IN470 - Malta Holding Companies - Why Are They So Attractive?

Beneficial Characteristics for the Location of an International Holding Company

The location of a holding company is an important consideration in any international structure where one of the objectives is to minimise the tax charged on the income flow. 

Ideally the holding company should be resident in a jurisdiction which: 

  • Has a good double tax treaty network, thereby minimising withholding tax on dividends received
  • Exempts dividend income from taxation
  • Does not charge capital gains tax on the disposal of subsidiaries
  • Does not impose withholding taxes on distributions from the holding company to its parent or shareholders
  • Does not impose capital gains tax on profits arising from the sale of shares in the holding company by non-resident shareholders
  • Does not impose capital duties on the transfer of shares
  • Has certainty of tax treatment

Malta holding companies can benefit from all of the above.

Advantages Available to Malta Holding Companies

Tax Treaty Network

Malta has a network of over 65 double tax treaties.

In most situations where a Malta company owns more than 10% of the issued share capital of an overseas subsidiary, the rate of withholding tax on dividends received by a Malta company from a treaty partner is reduced to 5%.

As Malta is part of the EU, it also benefits from the EU Parent/Subsidiary Directive, thereby reducing withholding tax to zero on dividends from many EU countries.

Tax Efficiencies Available to Malta Holding Companies

  • Participation Exemption and Capital Gains Tax Exemption

 Qualifying dividends and capital gains derived from a “participating holding” are (at the option of the taxpayer) exempt from Malta tax.

 Please speak to our Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com for definitions as to what constitutes a participating holding.

  • Sale of Shares in the Holding Company

Malta does not charge capital gains tax on the sale of shares in Malta companies. 

  • No Withholding Tax

Malta does not impose withholding tax on the distribution of dividends to shareholders or parent companies.  

Zero withholding tax is applicable regardless of where in the world the shareholder is resident.

  • No Capital Duty

In Malta there is no capital duty on the issue of share capital and there is no stamp duty payable on subsequent transfers.

  • Other Income

Income other than dividends and capital gains is subject to tax at Malta’s normal rate of 35%.  However, on payment of a dividend from this “other income”, a tax refund of between 6/7ths and 5/7ths of the tax paid by the Malta company is payable to the shareholder. This results in a net Malta tax rate of between 5% and 10%.

Where such income has benefited from double tax relief or the Malta flat rate tax credit, a 2/3rds refund applies.

Certainty of Tax Treatment

It is possible to obtain formal tax rulings in Malta.  Rulings provide certainty on the application of the law and a specific transaction, and are binding on the Malta Revenue for five years.

There is also a system of informal Revenue guidance.  This takes the form of a letter of guidance from the Revenue.  Such letters are not expressly regulated in terms of the law, but create a legitimate expectation on which a taxpayer can rely. The Malta Revenue Authorities consider such letters as binding on them.

Conclusion

A Malta holding company is an attractive option for international trading groups.

The potential advantages include:

  • Malta’s extensive double tax treaty network
  • Dividends exempt from taxation in Malta
  • Exemption from capital gains tax on the disposal of participating holdings
  • The absence of capital gains tax on the sale of shares in a holding company by foreign shareholders
  • The absence of withholding tax

How Can Dixcart Help?

Dixcart has an office in Malta and can assist with:

  • Formation of holding companies
  • Registered office facilities
  • Provision of serviced offices
  • Tax compliance services
  • Accountancy services
  • Director services
  • Dealing with all aspects of acquisitions and disposals

Additional Information

Appendix 1 provides an example of how a Malta Holding Company can be used as part of a tax efficient structure.

Contact

If you would like any further information on this subject, please contact Sean Dowden at the Dixcart office in Malta – advice.malta@dixcart.com or your usual Dixcart contact.

APPENDIX 1 - EXAMPLE OF THE USE OF A MALTA HOLDING COMPANY

The classic structure for the use of a Malta holding company is as follows:  

In the above example, where the trading company is situated in the EU, the Malta company would benefit from the EU Parent Subsidiary Directive resulting in no withholding taxes on payment of dividends to the Malta company.

Where the holding is a “participating holding” there will be no taxation on dividends and capital gains at the Malta holding company level.

Dividends can therefore be paid to the Nevis company without any deduction of tax.

 

 

 

Categories: Malta, 2017