A Little-Known European Tax Haven—and How to Get In

Turquoise waters, bountiful lobsters and unspoiled countryside—this is what the island of Sark is known for. Within sight of the French coast of Normandy, it’s popular with French and English tourists alike. Some 60,000 visitors come every year, either as day-trippers or to stay in one of the island’s historic hotels.

But what few people realize is that Sark is also one of Europe’s most attractive tax havens.

Despite having a permanent population of just 600, the island has its own parliament and governs virtually all its own affairs. Residents only pay a yearly property tax. Except for that, there is no requirement to disclose income or to even keep accounts.

It’s been like that since 1565, making this as politically stable a haven as they come. There is a strong lobby for sticking to tradition. For example, there is a ban on automobiles, as residents feel it’s healthier to walk or take a bicycle.

If you want to benefit from this gem of a tax haven, there is only one way in—buying property or getting a long-term leasehold; that is, buying the right to live in a property for a set period of time. This gets you on the land register, which in turn is the legal basis for claiming residency.

Leaseholds can be sold and are the most common form of ownership for properties in Great Britain and its associated territories (such as the Channel Islands).

With just 220 properties, opportunities to become an actual resident are naturally in short supply. What’s even scarcer to find are historic properties that have been upgraded to modern standards.

I’ve been a resident of Sark since 2006 and know virtually every house on the island. If you’re interested in becoming a Sark resident, there is currently a rare opening to purchase one of the island’s most beautiful historic cottages.

As the new leaseholder of the cottage, you would have the opportunity to open a local bank account and become a tax resident.

Once registered as resident, you can even run a business from Sark.

The price for the cottage will depend on the length of the desired leasehold but it should be somewhere around $400,000 for a 20-year lease (a 50-year leasehold is also available).

It’s not just a property investment, but also a ticket to a life outside government coercion and taxes. What would that be worth?

Editor’s note: For more on Sark, and for more details on the property currently for sale there, see Swen’s full article in the January issue of International Living magazine.

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