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Brunei: Wealth Management

Tax System and Wealth

In Brunei there is no personal income tax, and there are no export, sales, payroll or manufacturing taxes. Sole-proprietorship and partnership businesses are not subject to income tax.

Stamp duties are levied on a variety of documents. The duties are either ad valorem or fixed, depending on the nature of the documents.

Ad Valorem Duties apply to:

  • Instruments of transfer of property including marketable securities, shares of other companies and of non tangible property, benefits to legal rights and goodwill;
  • Instruments creating interests in property, for example Tenancies and Leases;
  • Instrument of security for monies including instruments creating contracts for payment or monies of binding (generally described as "bond");
  • Certain capital market instrument, for example, Contract Notes, Share Certificates, etc.

Instruments which attract ad valorem duty include: mortgages; leases/tenancy agreements; and transfer of shares.

Fixed Duties apply to:

  • A number of other legal, commercial, mercantile or capital market instruments, for example, instrument of Articles of Association of a company, Promissory Notes, Policies of Insurance, etc; and
  • A duplicate or a subsidiary or a collateral instrument when it can be shown that the original or principal or primary duly stamped.

In general an application for determining the amount of duty chargeable on any executed instrument can be made to the Collector. For this purpose the Collector may require that the instruments be furnished together with an affidavits or other evidence. The Collector may refuse such application until the required instrument and evidence have furnished accordingly.

The purpose of adjudication is to protect the parties to the contract in respect of the admissibility of the instrument in court during a civil proceeding. This is because an instrument which is not duly stamped is not admissible in court as evidence.

Evidently this is a tax regime which is conducive to the accumulation of wealth. Obviously in Brunei much of the wealth accrues to members of the royal family via oil and gas revenues, and to the Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, which is reckoned to stand at about USD30bn.



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