IMI Research Unit

11 Special Regimes for

Low-Tax Living in High-Tax Europe

How you or your client can legally pay a single-digit tax rate and live in eight otherwise high-tax Western European countries.


Western Europe, for all its flaws, remains among the world’s foremost regions in terms of quality of life. Characterized by comparatively high degrees of material well-being, security, and political predictability – and a uniquely old-world charm – life on the continent appeals to a global audience.

But the region has its drawbacks, chief among which are the almost uniformly heavy tax burdens it imposes on both individuals and companies.

This report is for those attracted to Western Europe for its lifestyle proposition but deterred from residing there full-time by high levels of taxation. The report will show how you (or your client), by participating in special tax regimes that Western European governments have expressly designed to soften the fiscal blow for foreigners, can have your cake and eat it too.

Our guide covers 11 preferential tax regimes in Western Europe: 

– Greece
– Ireland
– Italy
– Malta
– Portugal
– Switzerland
– United Kingdom 

We have only included tax regimes that enable a single-digit effective tax rate in otherwise high-tax countries (defined as having a top marginal income tax of 30% or higher). 

This report does not, therefore, concern itself with European countries whose ordinary tax rates are already low – such as city-state tax havens like Monaco, Gibraltar, or Andorra – nor with larger countries with relatively low standard rates, such as Hungary, Estonia, Czechia, and so on. 

Western Europe’s preferential tax regimes take various forms, each catering to particular classes of tax residents. Some are particularly favorable to those who receive high passive incomes, such as in the form of dividends, capital gains, interest, rental income, royalties, and similar. 

Other regimes are better-suited to those with high professional incomes, such as senior company executives, athletes, remote-workers, and social media influencers. By the same token, some of the regimes will only make fiscal sense for those whose income is in the millions, while others enable provide exceptionally low rates of tax even for employees earning a modest income.

Europe is a high-tax continent but, if you take advantage of the growing number of special regimes, it can be a veritable tax haven.

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In preparing the report, we consulted with specialists in each of the special regimes. The following legal experts have quality-controlled our chapters:

56 pages

February, 2023
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