Maltese Shipping – The Tonnage Tax System and Advantages for Shipping Companies

Over the past decade, Malta has consolidated its status as an international, Mediterranean centre of maritime excellence. Currently Malta has the largest shipping register in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. In addition, Malta has become a world leader in terms of commercial yacht registration.

In order to avoid the risk of shipping companies relocating or flagging to low-tax countries outside the EU, the European Commission’s 2004 Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport (commercial shipping activities) was introduced to allow Member States to implement financial benefits for shipping companies. One of the most important benefits was to replace traditional methods of taxation with a tonnage tax.

In December 2017, the European Commission approved the Maltese tonnage tax regime for a period of 10 years, following a review of its compatibility with EU State Aid Rules.

The Maltese Shipping Tonnage Tax System

Under the Malta Tonnage Tax System, tax is dependent on the tonnage of the vessel or fleet belonging to a particular ship-owner or ship-manager. Only companies that are active in maritime transport are eligible under the Maritime Guidelines.

Standard corporate tax rules do not apply to shipping activities in Malta. Instead shipping operations are subject to an annual tax consisting of a registration fee and annual tonnage tax. The rate of tonnage tax reduces according to the age of the vessel.

  • As an example, a trading ship measuring 80 metres, with 10,000 gross tonnage, built in the year 2000, will pay a fee of €6,524 on registration and €5,514 annual tax thereafter.

The smallest category of ship is up to a net tonnage of 2,500 and the largest, and most expensive, are ships over 50,000 net tonnage. Charges are reduced for ships in the 0-5 and 5-10 year age categories respectively and are greatest for those 25-30 years old.

Taxation of Shipping Activities in Malta

As detailed above:

  • Income derived from shipping activities by a licensed shipping organisation is exempt from income tax.
  • Income derived from ship management activities by a ship manager is exempt from income tax.

In all other circumstances:

  • Shipping companies incorporated in Malta are taxed on their worldwide income and capital gains.
  • Shipping companies not incorporated in Malta, but where control and management are exercised in Malta, are taxed on local income and capital gains and on foreign source income remitted to Malta.
  • Shipping companies not incorporated in Malta and where management and control are not exercised in Malta, are taxed on income and capital gains arising in Malta.

Ship Management Activities

Following a European Commission ruling, Malta has amended its tonnage tax law.

Ship management activities are now included in the tonnage tax system. This means that ship managers are allowed to pay a tonnage tax which is equivalent to a percentage of the tonnage tax paid by the owners and/or charterers of the ships managed. Any income derived by a ship manager from ship management activities is deemed to be income derived from shipping activities and is therefore exempt from income tax.

Ship management organisations can benefit from the tonnage tax measures, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • must be a ship management organisation established in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA);
  • have assumed responsibility for either technical and/or crew management of a ship;
  • must comply with the international standards and requirements of the EU;
  • must specifically include shipping activities in their objects and must register with the Registrar General accordingly;
  • maintain separate accounts, clearly distinguishing the payments by and receipts of the ship manager with respect to ship management activities from those not connected to such activity;
  • the ship manager opts to pay an annual tonnage tax on all ships;
  • At least two-thirds of the tonnage of the ships that the ship manager is providing ship management activities for must be managed in the EU and EEA;
  • the tonnage that the ship manager provides ship management activities for must satisfy the flag-link requirement.

Maltese Tonnage Tax Eligibility

Tonnage tax is applied to the activities of a shipping company as follows:

  • core revenues from shipping activities;
  • certain ancillary revenues that are closely connected to shipping activities (capped at a maximum 50% of a ship’s operating revenue); and
  • revenues from towage and dredging (subject to certain conditions).

Maltese shipping organisations must register with the Finance Minister by submitting the name of the organisation, the registered office address and the name and tonnage of the ship it wishes to own or operate. The vessel must be declared a ‘Tonnage Tax Ship’ or a ‘Community Ship’, with a minimum net tonnage of 1,000 and be entirely owned, chartered, managed, administered or operated by a shipping organisation.

A shipping company can only benefit from the Maltese Tonnage Tax scheme if it has a significant part of its fleet flying the flag of a European Economic Area (EEA) Member State.

Additional Reasons to Consider Ship Registration in Malta

There are a number of additional reasons to consider ship registration in Malta:

  • The Malta registry is on the Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU white lists.
  • Vessels registered under the Malta Flag have no trading restrictions and are given preferential treatment in many ports.
  • Registration of vessels under the Maltese flag takes place in two stages. A vessel is provisionally registered for a six-month period. This is an easy and fast process. During this provisional registration period the owner is required to submit additional documentation and then the vessel is permanently registered under the Maltese flag.
  • There is an exemption from stamp duty in Malta on the registration and/or sale of a ship, shares relating to a licensed shipping organisation and the registration of a mortgage relating to a ship.

Additional Information

If you would like further information regarding the Malta Tonnage Tax System or the registration of a ship and/or yacht in Malta, please contact Jonathan Vassallo at the Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com

Malta

Portuguese: Sociedades “Holding” De Malta – Porque São Tão Atraentes?

Vantagens para a localização de uma sociedade “holding” internacional

A localização de uma sociedade “holding” é uma consideração importante em qualquer estrutura internacional, onde um dos objetivos é optimizar o imposto cobrado sobre o fluxo de rendimentos.

Idealmente, a sociedade “holding” deve estar localizada numa jurisdição que:

  • Beneficie de uma boa rede de tratados de dupla tributação, minimizando assim a retenção na fonte sobre os dividendos recebidos.
  • Isente de impostos o pagamento de dividendos.
  • Isente de impostos as mais-valias na alienação de subsidiárias.
  • Não imponha retenção na fonte sobre as distribuições da sociedade “holding” às suas controladoras ou aos seus accionistas.
  • Isente de imposto sobre mais-valias sobre lucros decorrentes da venda de ações na sociedade “holding” por acionistas não residentes.
  • Isente de imposto de selo a transferência de acções.
  • Beneficie de previsibilidade no conteúdo e aplicação de leis e regulamentos fiscais

As sociedades “holding” de Malta beneficiam de todos os pontos ilustrados supra.

Benefícios disponíveis para sociedades “holding” de Malta

Rede de Tratados de Dupla Tributação

Malta tem uma rede de mais de 70 tratados de dupla tributação.

Na maioria das situações em que uma sociedade de Malta possua mais de 10% do capital social de uma subsidiária no estrangeiro, a taxa de retenção na fonte sobre os dividendos recebidos pela sociedade de Malta de uma sociedade registada num pais com o qual Malta tenha celebrado um tratado de dupla tributação é reduzida para 5%.

Como Malta faz parte da UE, também beneficia da Directiva Mães e Filhas, reduzindo assim a retenção na fonte a zero sobre os dividendos recebidos da maioria dos países da UE.

Vantagens fiscais disponíveis para as sociedades “holding” de Malta

  • Isenção para participações em capital social e isenção para mais-valias

Os dividendos qualificados e mais-valias derivados de uma “sociedade holding participativa” são (caso assim o escolha o contribuinte) isentos de imposto em Malta.

Se deseja mais informacoes sobre o que constitui uma “sociedade holding participativa” diriga-se ao nosso escritório Dixcart em Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com.

  • Venda de Ações na Sociedade “Holding”

Malta isenta de imposto as mais-valias na venda de acções de sociedades sediadas em Malta.

  • Retenção na Fonte

Malta não retem na fonte imposto sobre o rendimento na distribuição de dividendos aos accionistas ou a sociedades “holding”.

A não-retenção é aplicável independentemente de onde o acionista seja residente.

  • Imposto de Selo

Em Malta não há imposto de selo quer na emissão de capital social quer em transferências subsequentes.

  • Outros Rendimentos

Os rendimentos, excluindo dividendos e mais-valias, estão sujeitos a imposto à taxa normal de de 35% em Malta. No entanto, o pagamento de um dividendo financiado por rendimentos que não dividendos e mais-valias pode dar origem ao reembolso de ente 6/7 a 5/7 do total do imposto pago pela sociedade em Malta ao acionista, o que resulta numa taxa efectiva de imposto entre 5% e 10%.

Nos casos em que os supra-referidos rendimentos tenham beneficiado de um tratado de dupla tributação ou do imposto de taxa fixa de Malta o reembolso não pode exceeder 2/3 do montante total.

Previsibilidade do conteúdo e aplicação de leis e regulamentos fiscais

A legislação em Malta preve a emissão de decisões administrativas fiscais. As decisões fornecem certeza sobre a aplicação da lei a uma transação específica, e vinculam as autoridades fiscais de Malta por um periodo de cinco anos.

Preve-se ainda a emissão de orientações informais pelas autoridades tributárias sob a forma de “cartas de orientação”. Essas cartas não são expressamente reguladas pela lei, mas criam uma expectativa legítima em que o contribuinte pode confiar. As autoridades tributárias de Malta consideram as “cartas de orientação” como sendo vinculativas.

Conclusão

As sociedades “holding” de Malta constituem uma opção atraente para grupos económicos internacionais.

As potenciais vantagens incluem:

  • A extensa rede de tratados de dupla tributação de Malta
  • Isenção de tributação de dividendos
  • Isenção de imposto sobre mais-valias na alienação de acções em “sociedades holding participativas”
  • Isenção de imposto sobre mais-valias na alienação de acções de uma sociedade “holding” por acionistas estrangeiros
  • A ausência de retenção na fonte

Como pode a Dixcart ajudar?

A Dixcart tem um escritório em Malta e pode assistir:

  • na incorporação de sociedades “holding”
  • na prestação de serviços de sede social
  • na prestação de serviços de consultoria
  • no cumprimento de obrigações declarativas de natureza fiscal
  • na prestação de serviços de contabilidade
  • na prestação de serviços de diretoria
  • na assessoria de todos os aspectos de aquisições e alienações de participações sociais

Informação Adicional

O Anexo 1 contem um exemplo de como uma sociedade “holding” de Malta pode ser usada como parte de uma estrutura fiscalmente eficiente.

 Contacto

Se gostaria de obter mais informações sobre este tema pode entrar em contato com Rodrigo Mendes no escritório da Dixcart no Reino Unido: rodrigo.mendes@dixcart.com ou com Sean Dowden no escritório da Dixcart em Malta – advice.malta@dixcart.com.

ANEXO 1 – EXEMPLO DE UTILIZAÇÃO DE UMA SOCIEDADE “HOLDING” DE MALTA

Segue um diagrama ilustrando a estrutura clássica para a utilização de uma sociedade “holding” de Malta:

No exemplo supra, onde a sociedade activa está situada na UE, a sociedade “holding” em Malta beneficiaria da Directiva Mães e Filhas, o que resulta na isenção de impostos na fonte sobre o pagamento de dividendos à sociedade “holding” em Malta.

Se estivermos perante uma “sociedade holding participativa”, não haverá tributação sobre dividendos e mais valias ao nível da sociedade “holding” de Malta.

Os dividendos podem, portanto, ser pagos à sociedade de Nevis sem dedução de imposto.

Malta’s Notional Interest Deduction Regime – Which Types of Company are Most Likely to Benefit?

Malta introduced the Notional Interest Deduction Regime (NID) on 1 January 2018. On 8 August 2018, the Guidelines in relation to NID were updated, in particular the treatment of NID between related companies.

What is NID?

NID is an innovative way in which companies can, in the correct circumstances, reduce their tax liabilities. This option is of greatest interest to companies with large equity balances.

NID allows companies to deduct a notional interest amount based on the ‘risk’ capital of a company. Such companies will be able to claim a deduction against chargeable income for NID deemed to be incurred on their equity capital. Previously in Malta debt interest had been tax deductible, whilst dividends were not.

‘Risk’ capital is defined as: share capital, share premiums, retained earnings, interest free debt and any other equity.

Ability to Choose Between NID and the Maltese Tax Refund System

From the start of the 2018 tax year, Maltese companies, including permanent establishments of foreign companies in Malta and partnerships, can elect to use either the Notional Interest Deduction Regime OR the tax refund system (6/7ths or 5/7ths).

Tax Refund System – the Alternative to NID

Malta operates a full imputation system of taxation which allows for generous tax refunds. In most instances, shareholders not resident in Malta can apply for a tax refund of 6/7ths of the tax paid on active profits used to pay a dividend. With a corporate tax rate of 35%, this results in an effective tax rate of 5%. In the case of passive interest and royalties, non-resident shareholders can apply for a tax refund of 5/7ths of the tax paid on passive income used to pay a dividend.  With a corporate tax rate of 35%, this results in an effective tax rate of 10%.

NID in More Detail

Notional Interest Deduction is calculated by multiplying the notional interest rate* by the company’s total equity at its financial year end.

*Notional interest rate is defined as the ‘risk free rate’; the current yield to maturity of Malta Government stocks, with a remaining term of approximately 20 years (this was 2.03% in Quarter 4 2017), plus a 5% premium.

Additional Features of NID

  • NID claimed in any one year cannot exceed 90% of the company’s taxable income. Any excess can be carried forward indefinitely, to be deducted against taxable income in future years. Remaining income is taxed at the standard rate of 35%.
  • No tax refund is paid to shareholders under the Notional Interest Deduction Regime and this therefore removes the relevance and need to put a double tier company structure in place.

Notional Interest Income in Relation to Shareholders

  • For Maltese tax purposes, when NID is claimed, the shareholder (or partner) will be considered to have received that amount of notional interest as income.
  • However, if the shareholder is not resident in Malta, the deemed interest income will be exempt from tax in Malta, providing that certain criteria have been met.

Timing Implications

Taxpayers are able to claim NID, for the first time, on profits relating to the 2017 tax year, as these profits are assessable for income tax in 2018.

Additional Information

If you have any questions or require any further information please contact the Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com  or speak to your usual Dixcart contact.

Malta

Spanish: Empresas “Holding” en Malta: ¨Por Qué Son Tan Atractivas?

Características ventajosas para la ubicación de una empresa “holding” internacional

La ubicación de una empresa “holding” es una consideración importante en cualquier estructura internacional, donde uno de los objetivos es minimizar el impuesto aplicado sobre el flujo de ingresos.

Lo ideal sería que la empresa “holding” sea residente en una jurisdicción que:

  • Tienga una buena red de tratados de doble tributación, lo que minimiza la retención de impuestos sobre los dividendos recibidos
  • Exima los ingresos de dividendos de impuestos
  • Exima a las ganancias de capital por la venta de subsidiarias de impuestos
  • No imponga retenciones sobre las distribuciones de la sociedad “holding” a su matriz o a sus accionistas
  • No imponga impuestos sobre las ganancias de capital derivadas de la venta de acciones en la sociedad “holding” por parte de accionistas no residentes
  • Exima la transferencia de acciones de impuestos
  • Asegure estabilidad en la aplicacion de leyes y reglamentos tributarios

Las empresas “holding” de Malta pueden beneficiarse de todo lo anterior.

Ventajas disponibles a las empresas “holding” de Malta

Red de Tratados Tributarios

Malta beneficia de una red de más de 70 tratados de doble imposición.

En la mayoría de las situaciones en que una empresa de Malta posee más del 10% del capital social emitido de una subsidiaria extranjera, la tasa de retención de impuestos sobre los dividendos que reciba de un socio ubicado en un pais con lo cual Malta tenga un tratado se reduce al 5%.

Como Malta es parte de la UE, también se beneficia de la Directiva de la UE sobre matrices y filiales, lo que reduce la retención fiscal a cero en los dividendos de muchos países de la UE.

Ventajas tributarias disponibles a las empresas “holding” de Malta

  • Exención de participación y exención del impuesto sobre ganancias de capital

Los dividendos elegibles y las ganancias de capital derivadas de una “tenencia participante” están (a elección del contribuyente) exentas del impuesto de Malta.

Diríjase a nuestra oficina de Dixcart en Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com para obtener definiciones sobre lo que constituye una “tenencia participante”.

  • Venta de acciones en empresas “holding”

Malta no aplica impuestos a las ganancias de capital sobre la venta de acciones en empresas de Malta.

  • Retención de impuestos

Malta no impone retenciones en la distribución de dividendos a los accionistas o empresas “holding”.

La retención a cuenta cero es aplicable independientemente de en qué parte del mundo resida el accionista.

  • Impuesto sobre capital

En Malta no existe un impuesto sobre las aportaciones al capital social y no existe un impuesto de timbre en las transferencias posteriores.

  • Otros ingresos

Los ingresos que no sean dividendos o ganancias de capital están sujetos a impuestos a la tasa normal de Malta del 35%. Sin embargo, al pagar un dividendo de este “otro ingreso”, se paga al accionista un reembolso de impuestos entre 6/7 y 5/7 del impuesto pagado por la sociedad de Malta, lo que resulta en una tasa impositiva neta en Malta de entre 5% y 10%.

Cuando dichos ingresos se hayan beneficiado de la desgravación fiscal doble o del crédito fiscal de tasa fija de Malta, se aplica un reembolso de 2/3.

Estabilidad en la aplicacion de leyes y reglamentos tributarios

Es posible obtener decisiones tributarias formales en Malta. Las decisiones proporcionan certeza sobre la aplicación de la ley a una transacción específica, y vinculan la Fiscalia de Malta durante cinco años.

También hay un sistema de orientación informal de la Fiscalia. Esto toma la forma de una carta de orientación a las autoridades fiscales. Dichas cartas no están expresamente reguladas en la ley, pero crean una expectativa legítima en la que un contribuyente puede confiar. La Fiscalia de Malta considera tales cartas como vinculantes para si misma.

Conclusión

Una empresa “holding” de Malta es una opción atractiva para los grupos comerciales internacionales.

Las ventajas potenciales incluyen:

  • La amplia red de tratados de doble tributación de Malta
  • Exención de impuestos de los dividendos
  • Exención del impuesto de las ganancias de capital sobre la disposición de “tenencias participantes”
  • Exención de impuesto de las ganancias de capital sobre la venta de acciones en una empresa “holding” por parte de accionistas extranjeros
  • La ausencia de retención de impuestos

¿Cómo puede ayudar Dixcart?

Dixcart tiene una oficina en Malta y puede ayudar con:

  • Incorporación de empresas “holding”
  • Servicios de oficinas registradas
  • Provisión de despachos gestionados
  • Servicios de “compliance” tributario
  • Servicios de contabilidad
  • Servicios de directoria
  • Consultoria en todos los aspectos de adquisiciones y disposiciones de acciones

Información Adicional

El Apéndice 1 proporciona un ejemplo de cómo se puede utilizar una sociedad “holding” de Malta como parte de una estructura fiscalmente eficiente.

Contacto

Si desea obtener más información sobre este tema, contáctese con Rodrigo Mendes en la oficina de Dixcart en Reino Unido: rodrigo.mendes@dixcart.com o con Sean Dowden en la oficina de Dixcart en Malta – advice.malta@dixcart.com.

APÉNDICE 1 – EJEMPLO DEL USO DE UNA EMPRESA “HOLDING” DE MALTA

La estructura clásica para el uso de una empresa “holding” de Malta es la siguiente:

En el ejemplo anterior, cuando la empresa comercializadora está situada en la UE, la empresa de Malta se beneficiaría de la Directiva de la UE sobre filiales y matrices, lo que no generaría retenciones en origen sobre el pago de dividendos a la empresa de Malta.

Cuando la explotación sea una “tenencia participante” no habrá impuestos sobre los dividendos y las ganancias de capital a nivel de la empresa tenedora de Malta.

Por lo tanto, los dividendos se pueden pagar a la compañía Nevis sin ninguna deducción de impuestos.

The Remittance Basis of Taxation in Malta – A Minor Change

The Maltese Government introduced modifications to the remittance basis of taxation on 1 January 2018.

Background

Malta offers an extremely attractive remittance basis, whereby a resident non-domiciled individual is only taxed on foreign income if this income is received in Malta or is earned or arises in Malta.

A Tax Change for Resident Non-Domiciled Individuals

Changes, introduced at the beginning of 2018, mean that individuals who are ordinarily resident in Malta, but not domiciled there, may be subject to pay a minimum amount of annual tax in Malta, capped at €5,000.

The tax is payable if the non-domiciled individual:

  • is not participating in a scheme such as ‘The Residence Programme’, ‘Global Residence Programme’ and/or ‘Malta Retirement Programme’, which specify a minimum tax payable; and
  • earns at least €35,000 of income from outside of Malta (or its equivalent in another currency). In the case of a married couple, the combined income is taken into consideration.

Calculation of the Amount of Tax to be Paid

To calculate the tax payable, personal tax paid in Malta, including withholding tax, is taken into account. Capital gains tax, however, is not included.

If the income of a non-domiciled individual in any single tax year results in a tax liability of less than €5,000, the maximum tax of €5,000 will be payable. For example, if an individual is liable to pay €3,000 on income arising or received in Malta, they will be required to ‘top up’ that tax by an additional €2,000.

An exception to the above rule exists if a non-domiciled or non-resident individual can prove that tax on foreign income or capital, arising outside of Malta, would be less than €5,000. At the discretion of the Commissioner of Tax, the tax liability may be agreed at a lower level than the €5,000 specified amount.

Zero Tax on Capital Gains Arising Outside of Malta

No changes are in place or proposed in relation to tax payable on capital gains arising outside of Malta.

Irrespective of whether this income is brought into Malta or not, NO tax is payable.

Summary

The remittance basis of taxation in Malta remains a very attractive tax regime for individuals who are resident but not domiciled in Malta.

The Maltese remittance basis of taxation has been revised and may result in the payment of a maximum annual tax of €5,000. This remains a relatively low amount of tax payable.

Additional Information

If you would like additional information please contact Jonathan Vassallo at the Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com or speak to your usual Dixcart contact.