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Hong Kong: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes

Taxation of Foreign Employees of Business Operations

There are no special rules for foreign employees of Hong Kong businesses; the territorial principle governs salaries tax with the consequence that salaries tax is only levied on income "arising in or derived from a Hong Kong employment". The definition of income includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, payments by the employer into a pension fund for the employee and gratuities. It does not include either a pension from a source outside Hong Kong or compensation for loss of employment.

The territorial principle of only taxing income arising or derived from a trade within Hong Kong results in reduced or nil tax being levied in a variety of situations. Thus:

  • Income paid in Hong Kong but which relates to services rendered outside the islands is exempt from salaries tax if the fiscal authorities are satisfied that tax has already been paid on that income in a foreign jurisdiction.
  • An individual with Hong Kong source employment who works abroad but renders services in Hong Kong for less than 60 days in any tax year is exempt from salaries tax in the jurisdiction.
  • An individual with Hong Kong source employment who works abroad but renders services in Hong Kong for more than 60 days in any tax year is assessed to tax on that proportion of his income as is represented by the number of days he worked in Hong Kong as a proportion of 365.
  • Tax is not payable on that proportion of income earned in relation to work done outside Hong Kong by the Hong Kong based employee of a non resident corporation on a contract governed by the laws of a foreign jurisdiction, where the employees are paid outside Hong Kong and where the employee's activities are not limited to working within the territory.

 

 

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