Category: Tax

What are the per diem and travel expense allowability rates in the Czech Republic?


CZK 1 coin.

Please find below information regarding the Czech per diem as well as other travel expenses, correct as at the close of 2012 going into 2013, courtesy of Baker Tilly Czech Republic’s Head of Tax Lucia Rablova.

Per diem

The new aspect is the obligation to reduce meal allowances when a free meal was provided.

The minimum statutory rates of meal allowances in case of domestic business trips are shown in the following table:

Period of domestic business trip in calendar day Meal allowances according to the decree Obligatory reduction for 1 free meal
5 – 12 hours min. CZK 64 (max. CZK 76) up to 70%
12 – 18 hours min. CZK 96 (max. CZK 116) up to 35%
more than 18 hours min. CZK 151 (max. CZK 181) up to 25%

The minimum statutory rates of meal allowances in case of business trips abroad are shown in the following table:

Period of domestic business trip in calendar day Meal allowances Obligatory reduction for 1 free meal
less than 1 hour ——— ——–
5 – 12 hours 1/3 of basic rate up to 70%
12 – 18 hours 2/3 of basic rate up to 35%
more than 18 hours the basic rate up to 25%

Naturally, an employer may provide meal allowances to a higher amount, i.e. may set a higher rate of meal allowances or may claim reduction in lower than the statutory rate. From the corporate income tax point of view, the full amount of meal allowances is tax deductible. However, any difference between actually paid meal allowances and statutory provided maximum limits for employees in the public budgets sphere (see column II in table 1 – max. amount) is subject to personal income tax from dependent activities and is counted also for social and health insurance computations.

 

Mileage

–          CZK 3.70 per km and petrol usage reimbursement (price according to the receipt or average price according to the annually issued decree may be used)

Accommodation

–          by receipt

Should you have any further questions in respect of the above please do not hesitate to contact Lucia via this portal, using czechtax@quoracy.com, or via the http://www.bakertilly.cz website.

Opinion Piece – Amazon and Google and the prickly question of UK Corporation Tax


Luxembourg
Luxembourg (Photo credit: epha)

This week has seen the issue of corporation tax paid – or rather not paid – in the UK come to the boil, after simmering for several weeks with the articles of various MPs from various parties in various newspapers. It has now made the front page news and there has been an open harangue on three companies, Starbucks, Google and Amazon in the Public Accounts Committee by a group of British MPs headed up by Margaret Hodge.

The argument of the Committee is that these are companies who have made a good deal of turnover in the UK but they haven’t paid any tax. The way in which this has occurred is that they haven’t shown much by way of profits in the UK. They are now being told by Mrs Hodge that she doesn’t believe that they have not made profits in the UK given so much turnover, she thinks that profits are being salted away to other countries, like Luxembourg or Holland, using various techniques such as management charges, royalty fees, transfer prices, etc.

There are of course laws which are set up to determine whether profits in the UK are being assessed fairly – there is transfer pricing legislation and the Inland Revenue are able to investigate whether Transfer Pricing has been used. However, in the end what Mrs Hodge’s argument has boiled down to is the fallacious “argument from incredulity” – she cannot believe that the businesses have not made bigger profits (she seems to be oblivious to the fact that there is a recession going on out there and has been for some time, and that companies in all sectors and of all sized are bankrolling losses), and since she cannot believe it, it cannot be true.

In the case of Amazon a particular point was made – in addition to the insulting of Amazon’s spokesman Mr Andrew Cecil by accusing him of “gross ignorance” – namely when he pointed out that of course Amazon has paid taxes, only not corporation tax, they have paid VAT and employment taxes and created jobs – Hodge said that this argument was irrelevant because also the corner bookshops which would have sold those books would have created those jobs (fictional employment was always beloved by the left) and that Amazon, by making offshore structures involving Luxembourg, were making those little corner bookstores less competitive.

The fact is, however, that Amazon is not competing with little bookstores – it’s the Internet, new technology, which is competing with physical bookstores, but anyone with any kind of memory ought to be able to remember how a few large stores like WHSmiths and Waterstones already managed to put the corner shop bookstores out of business long before the Internet came along. Also if you look at markets like Poland or the Czech Republic, where they have online stores for books but not so much by way of the colossal physical bookstores the way the UK has, there the corner bookstore is alive and well. So Mrs Hodge has absolutely the wrong villain in her sights if she wishes to defend the corner store bookshop. But if she really was interested in championing them, then where was her voice railing against expansions by Waterstones and Smiths ten to fifteen years ago, which transformed that industry then just as much as the internet does now? Where is her voice against the Net Book Agreement, which makes it very hard in the UK for small businesses to deal in new books against larger companies? Tax is important, but it is only a thin layer of icing on that particular rather thick cake.

She admitted also that she wasn’t accusing Amazon of being illegal, only of being “immoral”. I am sorry, but is Luxembourg not another EU state in good standing? Is it now “immoral” to use the EU structures that were offered to us as the bait for getting us to sign up to the Single Market in the first place? Well, if there is any immorality in all of this, I can’t see it on the part of the private businesses. I see immorality and utter hypocrisy in the way these MPs, elected members of a government, blame business for their own failures. Failure in so many years of our being in the EU to sort out some kind of harmonisation in income taxes and corporate income taxes meaning that people are able to doing interesting kinds of arbitrage between EU legislations both in terms of their personal taxes and corporate profits taxes. They have had so many years and so many terms of office to sort this matter out.

In fact the answer in Amazon’s case is ridiculously simple – the UK has held a zero rate of VAT for books in order not to penalise reading, but bookselling companies paid the same profits taxes as any other kind of company. That means that book VAT in the UK isn’t even propely harmonised with the rest of the EU. VAT cannot easily be evaded, and even Margaret Hodge couldn’t deny that Amazon paid VAT, merely dismissed it as irrelevant. So what the government can do to produce a more level playing field is to put the general rate of VAT on books and reduce the profits tax for companies all of whose income comes from the sale of books. This would force booksellers who are in a lot of different businesses to be just in books in order to profit from the reduction, and it would mean that it would be of less worry who used corporate income tax reducing techniques, as they would be spending time and money reducing a smaller imposition anyway, and therefore would be less likely to do it.

Schools could be enabled to reclaim the input VAT, the students of university colleges also, therefore the impact on education would be minimised.

I wonder whether anyone in Government will consider this solution, or work towards the harmonisation of EU member state corporation taxes which we all believed back in 1993 was likely to happen before the turn of the Millennium, or whether they will continue, like Margaret Hodge, to blast other people in the private sector for doing their jobs properly while government continues to neglect its own job with impunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do Governments try to make competitive businesses follow the same kind of labour law that applies in their own offices?


Labour law concerns the inequality of bargaini...

I was reading on Linked In today a post by someone blaming Labour Law, and the risks associated with having employees, as one reason why Europe is having more difficulties getting out of the Crisis than maybe some other places.

I think his comments were quite true. There are now, in situations where employers even have any choice, serious reasons not to employ anyone whatsoever and just go for self-employed subcontractors. Reasons include:

1. What you said, the inability to sack anyone, and the huge potential claims if you bungle the sacking of an employee

2. Employees cost more because the social insurance regime in most EU countries is expensive on employment and the onus falls on the employer

3. Self-employed people are likely to be more entrpreneurial anyhow. They already showed themselves to be less supine than the chronic employee by dint of actually going on the self-employed subcontractor route.

The problem is, where does this leave people who cannot deal with the challenge of saying, “to hell with my social shield in employment law, I will put my self out as self employed and stand and fall on my daily performance, and not on the basis that I have accrued rights that make me unassailable even if I become useless”? Even those who genuinely intend to be conscientious and profitable parts of a boss’s team often can’t get their heads around the transition to self -employment, and simply remain unemployed. And where does this leave bosses in businesses in places or sectors where the tax office doesn’t smile on people being self-employed and calls it “crypto employment”?

The reform of labour law to be a little bit more business-friendly is long overdue in most of Europe. And it’s not just the EU. I did some work in the Ukraine a few years back and what I heard about the claims wrongly sacked people can bring about there I found simply astounding. I learned that if the employee who sacks a person – even in a disciplinary way which is fully justified, and fails to pay them all they owe by accident – if it is found even 5 or so years later that they did not pay them everything, even if they were under by a miniscule amount, they now owe that ex-employee their whole final monthly salary for each month of the intervening period as if they had been working!

Have people in Government who write these laws got some kind of grudge against business or what? Certainly they are welcome to have such luxurious laws to protect Government workers if they want to, but why do they insist on forcing them on private businesses? They don’t seem to understand, these Governments, that even though the government of the Czech Republic is not in competition with the government of China for the role of running this Central European country, the same is not true of Novak s.r.o., competing against China or anywhere else in the world with lower social leveraging, in order to make money which, if it is succesful, pays for the taxes that pay for the salaries of these Czech Government people. They certainly don’t create any wealth themselves – excpet for those politicians who have real business interests also, that is. And often the less there is said about that, the soonest mended.

“Cyprus: a vehicle for international transactions and investments”


David James, English goalkeeper
Sorry, not quite that David James speaking here...

Conference

Cyprus: a vehicle for international transactions and investments”

Intercontinental Hotel,  Emilii Platter 49, Warsaw

16 June 2011, 8.00am – 11.00am
(Language:  English)

This event is aimed at introducing Cyprus companies as vehicles for international transactions and investments covering the key requirements applied by the authorities and the banking system in Cyprus and Poland.

The event is addressed to Owners, Chief Executives, Financial Executives and Board Members of companies with international perspectives.

Experienced professionals and speakers of Baker Tilly Poland and Baker Tilly Klitou of Cyprus will be presenting a range of topics, suggesting practical solutions and sharing their experience.  A Q&A session before the close of the event will give participants the opportunity to talk directly with our speakers in order to raise their queries or obtain additional information.

Programme:

8.00 – 8.35 am     –    Business breakfast

8.35 – 8.40 am     –    Welcome address

                                 David James, International Liaison Partner, Baker Tilly Poland

8.40 – 8.55 am     –    “Cyprus transactions: Polish taxation”

                                 Steven Foster, Baker Tilly Poland

8.55 – 9.10 am     –    “Cyprus: an attractive investment and business destination”

Marios Klitou, CEO of Baker Tilly Klitou

9.10 – 9.25 am     –    “IFRS  Regulations in Cyprus”

                                 Christodoulos Loulloupis, Director, Audit Services, Baker Tilly Klitou

9.25 – 9.40 am     –    “Tax in Cyprus and structuring ideas”

                                 Therapon Mafkas, Director, Tax Services, Baker Tilly Klitou

9.40 – 9.55 am     –    “Collective Investment Schemes

Chris Koutouroushis, General Manager, Bizserve Consultants Ltd

9.55 – 10.10 am   –    Presentation from a Cyprus bank on “International Banking in Cyprus”

10.10 – 10.25 am –    “Polish-Cypriot success stories – Enhancing investment opportunities”

David James, International Liaison Partner, Baker Tilly Poland

10.25 – 10.55 am –    Questions & Answers

11.00 am              –    Close of Conference

In order to obtain your free registration, please contact mjaniga@bakertillypoland.eu  by Wednesday, 8th June 2011. If demand exceeds space available, registration will be first come, first served.

We look forward to seeing you at the Conference!

Which Set of Laws to Use in Real Estate Transactions?


Skärva - The country estate
Some international real estate, yesterday

This morning on social media I added the following to a discussion on the above question. Some others had given similar answers, but there were other divergent answers.

The most important jurisdiction is where the property in question is physically located. This determines whether the mortgages or charges which the lender will wish to place on the property are properly drawn up and registered.

Let’s imagine a scenario where an inhabitant of country A buys a building in country B and receives a loan to do so from country C. If Country B has law that says a resident of country A needs a permit to buy property from country B, and the person from A has bought without the permit, then in that scenario any rights that the buyer has granted the lender will automatically also not be enfoceable on the property.

Which doesn’t mean that I can’t use Country C law for the loan contract – probably you can, but in a way that also takes account of the risks and vagaries of the law in country B and also maybe even Country A.

For these things you need firms of real estate lawyers and tax accountants that are international. Not just networks, but firms where the people putting the deal together include experts from the different countries involved working in each other’s offices or working together so closely and regularly, that they may as well be in each others’ offices. Good professional international communication is the key to success in these cases, and not every firm seems able to deliver it.

Tax is also a consideration, but most of all you have to make sure that you are compliant with the laws of the place the property is. The worst things that can go wrong will go wrong if that isn’t sorted out first and foremost.

It pays to avoid the BBBs (Bargain Basement Bookkeepers)


Violent Storm Strikes Western Europe
Is a storm brewing over your books and records?

I am writing to relate a story based on true events which came to light last week when one gentleman came into one of our offices and spoke to me. To keep matters confidential, I won’t say the country – the same can happen in any country – or identify anything about this company the gentleman had – even the sector. It can happen to many sectors.

This gentleman had given his company bookkeeping and tax affairs to an outsourced book-keeper for his business in that particular country. He used outsourcing back home in his own country (I’m not saying where that is either) and he appreciated the benefit of being able to have his bookkeeping professionally handled by experts without needing to employ anyone, worry about holiday cover, etc etc.

Some time ago this gentleman had included our firm in his search, and we gave him a price entirely fair for a company with our niche in the market, that is, internationally trained people, with English, with proper quality assurance, supervision and back-up.  In other words,  a peer-reviewed, branded service tailored absolutely to the needs of West European businesses in the middle tier coming to start up in East Europe, and also very good for businesses not exactly in the middle tier and from places outside West Europe.

That means that the fee offered was not nearly as high as a Big Four service would cost, but certainly higher than a purely local service.

Now I’m not knocking the purely local services – many of them are very good, but for purely local clients as they don’t tend to be claiming proficiency in foreign languages or have the ability to engage cross-culturally with the client (a source of just as many miscommunications as the language barrier on its own). They are not a great fit with the international client, and often their cheaper price becomes a false economy as frustrations rise on both sides of the desk.

The problem in this case wasn’t lack of English – this gentleman’s chosen bookkeeper spoke English, apparently.

But she was in business just on her own. With no back-up employees, probably very little insurance, probably very few resources to turn to, and very few overheads hence enabling a price no quality firm could ever compete with. That was the price that tempted this gentleman to take her bid over mine.

But since then, it became apparent that this bookkeeper was not entirely what she seemed to be.

Neither this gentleman nor myself are qualified psychiatrists, and we could only speculate on what might have gone wrong, or been wrong all along with this person. The fact is, though, that mental illness happens in the human population. We’ve probably all had employees or acquaintances who have had a mental illness, and in a larger company they quickly get noticed by colleagues, and steps taken to look after them and safeguard the clients’ affairs. When they are on their own, no such controls exist.

Suffice it to say this lady no longer was answering emails or picking up the telephone when he was calling, and when he rang from another number she didn’t know, she put the phone down when she heard his voice – the person entrusted with his company’s books and records and processing a VAT reclaim for more money than she would normally earn in many years. As you can see, the situation is now much harder – and therefore more costly – for us to repair than if he had simply given us the work in the first place.

It simply doesn’t pay to use these Bargain Basement Bookkeepers. You know what you get if you pay peanuts, and if a price looks too good to be true, it probably is.