This picture:

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(source) currently has nearly 6,000 likes on Facebook. Its claim as text:

There are over 20 countries on Earth that have zero tax, yet somehow they still have roads, schools, sewers, and hospitals.. most of them better than ours! Imagine that...

Judging by other posts on the same page, the "ours" mentioned here is likely to refer to the United States. Is it true that there are countries which collect no taxation and provide these kinds of public services, and are they "better" than similar services in the US by any reliable evidence-based metric?

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    Here is a list of ten countries with no income tax... fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/04/…
    – GEdgar
    Apr 1, 2016 at 0:32
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    @GEdgar Worth pointing out that the claim does technically say zero tax, unqualified with income, payroll, property, sales, tarriffs (i.e. import / export taxes), VAT, etc. if that's so, and the states still provide social services, they must have some non-tax source of revenue.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 1, 2016 at 1:10
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    @Dan Bron: Anyone want to bet that those countries are all major oil exporters?
    – jamesqf
    Apr 1, 2016 at 4:26
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    Comments after my link say: either oil or tourism. So, the way the government can get money from oil without taxation is: the government owns the oil companies.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 1, 2016 at 12:58
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    to be fair, it's not very hard to have better public infrastructure than US.
    – vartec
    Apr 1, 2016 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


There are only 15 countries in the world with no income taxes, listed here. These are countries such as United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Brunei. Another source provided by user DavePhD adds British Virgin Islands, Monaco, Norfolk Island, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Vanuatu to this list.

However only one of those countries United Arab Emirates is found in this list of Mercer's Quality of Living Rankings for 2016 noted here in the Middle East and African region. Mercer's Quality of Living Rankings measures living conditions according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories which includes public services and transportation.

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    The Wikipedia page on taxation in UAE disagrees. Each of the autonomous emirates has its own income tax legislation, which at least apply to some kind of businesses: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates Apr 1, 2016 at 13:41
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    Of course "no income tax" is not the same as "zero tax". Tax havens generally offer low corporate taxes alongside low levels of financial oversight. This attracts large amounts of throughput, compensating for the low rate and providing a reasonable revenue stream for the government. Of course this model doesn't scale to large countries. Apr 1, 2016 at 14:03
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    @Paul Johnson: Yes. For instance the US state of Nevada has no state income tax, but imposes a hefty sales tax, taxes on casinos, and so on. Someone gets taxed, regardless.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 1, 2016 at 18:14
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    @Andrew Grimm: But how do you tax slaves?
    – jamesqf
    Apr 2, 2016 at 5:41
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    @pericles316 Claiming that there is no income tax in the UAE just because there is no federal income tax although the tax is claimed by each emirate makes just as much sense as to claim that there is no income tax in the EU, because the income tax is claimed by each country and not by the EU as a union Apr 3, 2016 at 16:54

This page lists the countries with the lowest business tax rates, but none of them have zero. This also excludes personal taxes (income, capital gains etc).

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    Interesting. It is based on the Global Competiteness Report's Total Tax Rate (Select 6.05 in the drop-down), which "only" includes 140 countries, so strictly there might still be 20 others with no tax.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 1, 2016 at 10:50
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    Strictly, yes, but you probably don't want to do business in them. You might be hard put to find decent roads, schools, sewers and hospitals too. Apr 1, 2016 at 13:57

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