Hungarian taxation: Business taxation

Corporate Taxation

Introduction

From 1 May 2004, Hungary is a Member State of the European Union. Important features of the Hungarian tax system have been harmonized with EU tax law, including direct taxes, VAT, excise duties, mutual assistance and administrative cooperation.

Companies are subject to corporate income tax, social security contributions, VAT, property tax and excise taxes. Municipal authorities are authorized to levy local taxes, including local business tax and real estate taxes.

Corporate Income Tax

Corporate profits are subject to corporate income tax. The general rate of corporate income tax is 19%. If certain conditions are fulfilled, a rate of 10% is applicable to the part of the taxable base which does not exceed HUF 50 million, while any excess is taxable at the general rate.

Value Added Tax

The standard rate is 25%. A reduced rate of 5% applies to text books and specified medicines, medical materials and supplies. An additional reduced rate of 18% applies to certain basic foodstuff, hotel services and district heating.

Non-residents are taxable in the same manner as residents if they carry out any taxable transactions in Hungary.

EU resident registered taxpayers who are not established in Hungary are entitled to reclaim VAT according to provisions implementing the relevant EU directives.

Non-EU resident registered taxpayers who are not established in Hungary may be entitled, on the basis of reciprocal arrangements, to reclaim the VAT paid on domestic supplies of goods (including the importation of goods) and paid on services used in Hungary for their business activities. Hungary currently has reciprocity agreements with Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Local taxes

The municipalities are authorized to levy a local business tax at rate of maximum 2% on corporate taxpayers that have their legal seat or permanent establishment within their jurisdiction. This tax is generally levied on the turnover, decreased by the acquisition costs of goods sold, costs of mediated services and material.

Immovable property situated in Hungary may be subject to municipal real estate taxes, including building tax and land tax. The owner is the taxable person. The building tax is HUF 900/m2, while the land tax is HUF 200/m2. These taxes are deductible for corporate income tax purposes.

Payroll tax

Employers’ social security contributions on top of the gross salary are:

  • pension and health insurance contributions at 27%; and
  • vocational training contribution at 1,5%.

The above contributions are deductible for corporate income tax purposes.

Withholding taxes

Dividends paid to (resident and non-resident) corporate shareholders are not subject to withholding tax. Only dividends paid to (resident and non-resident) individual shareholders are subject to withholding tax.

A 30% withholding tax is levied on interest, royalties and certain service fees (including fees for business consulting and advisory, advertising, marketing, etc.) paid to non-resident companies if Hungary does not have an income tax treaty with the country of residence of the recipient.

Transfer tax

Transfer tax is levied on the transfer of ownership (for consideration) of immovable property and rights. The tax is payable by the transferee. The taxable base is the fair market value (generally the sales price), not reduced by debts. The regular rate of the transfer tax is 4%.

Transfer tax is also due on the acquisition of vehicles. The acquisition of shares and other securities for consideration is not subject to transfer tax.

Property tax

A property tax applies to owners of water vehicles, aircrafts and heavy duty passenger cars.

Author: Tamás Bajor, Vienna Consult Kft., www.viennaconsult.hu


Living and working in Germany: Trusts of expatriates can cause havoc

After World War II Germany became an immigrant country. Today more than 10 million people of Germany’s population are immigrants or second generation children of immigrants. Immigration has also its tax impacts.

A special tax problem occurs quite often with individuals form the USA or Anglo-Saxon countries when they come to live in Germany. Quite a few of them are beneficiaries of trusts.  The German tax regime of trusts is very unfavourable. This is due to two facts.

Germany’s civil law does not know this legal form. Therefore there exists uncertainty about the legal status of trusts. The second reason for the unfavourable taxation is the fact that German individuals tried to avoid high German tax burdens in the sixties and seventies of the last century by setting up trust in tax havens. This resulted in a punishing anti-avoidance tax legislation. Unfortunately German tax law does not distinguish between Germans who try to avoid taxes and foreigners coming to Germany. Trusts which have been set-up to benefit the latter were often not constructed to avoid taxation. Or if so this was legally accepted by their domestic tax system.

The tax regime of a trust in Germany depends mainly on its legal structure. If the settlor or a beneficiary is the beneficial owner of trust’s funds the trust will be treated as transparent for tax purposes. The high fiscal court of Germany (Bundesfinanzhof / BFH) ruled in a case regarding a Liechtenstein Stiftung as follows. In this case the settlor was able to control the trust. He had the right to appoint or remove trustees and to transfer all funds back to him or to third parties. The BFH classified the Liechtenstein Stiftung as transparent. The same tax treatment shall apply for trusts.

The tax situation of beneficiaries of transparent trusts being resident in Germany is as follows:

  • The beneficiary’s part of trust income will be subject to German income taxation if not denied by a double taxation treaty. Especially dividends, interests and other income from capital funds are subject to German taxation. Business or rental income might be tax free under provisions of the respective double taxation treaty.
  • Transfers of funds of the beneficiary to the trust or repayments to the beneficiary will not be subject to German income or inheritance and gift tax.
  • A serious problem can be the crediting of foreign taxes at source. This can apply for instance if the trust receives dividends from foreign sources and the foreign country imposes a withholding tax on these dividends. German tax regulations or provisions of the respective double taxation may deny the full crediting of the withholding tax on German income tax.

A beneficiary of an in-transparent trust might face far more severe tax implications if being resident in Germany. This especially applies for irrevocable trusts. The following tax implications might follow:

  • The transfer of funds to the trust by the settlor or beneficiary is subject to German gift tax. The very unfavourable tax class III is applicable (low allowances, tax rates between 30% and 50% on transferred funds).
  • Payments of the trust to the beneficiary who is resident in Germany can be subject to German income taxation under certain circumstances. And all payments of the trust will be subject to German gift tax. This extensive tax regime might result in a double taxation if payments are subject to German income and gift tax.
  • And the above mentioned problem of crediting foreign withholding taxes against German income tax is even more severe.
  • There are special provisions for so called family trusts. But in general they are not applicable for beneficiaries coming from abroad.
  • Double taxation treaties might provide a certain support against extensive double taxation. This is especially the case where German double taxation treaties with countries from the Anglo-American world have special provisions regarding the taxation of trust. But there is little support in regards to inheritance and gift tax since Germany’s only double taxation treaty in this respect has been agreed with the USA.
  • Citizens of EU-member states such as Great Britain or Ireland might be able to seek help in front of German courts if they are subject to extensive taxation. The German regulations might not be in line with European freedom rights.

Author: Peter Scheller, Somann & Scheller, www.somannscheller.de


Doing business in Hungary: Country profile

Fact File  

  • Official name – Republic of Hungary
  • Population – 10,037,637
  • Official Language – Hungarian
  • Currency – Forint (HUF)
  • Capital city – Budapest
  • GDP Per Capita – purchasing power parity $19,000

Formerly communist Hungary is one of the ten Eastern European countries that acceded to the European Union on 1 May 2004. Hungary is a landlocked state with many neighbours – Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. It is mostly flat, with low mountains in the north. Lake Balaton, a popular tourist centre, is the largest lake in central Europe.

The ancestors of ethnic Hungarians were the Magyar tribes, who moved into the Carpathian Basin in 896, conquering the people already in the region. Hungary became a Christian kingdom under St Stephen in the year 1000. Hungary has played an important role as part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire under the Habsburgs.

The Hungarian language is unlike the other neighbouring languages and is only distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. It is a member of the Finno-Ugric family of languages, unrelated to the Indo-European language family, which contains the major European languages. Hungarians list their surnames first.

The capital city, Budapest, which originally was two separate cities: Buda and Pest, straddles the River Danube. It is rich in history and culture and famed for its curative springs.

The country‘s main manufactured exports include machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs and chemicals. Hungary is a highly musical country whose traditional folk music inspired its great composers such as Liszt, Bartók and Kodály.

Author: Tamás Bajor, Vienna Consult Kft., www.viennaconsult.hu