Taiwan vs USA business banking+taxes: Any advice?

Anyone experienced with this have a couple hours for hire to grab a coffee and chat business/finance between USA + Taiwan in Taipei? Or if you only have a few minutes for quick feedback, would love to hear from you below.

I currently live in Taiwan with a USA corporation, making video games and living off royalties from a USA corporation (Steam/Valve - you know them if you’re a gamer) on a monthly payout.

There are some pros and cons of having an American business being in TW:


  • With my USA corp, I can prevent the 30% withholding. This helps because my estimated quarterly taxes is lower than 30%.

  • Taxes are easier (not easy, but easier) to figure out and I can take advantage of Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which rocks. Then I only really have to pay 15.3% sole prop taxes.

  • I’m not double taxed with TW. They have no treaty with USA for withholding, if I operated under a TW entity.

  • My virtual office in USA costs $10/mo and they even scan my incoming mail to PDF and send it to me like email and I can forward it wherever, effortlessly. In TW, it’s fairly expensive and the standard is to pay a year ahead of time. And no electronic or forwarding services. While it may seem like just a small pro, I’ve discovered that this really makes my life easy lol.


  • USA CPA’s are expensive. My taxes are too confusing to not use one. Taiwan CPA’s are countless times cheaper, if I had a TW business, instead.

  • I have an LLC, but I can’t even utilize it. No bank will let me open a business account while abroad. I tried HSBC, Capital One, Silicon Valley Bank, and Bank of Internet (not even the “last resort” bank wanted part of it).

  • Contractor payouts help REDUCE taxes owed in USA, while contractor payouts in Taiwan are subject to a ~30% (non-deductable) tax rate. This lowers the stress of paying contractors (super common as a remote tech startup).

  • No banks want you. Not foreign, not USA. Perfect credit score and banking history? Doesn’t matter: I even tried DBS in Singapore, but FATCA won’t allow it. In fact, FATCA is so over-regulated now that foreign banks simply don’t want you. I can still manage to open a personal account, but nothing beyond that (all the banks I’ve been with disallow any form of business activity, even sole prop). Taiwan banks won’t let you open USA LLC business account, in case you’re wondering.

    (For USA banks, yes, I tried virtual offices. Tried mother’s address in USA. Tried certified proof of address from an embassy. Tried making my mother CFO that lives in USA. They all blame Patriot Act, even if there’s nothing in there that says, “must live domestically in USA and prove address with utilities bill and nothing else”)

  • You may look sort of sketchy to things you do in USA. While most places have np with you entering a virtual address and a VoIP phone number, some places like banks assume you’re loitering money or doing something weird, no matter how legit.

So, essentially, it’s sort of awkward. I can’t have a business bank account, so it’s difficult/expensive to pay my contractors and I don’t like paying with PayPal or something – makes me feel sketchy even though I’m trying to do the right thing. I also don’t trust my bank, as I’ve read horror stories of them just randomly shutting down foreign accounts without a reason, leaving me high and dry.

Hmm, what the heck to do?

If I can get a verified physical address without looking weird about it (if I get on a utilities bill or something), that seems to be the best way to go. However, I’m not sure how complicated that may be. I’m currently Googling if it’s cool to do this.

  1. For physical address for bank forms, If I pay 1/2 my mother’s utilities bills, but don’t live there, can I get my name on that utilities bill? I currently send her a monthly check via bill pay to help with rent/utilities ANYWAY. May as well make it official, but my mother’s worried it’s “illegal” for me to cosign if I don’t live there, which sounds far-fetched.

  2. For physical address for bank forms, If I live with my mother while I’m USA, I can use her address as my USA physical presence, can’t I? Since she’s also the CFO, that’d make further sense.

Is it worth continuing operating as a USA corp vs a Taiwan corp as a USA citizen?

I am married to a native Taiwanese. She actually opened up a business in her name (I trust her 100%, np if it’s in her name only) in case I ever wanted to transfer it to Taiwan. But then, wouldn’t taxes look weird for me? I suddenly need to report $0 income (my wife is not a USA citizen or even a greencard holder - we live here in TW)? O_o the last thing I want to do is raise flags.

If you stay in Taiwan over 90 days (cumulative) you should file a tax return in Taiwan. I think you should look further into the tax implications.

1 Like

I’ll look into this, thanks

EDIT: My wife says because I’m married [to a Taiwanese girl], we do taxes together as a couple. So my wife does them for me.

You are still legally obligated to report and pay taxes on your qualifying income (even those made in the USA and deposited in US bank accounts that have nothing to do with Taiwan) if you are in Taiwan longer than 90 days in a calendar year. Many people/couples don’t (like, the foreign spouse makes money but doesn’t report, and the taiwanese spouse reports only hers as their combined income) and just evade taxes - this happens a lot (I would wager taiwan has a ridiculously high tax evasion rate among everyone, domestic and foreign, it seems like it’s a national sport almost), but it’s still illegal.

That said, certain things might not be taxed, like royalties so your actual tax hit may not be that high.

1 Like

That’s great, does she report your income from the US?

I doubt your income qualifies for this exemption. Be careful as many CPAs are clueless. You need to ask an International Tax Attorney. Any USA derived income does not qualify. And what some pencil pusher at the IRS defines as USA income is pretty wide.

Over the years I have met many dozens of Americans that were excluding income that wasn’t excludable. Many got hit with HUGE bills and penalties.

It is easy to create an account if you take a trip to the USA. You could do it when you are abroad by giving someone power of attorney and use the address on your company documents.

There is no way having your company here would be better.

Better to incorporate in Hong Kong or similar. HK charges zero taxes on anything if you are not living there. Your subcontractors also no tax. This is very useful for non-American contractors.

I have administered dozens of companies out of Hong Kong that had zero employees in Hong Kong. All employees were virtual around the globe. All money is taken out as salaries. The company never makes a profit.

That said, the cost of running a HK corp is USD 5K a year to start. That covers the corp, legal secretary, filing taxes and an audit. I am not sure of how much money you are talking about.

Of course you will be taxed on any income you, an American, take out. And you, as an American, will be taxes on any profits left in the company.

You need to file your income from royalties in Taiwan, in fact any income from a foreign source.

Can you recommend a company to help me incorporate an entity in HK? I have used Newhaven Global in the past but I wonder if there is a less expensive option.

Does the new company need a HK ID holder or HK address?


You need to have a registered office address in HK to get mail from the government but your actual operating address can be anywhere. That said, getting a bank account in HK these days is not as easy as it used to be.

1 Like

Thank you. Can Bridges supply a HK address (for a fee)?

For the bank, I can use an online only bank, can’t I? Does it have to be based on HK?

This is on the Bridges website FYR

Newhaven was acquired by Vistra, which officially took control at the start of this year

I was originally covered by the HK team, so when I inquired yesterday about a Certificate of Incumbency, they referred me to their TW team.

Does anyone have any experience using Vistra? Can anyone suggest an alternative? Vistra seems to be taking over (this is an acquisition from 2016)