Lee And Li, Attorneys-At‑Law
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Yes, foreigners (except for nationals and companies of the People's Republic of China which are subject to specific restrictions) are allowed to own real estate and to hold shares in property-owning companies, subject to the relevant government approvals. The approval for a foreigner to obtain the title of real estate in Taiwan is generally granted on a reciprocal basis. In addition, a foreign company cannot own real estate in Taiwan unless it is recognized and sets up a Taiwan branch. Generally speaking, no special government approval is required for a foreigner to occupy real estate in Taiwan.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
No restrictions are specifically imposed on foreign companies. Under the Regulations Governing Home Mortgage Loans for High-Value Housing Extended by Financial Institutions, a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio applies to high-value housing loans only. The term “high-value housing” refers to (1) property in Taipei City valued at NT$70 million (approx. US$2.33 million) or more; (2) property in New Taipei City valued at NT$60 million (approx. US$2 million) or more; or (3) property located elsewhere in Taiwan valued at NT$40 million (approx. US$1.33 million) or more.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
While the seller will bear the land value increment tax levied on the land and the value added tax (VAT) levied on the building, the buyer will bear the deed tax levied on the building and the stamp duties. In practice, government registration fee (for the registration of the title transfer) and the fees for issuance of title deeds will also be payable by the buyer. It is common for buyers to engage legal, financial and/or technical advisors to conduct due diligence. In addition, a scrivener is usually engaged to handle tax and title transfer related applications. If the buyer and seller have an escrow arrangement, an escrow fee will also be payable.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
A land or building owner must pay land value tax or house tax. The burden of such taxes can be passed onto a person other than the owner via contractual arrangements, even though the owner remains the statutory taxpayer.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
The ownership of real estate is evidenced by the registration thereof with the land office. Any change in the ownership of real estate in Taiwan will not take effect until the change is registered with the land office; a buyer will not become the legal owner of the real estate until the registration with the land office is completed.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
Taiwan has a public search system which allows anyone to search for the owner(s) of a particular land or building by paying a small fee. However, due to the restrictions prescribed under the Personal Data Protection Act, the name of any individual owner of real estate will be partially redacted, and thus the full name of an individual owner will not be shown on the registration transcript (i.e., the document showing the public search result).