Worldwide Tax News
France Closes Public Access to Trust Register on Privacy Concerns
As previously reported, the French trust register became accessible to the public from 30 June 2016. However, just a month after being opened, the register has been closed to the public due to a 22 July decision from a judge of the Conseil d'État. The decision concerned a challenge from a French resident beneficiary that claimed the public access to the register violated privacy rights guaranteed under the French Constitution. In particular, the judge found that the potential for the beneficiary's personal information being divulged casts doubt on the legality of public access to the register.
The challenge will be reviewed before the end of the year by the Conseil Constitutionnel, and if dismissed, is expected to be brought before the European Court of Human Rights.
Indian Parliament Approves Constitution Amendment Bill for Implementation of National GST
On 3 August 2016, India's Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) approved the Constitution Amendment Bill (Bill 192 of 2014) allowing for the implementation of a national GST regime that will replace several indirect taxes levied at the federal (Central) and State levels. The approval completes the main legislative process for the Bill, but it must still be ratified by at least 50% of the States and receive presidential assent before entering into force. Although additional steps are needed, it is not expected that the entry into force will be delayed.
With the passage of the bill, India's Ministry of Finance published an FAQ and overview of the next steps for the implementation of the GST regime.
According to the FAQ, the regime will include Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST) that will be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services, except for exempted goods and services, goods that are outside the purview of GST and transactions that are below the prescribed threshold limits. However, for inter-State transactions, the Central government will levy an Integrated GST (IGST) that will be roughly equivalent to CGST plus SGST.
According to the next steps overview, the final rules and the necessary IT infrastructure will be completed by the end of 2016, with the roll out of the GST regime to take place on 1 April 2017.
Ireland Launches Consultation on Statement of Strategy 2016-2019
Irish Revenue has announced a public consultation on a new Statement of Strategy for 2016-2019. While the statement does not set out specific tax reforms, it does set out the priorities for Revenue in developing and implementing reforms.
Consultation: Statement of Strategy 2016-2019
Revenue is preparing a new Statement of Strategy for the next three years.
This new Statement of Strategy offers an opportunity to shape Revenue’s strategic objectives and priorities as a modern, forward looking, dynamic and innovative organisation focussed on the fair and efficient collection of taxes and implementation of customs controls. Please see the current Statement of Strategy.
Your views and suggestions are invited on Revenue’s strategic direction for the next three years.
You can forward your views before Friday 2nd September 2016, by email, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Panama to Introduce Counter Measures Against Countries Harming Its Economic Interests
On 2 August 2016, the government of Panama announced that the cabinet has approved draft legislation that will enable counter measures against countries that have taken discriminatory or restrictive measures against Panama that harm its economic interests. Potential counter measures against target countries include:
- Increased withholding taxes on dividends, interest, royalties, commission fees, etc.;
- Increased tariffs on imports;
- Migration and labor restrictions;
- Restrictions on or suspensions of concessions, permits or authorizations granted; and
- Restrictions on cargo and passenger transport.
Although not mentioned in the announcement, the measures are thought to be in relation to issues resulting from the infamous Panama Papers, such as the blacklisting of Panama by France, and trade related issues, such as Colombia's tariffs on certain Panamanian imports.
The draft legislation must now be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration and approval. Click the following link for the announcement (Spanish language).
Philippine Tax Reform to Include Income Tax Cuts and Expansion of Tax Base
According to a release published 2 August 2016, the Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) has begun "fleshing out" President Duterte’s tax reform plans to make the tax system fairer for the middle class and to bring corporate tax rates to competitive levels. According to the release, the DOF will focus on growing the middle class and energizing businesses by lowering personal and corporate income taxes rates. To offset the lower rates, the government will broaden the tax base, reform the collections systems, and eliminate graft and corruption in revenue-generating agencies, particularly the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC).
Click the following link for the release. Details of the reform will be published once available.
Tax Treaty between Argentina and Qatar to be Negotiated
On 28 July 2016, officials from Argentina and Qatar agreed to accelerate negotiations of an income tax treaty. Any resulting treaty would be the first of its kind between the two countries, and must be finalized, signed and ratified before entering into force.
Belgian Lower House of Parliament Approves Protocols to Tax Treaty with Spain
On 20 July 2016, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives approved for ratification the pending 2009 and 2014 protocols to the 1995 income and capital tax treaty with Spain. The 2009 protocol replaces Article 26 (Exchange of Information) to bring it line with the OECD standard for information exchange, and the 2014 protocol amends the competent authority in respect of Belgium.
The protocols will enter into force once the ratification instruments are exchanged, and will apply from 1 January of the year following their entry into force.
Update - Tax Treaty between Georgia and South Korea
The income tax treaty between Georgia and South Korea was signed on 31 March 2016. The treaty is the first of its kind between the two countries.
The treaty covers Georgian profit tax and income tax, and covers Korean income tax, corporation tax, special tax for rural development and local income tax.
- Dividends - 5% if the beneficial owner is a company directly holding at least 10% of the paying company's capital; otherwise 10%
- Interest - 0% if paid in connection with the sale on credit of any industrial, commercial or scientific equipment; or paid in connection with the sale on credit of any merchandise to an enterprise of a Contracting State and beneficially owned by a resident of the other Contracting State; or where the beneficial owner is a pension fund; otherwise 10%
- Royalties - 10%
The following capital gains derived by a resident of one Contracting State may be taxed by the other State:
- Gains from the alienation of immovable property situated in the other State;
- Gains from the alienation of movable property forming part of the business property of a permanent establishment in the other State; and
- Gains from the alienation of shares deriving more than 50% of their value directly or indirectly from immovable property situated in the other State
Gains from the alienation of other property by a resident of a Contracting State may only be taxed by that State.
The beneficial provisions of Articles 10 (Dividends), 11 (Interest), 12 (Royalties), 13 (Capital Gains) and 21 (Other Income) will not apply if it was the main purpose or one of the main purposes of any person concerned with the creation or assignment of the shares, debt-claims or other rights in respect of which the dividends, interest, royalties, gains or other income are paid was to take advantage of those Articles by means of that creation or assignment. The limitation is included in each of those Articles.
Both countries apply the credit method for the elimination of double taxation.
The treaty will enter into force once the ratification instruments are exchanged, and will apply from 1 January of the year following its entry into force.