×
Side drawer
Page
Athens, Greece
Rents Rising

Asking rents for expatriate-quality units in Athens increased as demand rose for rentals, particularly in the city center, Kefalari, Kifissia, and Filothei. Finding good quality rentals can be challenging, since there has not been significant new construction for several years. Apartment supply is low, since many rentals have been converted to short-term accommodations.

Istanbul, Turkey
Rents Falling

Rents for good quality houses decreased in Istanbul over the past six months. Fewer expatriate families are moving to Istanbul and singles and couples rent apartments, so the demand for houses is dropping. Many houses are left vacant while rents for apartments in the prime areas remain stable.

Kharkov, Ukraine
Rents Falling

Kharkov rents decreased considerably over the past year. Supply is very low, especially for detached houses, but demand is even lower, since it never recovered after the political unrest of 2014.

London, U.K.
Rents Falling

Uncertainties surrounding Brexit have encouraged owners to rent rather than sell their properties. Together with new housing developments, the uncertainty has led to an increase in supply and lower rents. Sources said it has been a good year for tenants and agencies, with plenty of supply and solid demand. Demand for rentals has been steady. The decreases in rent vary by area and are greater for higher-priced properties.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Rents Rising

Sri Lanka’s real estate market has expanded rapidly over the past six months. In addition to strong expatriate demand and increased rents, interest in residential properties has strengthened among the nation’s wealthy and middle class population.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Rents Falling

While the serviced rental market has been stable, non-serviced apartment rents dropped over the past six to twelve months. Additional non-serviced rental supply will soon enter the market and lead to even higher availability. Rental negotiation may be available for selected non-serviced apartments. Detached villas have fallen from favor with expatriates because of a perceived lack of security.

AIRINC surveys more than one hundred fifty locations each quarter. Here are some selections.
Q4 Surveys
Selected cities in Europe, Asia, and mainland Southeast Asia
Helsinki, Finland
Hamburg, Germany
Budapest, Hungary
Tel Aviv, Israel
Atyrau, Kazakhstan
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Gothenburg, Sweden
Ankara, Turkey
Aberdeen, U.K.
Shenzhen, China
Chennai, India
Nagoya, Japan
Seoul, South Korea
Taipei, Taiwan
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In response to market volatility, we also conducted survey updates in Buenos Aires and Caracas in the fourth quarter.

Selected 3 month Exchange Rate fluctuations of more than 5% Incomplete
Q1 Upcoming Surveys
Selected cities in North America, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, and maritime Southeast Asia-Pacific
Miami FL, U.S.A.
Nassau, Bahamas
Sao Paulo, Brazil
San Jose, Costa Rica
Curacao
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Maputo, Mozambique
Abuja, Nigeria
Doha, Qatar
Jubail, Saudi Arabia
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Melbourne, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Goods and Services Inflation Incomplete
Venezuela DICOM

The DICOM auctions introduced on May 31 were suspended after the August 31 auction, which was voided. As a result of US sanctions and the country’s continuing economic crisis, Venezuela was unable to pay the USD 22 million the auction would have awarded. The suspension of the DICOM auctions has essentially frozen the VEF exchange rate, although the value continues to depreciate on the black market. In recent months the black market value of the Bolivar has rapidly depreciated and is currently over 120,000 to the dollar.

Due to the depreciation of the Bolivar and the difficulty of obtaining hard currency, the use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular in Venezuela. The recent surge in the value of bitcoin has also made converting Bolivares more appealing to many Venezuelans. Cryptocurrency is also appealing to the government of Venezuela as a way to work around economic sanctions. President Maduro recently announced the creation of the Petro, Venezuela’s own cryptocurrency, backed by natural resources such as oil and gold. Whether the Petro catches on and what impact it will have remains to be seen.

India GST

Six months after the introduction of the national Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India, reactions to the measure are still mixed. The “one nation, one tax” policy was intended to make trade among India’s twenty-nine states and seven union territories easier and faster. Supporters argue that the reform brings transparency to India’s taxation and that a unified tax will increase trade within India as well as internationally. Detractors have said that the government was not ready for such a major overhaul, as evidenced by technology errors and fluctuating revenue collection. They have also complained that the new system is no simpler than the old one. Still, the GST Council is pushing ahead, calling for a new electronic waybill (e-way) system to begin on a voluntary basis in January with a staggered introduction, then to become mandatory in late spring for transactions over 50,000 rupees. Redoubled efforts for invoice matching are also intended to reduce tax evasion. On-site AIRINC surveys found that prices were up since the GST roll-out. As the GST transition continues, AIRINC will continue to monitor the news and survey on-site to track changes as they happen.

Incomplete
“Sin Taxes” Emerge in Gulf States

During negotiations for a 5% VAT, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also agreed to impose steep excise taxes on products deemed “harmful to human health and the environment,” including sugary drinks and cigarettes. Saudi Arabia was the first to enact a new tax in June, followed by the UAE in October. Cigarettes and sugary drinks saw significant price increases. Both countries rolled out the new VAT on January 1. The remaining GCC member states of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are expected to enact similar excise taxes in 2018, although they may also include alcohol and luxury goods. These countries are expected to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE by implementing the VAT by the beginning of 2019. The GCC isn’t alone in searching for new ways to raise revenue and curb behavior—similar excise taxes have been enacted worldwide, from Indonesia to some counties in the US, and there are more on the horizon. In contrast to larger overall tax changes such as the VAT in the GCC or GST in India, however, these changes may have low overall impact on cost of living. AIRINC will survey all GCC states on-site in February 2018.

Selected 3 Month Exchange Rate Fluctuations of More Than 5%
Country Currency Change vs EUR Change vs USD
Ethiopia ETB -13.10% -14.00%
Turkey TRY -9.50% -10.60%
Madagascar MGA -7.10% -8.10%
Uzbekistan UZS -6.60% -7.70%
Gambia GMD -6.60% -7.50%
Zambia ZMW -6.40% -7.50%
Mexico MXN -5.80% -6.60%
Georgia GEL -5.20% -6.10%
Iran IRR -4.80% -5.90%
Norway NOK -4.70% -5.80%
Brazil BRL -4.10% -5.20%
Sweden SEK -4.00% -5.10%
Australia AUD -3.90% -5.10%
Korea KRW 5.10% 3.90%
Goods and Services Inflation
Selected surveyed locations with inflation higher than 5% for 6 months
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mumbai, India
Kiev, Ukraine
Caracas, Venezuela
Page
United States

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law. The comprehensive tax reform act contains provisions that affect individuals and employers of globally-mobile employees (as well as corporations). This update focuses on individual taxation on employment income. The current bracket structure of seven individual tax rates is retained, but the top rate is lowered to 37%, and additional modifications have been made (see table below):

2017

 

Taxable Income

Rate Single Married Filing Jointly
10% $0 to $9,325 $0 to $18,650
15% $9,326 to $37,950 $18,651 to $75,900
25% $37,951 to $91,900 $75,901 to $153,100
28% $91,901 to $191,650 $153,101 to $233,350
33% $191,651 to $416,700 $233,351 to $416,700
35% $416,701 to $418,400 $416,751 to $470,700
39.6% $418,401 and above $470,701 and above

2018

 

Taxable Income

Rate Single Married Filing Jointly
10% $0 to $9,525 $0 to $19,050
12% $9,526 to $38,700 $19,051 to $77,400
22% $38,701 to 82,500 $77,401 to $165,000
24% $82,501 to $157,500 $165,001 to $315,000
32% $157,501 to $200,000 $315,001 to $400,000
35% $200,001 to $500,000 $400,001 to $600,000
37% $500,001 and above $600,001 and above

The standard deduction has increased substantially, while personal exemptions have been eliminated.


Standard Deduction

Single
Married Filing Jointly
Married Filing Separately
Head of Household

2017

$6,350
$12,700
$6,350
$9,350

2018

$12,000
$24,000
$12,000
$18,000

Significant changes have been made to allowable itemized deductions. Individuals will only be able to deduct up to $10,000 combined for state and local income taxes, property taxes, and sales tax. Itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor (including tax preparation fees, investment expenses, and unreimbursed business expenses) have been repealed. The Act also eliminates the ‘Pease’ limitation on overall itemized deductions.

The Act increases the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child, and increases the phaseout threshold for the credit from $110,000 to $400,000 for a married couple.

Qualified moving expenses will no longer be excluded from income, and reimbursement of employment-related moving expenses will now be considered taxable.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has been retained but modified, with increased exemption amounts and phase-out thresholds. With the increased exemptions and above-mentioned changes to itemized deductions, fewer taxpayers will be impacted by AMT in 2018.

State income tax implications are still unclear, as states that previously used Federal taxable income, or Federal Standard/Itemized Deductions or Exemptions, try to understand and respond to the consequences of the reform.

The changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are effective as of January 1, 2018, with updated payroll/withholding forms likely to be available in late-January/early-February. AIRINC is planning on releasing 2018 US tax models via the International Tax Guide in mid-January.

The net effect of these changes will vary by income level and family size, and especially by state (due to the cap on deductible state income tax). Overall, most taxpayers will see a reduction in Federal income tax.