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  • HLB UK - Brexit Survey on UK SME sector

    A survey conducted by HLB UK member firms to UK clients and contacts to see their thoughts on Brexit and its current progress.

    French Duncan, the member firm of HLB in Scotland, worked together with the other HLB UK member firms to conduct a  survey among UK clients and contacts to see what they thought of Brexit and its current progress. The survey provides an understanding of what the UK SME sector currently thinks of Brexit.

    It appears that most of the respondents have a broadly anti-Brexit view. This view is more strongly held in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK. 

    Only a small portion of the survey population said that the Brexit negotiations are going well, while it is common opinion that the UK Government could have handled the negotiations better and that the EU has been fair throughout the negotiation talks.

    To conclude, UK SMEs suggested that a “Soft Brexit” and remaining in the Single Market would be the best solution for them.

    Read the Full Survey Results here.

     

  • HLB International appoints member firm in Rwanda

    New addition to the network.

    HLB International, one of the leading global accountancy networks with presence in 150 countries, continues its growth with the recent signing of a new member firm in Rwanda,  M.N & Associates CPA.

    M.N & Associates CPA is based in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Established in 2008, the firm provides and offers expertise in Audit & Assurance,  Accounts outsourcing,  Taxation as well as Advisory services.

    Michael Maina, Partner at M.N & Associates CPA, commented: “ With the firm’s values of uncompromising professionalism in all aspects of our business dealings we are excited to be joining HLB International and connect with member firms. Not only to meet the clients expectations but also to exceed them.”

    M.N & Associates CPA, with its cross-border business, will work closely with other HLB members, in particular in Africa and Europe. With  extensive experience in the East African region, the firm makes a great addition to our coverage in Africa.

     

  • Overview of the Real Estate Industry in China

    Food and beverage companies that want to keep growing and serving their customers are listening to their customers.

    In the last few decades, the Chinese economy has been expanding dramatically, and China is now the second largest economic entity in the world. As a pillar industry, real estate made an unprecedented contribution in stimulating economic growth and increasing government revenue aspects compared to other industries. 

    1.History Of Chinese Real Estate Industry

    The government of China first began real estate development in 1981. After the policy which demanded all corporations controlled by government and all government agencies providing permanent residence to their employees was abolished, the real estate industry officially entered its “Golden Period”. Moreover, to help the corporations who set foot into this business passing through the economic crisis in 2008, a large amount of new regulations was created by the Chinese government which resulted in residence trading business increased rapidly. Meanwhile, the real estate industry reached a peak of expanding. From 2008 to 2012, residence price grew steadily, and from 2013 to 2015, under the effect of austerity measures that Chinese government released, the speed of real estate property growth was slowing down. However, the real estate market awakened from its “down time” in 2016. The sale in the first six months was 4,868.2 billion RMB – a 42.1% increase compared to other years. As for now in 2017, the Chinese real estate market is still vital even though the global economy is relatively down.

    2.The Characteristics of the Chinese Real Estate Market

    After overviewing the history of the real estate industry, it’s clear to draw the growth curve. We can say overall the market is healthily expanding, and mainly it is determined by the characteristics of Chinese real estate market.

    A.Urbanization Leading To Massive Consumer Demand  

    First of all, China has the largest population in the world which means consumer demand will not be satisfied easily. This demand can be divided into two parts – residence in urban area acquisition and residence improvement. According to census report, currently the population living in urban area in China is 0.77 billion. Urbanization ratio is 56.1% for now and the 13th national five-year plan suggests this ratio will be 60% in 2020. There is no doubt the amount of residence acquisition will be keeping increasing caused by such urbanization process and provide more spaces for real estate market growth. As many people starting to earn more income, the satisfaction for residence improvement which mainly is the satisfaction for average living space per person also needed to be fulfilled in a short time. In most of the developed countries, average living space for one individual is 387.36 to 667.12 square feet. Chinese government is dedicating providing the same, and based on primary estimation, it will be accomplished by the end of 2020.

    B.Financial Pillar of Provincial Government

    Not only the market factors, but monopolistic control to real estate industry provided by provincial government’s “tangible hands” is another reason which keeping pushing the real estate property price that cannot be ignored. Land-transferring fee collected by provincial government before October in 2016 was 2,654.6 billion RMB, which is 88% of their revenue at the corresponding levels. On the other hand, many different types of taxes like increment tax on land value, urban land utilization tax, tax on the occupancy of cultivated land, and deed tax are also involved into real estate industry. The total revenue from all taxes mentioned above is 3,044.8 billion RMB for the first ten month in 2016, and is 41% of the public budget. After a rough estimation, 40% of provincial government’s revenue is from real estate. Without a fundamental economy structure, it is unlikely the real estate market growth will be shifting into a side that is not favoring government.

    C.Market Differentiation & Macroscopic Adjustment

    Comparing to west side of China, the economy in east side is more developed which causes real estate market differentiation. First and second tier cities which has significant impact to both political and financial activities have geographic position advantages including a full set of public facilities, high level of income, advanced education and attract many people. The real estate markets in these cities have a tight supply pattern. However, third and fourth tier cities which only have relatively developed economy comparing first and second tier cities are facing the pressure caused by population loss. To establish and improve a procedure that will guarantee the healthy and steady growth of real estate market and to enhance the control of property in different market categories, government has pointed out that designing policies specialized for third and four tier cities has already become their main focus. On the other hand, new policies including “limited purchase, limited mortgage, limited price, and limited sale” are preventing the real estate market in first and second cities from too “hot”. In order to ensure the good will of residence trading in the market, Central government defines “rental right” as tenant has the same right comparing to residence owner in basic service provided by community, defines “joint right” as residence purchaser who pay part of the total price of sale and government can be the owner of the property simultaneously. And to restrain the speculative investment, enhanced property tax policy has been created and will be implemented in Shanghai and Chongqing. Pilot Cities will be increased. With the help of macroscopic adjustment made by government, residence price increasing speed in first and second tier cities is slowing down. Third and fourth tier cities which have larger amount of residence reservation release policies to encourage more people settling down. Many new policies for example, residence purchasing rebate, low percentage of down payment, and mortgage rate preference etc. could not be more helpful in saving local market and resolving storage problem.

    3.Trend Of Development of Real Estate Market In Future

    To summarize, under the double effect from both market and government, the real estate industry is filled with uncertainty. Nevertheless, the market in China still has lots of potential which means the increasing speed of demand can exist for a long time. The real estate market indeed will have a healthy and steady growth.      

     

    Article by Eric Dong from Baicheng Tax Consulting Services, member of HLB's Real Estate Group. Contact Eric on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo.

     

     

  • HLB Caribbean Tax Updates

    Our member firms like to keep clients regularly updated on issues affecting international businesses. We have compiled a summary of recent tax news from across the region.

     

    Puerto Rico

    HLB is represented by LLM&D PSC who since 2001 has been devoted to providing unique, specialised services to the business community in the areas of accounting, assurance, tax, financial consulting, and other non-traditional business advisory services. 
     
    Puerto Rico Waives Obligation to File Quarterly Sales and Use Tax Report for Period Ended December 31, 2017
     
    Puerto Rico has waived the obligation to file a quarterly sales and use tax report required for non-withholding agents for the 3-month period ending on December 31, 2017.  The tax report was due to be filed on January 31, 2018.

    Similarly, the requirement to file the 2017 annual report, required under section 4041.03(b)(1)(C) of the Code to be filed on or before January 31, 2018 was  also waived.

    Nonetheless, non-withholding agents are still obligated to notify local purchasers of their obligation to remit the sales and use tax on tangible personal property acquired from non-withholding agent merchants.
     
    For more information on doing business in Puerto Rico, please contact Carlos Dolagaray at LLM&D PSC on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo. or (787) 777-0660.
     
     
    Trinidad and Tobago

    HLB is represented in Trinidad and Tobago by HLB Montgomery & Co, whose corporate experience and in-depth knowledge encompasses the following client base: Manufacturing, Marketing, Foreign corporate reporting to their head office, Retailing, Trinidad & Tobago Government Health Sector, Credit Unions, Information Technology, the Hotel Industry, Construction, Down Stream Oil Industry, Insurance Agents and Receiverships & Liquidations.

    Revenue Authority Created in Trinidad and Tobago
     
    The Ministry of Finance issued a press release announcing the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (“TTRA”).  The TTRA will be the government agency responsible for the collection of government revenue and the provision of other services for the protection of such revenue which includes investigation of tax evasion, conducting tax audits and border protection.

    The TTRA will subsume the powers, responsibilities and functions of the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division.


     
    Trinidad and Tobago On Board with OECD BEPS Initiative
    Trinidad and Tobago has become the 108th member to join the Inclusive Framework ("IF") for the global implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.  Under this framework, all state and non-state jurisdictions that commit to the BEPS Project will participate as BEPS Associates of the OECD's Committee on Fiscal Affairs.

    For more information on doing business in Trinidad & Tobago, contact Almida Anderson at HLB Montgomery & Co on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo.or +1 868 623 4573
     
     
    Dominican Republic

    HLB is represented in the Dominican Republic by HLB Santo Domingo D. R. Auditores & Consultores, who provide audit, consulting, outsourcing and taxation services.
     
    Under Anti-Money Laundering Law, Dominican Republic Calls for Mandatory Registration of Certain Taxpayers
    TPursuant to Anti-Money Laundering Law No. 155-17, the Dominican Republic is requiring "mandatory taxpayers" (sujetos obligados) to register with the Financial Analysis Unit (Unidad de Análisis Financiero).

    "Mandatory taxpayers" are defined to include:

    •    lawyers;
    •    notaries;
    •    accountants;
    •    real estate agents and companies;
    •    gambling houses;
    •    car dealers; and
    •    jewelery and art dealers.

    Legal entities must register via a designated liaison for the Competent Authorities in matters of Prevention of Money Laundering ("Compliance Officer" in the terms of the Law).  Individuals must personally register. 

    Registration can take place online via the UAF website .
     
    Dominican Republic Seeks Identification of Final Beneficiaries
    As part of the Dominican Republic’s newly enacted law on anti-money laundering (the “AML”), all companies—including entities such as trusts and mutual funds—are required to identify final beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of article 50(c) of the Tax Code.

    The following forms will be available for such purposes: 

    •    An updated Affidavit for Registration and Update of Data of Legal Persons (Form RC-02), which includes Annex D (Affidavit for the Identification of the Final Beneficiary) that must be completed by the taxpayers at the time of incorporation or modification of the data;

    •    Form of Affidavit of Registration and Update of Separate Assets (RC-03), which is a new form that will be used for the incorporation and modification of data of trusts, mutual funds, collective investment schemes or similar arrangements, and which includes mandatory Annex C (Affidavit for the Identification of the Final Beneficiary);

    •    Updated Corporate Income Tax Filing (IR-2 form), which, for fiscal years ending on or after September 30, 2017, includes mandatory schedules H-1 (Identification of the Final Beneficiary) and H-2 (Data Update); and

    •    Updated Not-for-Profit Income Tax Filing Informative Statement (ISFL form), which includes mandatory Schedule C (Identification of Members and Final Beneficiary for Not-For-Profit Institutions) that must be completed by the taxpayers at the time of annual tax filing.

    This requirement is effective September 21, 2017.

     
    Dominican Republic Sets 2018 Transfer Pricing Threshold 
     
    The Dominican tax authorities released Notice No. 5 of 2018, which adjusts the 2018 transfer pricing reporting threshold to DOP 11,015,961. Taxpayers not reaching the threshold do not have transfer pricing reporting obligations for the year 2018.
     
    Dominican Republic Updates List of “Tax Havens”
     
    The Dominican Republic has published an updated list of countries or territories that will not be considered preferential tax regimes, low- or zero-taxation regimes, or tax havens.  This list includes the following countries:

    •    Panama;
    •    Antigua and Barbuda;
    •    Austria;
    •    Dominica;
    •    Hong Kong;
    •    Luxembourg;
    •    Monaco;
    •    Cook Islands;
    •    Niue Island;
    •    Micronesia;
    •    Netherlands;
    •    Saint Martin; and
    •    Seychelles.

    Tax residents conducting bona fide commercial or financial transactions with individuals, legal entities or entities resident in the above countries or territories will only be subject to transfer pricing obligations if they are considered related parties under domestic tax law.

    For more information on doing business in the Dominican Republic, contact Luis Quezada at HLB Santo Domingo D. R. Auditores & Consultores on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo. or +1 809 363 3973
     
    Netherlands Antilles


     
    HLB International is represented in Netherlands Antilles by HLB Jourdain & Partners in Curaçao, which are Tax Lawyers and Legal Consultants.
     
    St. Maarten Publishes Tables for 2018 Tax Rates and Credits
     
     
    Corporate income tax rate
     
    The corporate income tax rate remains unchanged at 34.5%.
     
    Individual Income and Wage Tax rates

     
    Taxable income (ANG)Tax on lower amount (ANG)Rate (%) 
    up to   31,837 0 12.50      
    31,837 47,756 3,979.64 20.00      
    47,756 66,328 7,163.33 26.25      
    66,328 99,490 12,038.29 33.75      
    98,490 140,612 23,230.57 40.00      
    over   140,612 39,679.47 47.50      
     
     
     
    Tax Credits 
     
    The 2016 credits are as follows:
    Type of allowanceAmount (ANG)
    standard credit 2,072
    single earners credit 1,383
    child credit I(a)* 75
    child credit II(b)* 94
    child credit III(c)* 367
    child credit IV(d)* 737
    senior citizen credit 1,044
    maximum transferable amount of senior citizen credit of spouse 524


    Aruba Establishes Structure for International Tax Assistance
     
    On December 19, 2017, Aruba published a State Ordinance on International Tax Assistance (“LIBB”), which is the framework for the local government to assist in international tax matters.  This established guidance is designed to be in accordance with Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”).  

    Further, Aruba intends to finalize an agreement with the U.S. regarding FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) compliance, pursuant to U.S. law.  This means that the government of Aruba, rather than financial institutions themselves, will have the responsibility to provide information regarding U.S. account holders in such institutions to the U.S. government. 

    The LIBB is effective as of December 20, 2017.  


    For more information on doing business in Netherlands Antilles, contact Michael Kaspers at Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo.
     
    Bahamas

     

     
    HLB International is represented in The Bahamas by HLB Galanis & Co, which specialises in accounting, audit & assurance, business valuations, consulting services, corporate finance, corporate services, forensic accounting and litigation support and testimony. 
     
    Bahamas Signs on for OECD Exchange of Information and BEPS Initiative

    The Bahamas has joined the OECD Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information Agreement, which aims to implement the automatic exchange of financial account information pursuant to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS), and to deliver the automatic exchange of CRS information between 101 jurisdictions by 2018. 

    Further, the Bahamas has joined the inclusive framework for the global implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“BEPS”) Project.  Under this framework, all state and non-state jurisdictions that commit to the BEPS Project will participate as BEPS Associates of the OECD's Committee on Fiscal Affairs. 

    For more information on doing business in Bahamas, contact Philip Galanis at HLB Galanis & Co on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo.
     
    Jamaica

     

    Jamaica: General Consumption Taxpayers Required to Electronically File GCT Tax Returns

    The Jamaica Ministry of Finance and the Public Service issued a press release announcing that the tax administration will be implementing the next phase of its mandatory e-filing of tax returns. 

    Effective April 1, 2018, small and micro businesses registered as general consumption tax (GCT) taxpayers will be required to e-file their GCT returns via the Jamaica Tax Portal, as is currently being done by large and medium taxpayers.


     
    Sports Betting and Gaming Tax Fees Now to be Paid to Tax Administration Jamaica

    Effective January 1, 2018, contributions normally paid to the CHASE fund must be paid to the Tax Administration Jamaica (“TAJ”).  The returns include the following contributions (now called fees):
     
    License typeReturn formTax rate payable up to 31 Dec. 2017 (%)Contribution payable to CHASE Fund up to 31 Dec. 2017 (%)Tax rate payable to TAJ from 1 Jan. 2018 (%)
    Bookmaker (sports betting)
     
    BT06 7 1 8
    Gaming GT01 6.5 1 7.5



    For more information on doing business in Jamaica, contact Orville Christie at Boldeck Jamaica on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo. or +1 876 754 0833
     
    Martinique

    Effective January 1, 2018 and as per Article 182-A of the General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts), the rates of withholding tax on the employment income of and pensions paid to non-resident individuals is as follows:
     
    Annual income 
    (EUR)
    Rate (%) 
    up to 14,605     0      
    14,605-42,370     12      
    over 42,370     20      
     

    Note: In the overseas departments (département d'outre-mer, DOMs) French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion, the rates are 8% and 14.4% (instead of 12% and 20%).


    Martinique Issues Wage Withholding Table for Non-Residents

    Effective January 1, 2018 and as per Article 182-A of the General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts), the rates of withholding tax on the employment income of and pensions paid to non-resident individuals is as follows:
     
    St. Kitts and Nevis

    St. Kitts and Nevis Aligns with OECD Exchange of Information Requirements and BEPS Initiative

    St. Kitts and Nevis has joined the OECD Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information Agreement, which aims to implement the automatic exchange of financial account information pursuant to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS), and to deliver the automatic exchange of CRS information between 101 jurisdictions by 2018.

    Further, St. Kitts and Nevis has joined the inclusive framework for the global implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“BEPS”) Project.  Under this framework, all state and non-state jurisdictions that commit to the BEPS Project will participate as BEPS Associates of the OECD's Committee on Fiscal Affairs. 



    FATCA Agreement Signed Between U.S. and St. Kitts and Nevis 

    On November 14, 2017, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced a competent authority agreement (“CAA”) that the United States had entered into with St. Kitts and Nevis.  The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act’s (FATCA) primary purpose is to overcome perceived tax abuse by U.S. persons utilizing offshore accounts, and rules require (1) foreign financial institutions to provide information to the IRS regarding U.S. account holders, and (2) other non-US entities to provide information about any U.S. owners.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Consumers are Driving Major Food and Beverage Trends

    Food and beverage companies that want to keep growing and serving their customers are listening to their customers.

    Today many consumers are passionate about their health, and it is none too soon. As a nation, the U.S. has become progressively less healthy, and the food and beverage industry has been a major contributor. From high-fructose corn syrup to highly refined carbohydrates, the U.S. has literally made itself sick. Consumers have woken up, however, and are creating major change in the industry. Food and beverage companies that want to keep growing and serving their customers are listening to their customers.

    “Consumers are my salespeople,” Logan Kock, Chief Sustainability Officer at Santa Monica Seafood says when explaining how word of mouth is a big part of how new customers are finding out about Santa Monica Seafood.

    “Consumer demands have given us a platform to tell our story and an opportunity to fill a void in the market,” DeBellis says. “Our strategy is to continue to innovate both in product offerings and business practices to raise the bar and continue to provide value to consumers.”

    DeBellis notes that the truly innovative market leaders in food and beverage are not just talking sustainability but backing it up with actions by redesigning packaging, pursuing sustainable manufacturing practices, and innovating with new product offerings.

    Director of Operations Amelia Winslow makes sure Health-Ade’s policies reflect its consumers’ values.

    “Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, and choosing to buy from companies that share their values,” Winslow says. “We are transparent about our ingredients, our practices and our values — and our product is something consumers want and need. In fact, our founders created this product as consumers who wanted something they could not find.”

    Consumers are demanding that food and beverage companies also look at where they are sourcing materials and pushing for the use of raw materials that are certified by a reputable body.

    “We are purchasing more coffee beans that are certified because wholesale customers are requesting it, and enduse enduse channels like grocery stores are getting consumer requests for it,” notes Jeff Durbin, Chief Financial Officer at Gavina Coffee.

    With another view on coffee, Califia Farms is currently sourcing the coffee for its Ready-to-Drink Cold Brews through Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, which means that farmers follow sustainable agricultural practices that protect forests, rivers, soils and wildlife while being good community neighbors. The certification also ensures that workers have just wages and improved access to dignified living conditions, healthcare and education for their children. (See www.rainforest-alliance.org for more information.)

    Another area where consumers are increasingly getting involved is in minimizing food and beverage companies’ environmental footprint. Some companies such as Earth Island/Follow Your Heart have become zero-waste, energy positive facilities (or are working to become such) through various techniques, including the use of solar panels. Others work at reducing their footprint by outsourcing operations, such as at Sun Harvest Salt.

    “We look for the most efficient ways to ship and store our products,” Chief Executive Officer and Founder Ramona Cappello of Sun Harvest Salt explains. “We max out each truck, which results in no wasted space or excess gas use.

    Our competitors often use just-in-time order fulfillment and order by pallet, which reflects how their customers do business, but they spend much more in freight due to inefficient shipping.”

    Ultimately, the growth of consumers’ personal values has made the biggest difference. Chris Mann, Chief Executive Officer of Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc., notes that his company is committed to preserving the rainforest and that has led to increased consumer demand.

    “Customer demand has driven us to develop new products, then consumers want more — it is a virtuous circle,” Mann expands. “We look at it as Steve Jobs looked at it. Customer research only goes so far — you have to create it and put it out there and explain why customers want it and then it expands. That is disruption.”

    Article by Donald Snyder and team from Green Hasson Janks, member of HLB's Agriculture Group. Contact Donald on Este endereço de email está sendo protegido de spambots. Você precisa do JavaScript ativado para vê-lo.

     

     

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