Kong Double Tax Treaties
Double taxation avoidance treaties are in force
between Hong Kong and the following countries (with
'in force' dates):
(January 1, 2011)
(July 7, 2004)
(December 19, 2010)
(February 23, 2011)
(February 10, 2011)
(August 14, 2011)
(July 8, 2011)
Luxembourg (January 20, 2009)
(April 10, 1998, second protocol signed 2006)
Thailand (December 7, 2005)
Vietnam (August 12, 2009)
(December 20, 2010)
taxation agreements between Hong Kong and the following
countries have been signed but are awaiting ratification
(with signature dates):
(October 21, 2010)
Republic (June 6, 2011)
(March 23, 2010)
(May 13, 2010)
China (Third Protocol, August 21, 2010)
(March 22, 2010)
Zealand (December 1, 2010)
(March 22, 2011)
(April 1, 2011)
(December 6, 2010)
Kong also has signed double taxation agreements concerning
aviation and shipping income with a number of countries
(although some of these agreements have been superceded
by recently-signed comprehensive double tax avoidance
agreements). Countries with which Hong Kong has signed
these limited double tax agreements include:
Zealand - aviation
- aviation and shipping
Lanka - aviation and shipping
is also a memorandum of understanding with China
source income earned by Hong Kong based shipping,
aviation and land transport operations is exempt
from tax on the mainland;
Hong Kong enterprises are only taxable in China
if they have a permanent establishment there.(A
permanent establishment is defined as an activity
which continually lasts for more than 6 out
of 12 months).
Kong resident individuals are not subject to
tax for services rendered in mainland China
so long as they do not reside more than 183
days in the country in any tax year.
Kong will give a tax credit for any tax paid
in mainland China.
June 2001, the territory had no comprehensive double
taxation agreements in place. Since under the "territorial
principle" only Hong Kong source income is
taxable the double taxation of income does not usually
occur thereby obviating the need for double taxation
treaties. However the government is now entering
an increasing number of tax treaties of various
types. Under article 151 of the Basic Law the territory
can negotiate its own double taxation treaties independently
of China using the abbreviation Hong Kong, China.
The territory is not able to take advantage of any
double taxation treaties which China may enter into
because only mainland taxes are mentioned in these
treaties. Nor will China impose the terms of any
double taxation treaties on the territory given
that under articles 106-108 of the Basic Law it
guaranteed Hong Kong the right to maintain an independent
taxation system free of interference from the mainland
until the year 2047.
April 2010, Commissioner of Inland Revenue,
Chu Yam-yuen, said that Hong Kong has entered a
"new phase" in supporting the international
effort to enhance tax transparency, and its next
hurdle would be to sign at least twelve comprehensive
double taxation agreements (DTAs).
which came into operation in March 2010 allows Hong
Kong to enter into comprehensive DTAs, incorporating
the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) international standard on exchange of information.
had been some concern within Hong Kong that the
territory may become 'black listed' by the OECD,
or be on the receiving end of sanctions for failing
to implement the internationally-agreed standard
on tax transparency and information exchange confirmed
at the April 2009 G20 Summit in London. Secretary
for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor
K C Chan assured lawmakers in
May 2010 however, that the OECD had in fact
commended Hong Kong's efforts to comply with these
information on Hong Kong Profits Tax, see Hong
Kong Domestic Corporate Taxation.
following information provides brief details on
certain key double tax avoidance agreements signed
by the Hong Kong SAR.
parties having completed their ratification procedures,
the double taxation agreement between Hong Kong
and Austria, which was originally signed on May
25, 2010, came into effect on January 1, 2011.
Under the treaty, interest income withholding tax
is set at zero in the country of the payer, while
dividend income is set at a maximum of 10%. Withholding
tax on royalty income is similarly limited to a
maximum of 3%.
There are also special provisions for shipping and
air transport, with profits from the operation of
ships or aircraft in international traffic, including
lease income and container leases, taxable only
in the country of the owner.
There is also provision for the exchange of tax
information, conforming to the internationally-agreed
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
December, 2003, the governments of Hong Kong and
Belgium signed a double taxation and prevention
of fiscal evasion treaty marking the first comprehensive
double taxation agreement concluded by the government
of the Special Administrative Region.
to the agreement, royalties received by a Hong Kong
resident from a Belgian source not attributable
to a permanent establishment in Belgium were subject
to a Belgian withholding tax at 15% on the gross
amount of royalties less a 15% fixed deduction.
Under the Agreement, the Belgian withholding tax
has been reduced to 5% of the gross amount of royalties
(without the 15% fixed deduction). In the case of
interest received by a Hong Kong resident that arises
in Belgium and which is not attributable to a permanent
establishment in Belgium, the Belgian withholding
tax has been reduced from 15% of the gross amount
of interest to 10% under the Agreement.
from international shipping transport earned by
Hong Kong residents that arise in Belgium which
were subject to income tax in Belgium are exempted
under the Agreement. "The Agreement also formalises
the tax relief being offered by the two tax authorities
at present, thus providing a further level of certainty
and stability to existing and potential investors
alike," Mr Ma said.
places in the region have already established a
network of CDTAs. Having such a network in place
for Hong Kong will put us on a par with other places
in the region that already have one, thereby further
enhancing our competitiveness in attracting foreign
investment," Mr Ma explained.
parties having completed their ratification procedures,
the double taxation agreement (DTA) between Hong
Kong and Brunei, came into effect on December 19,
Under the treaty, Hong Kong residents receiving
interest from Brunei are subject to a 10% withholding
tax instead of 15%. If the recipient is a bank or
financial institution, the withholding tax rate
will be further reduced to 5%. Brunei has also agreed
to lower the withholding tax on royalties received
by Hong Kong residents from Brunei from 10% to 5%.
In addition, under the DTA, Hong Kong airlines operating
flights to Brunei will be taxed at Hong Kong's corporation
tax rate (which is lower than Brunei's). Profits
from international shipping earned by Hong Kong
residents but arising in Brunei, which are currently
subject to tax in Brunei, will enjoy tax exemption
under the agreement.
The agreement was also the first DTA Hong Kong signed
using the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development standard on the exchange of tax
August, 2006, the Chinese and Hong Kong Governments
signed an agreement on avoiding double taxation
that aims to provide investors and taxpayers in
the two places certainty over tax liability and
offer tax savings.
Administration of Taxation Minister Xie Xuren signed
the new arrangement on behalf of the Central Government,
and Chief Executive Donald Tsang, accompanied by
Financial Secretary Henry Tang and Secretary for
Financial Services & the Treasury Frederick Ma,
signed on behalf of Hong Kong.
Arrangement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation
on Income & Prevention of Fiscal Evasion extends
the scope of the original agreement on business
profits and income from personal services both parties
signed in 1998.
new pact covers direct income, such as operating
profits and employment income, and indirect income,
such as dividends, interest and royalties. It also
ensures the same income will not be doubly taxed
in the two places.
the new arrangement:
rates for withholding tax for dividends a Hong
Kong resident receives from Mainland investments
were halved from 20% to 10%, and those rates
for dividends a Hong Kong business receives
were cut from 10% to 5% for Hong Kong businesses
holding at least 25% of the capital of the Mainland
enterprise. This will attract more overseas
investments into the Mainland through Hong Kong.
rates for withholding tax for interest a Hong
Kong resident receives from the Mainland fell
from 20% to 7%, and those for a Hong Kong business
fell from 10% to 7%.
rates for withholding tax for royalties a Hong
Kong resident or business receives from the
Mainland fell from the respective 20% and 10%
to 7%. This will help promote creativity and
innovation in industry as well as cultural and
artistic activities on the Mainland and Hong
taxing right for gains a Hong Kong resident
or business receives from the transfer of shares
in a Mainland enterprise is allocated exclusively
to Hong Kong. If the income does not amount
to a trading receipt or is not sourced in Hong
Kong, no profits tax is charged in Hong Kong.
Where the assets of the Mainland enterprise
are comprised mainly of immovable property on
the Mainland or the shares transferred are equal
to or exceed 25% of the shareholding of the
Mainland enterprise, the income may be taxed
in both places. A tax-credit arrangement ensures
that the same income is not taxed twice.
pact allows for the exchange of information between
the State Administration of Taxation and Hong's
Inland Revenue Department, to enable both parties
carry out its provisions. As is the international
norm, however, the exchange is limited, to ensure
that the use of taxpayer information will not be
with regard to the new agreement, Donald Tsang announced
conclusion of a comprehensive double-taxation arrangement
with the Mainland, together with the Mainland &
Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement,
will provide added incentives for international
investors to enter the Mainland market through Hong
Kong. It will also enhance cross-border financing
arrangements and the transfer of technical know-how
and patent rights between the two places. These
will help promote Hong Kong's economy, enhance our
competitiveness and attract overseas capital."
new arrangement came into effect with respect to
Hong Kong taxes from the year of assessment beginning
on or after April 1, 2007. With respect to Mainland
taxes, it applies from the taxable year beginning
on or after January 1, 2007.
early 2008, Hong Kong and the Mainland signed the
second protocol to the Arrangement for the Avoidance
of Double Taxation & Prevention of Fiscal Evasion
with respect to Taxes on Income.
tax arrangement was formally signed on August 21,
2006, and launched on December 8 that year, but
the two governments differed on the interpretation
of certain parts of it. After negotiations, they
agreed on the amendments and initialled the second
protocol in September 2007.
French treaty (signed October 2010 and awaiting
ratification as of January 2011) reduces withholding
tax paid by Hong Kong residents receiving dividends
from France not attributable to a permanent establishment
in France from 25% to 10%. Also, Hong Kong residents
receiving royalties from France will see withholding
tax reduced from 33.33% in France to a maximum of
10%. The French interest withholding tax on Hong
Kong residents will be reduced from of 18% to 10%.
the French CDTA, Hong Kong airlines operating flights
to France will be taxed at Hong Kong's corporation
tax rate (which is lower than that of France). Profits
from international shipping transport earned by
Hong Kong residents that arise in France, which
are currently subject to tax there, will enjoy tax
exemption under the agreement.
Hong Kong/France CDTA also incorporates the latest
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
standard on the exchange of information for tax
Kong and Luxembourg signed a comprehensive agreement
on the avoidance of double taxation on November
agreement was signed on November 2, 2007, by Secretary
for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor
KC Chan and Luxembourg Economy and Foreign Trade
Minister, Jeannot Krecke. It will eliminate double
taxation instances encountered by Hong Kong and
Luxembourg investors, and bring about tax savings
and certainty in tax liabilities in connection with
cross-border economic activities.
order made by the Chief Executive in Council under
the Inland Revenue Ordinance to implement the Agreement
with Luxembourg for the Avoidance of Double Taxation
was gazetted on February 1, 2008.
has eliminated double taxation by providing full
exemption to profits of Luxembourg companies doing
business through a branch in Hong Kong.
withholding tax for dividends is reduced to 0% if
the recipient of the dividends is a company holding
10% or more of the share capital of the paying company
(or invested EUR 1.2 million or more therein), and
to 10% in all other cases. The non-treaty withholding
tax rate is 20% on the dividends.
from operation of ships in international traffic
earned by a Hong Kong resident in Luxembourg is
exempt from Luxembourg income tax.
agreement took effect with respect to Hong Kong taxes
from April 1, 2008 and with respect to Luxembourg taxes
from January 1, 2008.
November 2010, the Hong Kong/Luxembourg DTA was updated
to include the exchange of information article so that
the agreement conforms with the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development’s international standard.
new article requires the contracting parties, upon receiving
a request for information, to exchange information even
when there is no domestic tax interest involved. It
does not permit either party to decline to supply information
solely because the information is held by a bank, other
financial institution, nominee or person acting in an
agency or a fiduciary capacity.
protocol will come into force after the completion of
ratification procedures and notification by both sides
(probably in 2011).
provisions shall have effect in Hong Kong in respect
of tax for any year of assessment beginning on or after
April 1 in the calendar year next following that in
which the protocol enters into force. In Luxembourg,
it will apply, in respect of taxes withheld at source,
to income derived on or after January 1, and, in respect
of other taxes on income and capital, to taxes chargeable
for any taxable year beginning on or after January 1
in the calendar year next following that in which the
protocol enters into force.
the absence of the DTA, the profits of Hong Kong companies
doing business through a permanent establishment, such
as a sales outlet, in New Zealand may be taxed in both
places if the income is Hong Kong sourced. Under the
agreement, double taxation will be avoided in that any
New Zealand tax paid by the companies will be allowed
as credit against the tax payable in Hong Kong in respect
of the income, subject to the provisions of the tax
laws of Hong Kong.
Without the DTA, Hong Kong residents receiving dividends
from New Zealand not attributable to a permanent establishment
in New Zealand can be subject to a withholding tax of
30%. This withholding tax will be reduced to 15% under
the treaty. The withholding tax rate is further lowered
to 5% or 0% for qualifying beneficial owners.
Furthermore, Hong Kong residents receiving royalties
from New Zealand would usually be subject to a withholding
tax of 15% in New Zealand. Under the agreement, the
royalties’ withholding tax will be capped at 5%.
The New Zealand interest withholding tax on Hong Kong
residents will be reduced from 15% to 10%.
The Hong Kong/New Zealand DTA also incorporates the
latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
international standards on the exchange of tax information.
The agreement, signed December 2010, will come into
force after the completion of ratification procedures
on both sides (probably in 2011).
DTA clearly sets out the allocation of taxing rights
between the two jurisdictions and the relief on tax
rates on different types of passive income.
the absence of the DTA, profits earned by Swiss residents
in Hong Kong are currently subject to both Hong Kong
and Swiss income tax. Profits of Swiss companies doing
business through a branch in Hong Kong are fully taxed
in both places.
the agreement, Switzerland will provide exemption to
her residents for such income. In addition, in the absence
of the DTA, Hong Kong residents receiving dividends
from Switzerland, not attributable to a permanent establishment
in Switzerland, are subject to a Swiss withholding tax,
which is currently at 35%. Under the agreement, such
withholding tax rate will be reduced to 10%. The dividends
withholding tax will be exempted if the beneficial owner
of the dividends is a company holding directly at least
10% of the capital of the company paying the dividends.
The Swiss interest withholding tax, currently at 35%,
on Hong Kong residents will be exempted.
Hong Kong airlines operating flights to Switzerland
will be taxed at Hong Kong's corporation tax rate (which
is lower than that of Switzerland). Profits from international
shipping transport earned by Hong Kong residents that
arise in Switzerland, which are currently subject to
tax there, will enjoy tax exemption under the agreement.
The Hong Kong/Switzerland DTA also incorporates the
latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
standard on exchange of tax information.
The DTA, signed December 6, 2010, will come into force
after the completion of ratification procedures on both
sides (probably in 2011).
in September 2005 and in force from December 7, 2005,
this was the first comprehensive agreement for the avoidance
of double taxation that Hong Kong concluded with an
Asia-Pacific economy, and the second since the government
began exploring establishing a network of agreements
with major trading partners in 1998.
remitted by a branch office in Thailand to its Hong
Kong head office are exempt from the 10% withholding
tax in Thailand.
withholding tax for royalties that are received from
Thailand by a Hong Kong resident and that are not
attributable to a permanent establishment in Thailand
can be reduced to 5% if paid for the use of, or the
right to use, any copyright of literary, artistic
or scientific work (films taxable under this head);
and 10% if paid for the use of, or the right to use,
any patent, trademark, design or model, plan, secret
formula or process. The non-treaty rate is 15% on
the gross amount of royalties.
In the case of interest received by a Hong Kong resident
(when the interest arises in Thailand and is not attributable
to a permanent establishment), the current Thai withholding
tax is 15% of the gross amount. Under the Agreement,
the Thai withholding can be reduced to 10% if interest
is paid to a financial institution or insurance company,
or if interest is paid with respect to indebtedness
arising from the sale on credit of equipment, merchandise
from operation of aircraft in international traffic
earned by a Hong Kong resident in Thailand is exempt
from Thai income tax.
income tax for ship operations in international traffic
by a Hong Kong resident can be reduced by 50%.
June 2001, Hong Kong entered into an limited agreement
with the United Kingdom covering shipping transport.
The agreement is limited to revenues from international
shipping transport and provides that profits derived
from such business by an enterprise of the UK or the
SAR are exempt from tax in the territory of the other
contracting party. Entering into force on May 3, 2001,
the provisions of the agreement applied in the UK from
April 1, 2002, for corporation tax, and from April 6,
2002, for income tax and capital gains tax. It applied
in the SAR from April 1, 2002.
updated UK/Hong Kong Double Taxation Agreement was signed
on June 21, 2010 and entered into force on December
The updated treaty reduced withholding tax on Hong Kong
residents receiving dividends from UK Real Estate Investment
Trusts from 20% to 15%. Also, withholding tax on Hong
Kong residents receiving royalties and interest from
the UK is capped at 3%, instead of the non-treaty rate
Hong Kong/UK CDTA supersedes the existing limited double
taxation avoidance agreements for airline income and
for shipping income.
The agreement also serves an Exchequer protection role
by including provisions to combat tax avoidance and
evasion – partly by measures providing for the
exchange of information between revenue authorities.
All of the UK’s recent double taxation agreements
largely follow the approach adopted in the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD)
Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital. The Arrangements
scheduled to the Order continue that approach.
agreement is effective in the United Kingdom from April
1, 2011 for corporation tax, and from April 6, 2011
for income tax and capital gains tax. It is effective
in Hong Kong from April 1, 2011.
EU Savings Tax Directive
European Union is persisting in its attempts to
convince Asian financial centres to cooperate on
the issue of information-sharing for tax purposes,
although the EU's pleas continue to fall upon deaf
Roe, the European Commission's envoy to Hong Kong
and Macau, approached the two governments in November,
2006, after Hong Kong and Singapore refused to discuss
the possibility of their inclusion in the EU Savings
Tax Directive. Further representations to the governments
of Hong Kong and Singapore by then European Commissioner
for Taxation, Laszlo Kovacs, in early 2008 as part
of a review into expanding the directive's scope
also ended in failure.
the EU is very keen to tax the savings and investments
that European residents have shifted to Asia to
escape the clutches of the directive, the Asian
financial hubs are unlikely to want to sign up to
anything that would compromise their status as low
tax and lightly regulated jurisdictions.
the case of Hong Kong, signing up to the savings
tax directive could mean altering the Basic Law
which safeguards the future of its financial centre
under Chinese rule.
Legal Services Agreement
October 2010, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice,
Wong Yan Lung, and mainland China's Vice Chairman
of the China Council for the Promotion of International
Trade, Dong Songgen, signed a bilateral cooperation
arrangement on legal services for commercial matters
arrangement strengthens information exchanges and
collaboration in organizing conferences on legal
services and related activities. It will help enterprises
in both places provide training in commercial and
arbitration law to encourage the establishment of
better risk management and dispute resolution mechanisms
for commercial matters.
Hong Kong/China Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
CEPA is an ongoing project and dozens of goods and
services traded between Hong Kong and mainland China
have been liberalized since 2004. After signing
the first CEPA agreement in June 2003 for implementation
in 2004, the Central and Hong Kong governments have
signed several yearly Supplements, with the eighth
phase of CEPA liberalisation measures by virtue
of Supplement VII implemented in January 2011. The
number of goods eligible for CEPA’s tariff-free
treatment has expanded from 273 on January 1, 2003,
to 1,592 on January 1, 2011.
Supplement VII, agreed in May 2010, provides for
35 market liberalization and trade and investment
facilitation measures in 19 sectors. Supplement
VII further relaxes the market access conditions
in 14 service sectors, including: technical testing,
analysis and product testing; specialty design;
banking; securities; tourism; and air transport.
Among them, "technical testing, analysis and
product testing" and "specialty design"
are new sectors, bringing the total number of liberalized
service sectors under the CEPA from 42 to 44.
the whole, Supplement VII will expedite and facilitate
Hong Kong service industries to enter and expand
in the Chinese market, and foster service industries'
integration. Moreover, most of the market liberalization
and facilitation measures cover the industries in
which Hong Kong has a competitive edge, and as such
will help consolidate Hong Kong's status as an international
financial, trade, shipping, logistics and high value-added
following services are among those which have been
liberalized under previous CEPA rounds: legal services,
construction, information technology, convention
and exhibition, audiovisual, distribution, tourism,
air transport, road transport, and individually-owned
Kong and the member states of the European Free
Trade Association (EFTA), namely Iceland, Liechtenstein,
Norway and Switzerland, signed a free-trade agreement
on June 21, 2011, marking an important milestone
in trade relations between both sides.
deal is Hong Kong’s first free-trade agreement
with the European economies. It covers trade in
services and goods as well as investment, and other
trade-related issues such as protection of intellectual
property. It is fully consistent with the provisions
of the World Trade Organisation.
agreement is expected to come into force around
Total bilateral merchandise trade between Hong Kong
and the European Free Trade Association states amounted
to HKD76bn in 2010. The average annual growth rate
was 13.8% from 2006 to 2010.
Total bilateral trade in services amounted to about
HKD10bn in 2009. The average annual growth rate
was 8.2% from 2005 to 2009.
text of the agreement can be found on the Hong
Kong Trade and Industry Department website.
Kong’s closer economic partnership agreement
(CEPA) with New Zealand, which was signed in March
2010, entered into force on January 1, 2011.
CEPA was Hong Kong's first free trade agreement
with another country, and the second following that
with the Mainland of China. Under the CEPA, liberalization
measures on both trade in goods and services will
be introduced, and the two sides will also work
on strengthening bilateral trade and economic ties
by facilitating investment and movement of business
the CEPA, New Zealand will phase out over six years
its import tariffs on all goods originating from
Hong Kong. Over 90% of New Zealand's tariff lines
will become duty free within two years after the
agreement has entered into force.
trade in services, Hong Kong service providers and
the services they provide will enjoy secured preferential
opportunities in the New Zealand market in a variety
of service sectors. These include logistics and
related services, audiovisual services, various
business services, computer and related services,
maritime transport services, management consulting
services and services incidental to manufacturing.
terms of market access, there will not be any restrictions
in the form of limitations on foreign capital, number
of service providers or operations, value of service
transactions, number of persons employed, types
of legal entity or joint venture requirements in
a variety of service sectors in the New Zealand
market. Hong Kong service providers and the services
they provide in a wide range of sectors will be
treated no less favourably than their New Zealand
counterparts in similar circumstances.
further enhance bilateral investment flows, the
two sides have also agreed to negotiate an investment
protocol to the CEPA, with a view to concluding
the investment negotiations within two years after
it has entered into force