The double tax agreement between Cyprus and Luxembourg recently entered into force. It will apply to income arising from 1 January 2019 with regard to taxes deducted at source and for tax years beginning on or after that date for other taxes. The agreement includes a preamble which makes clear that it is not designed to create opportunities for double non-taxation or reduced taxation through evasion or avoidance and a principal purpose test-based general anti-avoidance rule.
The recently introduced Law 33(I)/2018 amends the Law regarding Administrative Cooperation in the Field of Taxation 2012 to 2017 in order to align domestic law with EU Directive 2016/881/EU, which amended EU Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation. The new law requires ultimate parent entities of multinational enterprises resident in Cyprus for tax purposes to file country-by-country reports within 12 months of the end of each fiscal year.
Cyprus and the United Kingdom recently signed a new double tax agreement. Once it has been ratified by both parties, it will replace the current agreement, which dates back to 1974 and is one of the oldest tax agreements still in force in Cyprus. The changes introduced will have little direct effect on the tax liability of most taxpayers, but the modernisation of the agreement will provide clarity.
Cyprus holding companies are widely used in the context of international business structuring to optimise the channelling of inbound and outbound investments with countries that have signed a double tax treaty with Cyprus. The Tax Department recently issued a circular on the value added tax treatment of holding companies, which aims to provide clarity regarding the circumstances in which Cyprus holding companies can be deemed to be earning income that may constitute taxable income.
The Tax Department recently announced that companies and self-employed individuals that are required to submit annual accounts will be given an additional three months to file their tax returns for the year ended December 31 2016. The department has also issued a circular clarifying the requirement to produce audited financial statements to support tax returns.
Article 9(B) of the Income Tax Law 2002 (as amended) provides for a notional interest deduction for tax purposes on new equity capital injected into companies and permanent establishments of foreign companies on or after January 1 2015 to finance business assets, calculated by applying a reference rate to the new equity. The Tax Department recently announced the 10-year government bond yields for December 31 2017, which will be used as the basis for the notional interest deduction for the 2018 tax year.
The Process of Adjustment of Tax Arrears Law 2017 establishes a procedure for settling tax arrears by monthly instalments and provides a waiver of interest and penalties of up to 95% for all nationally imposed taxes. Although the law was enacted in February 2017, it did not take effect immediately in order to allow time for the necessary payment systems to be implemented. The deadline for submitting applications to participate in the scheme was originally set at three months, but was recently extended.
Cyprus and Saudi Arabia recently signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and the prevention of tax evasion. The agreement provides for the exchange of financial and other information in accordance with the relevant article of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Model Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income and on Capital. It will take effect once formal ratification procedures have been completed.
The Tax Department recently issued Interpretative Circular 14, which has clarified the application of the Income Tax Law regarding a deemed benefit which is to be assessed on any drawings, loan or other financial facilities granted by a company to a non-resident director or shareholder or their spouse or close relatives. The circular clarifies that the deemed benefit is taxable in full, regardless of the period of residence of the individual in question.
The Cyprus Tax Department recently clarified the treatment of additional taxes imposed under the Assessment and Collection of Taxes Law. The department has specified that any additional tax is to be treated as such, meaning that penalties and interest will be imposed if they are not paid on time. The taxes are included under the term 'corporation tax' and are deductible from accounting profits for the purpose of calculating the deemed distribution for special defence contribution tax.
The Tax Department recently extended the deadline for the submission of country-by-country reports to be filed by the end of 2017. The deadline for reporting entities to submit country-by-country reports for multinational groups for the fiscal year ending December 31 2016 has been extended by two months, while the deadline for Cyprus-resident constituent entities to file their notifications for the fiscal year ending December 31 2017 has been extended to January 15 2018.
With the extended deadline for the submission of applications for inclusion in the deferred settlement scheme for tax arrears established by Law 4(I)/2017 now less than one month away, the Tax Department has issued a further reminder of the scheme's main features. For example, all tax returns due must have been submitted and all tax liabilities for periods after December 31 2015 must have been settled or be in the process of being settled in accordance with an agreed payment schedule.
The Income Tax Law was amended in 2012 to introduce accelerated capital allowances for tax purposes on assets purchased between 2012 and 2014, inclusive. For plant and machinery acquired up to the end of 2018, the annual writing-down allowance rate will be 20% or any higher rate applying to the category of assets concerned. For industrial buildings and hotels acquired up to the end of 2018, the annual writing-down allowance will be 7%.
The Tax Department recently opened a public consultation on proposed legislation to implement the EU Anti-tax Avoidance Directive, which extends the rules to hybrid mismatches. The consultation period will last until December 8 2017. The consultation documents, which are in Greek, are available on the Tax Department's website.
The Process of Adjustment of Tax Arrears Law 2017 established a procedure for settling tax arrears by monthly instalments, providing a waiver of up to 95% of interest and penalties and covering all nationally imposed taxes. The Tax Department recently issued an announcement informing taxpayers who have applied to participate in the scheme that strict compliance with the agreed terms is essential. In particular, payments must be made on or before the due date or penalties will be applied.
In December 2015 Cyprus's tax laws were amended to provide a temporary tax exemption for loan restructurings in order to facilitate and encourage the restructuring of non-performing loans. The exemptions introduced in 2015 were intended to be valid for two years from the date on which the various amending laws entered into force and were therefore set to expire on December 31 2017. However, a number of new laws recently extended the exemptions for a further two years.
The Process of Adjustment of Tax Arrears Law 2017 established a procedure for settling tax arrears by monthly instalments and provided a waiver of interest and penalties of up to 95% for all nationally imposed taxes. The law was recently amended by Law 129(I)/2017, which has extended the deadline for submitting applications from three months after the law took effect to six months.
The Income Tax Law provides for a notional interest deduction for tax purposes on new equity capital injected into companies and permanent establishments of foreign companies on or after January 1 2015 to finance business assets, calculated by applying a reference rate to the new equity. The Tax Department recently announced the bond yields for Greece, Italy and Kazakhstan which will be used to calculate the notional interest deduction for the 2016 and 2017 tax years.
Law 97(I)/2017 has amended the Assessment and Collection of Taxes (ACT) Law 1978. One of the principal changes introduced by the amending law is that the six-year limitation on raising assessments provided for in Articles 21 and 23 of the ACT Law does not apply if the assessment is issued following a court decision. In addition, an administrative fine of up to €20,000 may be imposed for a breach of the ACT Law.
In order to ensure compliance with the EU directives on the compulsory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation – in particular, in advance cross-border rulings – the Cyprus Tax Department recently launched an initiative to gather information regarding cross-border decisions issued, modified or renewed between 2012 and 2016 (inclusive).