Don't get caught off guard. If you need to send a large money transfer to Thailand, make sure you know what kind of taxes you (or your recipient!) might be responsible for.
February 1, 2021 — 5 min read
Financial windfalls, such as inheritance money, property purchase, and business investment are the three main reasons people send more than $200,000 USD to Thailand, either in a lump sum or over the course of one tax year. Family emergencies, such as medical or legal problems, could require about as much money.
For those of you who might need to send money to Thailand in the future, it’s important to note that Thailand’s laws regarding such transfers changed significantly in 2016 for anti-money laundering reasons, mostly regarding gift taxes.
If you receive a large sum of money in Thailand from someone overseas, either at once or over the course of several months (or you’re the one sending money to Thailand), be prepared to pay taxes and answer questions from regulators.
What might these taxes entail?
For many decades, Thailand did not tax gifts, just income. But that changed in 2016. The government not only imposed taxes; it also changed the definition of a “gift.”
Any property, including money, which is transferred to another person, and there is no expectation of any tangible return, is a gift. Interest-free loans and property sales at substantially below market value are also gifts.
In many countries, gifts also have relational components. But in Thailand, you can give a gift to anyone, at least for tax purposes, if it exceeds the following amounts:
Inheritances above ฿100 million THB (about $335,000 USD),
Non Transferable property rights above ฿20 million THB (about $67,000 USD), and
Any property transfer, including foreign remittances, which meet the gift criteria discussed above.
A number of exemptions apply. This list includes:
Gifts from relatives under ฿
20 million THB
Gifts from non-relatives under ฿10 million THB (about $33,000 USD).
Gifts made for educational or religious purposes (such as college tuition payment transfers)
Although relationship does not enter into the definition of a “gift,” there is a relational aspect to the amount of the tax. Thailand’s gift tax is 10% in most cases, and 5% if the recipient is a descendant or ascendant. Most relationships via marriage, such as step-siblings, do not qualify for the reduction, at least in most cases.
There is also a 10% branch remittance tax. This tax applies to overseas offices sending profits back to Thailand.
The good news is that Thailand does not usually limit bank-to-bank transfers. Limits usually do apply to cross-border cash currency transfers. This limit is usually ฿50,000 THB ($1,600 USD).
The gift tax might or might not apply when you send money to Thailand, but the income tax almost always applies. Additionally, Thailand’s tax penalties are rather harsh. High fines and even jail time are rather common, even for rather innocent mistakes.
Penalties and interest on unpaid taxes are usually 1.5% per month. So, by the time the revenue department notices the error and sends a notice, the taxpayer might already owe thousands of baht in penalties and interest. Fines for unpaid taxes usually run between about ฿1,000 THB ($33 USD) and ฿200,000 THB ($6,700 USD).
Banks are legally required to report all remittance and other international funds transactions. So, even if recipients do not get a form, if they do not add the remittance amount to their income, it’s only a matter of time before the revenue department notices the delinquency and takes action.
On a related note, when you send money to Thailand, especially if the transfer is large, Thai law requires senders to specify the purpose. Acceptable designations include:
Paying for goods
If the remittance is above a certain level, the Bank of Thailand must independently approve it.
These taxes are usually due at the end of the year. As for upfront costs, Thailand’s money transfer fees are usually transaction-based, as opposed to amount-based. The transfer fee is usually between ฿1,800 and ฿2,400 THB ($60 to $80 USD). Thai banks usually add an additional ฿400 to ฿450 THB ($13 to $15 USD). These fees are normally lower if the sender loads funds onto a STICPAY prepaid debit card.
Money laundering concerns are one of the biggest reasons for the designation requirement. The AMLO, which was established in 1999, is independent of the Justice Ministry. Instead, it is directly responsible to the Prime Minister.
Generally, any remittance transaction greater than ฿5 million THB ($17,000 USD) is large enough to show up on the AMLO’s radar. As a result, the translation could be delayed by several days. Additionally, AMLO investigators routinely ask for documents which support the reason for the transfer, such as a real estate sales contract or a large hospital bill.
United States-based senders must also report large remittances to the IRS, largely for money laundering purposes. Legally, the threshold is $10,000 USD. Many banks report transactions as low as $1,000 USD.
If you need a reliable and affordable way to send money overseas to family or friends, we can help you out there. Our money transfers will arrive in Thailand within 24 hours of confirmation, and we’re happy to say that you can count on competitive exchange rates and no third-party fees, so more of you money will make it to Thailand.