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Offshore Jurisdiction Review: Is Luxembourg A Tax Haven?

Luxembourg, a small European country, has been perennially in the spotlight for its tax policies, which have made it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. Known for its progressive tax scale and various fiscal incentives, Luxembourg has managed to establish itself as a notable financial center within the European Union. Its approach to taxation, particularly for corporations, offers advantages like a territorial tax system, which exempts income from foreign sources, and competitive corporate tax rates, making it an alluring locale for business entities looking to optimize their tax liabilities.

Despite the benefits touted by its government, Luxembourg's tax practices have come under scrutiny by investigative journalists and international organisations. Reports revealing intricate details of the nation's tax regime have sparked debates on the definition and ethical considerations of tax havens. These probes led to increased pressure on Luxembourg to align its policies with global tax transparency standards. As a response to such scrutiny, the country has implemented reforms to shed its 'tax haven' label, while attempting to maintain its appeal as a financial hub.

In this article, we look at the features of Luxembourg’s corporate and tax structures which make it such an attractive tax haven jurisdiction. 

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Key Takeaways

  • Luxembourg offers a favorable tax environment that attracts considerable foreign investment.
  • Investigative reports have prompted Luxembourg to revise its tax framework for greater transparency.
  • The country continues to balance the demand for competitiveness with international tax compliance.

Is Luxembourg A Tax Haven?

On the surface, there does not appear to be anything special about the small European nation of Luxembourg that would classify it as a tax haven. It’s quoted personal income and corporate tax rates are nothing out of the ordinary. Yet for the past six decades, it has been a tax haven of choice for wealthy individuals and businesses from Europe and around the world. 

The key feature of Luxembourg’s tax structure which make it an ideal tax haven is its “territorial” tax system. While residents of Luxembourg are required to pay taxes on their global income, non-residents and foreign entities are only taxed on the income that they earn within Luxembourg itself. This system has been adopted by other nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. However, Luxembourg’s is quite unique in how it only applies this territorial tax treatment to non-residents, indicating its intention to position itself as an offshore haven. 

What this means is that, even though the standard personal and corporate income tax rates in Luxembourg are in line with global norms, international/multinational companies have been able to enter into agreements with Luxembourg that have enabled them to reduce their effective tax rate to under 1%. Evidence of such agreements were uncovered in the “Luxembourg Leaks” and include the likes of Amazon, Apple, AIG, and FedEx. 

Luxembourg also has many other key features which have made it a top choice as a tax haven. It is popular with companies looking to issue debt because it does not charge a withholding tax. This also allows companies to avoid taxation on interest and royalty payments. Setting up a shell company in Luxembourg is extremely easy and the best way to utilise their various offshore tax benefits. Along with Ireland and Netherlands, Luxembourg is one of the top EU tax havens, where a significant portion of profits from other EU nations is transferred to reduce taxes. 

Benefits of Starting a Business in Luxembourg 

Luxembourg lends itself to offshore company incorporation and is the most popular way to access its tax haven features. Some of the key advantages of setting up an offshore business in Luxembourg include:

  • Territorial tax system: offshore LLCs and corporations (i.e., non-resident) are only required to pay income and corporate taxes on income earned/sourced within Luxembourg. This makes it ideal for large multi-national companies with operations in foreign countries other than Luxembourg. Citizens of countries which levy income taxes on worldwide income (e.g., USA) will still have to pay taxes to their own country. 
  • Security and stability: Luxembourg is a core EU nation with a stable political and economic environment. It offers high levels of security for corporate entities. 
  • Privacy: Only those corporations which are conducting operations in Luxembourg itself are entered into public records.
  • Investment and trade hub: Luxembourg is the second largest investment funds centre in the world, with over EUR 2.5 trillion under management. Almost half of all incoming and outgoing EU investments pass through Luxembourg. This is astonishing for such a small country. 
  • Bearer shares are permitted: Luxembourg is one of the few jurisdictions where bearer shares are permitted, which offer greater confidentiality. 
  • Numerous favourable corporate structures available: Luxembourg corporate entities can choose one of several favourable structures, all offering different tax, security, and privacy benefits. For example:
    • Holding company structure allows corporations to hold and manage assets while being able to lend and borrow, and collect royalty income. This can offer numerous tax advantages. 
    • Special investment fund structure opens the opportunity to invest in various securities, and only be subject to a miniscule annual subscription tax of 0.01% of the value of its net assets. 
    • Family wealth management company is another choice of corporate structure whereby individuals can optimally pass on their assets to their heirs. 
  • Fast incorporation: It takes only a week to incorporate a company in Luxembourg and shelf companies are available for faster incorporation. 
  • Excellent reputation: Luxembourg is a developed EU nation and is viewed as a transparent and reputable jurisdiction. Incorporating a company here can help you maintain a high degree of respectability and avoid unwanted scrutiny which you might otherwise be exposed to if you incorporate in a more traditional tax haven. 
  • Only one shareholder/director is required, and they may be of any nationality. 
  • Extremely liveable: Aside from being a business-friendly jurisdiction, Luxembourg is also a comfortable country to live in with a high quality of life.


Luxembourg has a territorial tax system which has differential tax treatment towards its citizens and/or residents compared to non-resident individuals and corporate entities. In general, the tax treatment of foreign entities is far more favourable, with exemptions and tax deductions across the board. The degree of exemption is such that Luxembourg is categorised as having a fully territorial tax system. Generally, a stay in Luxembourg of more than six consecutive months results in being classified as a tax resident. 

Corporate Tax

Luxembourg corporate entities must pay tax on their worldwide income and non-resident entities only on Luxembourg-sourced income. For resident entities and those earning their income inside Luxembourg, the rates are as follows:

  • Businesses with a taxable income lower than 175,000 EUR are liable for CIT at a rate of 15%. 
  • The tax rate for businesses with taxable income between EUR 175,000 and EUR 200,001 is EUR 26,250 plus 31% of the tax base above EUR 175,000. 
  • Finally, for companies with taxable income above EUR 200,001, the CIT rate is 17%. This leads to an overall maximum tax rate of 24.94% after including a solidarity surtax of 7% on the CIT rate (i.e., a net addition of 1.19%) and a 6.75% municipal business tax payable by all resident companies. 

Personal Income Tax

Similarly, personal income tax is levied on worldwide income of persons residing in Luxembourg, and only on Luxembourg-sourced income of non-residents. 

Luxembourg has complex classifications for tax rates, whereby income tax liability is based on personal circumstances. Taxpayers are put into three classes based on their family situation, and further distinguished by the income bracket they fall into. A detailed breakdown of how this system works can be found here. Ultimately though, the income tax rates range from 0% right up to 42% depending on which class and income bracket the taxpayer falls within. 

Withholding tax

There is zero withholding tax on dividends and royalties. 

Municipal Business Tax

The Municipal Business Tax (MBT) varies depending on the municipality in which the business is established. The MBT in the municipality of Luxembourg is 6.75%, making it one of the most favorable rates within the country. Other municipalities can impose an MBT of up to 10.5%.

Breakdown of the MBT rates:

  • Municipality of Luxembourg: 6.75%
  • Other municipalities: Up to 10.5%

Both the CIT and the MBT are essential components of Luxembourg’s taxation system, affecting the taxation of company profits, dividends, and income. While there is no specific wealth tax, these taxes collectively shape the country’s reputation as a locale with considerable tax benefits.

Regulatory Framework and Tax Agreements

Luxembourg's tax system is characterized by a complex regulatory framework and a network of international tax agreements. These aim to establish the country's commitments to transparency and fair taxation in alignment with global standards.

Tax Evasion and Avoidance

Luxembourg has taken steps to combat tax evasion and avoidance within its borders. The country participates in the OECD Inclusive Framework, committing to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiatives. Specifically, Luxembourg has adapted its regulations to meet the requirements of BEPS Action 5, which relates to countering harmful tax practices more effectively, taking into account transparency and substance.

Furthermore, Luxembourg has implemented measures to adhere to the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) of the European Union (EU). The ATAD aims to prevent practices that lead to aggressive tax planning. One tangible result of these efforts is the establishment of a minimum effective corporate tax rate, which addresses concerns regarding phantom investments—investments that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to locations where there is little or no economic activity.

EU Directives and Compliance

The tax policies of Luxembourg are aligned with various EU Directives to ensure compliance with broader European fiscal standards. For instance, Luxembourg's nominal tax rate is about 25% in Luxembourg City, which is above the European average. This reflects Luxembourg’s efforts to align with the European Commission's push for fair taxation within the single market.

Luxembourg's regulatory framework also includes legislative measures enacted for financial transparency and information exchange. The country has adopted EU Directives on Administrative Cooperation, allowing for the automatic exchange of information between EU member states, a critical aspect in the fight against secretive banking practices that facilitate tax evasion and avoidance.

By engaging in these international tax agreements and conforming to EU regulations, Luxembourg demonstrates its commitment to combating the use of its financial systems for tax-related malpractices, while ensuring its practices are in line with international tax standards.

Responses and Reforms

In response to scrutiny over its tax policies, Luxembourg has engaged in legislative adjustments to address concerns raised by the European Union regarding aggressive tax planning.

EU Pressure on Tax Practices

The European Union, notably through the European Commission, has continually monitored member states on their tax arrangements. As part of its governance, the Commission has advised Luxembourg to strengthen measures against features of its tax system that enable aggressive tax planning. This includes Luxembourg's substantial volume of dividend, interest, and royalty payments, pointed out during the Semester exercises for 2019 and 2020.

Luxembourg's Legal Adjustments

Amid the European Commission's push, Luxembourg introduced a slew of tax reforms. Notably, in March 2023, the government proposed Bill 8186 intended to overhaul aspects of procedural tax law that had remained largely unchanged for decades.

Key Legal Adjustments:

  • Corporate Tax Rate: The statute sets a rate of 17%, increased by a 7% contribution supporting the employment fund.
  • Municipal Business Tax (MBT): An additional tax depending on the municipality, ranging from 6.75% to 10.5%.
  • Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Reform: A draft law deposited in July 2023 proposed a substantial reform to the ITC, impacting additional investments and related expenses from 2024 onwards.

By making these reforms, Luxembourg aims to address the concerns regarding its taxation system, striving to balance its role as an international financial hub with its obligations to European tax directives and principles of tax justice. 


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Luxembourg as a Financial Center

Luxembourg has strategically positioned itself as a pivotal financial hub in Europe, particularly for corporations and wealthy individuals seeking favorable investment opportunities and tax conditions.

Comparative Advantages

Luxembourg's financial sector has several distinctive benefits that attract a global clientele. Foremost among these are the country's robust regulatory framework and political stability, which provide a safe and reliable environment for financial activities. Moreover, it has developed a specialty in investment funds, being one of the largest centers for investment funds in the world outside of the United States.

  • Regulatory Environment: Known for its business-friendly regulations, Luxembourg offers a conducive legal framework that favors the establishment and operation of investment funds and companies.
  • Political Stability: A stable political landscape makes Luxembourg a reliable jurisdiction for long-term financial strategies.
  • Private Banking & Wealth Management: Tailored services for wealthy individuals are a cornerstone, with private banking institutions offering a range of solutions for wealth management and preservation.
  • Diverse Financial Services: A wide array of financial services, including asset management, insurance, and pension funds, underpins Luxembourg's prominence as a financial center. 

Background Information


Luxembourg is a small landlocked nation situation in Western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. 

Luxembourg has an area of only 2,586 square kilometers (998 sq mi), making it one of the smallest countries in Europe. Its capital is Luxembourg City. 

Political Structure

Luxembourg is known as a “full democracy” (which is any country that scores above 8 on the democracy index). It has a parliamentary democracy that is headed by a constitutional monarch. The monarchical head of state is the grand duke (currently Grand Duke Henri), who exercises executive power along with the cabinet of ministers. Xavier Bettel has served as Prime Minister since 2013. 

Economy and Infrastructure

As a well-developed EU nation, Luxembourg has a stable and high-income economy. They generally experience moderate growth, low inflation, and high levels of innovation.  Unemployment rates in Luxembourg have remained low, most recently 4.9% in October 2022. Luxembourg has one of the highest GDP (PPP) per capita of $118,680 in 2021

Luxembourg features highly modern and well-functioning transport and communications networks. They have excellent education and health care standards, along with widespread access to public services. 

Luxembourg ranked 4th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality of life index, which gives an indication of the high quality of both their economy and infrastructure. 

Population, Language and Culture

Luxembourg is one of the least populated European nations, with an estimated population size of 645,397 in 2022. The people of Luxembourg are called “Luxembourgers”. Nearly half of Luxembourg’s population is of foreign nationality (47.4% as of 2020). Majority of these immigrants are Portuguese (16.4%), French (6.6%), Italian (3.4%), and Belgian (3.3%). 

The only national language in Luxembourg is Luxembourgish. It is the mother tongue for Luxembourgers and knowledge of the language is even a criterion for naturalisation. Luxembourg is a multi-lingual nation, with a high percentage of its citizens being able to competently speak French, German, and English. 

Luxembourg is officially a secular state, but the government acknowledges certain religions as being officially mandated. This allows them to have an influence in religious administration in exchange for paying certain running costs and wages. Since 1980, it has been illegal for the state to collect statistics on religious beliefs. 

Luxembourg’s culture has been outshone by the strong cultural traditions of its neighbours like France, Germany, and Belgium, and today it shares many of those cultural characteristics.  However, it has maintained several of its own folk traditions, which take root in its predominantly rural history. 

Exchange Control

There are no exchange controls in Luxembourg. The official currency is the Euro, which can be freely exchanged. 

Type of Law

The Luxembourg legal system is based on Civil Law. It is significantly influenced by its neighbouring countries; primarily France (Civil Code and New Code of Civil Procedure) and Belgium (Commercial Code and Criminal Code).


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Principle Corporate Legislation

Luxembourg companies are governed by the Company Law of 10 August 1915 (Amended), which was inspired by Belgian corporate legislation. 


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The attractive territorial tax system of Luxembourg, along with its various other business-friendly features and regulations, have made it a genuine haven for wealthy individuals and businesses around the world. It is most popular with EU companies and investors, which can be clearly seen by the sheer volume of profit share from other European nations which passes through Luxembourg’s borders to reduce taxes and maintain confidentiality. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the corporate tax rate in Luxembourg compare to other European countries?

Luxembourg has a competitive corporate tax rate, which is augmented by a municipal business tax. The standard corporate tax rate is 17%, increased by a 7% employment fund charge and the municipal business tax that ranges from 6.75% to 10.5%, depending on the municipality.

What characteristics qualify Luxembourg as a tax haven for companies?

A tax haven typically offers low tax rates, financial privacy, and minimal financial regulations. Luxembourg provides favorable tax treatments including low effective tax rates and favorable rulings for multinational companies, which may be considered indicative of a tax haven by some experts.

What are the tax implications for foreigners living in Luxembourg?

Foreign residents of Luxembourg are subject to taxation on their worldwide income. However, different classes of foreign income and personal circumstances may lead to varied tax implications characterized by a range of exemptions and treaties to avoid double taxation.

How has Luxembourg's status as a tax haven evolved in recent years?

In response to global pressure, Luxembourg has taken steps to increase transparency and comply with international tax standards. Such efforts include participating in automatic information exchange agreements and adjusting its legal framework to align with European Union directives and OECD guidelines.

What are the benefits and drawbacks for companies incorporating in Luxembourg?

Companies benefit from Luxembourg's stable political environment, strategic location, and a multilingual workforce. On the downside, the perception as a tax haven could bring increased scrutiny by tax authorities and negative reputational implications for companies.

What measures has Luxembourg taken to comply with international tax laws?

To align with international tax laws, Luxembourg has enacted legislative measures to meet the demands of the EU and OECD. This includes adhering to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project requirements and publishing FAQs on the Pillar Two law providing clarity on tax regulations.

Luxembourg Offshore Company Formations From Offshore Protection

Discover the benefits of incorporating your company in Luxembourg with Offshore Protection. Our team of experts will guide you through the process and ensure you leverage all the advantages this premier tax haven has to offer.

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***Please Note: If you are a resident of a country that is a signatory of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) (or a US citizen) your tax reduction possibilities are limited. Due FATCA, CRS, and CFC laws you may not be able to completely eliminate your taxes without moving your residence. While opening an offshore company can increase privacy and asset protection, your tax obligations remans tied to your ownership of overseas entities. Offshore company's are often not taxed in the country where they are incorporated, rather you as the owner are obligated to pay taxes in the country where you reside. Please make sure you know your tax obligations, as we are not tax advisors. Please seek a local tax professional for help regarding your situation. 

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