Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has promised lower taxes on profits, tax deductions for businesses that invest in research and development (R&D) and the expansion of conference space in a prime area of Hong Kong in her initial policy declaration delivered last Wednesday, her first such announcement since coming to power earlier this year.
The new strategies seeks to diversify the economy and are likely to attract increased foreign investment (see below).
Most interestingly Hong Kong Companies will soon pay tax of just 8.25 per cent on the first HK$2 million of domestic profits, reduced from the existing flat rate of 16.5 per cent. Profits above HK$2 million will still be subject to the 16.5 per cent tax rate. Non Hong Kong sourced income will still be bankable in Hong Kong (or elsewhere) free from tax.
Lam also announced tax breaks for companies that invest in Research & Development (“R&D”), to be implemented from 2018. For the first HK$2 million, companies will be able to claim a 300 per cent tax deduction. For expenditure beyond the HK$2 million benchmark, a 200 per cent tax deduction will be claimable.
Currently, companies receive only a 100 per cent deduction for R&D expenses. This means that a company with HK$10 million in profit but HK$5 million in R&D expenses would be deemed to have an assessable profit of HK$5 million and would need to pay HK$825,000 in tax. Under the new policy, the same company would be considered as having spent an amount greater than its earnings on R&D and would not have to pay any tax on its profits.
With the increased international pressure on Companies to show some substance on the ground in the country where the Company is incorporated (and with Hong Kong’s liberal approach to issuing residency permits for foreign owners of HK Companies) such a policy is likely to attract entrepreuneurs currently looking for tax free Offshore Incorporation Solutions… Simply put if you can show you have an office in, and or employ staff in, and pay some tax in the country of incorporation (ie if you can show some substance on the ground in the country where your Offshore Company is incorporated) it’s far less likely that your “Offshore” Company is going to come under scrutiny from tax officials in your home state.
Put another way if you want to minimize the risk of your Offshore Company being taxed where you live it’s prudent to show your Company pays a little bit of tax somewhere.
No doubt a generous tax rate of just 8.25% is going to incentivize current and would be nil tax Company owners/users to Incorporate in and set up something on the ground in Hong Kong as the years progress….
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