Skilled Expats: The Isle of Man Wants You Editorial, 31 July, 2015

The Government of the Isle of Man has announced changes to the territory's work permit system which are intended to give greater certainty to Isle of Man employers and their prospective employees seeking to take up employment in the island and reduce the bureaucracy around applications.

The key changes, effective from October 1, 2015, include:

From December 2015 it is intended that it will also be possible to apply for a work permit online, so reducing the overall time to make an application and making it a more efficient process for employers.

Further information will be provided shortly by the Department about these changes, including how they will affect employers and individuals seeking renewal of existing permits.

Minister for Economic Development Laurence Skelly said: "These changes will help our drive towards even greater economic growth and recognize the increasingly diverse and dynamic economy in the Isle of Man. They balance the interests and needs of local employers, Isle of Man workers and prospective workers, and their families."

Skelly continued: "We wanted to give greater certainty and reassurance to the spouses and civil partners of workers who are contemplating working in the Isle of Man. Together with the other initiatives outlined in the Chief Minister's speech I am confident that we have significantly improved the Isle of Man's offering for employers and potential investors."

About The Isle of Man

Located in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is an English speaking dependency of the British crown but has never formed part of the United Kingdom. The Island spans 52 kilometers from north to south and 22 km from east to west at the widest point, and its population was estimated at approximately 89,000 in 2014. Douglas is the island's administrative and commercial center, and largest town with a population around 28,000.

The Isle is politically stable and enjoys parliamentary government without party politics. Its 1,000 year-old parliament, Tynwald presides over the Island's domestic affairs including, specifically, taxation. Britain is responsible for the Island's defense and foreign affairs. The island forms part of the EU single market and VAT area but is otherwise not part of the EU fiscal area.

The Isle of Man has an English common law type legal system and tends to follow English legislation. There is an infrastructure of sophisticated legal and other professional services. The Isle has a Financial Supervision Commission with a great deal of experience in overseeing and regulating sensitive financial areas.

The Island's government has encouraged economic growth by creating a beneficial tax regime and by offering financial incentives to manufacturing and tourism. Obviously the Isle of Man is probably best known as an "offshore" financial center, and banking, wealth management, investment funds and insurance are all mainstays of the finance industry, while the shipping registry is now one of the largest in the world. However, the Government has invested heavily in telecommunications infrastructure, and the island has a growing reputation as an IT hub. The e-gaming sector is now one the most important pillars of the Manx economy.

Tax In The Isle of Man

In the Isle of Man there is no general capital gains tax, turnover tax or capital transfer tax, and there are no stamp duties. Apart from VAT, the only significant tax is income tax which is levied at a maximum rate of 20% on individuals. Social security contributions are also payable.

An individual's income tax liability is capped at GBP120,000 (which is doubled in the case of a jointly assessed married couple) in relation to all income types.

One of the most attractive features of the Isle of Man's tax regime is its "zero-ten" corporate tax system, under which income from most types of business is taxed at 0 percent. Companies holding banking licenses and those receiving income from land and property in the Isle of Man (which includes rental income, extraction of minerals and property development) are taxed at 10 percent.

Existing Work Permit Rules

The Isle of Man Government is particularly keen to attract highly-skilled and wealthy immigrants, especially if they intend to make an investment in the island.

Employers may employ individuals from within the European Economic Area (EEA) who are not Isle of Man workers, provided that there are no suitable Isle of Man workers available to fill those specific roles.

The EEA states are the 28 member states of the European Union and Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Although Switzerland is not an EEA state, its nationals have the same rights to live and work in the Isle of Man as EEA nationals.

In June 2010, the Isle of Man government announced major changes to rules surrounding work permits for nationals from outside the EEA or from Switzerland, which ushered in a points-based system (PBS) in line with legislation in place in the UK.

The PBS does not apply to applications for work permits for people from within the EEA or Switzerland.

Points are awarded for evidence of a lack of suitable local skilled workers, qualifications and the prospective earnings of the worker. In addition migrants must also meet points-based criteria for having sufficient funds available to them and a proficiency in English language.

There are four tiers under the PBS systems, the first two of which are of interest to high-net-worth individuals intending to settle and/or invest in the Island Man, and highly-skilled individuals. They include Tier 1: Highly skilled workers, businesspersons and investors; Tier 2: Skilled workers with a job offer etc; Tier 4 Students with unconditional offer of places on relevant courses; and Tier 5 Temporary workers.

Life in the Isle of Man

The Island has a temperate climate due to the influence of the surrounding Irish Sea. Snowfall and frost are rare in winter. February is normally the coldest month, with an average daily temperature of 4.9 C and is often fairly dry but rather windy. April, May and June are the driest months whilst May, June and July are the sunniest. The average daily maximum temperature in the summer months is around 17.6 C.

The Island has excellent health care, high educational standards, efficient transport and communication systems, and offers the sorts of leisure opportunities expected of an advanced European country.

Compared with the metropolitan areas of the UK, crime is low in the Isle of Man, and away from the main towns residents can enjoy a peaceful existence. Unlike Britain's other Crown Dependencies (Guernsey and Jersey), the local housing market isn't controlled, and there are properties available to suit most tastes and pockets.

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