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Archives for Income Tax

The end of Single Malt structures

On the 27 November 2018, it was announced that an agreement was reached between Malta and Ireland which ends the Single Malt structures.  These were being used through the transfer of the management and control of Irish incorporated entities to Malta.   Through a Competent Authority Agreement, Malta and Ireland agreed that the purpose of the Double Taxation Convention (DTC) is to eliminate double taxation and not create the opportunity for double non-taxation.  Thus, deeming a company incorporated in Ireland but managed and controlled in Malta to be tax resident only in Malta, does not serve the purposes of the Double Taxation Convention as income was not being brought to charge in neither Malta nor Ireland when the income was not remitted to Malta.  Accordingly, such an Irish-incorporated company will be tax resident in Ireland and the relevant payments to it will come within the charge to Irish corporation tax.

 

The agreement will come into force with effect from taxable periods beginning on or after the expiration of a period of six months from the later of the dates on which the Multilateral Instrument (MLI) enters into force in Ireland and Malta.  Malta endorsed its agreement with reservations to the MLI through Subsidiary Legislation 123.183 however, to date, the effective date marking the date when such legislation will come into force is yet to be announced.

 

The Agreement provides the following:

From the coming into effect of the MLI with respect to the DTC between Ireland and Malta (the “Contracting States” in relation to that DTC), where – 

  • for the purpose of avoiding double taxation, under paragraph 3 of Article 4 of the Ireland-Malta DTC a company would be deemed to be only resident in one of the Contracting States, but
  • in the circumstances concerned – 
    • there is no double taxation to be avoided, and
    • it is reasonable to conclude that an opportunity for double non-taxation would otherwise arise,

then any such deeming of the company to be resident only in one of the Contracting States shall not be for the purposes of the Ireland-Malta DTC – as it would serve no such purposes.  It would be superfluous to, and redundant for, those purposes.  

The Competent Authorities shall notify each other in a timely manner where they become aware of circumstances to which this Competent Authority Agreement refers.

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Intellectual Property

A tax deduction has been introduced on the exploitation of qualifying intellectual property (such as royalties) based on a percentage of qualifying income.  The deduction has been introduced with effect from 29 March 2018 however further details are expected to be issued in this regard to clarify when such deductions made be availed of.

 

The legislation has been also amended so that it is in line with the guidelines issued by the tax authorities on expenditure of a capital nature on intellectual property or any intellectual property rights. It is now clear that such expenditure may be amortised over a period of at least three years which shall not be less than a minimum period of three consecutive years, the first year being that in which the said expenditure has been incurred or the year in which the intellectual property or intellectual property rights is / are first used or employed in producing the income. Such change is effective from year of assessment 2017.

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Participation Exemption

The applicability of the participation exemption on dividend income and capital gains from participating holding investments has been widened by reducing the ‘qualifying’ percentage or minimum equity threshold from 10% to 5%.

 

The type of entities in which the ‘participating holding’ is held has also been widened and now includes not only companies, partnerships, collective investment schemes (CIS) or other bodies of persons but also EEIGs (European Economic Interest Grouping).

 

These amendments make the participation exemption for Maltese companies more accessible especially when one considers that there are various other conditions which may be satisfied apart from the minimum 5% equity investment.

 

These changes are effective from 29 March 2018.

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Remittance Basis

Individuals who are ordinarily residents but non-domiciled will, as from year of assessment 2019 or basis year 2018, be subject to a minimum tax of €5,000 per annum before any double taxation relief. The minimum tax is applicable to individuals and married couples whose foreign income exceeds €35,000.

 

This minimum tax is not applicable to individuals who are tax residents under The Residence Programme, the Global Residence Programme, the Malta Retirement Programme and the Residents Scheme Regulations. Therefore, the minimum tax of €5,000 introduced earlier on this year will primarily apply to EU citizens who are tax resident in Malta and do not enjoy a special tax status under any programme.

 

Also, long-term residents or permanent residents who have a permanent residence certificate or a permanent residence card in terms of the Status of Long-Term Residents (Third Country Nationals) Regulations and the Free Movement of European Union Nationals and their Family Members Order, are not eligible to benefit from the remittance basis of taxation.

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Notional Interest Deduction Rules 2018

Malta has very recently introduced the concept of a notional interest deduction (NID).  The recently published rules come into effect from year of assessment 2018 (basis year 2017) and they are aimed at mitigating the differences in the tax treatment between equity and debt financing.  Before the introduction of these rules, debt financed entities could claim a tax deduction equivalent to the interest however no similar deduction was available for equity financed companies.  These new rules entitle companies with an option to claim a tax deduction equivalent to the notional interest calculated on its equity thus making equity financing on the same level playing field as debt financing for taxation purposes.

Salient features of these rules:

  • NID is optional and may only be claimed if all shareholders of an undertaking approve the claim for such a deduction.
  • These rules are applicable to Malta registered companies, permanent establishments situated in Malta as well as partnerships.
  • NID is determined by multiplying the reference rate by the invested risk capital.  The reference rate is the risk-free rate set by reference to the current yield to maturity on the Malta Government Stocks with a remaining term of approximately 20 years plus a premium of 5%, and the invested risk capital of the undertaking is the share capital, share premium, positive retained earnings, non-interest bearing loans an any contributions made by the shareholder/s.  Any capital directly employed in the production of income which is exempt from tax does not fall part of the invested risk capital.
  • NID is limited to 90% of chargeable income.  Any excess above the capped amount may be carried forward for deduction in future years.
  • When an undertaking claims NID, the shareholder / partner is deemed to have received income equal to the NID and the provisions relating to the taxation of interest income shall apply with the option to apply NID against the deemed interest brought to charge.
  • An amount equal to 110% of the profits relieved from tax through the NID shall be allocated to the undertaking’s final tax account.  The amount allocated to the final tax account is limited to the total profits of the undertaking an any such excess shall be ignored for allocation of tax profits.

Undertakings are advised to seek for professional tax advice in determining whether these rules would result in the most optimal scenario for the said undertaking and shareholders / partners.

 

Update to the NID news item

The NID must be calculated before taking into account any adjustments for the Flat Rate Foreign Tax Credit (FRFTC).  This clarification was embedded in Act VII of 2018 and is applicable from year of assessment 2018.

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