The Baltic nation plan to build itself as an e-nation, effectively allowing anyone to become a digital citizen and living his digital life within its networks.
The country aims to have 5,000 e-residents by 2020. Additional lure is the possibility to get 0% corporate income tax in the European Union. Estonia does not have the reputation of a tax haven which gives companies an additional reason to move businesses to Estonia, an added value is the fact that Estonia is not only a EU and Euro zone member, but also one of the Baltic countries. So you have both legal security and political support of Baltic countries.
Estonia will issue identity cards allowing access to its digital services to people residing outside the Baltic nation as it seeks to boost foreign investment. Lawmakers in the capital Tallinn voted unanimously with no abstentions to let foreigners seek e-residence status to be able to set up a company in Estonia or sign legal documents from anywhere in the world, according to a live broadcast. The law goes into effect on Dec. 1.
Estonia emerge as a global digital leader.
Tallin, Estonia old and new. Picture courtesy of Wiki Commons.
Corporate Income tax
Estonia applies a unique and favorable approach on taxation of corporate profits. Resident companies and permanent establishments of the foreign entities (including branches) are subject to 21% income tax only in respect of all distributions (both actual and deemed), including:
- dividends and other profit distributions;
- fringe benefits;
- gifts, donations and representation expenses;
- and expenses and payments not related to business.
Profit retained in the company is taxed at 0%.
As of January 1, 2009 dividends paid to non-residents are no longer subject to withholding tax at the general rate of 21%, irrespective of participation in the share capital of the distributing Estonian company.
Estonia does not impose any estate taxes. Local governments have the authority to impose local taxes, but effectively only few municipalities have introduced these.
Estonia has effective tax treaties with 51 countries. Under the double tax treaties a significant reduction of withholding taxes on various payments to non-residents is available.
Considerations for the investor
- Main principles of Estonian tax policy: simple tax system, broad tax base and low rates.
- The aim of the current Estonian tax policy is to shift the tax burden from labour to consumption.
- Flat income tax rate since 1994 (flat income tax rate at 21% applies to both individuals and companies).
- Unique corporate tax system since 2000: all undistributed corporate profits are tax-exempt. (0%)
- Individuals can have investment account to benefit from 0% corporate income tax.
- Local taxes play an insignificant role in the Estonian tax system.
- Electronic tax administration is well established. Business taxpayers can file, view and correct their tax returns online using the eTaxBoard (eMaksuamet). They can also use it to view their tax account balances and VAT returns, and submit VAT refund applications.
- Vast majority (92% – 2010) of yearly personal income tax declarations are submitted electronically.
- The standard VAT rate is 20% from 1 July 2009 and the reduced rate is 9%.