While life in Taiwan may seem like a fantasy world for many foreigners, it isn’t all incredible convenience, 7-Eleven beers, and floating around the island feeling like there are no real consequences for your actions. Sometimes you have to act like an actual grown up and do real grown up things. One of these things is filing your taxes. To be clear: we’re talking about Taiwanese taxes. Depending on where you’re from, you may also be required to pay taxes in your home country. You will usually find this out when you go to open your Taiwanese bank account. When the author of this article went to open his bank account the lady behind the counter asked him in English if he was American. He said no. She then turned to his kind Taiwanese colleague who had gone to help him and asked “他是美國人嗎?” He still wasn’t. Here is a guide to paying your taxes as a foreigner working an average white-collar job (teacher, editor, etc.) in Taiwan. (Read more: How to open a bank account in Taiwan)
When is it time to file taxes?
Between May 1 and May 31. However, if you are leaving Taiwan, you must file your return early up to ten days prior to your departure.
What happens if I file late?
Payments are due by June 3. After then you are likely to be punished in the form of a fine.
What makes me eligible to be taxed?
To put it simply, if you spend 183 days or more in Taiwan during the tax year (same as the calendar year) you become a Taiwan tax resident. If you worked in Taiwan and stayed more than 90 days, you are also required to be taxed on your income. If you stay 90-183 days you need to pay the fixed rate of 18% tax. A lot of companies automatically deduct this from your salary each month.
How can I calculate how much I should be taxed or if I qualify for any exemptions?
Luckily, you don’t need an accountant or need to be a mathematical wiz. You can use the Ministry of Finance’s Alien Individual Income Tax Calculator.
How do I file my taxes?
You can file online or in person. You can file in person at your local tax office. It is usually a quick process and the staff will be able to speak English. You can also file online (unless you are from Mainland China). Check out this excellent walkthrough of the online filing process from Foreigners in Taiwan. We recommend going in person if it is your first time.
How can I pay?
You can pay in cash, by card, bank transfer, at an ATM, by check, or even at a convenience store. Tax refunds, if applicable, will be paid to you by check or direct deposit. It may take a couple of months or so for you to receive your refund.
For a much more detailed look into the taxation process for people with different circumstances, check out this guide again from Foreigners in Taiwan.