Which is an ideal jurisdiction for company incorporation in Asia? Singapore and Hong Kong have been dominant players in the Asian region, vying for the position of “the best place to do business.” But the crucial questions are, which of these jurisdictions have an edge over the other? Is incorporating a business easier in Singapore or in Hong Kong?
Strategic location and attractive tax benefits make Singapore the most preferred location for the overseas companies to set up their business. Various options are – opening up a Branch Office, a Representative Office or a Subsidiary in Lavender . The country also has liberal immigration policies. If the company wants to set up their regional head quarters in Singapore they are also provided with Financial Assistance.
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A key determinant for setting up a business in Lavender is the tax regime in force. In this regard Singapore boast of being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the world. Detailed below is an overview of the tax system and Audit Firm in Singapore.
Tax jurisdiction Singapore: Taxes are levied on a territorial principle i.e. companies and individuals are taxed on Singapore sourced income. In addition, the Foreign sourced income (branch profits, dividends, service income, etc.) are taxed when it is remitted or deemed remitted into Singapore unless the income was already subjected to taxes in a jurisdiction with headline tax rates of at least 15%.
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A key determinant for setting up a business in a given jurisdiction is the tax regime in force. In this regard, both Hong Kong and Singapore boast of being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the world. Detailed below is a comparative overview of the tax system in Singapore Vs HK.
- Taxes are levied on a territorial principle i.e. companies and individuals are taxed on Singapore sourced income.
- Foreign sourced income (branch profits, dividends, service income, etc.) will be taxed when it is remitted or deemed remitted into Singapore unless the income was already subjected to taxes in a jurisdiction with headline tax rates of at least 15%.
- Taxes are levied on the territorial principle i.e. only on income "derived from or arising in" HK and not on income sourced outside the SAR.
- No tax is levied on profits arising abroad, even if they are remitted to Hong Kong.
Corporate Tax Rate
- Singapore: Current corporate income tax rate - 18%. However, corporate income tax rate effective 2010 - 17%. Note: The effective tax rate is much lower - below 9% for profits up to SGD 300,000 and capped at 18% for profits above SGD 300,000
- Hong Kong: Current corporate income tax rate - 16.5%
Goods and Services Tax (known as VAT/Sales tax in other countries)
- Singapore: 7%
- Hong Kong: Nil
Capital gains tax
- Singapore and Hong Kong: Nil (Capital loss expenses are correspondingly not allowed as deductions)
Group relief for losses
- Singapore: Allowed
- HK: Not allowed
- Singapore: Interest, royalties, rentals from movable properties, management and technical fees, and director's fees paid to non-residents (individuals or companies) are subject to withholding tax. There is no withholding tax levied on dividends.
- Hong Kong: Royalties, rentals from movable properties, and fees paid to non-resident entertainers or sportsmen for their performances in Hong Kong are subject to withholding tax. There are no withholding taxes levied on dividends and interest.
Double Tax Agreements
- Singapore: More than 50 bilateral comprehensive tax treaties
- HK: DTA network of 37 treaties
- Singapore: 1 January - 31 December
- HK: 1 April - 31 March
Filing tax returns
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore by 31 October each year.
- Note: Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and exempt private companies (not more than 20 shareholders and shares are not held by another company) with an annual turnover of less than SGD 5 million are exempt from audit requirements and can file unaudited accounts.
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Department by 31 April each year. The auditor must be a member of the HK Institute of Certified Public Accountants and must hold a practicing certificate.
- Note: Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and small corporations (i.e total gross income does not exceed HKD 500,000) are exempt from audit requirements and can file unaudited accounts.
Company Incorporation - Singapore Vs Hong Kong
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has imposed a new scheme known as the Production and Innovation Credit (PIC) to benefit logistics companies in Singapore. For several years IRAS was designing strategies for logistics department to be at par with international companies of Japan and China so they came up with PIC.
The several ways PIC Grant can benefit the logistics companies are listed below:
Funds for automated machines
The PIC scheme has been very beneficial for the logistics companies as they can purchase automated machines and devices. The entire funding is covered by IRAS PIC Grant. As a result, the companies can reach higher levels with increased production and returns. The automated machines also reduce the cost of extra labour and the job can be finished in less time. The productivity becomes higher resulting in greater profits thus competing in the international market.
The experts of IRAS also help these companies to come up with efficient strategies to enhance their productivity. The highly educated panel of IRAS has a lot of experience when it comes to managing financial growth of a company. In most of the cases, the managers of these logistics company are not well accustomed with the strategies to match the international standards. A proper analysis by the IRAS experts will ultimately lead to higher sales and improve the quality of their service.
Logistics companies are a huge blunder when it comes to paying taxes. The tax keeps on mounting and at the end, the companies have to pay a large sum compromising their profit. So the IRAS comes into the scenario and helps these companies set up various plans to solve problems regarding taxation. There can be tax deductions up to 400% in several cases. This will help the companies to provide their services at a cheaper rate to beat their competitors.
The cash pay-out option
The small and growing businesses are the ones who can be hugely benefitted by this cash pay-out option. To aid these companies the Singapore government has come up with many strategies so that they can reach the heights of big companies. With the cash pay-out option, the financially distressed companies can invest in modern equipment and improve their standards.
Productivity along with improvement of Logistics Companies
The PIC Grant, 2014 offers productivity with improvement of the companies all at the same time. There are certain regulations and to be eligible, these companies need to invest in several areas of Singapore economy. This will ultimately benefit the logistics companies but at the same time, the government is doing its part.