Help in figuring out time frame needed for move


#1

Hello all, I’m new here - I have a situation and would love for any advice. I’m an ABT (no sheng fen zheng) with many relatives in Taipei and have good familiarity with the area. I’ve recently and very hastily accepted a move to a US based company that has an engineering branch in the Taipei area, and while I would officially be based out of the US, I would basically spend the majority of my time in Taiwan (so I guess, similar to an ex-pat, with the monthly flight back to the US for meetings). The company will provide a stipend but I will need to arrange for all of that myself, which includes finding a place, utilities, furniture (well that will be on my dime), etc.

I need to provide the company guidance on how long they need to put me up in an hotel, so I was wondering how long it might take to get all this settled. Basically how long would it take to get all that settled, from landing in Taiwan to getting a rental unit and setting up everything? I can ask for assistance from cousins or staff, but am really not sure what the time frames are like there, and will want to tell the company a reasonable but not too long time that they’ll need to put me up in an hotel.

I also am not sure about possibly visa requirements - the company sends people to Taiwan on short business trips all the time, but I would be opting to stay there considerably longer. The 90 day limit is no problem since I’d be flying back to the USA once a month for meetings, but am wondering if I would need to transition to some work visa or something or if I can just continuously go back and forth and work in Taipei. Also I believe there is the tax issue but since I will be paid in America and won’t exceed whatever time limit for the rest of 2017, that shouldn’t be a problem (although 2018 might be a different story).

For business reasons, this is very rushed so any help/advice would be really appreciated. I’ve done a bunch of reading but much of the info targets actual ex-pats or English teachers, not someone who is “here on a very extended business trip”. Is there anything else I should be aware of? Anyone has done this too with any thing I might not be considering? Thanks for any responses!


#2

Tell your company you might need 6 to 8 weeks to settle into an appropriate place. Plan for it to take 4 to 6 weeks.

It will help if yoi have 2 or 3 target areas in mind to gocus your housing search - close to work? Clise to client? Close to transportation?

My company brought onboard a specialist recently. She grew up here but spent the past 15 years in the US East Coast. So she has family in Linkou but we needed her for our office in downtown Taipei. She took 4 months but that was because her exit from the US complicated things.

I moved to an unfamiliar part of town recently. When I finally got down to really looking, i was referred to 4 realtors, saw a dozen places, and made a decision in 1 week. I had very specific requirements that I (apparently) communicated well to the brokers. Of the 12 places I saw in my target area, I really liked 3 and could see myself in 2 more. I wanted to close the move quickly though. I probably could have found an even better deal than what I decided on had I looked for another week. But so far I am quite happy in my new place.


Is your Taiwan operation going to pay your salary? My company has a US office and we fly in guys all the time for 2 to 3 week stays. Tbey are not on our payroll but on our US subsidiary’s so we do not sweat their TW taxes or reporting.


#3

Be sure to research the tax implications of such an arrangement.


#4

Thanks for the advice! I’ll tell them the first month then at least. I am familiar with the area and I’d probably look for a place in Banqiao which is near the office, and near one of the MRT stations since I won’t otherwise be able to get around. It sounds like this might take longer though than anticipated, I actually have no clue what the process is like for renting but I can rely on cousins to help me out. I take it just looking through 591 (the way I would on craigslist in the US) isn’t enough and I should actually find brokers to help in the process? Is there anything else that I should take into account, something I should get in order before leaving?

As for taxes, well I would be paid through the American company and into American accounts. As far as anyone is concerned, I am not actually working in Taiwan - I am based in the USA but on business trips to Taiwan. These business trips just happen to last several weeks at a time. I read up and it seems if you are under half the year then I will be fine (even more so since it’s all in America). But in 2018 I am not sure, there’s the possibility that I might try and get my sheng fen zheng by entering on the ROC passport and applying for a TARC - I haven’t decided but it’s something I could try and do while I am out here - and that could entail some tax complications (but I’ll worry about that way later).


#5

You are liable for Taiwan taxes after 90 cumulative days, even for foreign sourced income. You would be expected to file a return at that point with a few rare exceptions. How much you owe would depend on your income of course.

Should you ever try to become an official resident, they will ask why you didn’t file taxes in the previous years. And of course, no one here would recommend doing as you said and wait until later to figure it out or not file because you “aren’t actually working in Taiwan”.

This is why most US companies for someone in your situation will offer a tax equalization benefit.

For what it’s worth, it could take 6-8 weeks to find a place I guess but I doubt it would take more than a month. Most places available for rent on 591 and such are available immediately.


#6

Ah you are right, I think when I did some hasty calculations I made sure I was under 90 days because I have to travel back once a month for a week or so, and I could take off latter half of Dec, so the total would be something in the high 80s. I will be leaving mid August, with 140 days left at that point, subtract 40 days for the trips back home, and end of Dec would be back in the states for holiday season. Hrm. The only pressing thing is an October hard deliverable so after that I could tailor my schedule as needed. Or maybe I should just buck it up and pay the 18%, which will be a substantial amount of money. I did not negotiate a tax equalization benefit, because the company is basing me out of the USA, I just go to Taiwan as much as I feel I need, but I can try and renegotiate that. I was expecting to pay taxes in 2018 but was targeting the foreign tax credit for the US to reduce the burden there. Thanks for the clarifications, and if there is anything else I am missing, which is probably a lot, please let me know! (The perils of hasty decisions sigh).


#7

18% is the withholding rate for foreigners for the first 183 days of the year who work for local Taiwan companies. You don’t work for a local company. Your actual tax rate will depend on you income and the number of days you are in Taiwan for the tax year.

A tax equalization benefit is for someone exactly like you and your situation. Research carefully, both the US and Taiwan implications.


#8

Well now that I realize I have no idea what I am doing, I will spend a bit more time figuring this out. I’ll post again when I have a clearer idea and will ask for help at that point. Thanks for your help so far!


#9

Good luck in your housing search!

As I mentioned already, we had thought through must-haves and nice-to-haves at the start of our apartment search, so communicating these effectively to the agent and bearing these in mind as we assessed each place we visited helped us feel comfortable about our decision making process.

It also helped a lot that my spouse speaks Mandarin fluently. If your Mandarin isn’t that strong, hopefully you will have friends or family who can offer the same.

I looked at 591 for my target area as well. As promising as it was, that seemed to require a lot more work than broker’s who could access databases more efficiently (because they know the area better). Of the 12-odd places we saw, there were 2 that different brokers planned to show us.

Our search ran essentially over 2 weekends because of my schedule and my wife’s availability. I originally set a goal of seeing 20 places, but after seeing several places we liked and figuring the rental values seemed to be within a tight range, we initated negotiations with our favorite one relatively earlier than planned. I think it helped having the broker as a go-between for this stage as well.

I look forward to hearing any tips you can share from your own process. And how long it takes for you to find something you like.


I met someone who moved into Manila from Bangkok who used an interesting approach. He also knew in advance what part of town he wanted to live, so that again was key. Every day for his first week, he stayed in a different airbnb apartment. Some were in condos where he could chat up the security staff and ask for tips and what other available units for rent there might be. He found a place he liked there in one week.

I cannot say such an approach would work here - again, you need the language skills to glean that extra insight. My acquaintance is an Aussie who doesn’t speak Tagalog, but that did not deter him from getting the information he needed to make a decision.