Millionaires are Fleeing the UK in Droves in Favor of Tax Havens like the UAE

Across the globe, a record 128,000 millionaires are expected to relocate this year, according to a new report.

(Photo by Christopher Bill on Unsplash)

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London isn’t calling. 

Data from Henley & Partners’ newly released Private Wealth Migration Report shows once-popular destinations for the upper crust in Europe and the UK are losing ground to relative newcomers like the UAE and Singapore. 

Migrating Millionaires

Across the globe, a record 128,000 millionaires are expected to relocate this year as “the world grapples with a perfect storm of geopolitical tension, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval,” Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley & Partners, said in the report. Henley predicts the two largest losers will be China, with a net loss of 15,200 millionaire residents, and the UK, with a net loss of 9,500.

While the reasons for millionaire migration are both economic and social (Italy is set to see some 2,200 new millionaires grace its shores in 2024, presumably in pursuit of Aperol), experts cite changing tax regimes as a primary driver of migration. Earlier this year, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt abolished a 200-year-old policy that shielded “non-doms,” or Brits with a permanent tax residence outside of the kingdom, from UK tax on foreign income. The length of this perk will be reduced from 15 years down to four — or abolished altogether under the Labour Party — causing many UK citizens to pursue alternative citizenship.  

Meanwhile, the UAE is in pole position for the third consecutive year, with Henley predicting 6,700 monied migrants will move to the elective monarchy in 2024:

  • With a 0% income tax, 0% inheritance tax, 0% capital gains tax, and an approachable golden visa program, the UAE and Dubai are a sanctuary for those looking to shield assets. 
  • But even in tax heaven, a push to diversify receipts away from volatile oil and gas revenue has meant the introduction of new levies. The country announced a 9% corporate tax that took effect in 2023, after adding a 5% VAT in 2018. 

What About US? Traviss Cassidy, a professor of economics at the University of Alabama, recently completed one of the largest longitudinal studies on the effect of taxation on a state’s tax receipts and migration patterns. While Cassidy expected a certain level of intra-country migration over the 110-year-period being studied, he told The Daily Upside he was “surprised at the magnitude of migration,” particularly among mobile middle-income and high-income earners in the post-WWII period. In our current WFH era, Cassidy added that “people’s decisions are even more sensitive to taxation.”