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3 Reasons why you should invest in the Dominican Republic April 23, 2018
3 Reasons why you should invest in the Dominican Republic

The country has so much more to offer. Especially for foreign investors looking to find new business opportunities in the Caribbean region.

At only a two-hour flight south of Miami, we often think of the Dominican Republic as a Caribbean paradise for luxurious beach vacations. However, the country has so much more to offer. Especially for foreign investors looking to find new business opportunities in the Caribbean region. Here are 3 reasons why you should invest in the Dominican Republic:

1.Political and economic social stability

The Dominican Republic has seen substantial GDP growth and significant reduction of poverty over the past two decades. The country’s solid legal framework and various incentives for business, as well as other forms of support from Government entities, provide a political and economically stable business environment. The Dominican Republic has trade agreements with almost 50 countries. Since the 1990s, the Government of the Dominican Republic has been carrying out important reforms in trade policy with the task of increasing the competitiveness of the economy and achieving greater participation in international markets. The main functions of the agreements are trade liberalisation, and the elimination of a wide variety of tariff and para‐tariff restrictions that contribute to expanding and strengthening the country's export capacity. While the domestic language is Spanish, English and French are commonly spoken business languages. The country’s geographical location and strong infrastructure to North and Latin America and the rest of the Caribbean, make for a strategic location to establish foreign branches.  

2.Real estate investment opportunities

Across many industries, various advantages are put in place to level the playing field for foreign businesses, such as fair treatment for local and foreign investors, repatriation of 100 percent of profits, free conversion of funds, free access to international currency in local commercial banks and the Central Bank and a fast and easy registration process. The real estate industry is not an exception and foreign investors are treated the same as local investors. They can buy real estate throughout the Dominican territory, including in touristic and maritime locations. The only exception is for the border region. To purchase property in the Dominican Republic, do not residency nor need a local partner. Property purchases can be carried out through a natural person or a local or offshore company. Once the purchase is complete, the alien citizen has the full and absolute ownership of the property, with all the same use and disposition rights as to which Dominican citizens are entitled. 

Furthermore, according with Law 171-07 on incentives to retired people and foreign source renters, the real estate investors can obtain a resident permission in 45 days.

The real estate industry has been promoted significantly by several government measures to stimulate tourism and give significant tax incentives to the investors on Tourist Development Promotion. The goal is to develop the tourism industry in a reasonable and sustained manner, by offering investors several tax incentives. It is worth to highlight the tax exemption for 10 years of 100% on the taxes for income, capital gain, company incorporation and capital increase, real estate transfer and real estate property.  Such law exonerates 100% of custom taxes or goods importation taxes, movables estates, equipment and those material needed for building and setting up the real estate facilities purchased.

3.Attractive tax incentives

Over the past 2 decades, the Dominican Republic has opened its borders to international business as part of its strategy for economic growth. For example, tax incentives exist where the Dominican State recognizes that a foreign investment and technology transfer contributes to domestic economic growth and social development. This has been reflected in the current legal framework as well as in the international agreements that have recently been signed.  Some of these tax incentives include:  Law No. 16-95: On Foreign Investment, where the Dominican State recognizes that foreign investment and technology transfer contribute to the economic growth and social development of the country;   Law No. 84-99: On Reactivation and Promotion of Exports whose interest of the State is to establish new mechanisms and modernize existing ones in order to promote a reactivation and sustained expansion of exports of goods and services;  Law No. 8-90:  Promotion of the Free Trade Zones of Exportation. This law exonerates all the taxes of exportation, import, re-export, of all the goods and services necessary to perform different types of activities. Law No. 56-07: Declares the sectors belonging to the textile, clothing and accessory chain as a national priority; skins, manufacture of footwear and leather and creates a national regulatory regime for these industries which includes the exempt from payment of the Tax on the Transfer of Industrialized Goods and Services (ITBIS) and other taxes; Law No. 480-08: On International Financial Zones. The purpose of this Law is to create the legal framework for the establishment of International Financial Zones in certain geographical areas. In 2010, the DR Government promulgated the Law for the promotion of cinematographic activity (Law 108-10), which provides various tax incentives for the development of this economic activity.

In short, the Dominican Republic offers numerous opportunities for foreign investors and international businesses looking for new opportunities. We believe the domestic business environment in dynamic and ever evolving for the better. For a more in-depth discussion about investment opportunities and doing business in the Dominican Republic, contact one of our local offices. Our professionals are trained to offer a wide range of integrated Audit, Tax, Advisory and Business services to both local and international clients, focused on the variety of industries operating in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

 

UK Fulfilment Businesses: Register with HMRC by 30 June to Avoid Penalties HLB Tax News April 18, 2018
UK Fulfilment Businesses:  Register with HMRC by 30 June to Avoid Penalties HLB Tax News

Business established outside the EU who store goods in the UK need to register with HMRC by 30 June.

If you are a business storing goods in the UK for sellers established outside the EU, you may need to register for the Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme (FHDDS) by 30 June 2018.  FHDDS is part of a package of measures intended to disrupt and deter abuse by overseas businesses selling goods to UK customers through an online marketplace and make it more difficult for non-compliant businesses to trade in the UK.  It will assist HMRC in identifying and tackling non-compliance and ensure a level playing field for compliant businesses in the UK.  HMRC intend to publish a register of compliant fulfilment business.  

Who should register?

You must register if you store goods where all of the following apply:

•The goods were imported from outside the EU

•The goods are owned by, or stored on behalf of, someone established outside the EU

•The goods are offered for sale and have not been sold in the UK before

But you do not need to apply if you own the stored goods or your main business is transporting goods and you need to store the goods temporarily as part of the transport service.

The registration process

You can apply online from 1 April and must submit applications using the FHDDS online service by 30 June 2018.  To apply, you must have a Government Gateway user ID and password. Late applications may incur a penalty of up to £3,000.  If you do not register by 1 April 2019, you will not be allowed to trade as a fulfilment business and risk a £10,000 penalty and criminal conviction.

Once registered, you have an obligation to:

•Hold the names and contact details of overseas customers

•Hold and verify the VAT registration and VAT exemption reference numbers (if applicable) of overseas customers

•Keep a record of the type and quantity of goods stored

•Keep a record of import entry numbers

•Keep a record of the country where the goods are delivered

•Give notices to overseas customers explaining UK tax and duty obligations

Non-retention of records also carries a penalty of £500.

If you suspect that your customer has not met any of its VAT or customs duty obligations, you must work with them to ensure future compliance, notify HMRC and cease work with them until they start to comply.  Again, penalties of up to £3,000 will apply if you do not comply with these obligations.

Given the fast approaching and strict deadline, fulfilment businesses should be looking to apply to register as soon as possible.  As you can see, FHDDS will potentially result in a significant additional administrative burden for businesses in this sector.  Penalties can be severed and there is the added risk of criminal proceedings.  In order to reduce the burden and risk, businesses falling within FHDDS need to have robust systems in place to ensure that they are compliant.  We would be happy to assist with reviewing processes and procedures prior to any application being made and also guide you through the application process in order to minimise questions from HMRC following submission. Please contact us should you require further information on FHDDS or assistance with registration.

HLB Real Estate insights: US Tax Reform Changes Affecting The Real Estate Industry April 4, 2018
HLB Real Estate insights: US Tax Reform Changes Affecting The Real Estate Industry

HLB provides insights on US tax reforms affecting the US real estate market.

Two of the largest financial changes affecting the real estate industry as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the US are the new interest expense limitation and changes to depreciation for real estate assets and related assets. It is important for taxpayers and practitioners alike to understand the impact and plan for 2018.

As has been widely publicized, the Act requires businesses to limit their interest expense to an amount not to exceed 30% of their adjusted taxable income. However, at a taxpayer’s election, a taxpayer in a real estate trade or business may avoid this interest expense limitation. Real estate trades or businesses are generally businesses that acquire, develop, redevelop, lease or own real property.

In exchange for the ability to fully deduct their interest expense, the Act requires that any real property trade or business that makes this election utilize the alternative depreciation system for their assets. The ADS system generally requires straight-lined depreciation methods over longer useful lives than those available under MACRS.

Prior to passage of the Act, the Senate proposal provided for much shorter depreciable lives for real property assets. Unfortunately for the real estate industry, the new law does not provide for any shorter lives and maintains the original depreciable lives. The new law does provide for an expansion of bonus depreciation, allowing for 100% expensing of eligible assets placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. In order to qualify for 100% expensing, assets should have a depreciable life shorter than 20 years. Any taxpayer who takes advantage of the election out of the interest expense limitation and is therefore required to use ADS, will not be able to use 100% expensing.

In addition, the Act streamlines the definition of qualified improvement property. Prior to the Act, there were four separate definitions for qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified retail improvement property, qualified restaurant improvement property, and qualified improvement property. Under the Act, only qualified improvement property remains and applies to improvements made to the interior of non-residential real property. Interestingly enough, the new Act did intend for these qualified improvement property assets to be depreciable over 15 years and to qualify for 100% expensing, however, there needs to be a few technical corrections made to the Act in order for that to actually apply.

Finally, prior to the Act, all real estate under ADS was depreciable over 40 years. The new law shortens the ADS life for residential real property to 30 years. It also intended to shorten the ADS life for qualified improvement property to 20 years, however technical corrections to the legislation will need to be enacted in order for that to take place. These shorter ADS lives will be very important for taxpayers who elect out of the interest expense limitation.

Author: Brian Lovett, CPA, JD - Tax Partner and Real Estate Tax Team Leader at WithumSmith+Brown, PC