双语|澳政府将取消外国投资者税收福利?!The increasingly complex Corporate Tax

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双语|澳政府将取消外国投资者税收福利?!The increasingly complex Corporate Tax
前言
谭宝联盟政府正在通过强化合订结构的规定,继续保护澳大利亚公司税收体系的公平性。也就是说,联邦政府想要通过向各方征收更多的税,让投资者觉得更加公平。普通选民当然十分欢迎这一政策。然而不幸的是,这个政策和政府吸引更多外国投资的目标相矛盾,尤其是在基础设施领域。

这一措施取消了原本只有外国投资者能够享受的福利,为澳大利亚国内的投资者创造了一个更公平的环境。

给澳大利亚投资者提供同样的优惠条件使澳大利亚吸引了更多的投资,因为回报越高,投资就越多。投资者会通过利用复杂的规则使他们的受益最大化,这是无可厚非的。

历史背景
最近几年,越来越多的纳税人将贸易收入重新定义为有税收优惠的被动收入。目前由于外国退休基金和主权财富基金的税收优惠,一些外国投资者只需要交不到15%的税(有些情况下几乎完全免税),而正常的澳大利亚企业收入税是30%。澳大利亚国内投资者无法享受这些税收优惠,而且只有土地密集型企业能够享受这些优惠。这样一来,投资结构就会越来越扭曲,因为这样会使土地密集行业的外国投资比例越来越高。

最近几年,除了传统的商业和零售房地产行业,很多其他的新行业也开始使用合订结构(stapled structures)或类似的结构。

由于合订结构和其他的税收优惠,政府放弃了上亿的税收收入。如果继续这样下去,政府可能会损失几十亿收入。鉴于这些情况,政府决定采取措施是可以理解的。

政策细节
政府决定采取一系列措施来处理合订结构(stapled structures)对可持续性和税收公平性带来的挑战,并限制对外国投资者的优惠。这些措施的重点有以下几点:·以公司税率为标准,对通过管理投资信托(Managed Investment Trust)转化为被动收入的贸易收入征收预扣所得税 (政府批准的新的重要基础设施有15年豁免期);

· 修订资本弱化的规则,以避免外国投资者使用多层税收流动实体(flow-through entity)将他们的贸易收入转化为可以享受税收优惠的收入;

· 外国养老金基金利息和分红的预扣所得税豁免仅限于证券投资;

· 为现有的外国政府税收豁免(包括主权财富基金)建立一个法律框架,并将豁免的范围限制在证券投资带来的的被动收入;

· 将农业土地从“有资格作为管理投资信托(Managed Investment Trust)的投资项目”中删除。

这一系列措施将不会对商业和零售房地产行业的金融合订或者其合订结构造成直接影响,因为它们是从第三方产生租金。然而,有一些外国投资者可能会由于普遍税收优惠的改变而受到影响。

这些措施是经过紧密磋商之后制定出来的。这些措施将使捆绑结构的税收优惠更加平衡,而且不需要投资者重新建构他们现有的投资框架。

改革生效的时间
这些改革(除了资本弱化改革)将从2019年7月开始实施。资本弱化改革将从2018年7月1日开始生效,因为这项改革将解决目前法律里的一个明显漏洞。为了平衡改革对目前框架的影响,这些措施大部分都有过渡安排,普通业务合订有7年过渡期,基础设施投资有15年。

对新的政府批准的基础设施项目的15年豁免期将确保国家的重要基础设施开发能够持续获得支持,提高经济生产力并且推动长期的经济增长。

合订企业想要获得基础设施投资税收优惠以及/或者过渡安排,就必须遵守一些条件,财政部将另行制定相关规定。(比如,为了避免通过合订的恶意定价,需要更严格的诚信规则)

未来会怎么样?
投资人会如何接受这些变化还不得而知。比如,中国对澳大利亚食品的需求在增加,然而由于在澳大利亚投资的复杂性,很多中国公司宁愿让欧洲或者美国的投资者承担投资风险,直接购买成品。他们的任务就是保证产品供应和价格的稳定。由于转让定价和其他商业行为的存在,我们很难评价哪一种模式会给澳大利亚国民经济和纳税人带来最好的结果。

你如何看待以上税收改革?

 

『原文』

The increasingly complex Corporate Tax

The Federal Turnbull Coalition Government is continuing to deliver on its commitment to protect the integrity of Australia’s corporate tax system by tightening the rules on stapled structures.In other words, the Federal Government tries to be seen to be fairer to investors by taxing all more, apparently popular with ordinary voters. This unfortunately contradicts the Government’s own agenda of attracting more foreign investment, particularly for infrastructure.

The package announced levels the playing field for Australian investors by closing down an unintended concession that was only available to foreign investors.

It may have been more productive to give Australian investors the same advantages to ensure more investment rather than less, the idea being better returns attract more investment. One cannot seriously blame any investor trying to maximise the return on investment by using all the complex rules to their advantage.

Some history!

Over recent years, a growing number of taxpayers have sought to re-characterise trading income into more favourably taxed passive income. When combined with existing concessions used by foreign pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, some foreign investors can pay tax rates of 15% or less (in some cases, almost tax-free), rather than 30% on Australian business income.

These tax benefits are not available to domestic investors and are only available for investments in land rich businesses. As such, they may distort investment decisions and encourage higher foreign ownership of land rich investments relative to Australian investors who do not receive these concessions.

The use of staples and similar structures has grown significantly in recent years and expanded into new sectors, beyond their traditional use in commercial and retail property.

Hundreds of millions in revenue is potentially being forgone because of staples and broader tax concessions. Left as is, this could grow to be in the order of billions of dollars. Given these circumstances it is understandable the Government has to do something about it.

Details?

The Government has developed a package of measures to address the sustainability and tax integrity risks posed by stapled structures and limit the broader concessions for foreign investors. The key elements of the package are:

•  applying a final withholding tax set at the corporate tax rate to distributions derived from trading income that has been converted to passive income using a Managed Investment Trust (with a 15 year exemption for new, Government-approved nationally significant infrastructure assets);

•  amending the thin capitalisation rules to prevent foreign investors from using multiple layers of flow-through entities (i.e. trusts and partnerships) to convert their trading income into favourably taxed interest income;

•  limiting the foreign pension fund withholding tax exemption for interest and dividends to portfolio investments only;

•  creating a legislative framework for the existing tax exemption for foreign governments (including sovereign wealth funds), and limiting the exemption to passive income from portfolio investments; and

•  excluding agricultural land from being an ‘eligible investment businesses for a Managed Investment Trust.

The package will have no direct impact on finance staples or stapled structures in the commercial and retail property sectors to the extent that they generate rent from third parties. However, some foreign investors into these structures may be affected by the changes to broader concessions.

These measures have been developed following extensive consultation. This package will neutralise the tax benefits of stapled structures without requiring investors to restructure their existing arrangements.

Timing!

These changes (except the thin capitalisation changes), will take effect from 1 July 2019. The thin capitalisation changes will take effect from 1 July 2018, as these changes address a clear loophole in the current law which is being exploited.

To balance concerns over the impact on existing arrangements, transitional arrangements of seven years (ordinary business staples) and 15 years (for infrastructure assets) have been included for the majority of the package. The transitional arrangements will minimise the impact of the package on existing investments.

The 15 year exemption for new, Government-approved infrastructure assets will ensure continued support for the development of nationally significant infrastructure assets that enhance the productive capacity of the economy and drive long term economic growth.

 

Treasury will consult separately on the conditions stapled entities must comply with to access the proposed infrastructure concession and / or transitional arrangements (for example, stronger integrity rules may be needed to protect against aggressive cross staple pricing).

Looking ahead!

How these changes will be accepted by the investors has yet to be determined. For example, China has a need for more food from Australia, however given all the complexities in investing in Australia, many Chinese companies may prefer to wait for European or American Investors to take the investment risk and instead buy finished food products. The challenge for them will then be to ensure steady supply and stable prices.

Given the practice of transfer pricing and other commercial practices it is difficult to assess what model would actually give the economy, Australian citizens and tax payers the best result.

What perspective do you think will be taken, based on the tax changes outlined above?

A. No impact?

B. Investment will drop?

C. Investment will rise?

Please leave a comment, we are interested in your opinion!

本文翻译Translator:周吉吉Julie

本文编辑Editor:千千Coco