Turkey has one of the most competitive corporate tax rates in the OECD region. The Corporate Tax Law No. 5520 that was enacted on June 21, 2006 made some important amendments to the current applications and also included new concepts in the tax legislation. With the new Corporate Tax Law in place, Turkish corporate tax legislation now has noticeably clearer, more objective and better harmonized provisions which are in line with international standards.
Turkish tax regime can be classified under three main headings:
1.1. Income Taxes
Turkish tax system includes two main income taxes; namely individual income tax and corporate income tax. Although individual income tax and corporate income tax are governed by different laws, many rules and provisions pursuant to individual income tax also apply to corporations, particularly in terms of income elements and determination of net income.
1.1.1. Individual Income Tax
Real persons’ income is subject to individual income tax. The income is defined as the net amount of all earnings and revenues derived by an individual within a single calendar year. As per the Income Tax Law, income may consist of the elements listed below:
According to the Turkish Tax Legislation, there are two main types of tax statuses regulated on the basis of residence: resident taxpayers, and non-resident taxpayers. Resident taxpayers (those who reside in Turkey, and those who spend more than a continuous period of six months in Turkey within a calendar year) are taxed on their earnings and incomes derived in and outside Turkey, whereas non-residents (those who do not reside in Turkey and those who do not spend more than a continuous period of six months in Turkey within a calendar year) are taxed only on their earnings and incomes derived in Turkey.
The individual income tax rate varies from 15% to 35%.
Individual income tax rates applicable for 2015 are as follows:
1.1.2. Corporate Income Taxes
In case income elements specified in the Income Tax Law are derived by corporations, taxation is applicable for the legal entities of these corporations. Corporate taxpayers defined in the law are as follows:
Corporations with legal or business centers located in Turkey, are qualified as residents and subject to tax on their income derived in Turkey and other countries. If both the legal and business centers are not located in Turkey, then these corporations are qualified as non-residents and subject to tax only on their income derived in Turkey. The legal center is the place stipulated in the Articles of Association or incorporation law of corporations that are subject to tax, while the business center is defined as the place where business activities are concentrated and managed.
In Turkey, the corporate income tax rate levied on business profits is 20%.
Resident corporations are subject to a 15% withholding tax when dividends are paid out to shareholders; however, dividends paid by resident corporations to resident corporations are not subject to withholding tax. As a share capital increase by the corporation using the retained earnings is not considered to be a dividend distribution, no withholding tax for dividends applies. Similarly, non-resident corporations are subject to a 15% withholding tax during remittance of such profits to the headquarters. The withholding tax is applied on the amount after the deduction of corporate income tax from taxable branch profits.
1.2.1. Value Added Tax (VAT)
The generally applied VAT rate varies between 1%, 8%, and 18%. Commercial, industrial, agricultural, and independent professional goods and services, goods and services imported into the country, and deliveries of goods and services as a result of other activities are all subject to VAT.
VAT exemptions include but are not limited to the following:
1.2.2. Special Consumption Tax (SCT)
There are four main product groups that are subject to SCT at different tax rates:
Unlike VAT which is applied on each delivery, SCT is charged only once.
1.2.3. Banking and Insurance Transaction Tax
Banking and insurance company transactions remain exempt from VAT but are subject to a Banking and Insurance Transaction Tax. This tax applies to income earned by banks, such as loan interest. Although the general rate is 5%, some transactions such as interest on deposit transactions between banks are taxed at 1%. No tax is levied on sales from foreign exchange transactions since 2008.
1.2.4. Stamp Duty
Stamp duty applies to a wide range of documents including contracts, notes payable, capital contributions, letters of credit, letters of guarantee, financial statements, and payrolls. Stamp duty is levied as a percentage of the value of the document at rates ranging from 0.189% to 0.948% and collected as a fixed price (a pre-determined price) for some documents.
1.3. Taxes on Wealth
There are three kinds of taxes on wealth:
Buildings, apartments and land owned in Turkey are subject to real estate tax ranging at a rate between 0.1% and 0.6%, while Contribution to the Conservation of Immovable Cultural Property is levied at a rate of 10% of this real estate tax. Motor vehicle taxes are collected on the basis of fixed amounts that vary according to the age and engine capacity of the vehicles every year. Meanwhile, inheritance and gift taxes are levied at a rate of 1% to 30%.
2. TAX INCENTIVES
Effective as of January 1, 2012, the investment incentives system has been comprised of four different schemes. Local and foreign investors have equal access to:
For detailed information about incentives:
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