco”, available for free below.

For any questions, you can contact us without obligation by sending an email to [email protected] or through our Contact page.

Picture of Andreu Capmajó
Andreu Capmajó

Tax director

Download the free report

"The definitive guide to living and paying taxes in Monaco"
  • Explanation of the tax framework
  • How to get the residency
  • Tips for living in Monaco

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