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Why residency matters in Panama

Anna Cristina Valdes
The concept of residency is defined by Panamanian law in Law 33 of June 30 2010, as amended by Law 52 of August 28 2012. The necessity for such a definition arises principally from the signing of conventions for the avoidance of double taxation (DTCs) by the Republic of Panama, and to assist its national strategy regarding the development of international services.

In particular, Article 762-N of the Panamanian Tax Code establishes that tax residents are those individuals who remain on Panamanian territory for more than 183 days, or who have established their permanent homes in the country. Furthermore, legal entities constituted in accordance with Panamanian laws, or constituted as foreign entities registered with Panama's Public Registry, which have their place of effective management in the Republic of Panama, are also considered tax residents.

In order to qualify for the benefits set forth in a DTC, there is typically the prerequisite that a Certificate of Residence is obtained.

In Panama, Certificates of Residence are issued by the Department of International Taxation, a division of the Republic of Panama's Tax Authority.

It should be noted that at present the Department of International Taxation has the power to issue additional Certificates of Residence as proof of the legal and fiscal relationship an entity has with the Republic of Panama; this power may be used even in the absence of a DTC.

Finally, it is important to recognise that whenever a person requires a Certificate of Residence issued by the Panamanian Tax Authority, the request must contain sufficient proof that the applicant is indeed a resident of the Republic of Panama. Such proof must adhere to the criteria mentioned above.

Anna Cristina Valdes

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