Firstly, the words “tax haven” are not a legal term or clearly defined, and often have different meanings to different people and different definitions of criteria depending on the source, and by extension, depending on the motivations of the source (often political). Whilst we wouldn’t recommend relying on Wikipedia 100%, and acknowledge that it can be updated at any time, its entry on “Tax haven” is very comprehensive and is an interesting read, if you’re looking for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_haven
There are three main ways of assessing which countries are counted as “tax havens”. The first way is via information issued by governments – which rarely list specific countries or territories, and are both varying in content and highly subjective, and are therefore largely dismissed by academic research. The second way is via information from non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), which do often list countries, which again are varying in content and highly subjective. The third way is non-governmental academic research which follows a quantitative (objective) process which is clearly defined, and therefore is much more reliable, albeit not always aligned with each other.
The three most respected studies are Hines 2010, which measured Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) levels; ITEP 2017 which measured profits, and Zucman 2018 which measured “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS). Each took a slightly different (scientific) approach, with a slightly different definition of what a “tax haven” is/does, but the end result and the general academic consensus of the top “tax havens” are, in alphabetical order:
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
Whilst the Cayman Islands probably fits more easily into most people’s definition of what a “tax haven” is or does (a beautiful and wealthy Caribbean island nation, home to many of the world’s largest financial institutions, with a 0% income tax rate), the reality is far more nuanced than that – many people wouldn’t automatically consider Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore or the UK to be “tax havens”, and yet here they are on the list. Why? Because there is a lot more to it than simply “what is the tax rate”, not least because there are taxes on all sorts of things – sales tax for example, or “hidden” taxes levied in the form of fixed fees or trade tariffs – which affect different people and different businesses in different ways.
If you’re wondering why we didn’t simply say “yes” and finish the answer, it’s because a) our aim is to help people learn about, understand, and optimise their finances generally, and b) we’re not overly keen on the relatively modern phenomenon of people relying on celebrity endorsements and/or click-bait news headlines quoting (or misquoting) a very short (and often inaccurate) answer to a very detailed question.
To the people who ask us this question because they want to legally reduce their tax bill as much as possible: Yes, this pension plan does that. The Cayman Islands has no income tax, capital gains tax, or corporation tax – for its citizens, residents, and for everyone else. It has lots of other taxes and tariffs, and lots of indirect taxation, so its government is not short of revenue relative to its population size – Caymanians enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland, according to the CIA World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cj.html)
To the people who ask us this question because they have political or ethical views about taxation and/or “tax havens”: This is a pension plan designed for global nomads and expatriates, who have to, more than any other demographic, make a decision on where to hold their long term assets. Feel free to choose a pension plan in a jurisdiction which will charge you 50% tax, or 39% tax, or 23% tax, or 14% tax, or 5% tax… or 0% tax. It’s up to you. All countries raise revenue in different ways, for different reasons, and compete for your business in different ways, and whilst tax evasion (not paying tax which is legally due) is wrong and illegal, tax avoidance (financial planning to legally reduce the amount of tax owed) is both fully legal and the intelligent thing to do. We can think of absolutely no reason to suggest that anyone should pay more tax than they have to, in the same way as we can think of absolutely no reason why people should over-pay for an apartment rental or a flight ticket. You can always donate extra money to any government worldwide if you want to, or if you wanted to be absolutely sure that your donation wouldn’t end up in the bank account of a corrupt politician or being spent on a bomb to be dropped on a village full of kids somewhere, you can use the money you save by optimising your finances to have a direct positive impact on people you meet on your travels who could really use a bit of help, even if it’s just a bigger tip to a restaurant worker or taxi driver struggling to make ends meet. Money is power, whether you like it or not – have a think about who you want to empower, and live your life – and plan your personal finances – accordingly :-)