Worldwide Tax News
On 5 March 2015, two decisions made by the Court of Justice of The European Union (CJEU) were published concerning whether applying reduced VAT rates on e-books is compliant with the EU VAT Directive. The two cases involved France and Luxembourg, and were lodged with the Court by the European Commission in 2013.
Based on the VAT Directive, reduced rates may be applied for physical books, but an e-book is defined as an electronic supply of service and does not fall within any category of service where a reduced rate is permitted. France and Luxembourg both argued that e-books should be subject to the same conditions for VAT as physical books, and they should be able to apply the same reduced rates on e-books as they do on physical books. However, the CJEU disagreed based on the wording of the VAT Directive, and held that by applying reduced rates both France and Luxembourg have failed to fulfill their obligations under the law.
On 2 March 2015, Qatar's Prime Minister and Interior Minister announced a new special economic zone near the new Doha Port (Hamad Port). The zone is to be known as ‘Um Al Houl Special Economic Zone’ project, and is one for three new zones to be set up. The first phase of development will be launched the second quarter of 2016.
The zone is specifically design for certain industries including petrochemicals, building materials, maritime, metals, logistics, food processing, auto, tools and machinery. Tax benefits available for investors in the zone includes duties exemption for trade with Gulf Cooperation Council Member States, and reduced import duties or exemptions for inputs and machinery.
The Brazilian government has announced that it is in the final stages of negotiations for a tax information exchange agreement with Switzerland. The agreement will be the first of its kind between the two countries, and must be finalized, signed and ratified before entering into force.
According to an announcement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials from Malaysia and Ukraine have recently met to discuss the details for the signing of an income tax treaty that was initialed in 2012. Once in force and effective, the treaty will replace the income tax treaty between Malaysia and the former Soviet Union as it applies to Ukraine.
Additional details will be published once available.
On 5 March 2015, Portugal publishes in its Official Gazette the decree ratifying the pending income and capital tax treaty with Georgia. The treaty, signed 21 December 2012, is the first of its kind between the two countries.
The treaty covers Georgian profit tax, income tax and property tax, and covers Portuguese personal income tax, corporate income tax, and surtaxes on corporate income.
- Dividends - 5% if the beneficial owner is a company directly holding at least 25% of the paying company's capital, otherwise 10%
- Interest - 10%
- Royalties - 5%
- Capital Gains - generally exempt, except for the following gains which if 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 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 or comparable interest deriving more than 50% of their value directly or indirectly from immovable property situated in the other State
Both countries apply the credit method for the elimination of double taxation.
The treaty will enter into force 30 days after the ratification instruments are exchanged, and will apply from 1 January of the year following its entry into force.