Dividends derived from China by a foreign investor are currently subject to China Enterprise Income Tax in the form of Withholding Tax at 10%. In order to attract foreign capital flow into China, a preferential tax deferral policy has recently been implemented by the Chinese government. Under this policy, if foreign investors directly reinvest their profits distributed by Chinese resident enterprises in the encouraged industries and meet certain criteria, then the 10% Withholding Tax on the distributed profits (i.e. dividends) shall not be levied, until the foreign investors dispose of such reinvestments in China. The preferential tax deferral policy took retroactive effect from 1 January 2017. That is, dividends received by foreign investors on or after 1 January 2017 may be eligible for the tax deferral treatment and a refund for the Withholding Tax already paid could be applied.
Passive incomes such as dividends, interests, royalties, capital gains derived from China by a non-Chinese tax resident enterprise (“NRE”) are generally subject to China enterprise income tax in the form of withholding tax. Effective from 1 December 2017, the following changes should be noted:
Since early this year, the Chinese government has released various circulars to promote and attract foreign investments. The key policies refer to further relaxation of the access restriction on foreign capital, formulation of fiscal and taxation incentives, improvement of the investment environment for state level economic development zones, facilitation of talent entrance and exit, as well as optimizing business environment. The major features are as follows:
Hong Kong has recently signed a comprehensive avoidance of double taxation agreement (CDTA) with Saudi Arabia. This brings the number of CDTAs Hong Kong has concluded with other jurisdictions to 38. It is expected that Hong Kong will sign more and more CDTAs with other jurisdictions and in particular, with the Belt and Road countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia). The CDTA with Saudi Arabia contains favorable provisions which are expected to facilitate closer economic ties between Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. The CDTA will only come into force in the tax year following the calendar year in which the relevant ratification procedures are completed. If the ratification procedures can be completed in 2017, the CDTA shall become effective in Hong Kong for any year of assessment beginning on or after 1 April 2018; and shall become effective in Saudi Arabia for any tax period beginning on or after 1 January 2018.