Capital gains tax in Cyprus – an attractive tax regime

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Cyprus capital gains tax

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Cyprus capital gains tax is only charged on the sale of Cyprus property. Gains from shares and the sale of overseas property are exempt – making Cyprus a very attractive tax regime for retirees. 

One of the tax benefits of living in Cyprus is the fact that capital gains tax is so limited.   Only gains arising from the disposal of local real estate are chargeable.  Gains made on the sale of shares, company shareholdings, overseas property, or any other assets are not taxed in Cyprus.

If you are planning to move to Cyprus, therefore, it may be worth waiting until you are a tax resident there to sell the assets you own in the UK or elsewhere.

Cyprus capital gains tax on property

Only property located in Cyprus is liable to capital gains tax, at a flat rate of 20%, as follows:

  • Cyprus real estate (‘immoveable property’)
  • Unlisted shares of companies which own real estate in Cyprus
  • Shares in companies which indirectly own immoveable property in Cyprus and at least 50% of the market value of the shares is derived from such immoveable property.

This applies to both residents and non-residents.

Shares listed on any recognised stock exchange are excluded from these provisions. Gains made prior to 1980 are not charged and property purchased between July 2015 and December 2016 is exempt from tax, whenever it might be sold.

Exemptions and allowances

If you sell one Cyprus property and use the gain to buy another, you will not need to pay capital gains tax at the time. In effect, the gain made on selling the old property reduces the cost of the new one, and you will only pay tax when you come to sell the new property.

Otherwise, if the property you are selling is your main residence and you have lived there for at least five years, you may benefit from a single lifetime allowance of €85,430 on the tax due on the gain.

Note however that this is a one-off allowance, and once fully utilised, no further exemptions or allowances are available. If this exemption isn’t fully utilised, the balance can’t be carried forward to use against the disposal of a future main residence.

Since this exemption is for main residences, it doesn’t apply to non-residents. However, they do receive a lower lifetime allowance of €17,086. Sales of agricultural land attract an allowance of €25,629 (but €85,430 is the maximum CGT allowance you can receive).

No capital gains tax is applied when a property is transferred on death (there isn’t any local inheritance tax either), and you can also gift property to spouses or members of the family up to the third degree, without any tax liability arising. Gifts to a charitable organisation are also exempt.

There can also be exemptions where land and buildings are transferred into or out of family companies, although there are restrictions as to the length of ownership etc.

Calculating chargeable gains

When calculating capital gains on real estate, the purchase and improvement costs may be deducted. An ‘indexation’ allowance is given for inflation, based on the Cyprus Consumer Price Index.

Only gains arising from January 1980 are chargeable. You have a choice of using the actual purchase cost upon which to base your capital gains tax calculation, or the value of the property as of January 1980.

Cyprus capital gains tax on shares

While many counties will tax the gains made on the disposal of shares and other securities, they’re tax-free in Cyprus.

So while your investment income may be taxed (though this depends on how you hold your investments and how long you have lived in Cyprus), any profit you make on your original investment is not.

This includes company shareholdings. So if you are planning to sell your company before you retire in Cyprus, you may wish to wait until you are officially tax resident here.

Other Cyprus tax benefits

Besides limited capital gains tax regime, there are other tax benefits to living in Cyprus:

  • Foreign nationals generally benefit from tax-free investment income for 17 years
  • Favourable tax rates for foreign pension income
  • No local inheritance tax and no form of wealth tax

How we can help

If you are thinking of retiring in Cyprus, we’ll be happy to guide you through all the Cyprus tax implications and how you can make the most of the beneficial tax regime. We can also advise on timing your move to save tax, and if and when you should sell the assets you own outside Cyprus.

We’ll also explain the local succession law, which imposes forced heirship, and how you can avoid it.

Blevins Franks has been advising UK nationals moving to Europe for 45 years and have had an established office in Paphos for 20 years now. We provide integrated, cross-border advice on taxation, estate planning, investing, and pensions.

Contact us today and let us help you with your retirement plans.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.