Kuwait assembly urged to debate expat remittance tax bill

The bill states that foreign workers would be taxed by up to 5 per cent on their money transfers abroad



Image for illustrative purposes

Kuwait’s assembly could soon debate the passing of a bill that will see a 5 per cent tax levied on expat remittances, local media reported.

The motion to debate the bill has received the signatures of seven members of parliament, with the “support of several others”, Kuwait Times quoted MP Khalil Al-Saleh as saying.

Al-Saleh, who collected the signatures, said they were pushing to debate the bill on Tuesday, May 14.

The bill, first introduced last year, was rejected by the Kuwaiti government, the Central Bank and the assembly’s legal and legislative committee. They argued that it will adversely impact the economy and create a black market for transferring money.

Read: Kuwait central bank governor warns of negative impact of remittance taxes

Kuwait parliament committee rejects proposed remittance tax

However, the assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee approved the bill last year and sent it to the assembly for debate.

The bill states that foreign workers would be taxed on their money transfers abroad, on top of normal commissions and charges by banks and exchange houses, based on the amount sent.

Transfers of up to KD99 ($330) would be taxed at 1 per cent, transfers of KD100-299 ($334-$997) at 2 per cent and transfers of KD300-499 ($1,001-$1,664) at 3 per cent. Those of KD500 ($1678) and above would be taxed at 5 per cent.

Transactions related to investment protection would be exempt.

If approved, those found violating the law by engaging in black market transfers would face fines of double the amount transferred not exceeding KD10,000 ($33,000) and a jail sentence of up to five years.

The bill is one of several targeting the country’s foreign population proposed by MPs in recent years including large fees for driving licences and work term limits.

Foreign residents currently make up around 70 per cent of the 4.6 million population, but some MPs want it to be closer to 50 per cent.

Reports last last year indicated the government was seeking opinions on the possibility of establishing a national committee to rebalance Kuwait’s demographic structure.

This would mean at least 1.5 million foreigners leaving the country in the coming years, according to some estimates.

Read: Kuwait plans to ‘cut 1.5 million foreign residents’