Pattaya expats seek income tax clarification from the prime minister

The latest Thai income tax policy is frightening many retirees living on modest pensions.

PATTAYA, Thailand – A group of Pattaya-based retirees say they are both confused and aggrieved by continuing ambiguity about their Thai tax liability from January 1 2024. Thai Revenue stated many months ago that “most” overseas income transmitted to Thailand from that date would be subject to personal income tax, to be collected the following year. The requirement applies to all tax residents, namely Thais or foreigners residing in the kingdom for at least six months in a calendar year. The policy is said to be principally aimed at closing tax loopholes exploited mostly by super-rich Thais in the past.

Kurt Fischer told the Pattaya Mail, “We are appealing to the Thai premier to order a clarification for the 500,000 or so foreign tax residents here. Our group are all retirees who live exclusively on income and pensions already taxed in our home country. We do not run businesses abroad, indulge in currency speculation or salt away money in offshore bank accounts, but the advice from so-called tax experts is flatly contradictory. Some say that pension income already taxed in the home country is absolutely exempt, whilst others maintain that it’s just a tax credit against payments due here in Thailand.”

Another group member Kevin Haddon explained, “There are all sorts of rumors, for example that you will need to obtain a tax identification number from the Revenue to qualify for a one year extension of stay, or that you can ignore the whole thing if your country (one of 61) has concluded its own double taxation treaty with Thailand. Some people have been told by experts to use an international credit card, with headquarters outside Thailand, for as many transactions as possible in order to avoid detection.”

The group observed that the lack of definitive information was leading some expats to consider moving abroad, whilst others were simply burying their head in the sand, ostrich-style, and hoping the horror will pass them by. “The confusion is really bad for the future of the traditional retirement market in Thailand. The confusion is obviously a paradise for tax lawyers and accountants,” one told Pattaya Mail, “but an absolute nightmare for us.”