Estonia - Income Tax

Estonia - Income Tax

Taxation of international executives

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Tax returns and compliance

When are tax returns due? That is, what is the tax return due date?

Individual tax returns must be filed no later than 31 March of the year following the income year (calendar year).

What is the tax year-end?

The tax year ends 31 December.

What are the compliance requirements for tax returns in Estonia?

Residents and non-residents

Full-year and part-year residents in Estonia file general tax returns. Tax return forms may be partly pre-printed on the basis of income statements issued by employers, banks, etc. Possibility of joint filing with a spouse, but if a child has income, latter must file its own return. Please note that there is no possibility of applying for an extension of the deadline.

Interest is payable on unpaid tax, interest for the late payment is calculated 0.06% per day accruing from 1 July and/or 1 October of following the income year until the payment is made. 

For making the payment, the taxpayer (resident and non-resident) should always use the personal reference number given by the tax authorities.

As non-resident has a limited tax liability in Estonia, only the Estonian-source income is taxed in Estonia. Most types of income are taxed by way of withholding. All withholding taxes are levied on gross payments and no deductions or personal allowances are granted, except for residents of EEA countries if certain conditions are met. 

A non-resident in Estonia is required to submit an income tax return only in specific cases:

  • upon receiving business income (form E1);
  • gain from transfer of property (form V1);
  • receiving taxable income which is subject to taxation in Estonia on which no income tax has been withheld, i.e. rental payments (form A1).

A non-resident who has derived business income in Estonia must file the tax return within 3-6 months of the end of the tax year. In the case of termination of activities in Estonia, the tax return must be filed within 2 months of the termination. Income tax due on business income must be paid to the tax authorities within 3 months of the due date of the tax return.

Tax returns for taxable capital gains from movable property must be filed by 31 March after the calendar year in which the transaction took place. In the case of gains from immovable property, the return is due within 1 month of the date of the receipt of the consideration. Income tax due on capital gains must be paid within 3 months of the due date of the tax return.   

The tax notices are not issued to non-resident. Hence, non-resident itself is liable for calculating and paying the taxes and the forms in general are not pre-completed by the tax authorities. Most types of the income are taxed by way of withholding which are levied on gross payments.

Tax rates

What are the current income tax rates for residents and non-residents in Estonia?

Employment income for resident and non-resident taxpayers is subject to flat income tax rate at 20%. 

Employment income for residents is subject to both income tax, unemployment insurance premiums at rate of 1,6% and mandatory pension contributions 2–3% (if the person has joined with the II pillar of the pension system).

The income of non-residents is ordinarily taxed on the general rate at 20% or 10% tax rate. In several cases, the rates may be reduced by tax treaties. Income of non-residents other than income subject to withholding tax is taxed by assessment in the same manner and at the same rate as income of residents.

Taxable income

A resident has to pay income tax at the rate of 20% on all income derived by him in Estonia and outside Estonia (i.e. an individual is subject to taxation on his worldwide income) whether received in money or money's worth. In practice all items are taxable, unless exempt by law:

  • employment (monetary payments);
  • business (self-employed income);
  • property/investment (rental income, royalties, interest, capital gains on disposal of business, movable and immovable property);
  • other sources (certain pensions, scholarships, grants, awards, lottery prizes, insurance indemnities and payments from pension funds).

In certain cases, an income tax rate of 10% applies. 

It is the employer’s obligation to withhold income tax on the remuneration paid to the employee and transfer the tax amount to the tax authorities.

Fringe benefits received by the employer are subject to taxation at the level of the employer and not declared on the personal tax return.

A non-resident has to pay income tax on all income derived by him in Estonia whether received in money or money's worth. The general income tax rate applies to the following:

  • income from employment, including director's fees;• certain scholarships, pensions and payments from pension funds, unless the 10% rate applies;
  • rental payments.

A 10% rate applies to the following:

  • income from artistic and sports activities;
  • fees from professional services provided in Estonia;
  • royalties, including payments for the use of commercial, scientific or industrial equipment. 

In addition, non-resident individuals having a permanent establishment in Estonia are subject to income tax under the rules applicable to sole proprietors. 

Tax-exempt income for tax-residents

Under Estonian law, certain amounts of personal income and allowances are exempt from tax, such as

  • basic tax exemption of EUR 2,040 per year;
  • an additional allowance of up to EUR 1,848 granted to a parent, starting from the second child aged 17 or less;
  • additional deductions on housing loan interest, training expenses, gifts, donations, insurance premiums and acquisition of pension fund units, etc.

The entire deduction provided is limited to EUR 1,200; however, the amount deducted cannot exceed 50% of the taxable income per taxpayer during a period of taxation (i.e. a calendar year). 

Tax-exempt income for non-residents

Income tax is not charged on the following income of a non-resident:

  • accepted succession; 
  • property returned in the course of ownership reform; 
  • expropriation payments and compensation paid upon expropriation; 
  • income from transfer of movable property in personal use; 
  • interest paid to a natural person by a credit institution resident in a contracting state of the European Economic Area or a branch of a non-resident credit institution situated in a contracting state of the European Economic Area; 
  • scholarships and grants paid pursuant to law or from the state budget, and benefits paid pursuant to law, except for scholarships, grants and benefits which are paid in connection with business or an employment or service relationship or with membership of the management or controlling body of a legal person; 
  • international and state cultural and scientific awards and sports awards granted by the Estonian Government; 
  • scholarships and grants which are granted for study or research or for artistic or sports activities and which meet the conditions established by the Estonian Government; 
  • royalty payments between associated companies arising in Estonia are exempt from tax if the beneficial owner is a company of another EU member state or Switzerland or a permanent establishment situated in another EU member state or Switzerland. “Associated companies” are companies with a minimum direct holding of 25% within a period of the last 2 consecutive years 
  • gains from transfer of property if the property has been used by the non-resident taxpayer as his or her place of residence.

Moreover, the following items of income of a non-resident individual are tax exempt as well:

  • dividends (subject to distribution tax);
  • interest (if it is received from the holding in a contractual investment fund or other pool of assets of whose property, at the time of the transfer or during a period within two years before transfer, more than 50 per cent was directly or indirectly made up of immovable or structures as movables located in Estonia and in which the non-resident had a holding of at least 10 per cent at the time of transfer);
  • per diem and accommodation reimbursements for business trips, including compensation for the use of  a private vehicle, up to amounts prescribed by the government;
  • certain pensions, scholarships, awards and benefits;
  • inheritances.

Non-residents can deduct the unemployment insurance premiums paid from the taxable employment income.

Non-residents cannot claim the same deductions and allowances as available to residents. The exception applies to residents of other EEA countries if following conditions are met:

  • a tax return in Estonia is filed;
  • at least 75% of taxable income for the tax year is received from sources in Estonia.

Furthermore, only such part of deductions and allowances can be deducted that corresponds to the proportion of the non-resident's taxable income from Estonian sources to his worldwide taxable income. 

Residence rules

For the purposes of taxation, how is an individual defined as a resident of Estonia?

An individual is considered a resident in Estonia for tax purposes if already one of these following criteria is met:

  • person's place of residence is in Estonia or
  • one stays in Estonia for at least 183 days over a period of 12 consecutive calendar months.

By law, a person is obligated to notify the Estonian tax authority (in Estonian Eesti Maksu- ja Tolliamet) of any circumstances related to changing his residency (upon arrival to Estonia and prior to departing from Estonia) and complete the form R for determining residency for tax purposes. An individual should submit form R (application form for determination of residency) to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.

Is there a de minimus number of days rule when it comes to residency start and end date? For example, a taxpayer cannot come back to the host country for more than 10 days after their assignment is over and they repatriate.

There is no de minimus number of days rule.

What if the assignee enters the country before the assignment begins?

The residency status will be based upon the arrival date.

Termination of residence

Are there any tax compliance requirements when leaving Estonia?

An individual who is considered to be a tax-resident in Estonia is obliged to submit the application form for determination of residency (Form R) in order to notify the tax authority about the change of the residency.

What if the assignee comes back for a trip after residency has terminated?

Normally, the residency will not be extended. However, it shall be noted that the residency may still be valid if it can be concluded from the circumstances that the assignee still resides in Estonia. The tax authorities may decide the above on a case-by-case study.

Communication between immigration and taxation authorities

Do the immigration authorities in Estonia provide information to the local taxation authorities regarding when a person enters or leaves Estonia?

Currently we have no information regarding the mentioned matter.

Filing requirements

Will an assignee have a filing requirement in the host country after they leave the country and repatriate?

An assignee is obliged to file an Estonian personal tax return the year after repatriating regarding the income derived from Estonia if receiving capital gains or on business income or on income from which income tax has not been withheld.income 

Payments made after the repatriation but attributable to work performed in Estonia are taxed similarly to regular employment income at a flat rate of 21 percent.

The assignee should, when repatriating, deregister from the Estonian tax authorities by submitting the form R.

Economic employer approach

Do the taxation authorities in Estonia adopt the economic employer approach1 to interpreting Article 15 of the OECD treaty? If no, are the taxation authorities in Estonia considering the adoption of this interpretation of economic employer in the future?

No information currently available.

De minimus number of days

Are there a de minimus number of days2 before the local taxation authorities will apply the economic employer approach? If yes, what is the de minimus number of days?

Not applicable.

Types of taxable compensation

What categories are subject to income tax in general situations?

The general rule is that all remuneration in respect of an employment or temporary assignment constitute taxable income. In Estonia benefits in-kind do not constitute taxable income for employee, but are taxable at the employer's level. 

Tax-exempt income

Are there any areas of income that are exempt from taxation in Estonia? If so, please provide a general definition of these areas.

Per diem allowances for business trips, including compensation for the use of a private vehicle, are exempt from tax up to amounts prescribed by the government.

Expatriate concessions

Are there any concessions made for expatriates in Estonia?

Not applicable. There is no special regime for expatriates.

Salary earned from working abroad

Is salary earned from working abroad taxed in Estonia? If so, how?

Where a resident of Estonia performs work abroad as an employee, any remuneration received in respect of such work may be exempt from Estonian income tax if all the following conditions are met:

  • the person has stayed in the foreign state for the purpose of employment for at least 183 days over the course of a period of 12 consecutive calendar months;
  • the specified income has been the taxable income of the person in the foreign state and if this is certified and the amount of income tax is indicated on the certificate (even if the amount is zero);
  • the employment and the stay abroad last for six months or more and the income has been taxed in the country where the work is performed.

In case the work is performed abroad less than 183 days and the income is taxed abroad, the income tax paid will be taken into account in the Estonian personal income tax. 

Taxation of investment income and capital gains

Are investment income and capital gains taxed in Estonia? If so, how?

There is no separate capital gain taxation, but capital gains are generally included in taxable income and taxed at the general rate.

Income tax is charged on gains from the sale or exchange of any transferable and monetarily appraisable objects, including real or movable property, securities, registered shares, contributions made to a general or limited partnership or an association, units of investment funds, rights of claim, rights of pre-emption, rights of superficies, usufructs, personal rights of use, rights of commercial lessees, redemption obligations, mortgages, commercial pledges, registered securities over movables, or other restricted real rights, or the ranking thereof, or other proprietary rights at a flat rate of 21 percent.

Capital gains derived by non-residents on the sale of shares in resident companies are generally not taxable in Estonia. The gains are taxable (by assessment), however, if the sale concerns shares in a company, in a contractual investment fund (open-ended fund) or in another pool of assets (e.g. partnership) whose assets for more than 50% was at the time of the sale, or at any period during the 2 years preceding the sale, directly or indirectly, made up of Estonian-situs immovable property or buildings regarded as movable property and in which the non-resident had a holding of at least 10% at the time of the sale.

Capital gains derived by non-residents on the sale of Estonian-situs immovable property, including rights in such property and buildings regarded as movable property, are subject to income tax by way of assessment. The same applies in respect of gains on movable property (e.g. vehicles) registered in Estonia prior to the disposal.

The following gains are exempt:

  • gains from the sale of the non-resident's own dwelling (house or apartment) that was used by him as his residence until the sale (with restriction to one sale during a 2-year period);
  • gains from the sale of a summer cottage or garden house, provided the taxpayer has owned such property for more than 2 years and the size of the land plot does not exceed 0.25 ha;
  • gains related to the various programmes concerning restitution of expropriated property and privatization of the economy;
  • gains from the sale of movable property which has been in the taxpayer's personal use;
  • gains from the exchange of shares in the course of mergers, divisions or other reorganizations. 

Dividends, interest, and rental income

Dividends

Dividends paid by Estonian resident companies are subject to distribution tax and this tax is final tax and the shareholders do not include the dividends in their taxable income. Income tax at the rate of 21% is charged on gross dividends. However, tax is calculated as 21/79 of the net dividend. Taxable expenses are also subject to 21/79 corporate income tax.

Income tax is charged on all dividends and other profit distributions received by a resident from a foreign legal person in monetary or non-monetary form. However, income tax shall not be charged on dividends if income tax has been paid on the share of profit on the basis of which the dividends are paid or if income tax on the dividends has been withheld in a foreign state.

Interest (except deposit interest rates)

Interest is taxed as investment income at a flat rate of 21 percent. Generally, all types of domestic interest are included in the taxable income. No expenses are deductible with respect to interest.

However, interest is exempt from tax if received from a credit institution resident in any EEA country (including Estonia) or through, or on account of, a non-resident within the EEA.

Rental income

When a person receives rent from the commercial or residential lease, he or she should specify in advance whether such income is either business income or not. If it is business income, then a person must be registered as a sole proprietor and his or her income has to be declared on form E of the income tax return on business income. In that case, only the net income after expenses is included in the taxable base, but the same amount is also subject to social security contributions.

If it is investment income, the gross income is included in the taxable base but no social security contributions are levied.

Income from commercial or residential lease is taxable at a flat rate of 21 percent. Starting from 1 January 2016 individuals will have the right to deduct amounts calculated to cover expenses incurred on renting out residential property. In the income tax return 20 per cent of expenses related to renting activities may be deducted from the rental income earned while no expense reports will be required. 

Income from the transfer of movable in personal use

Income tax is not charged on income received from the transfer of movable in personal use.

Gifts

There is no gift tax.

Additional capital gains tax (CGT) issues and exceptions

Are there additional capital gains tax (CGT) issues in Estonia? If so, please discuss?

Not applicable.

Are there capital gains tax exceptions in Estonia? If so, please discuss?

Pre-CGT assets

Not applicable

Deemed disposal and acquisition

Not applicable

General deductions from income

What are the general deductions from income allowed in Estonia?

Deductions from taxable income include:

  • basic exemption – in 2015 the amount of basic exemption is 2040 euros; 
  • increased basic exemption upon provision of maintenance to a child in 2016 this amount is 1848 euros (starting from the second child); 
  • increased basic exemption in event of pensions – in the amount of the pension received but not more than 2700 euros a year; 
  • increased basic exemption in event of compensation for accident at work or occupational disease – in the amount of the compensation received but not more than 768 euros a year;
  • housing loan interests, when a loan was taken for acquiring a housing for a taxpayer himself or herself; 
  • training expenses; gifts, donationscontributions to voluntary funded pension – limitation on deductions of 15 per cent is applied, but not exceeding 6000 euros; 
  • contributions to a mandatory funded pension and unemployment insurance (taken into account during a year, except contributions to a mandatory funded pension by sole proprietors); 
  • social security payments mandatory in a foreign state.

A taxpayer may deduct the housing loan interest, training expenses, gifts and donations in the total amount of 1200 euros but not more than 50% of the taxpayer's income during the same period of taxation.If, upon withholding income tax, the tax incentives have been fully taken into account, submission of an income tax return is not required.

Calculation of estimates/prepayments/withholding

How are estimates/prepayments/withholding of tax handled in Estonia? For example, Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG), and so on.

Resident employers and non-resident employers operating in Estonia are required to withhold income tax, unemployment insurance premium and mandatory pension contributions from salaries, wages and other remuneration, normally according to tax rates currently applicable. In addition, the employers and non-resident employers operating in Estonia are required to pay social tax due on gross salaries.

When are estimates/prepayments/withholding of tax due in Estonia? For example, monthly, annually, both, and so on.

Income tax, unemployment insurance premiums (and mandatory funded pension contributions for resident taxpayers) have to be withheld and social tax and unemployment insurance premiums paid on all payments made to the employee and declared and transferred to the Estonian tax authorities by the 10th of every month, following the month of payment. This deadline encompasses all withholding taxes and payments made to employees. All of the abovementioned taxes and payments are personified.

Relief for foreign taxes

Is there any Relief for Foreign Taxes in Estonia? For example, a foreign tax credit (FTC) system, double taxation treaties, and so on?

In order to avoid double taxation of income received in different countries, Estonian tax authorities proceed from the national provisions laid down for avoidance of double taxation and the international conventions for avoidance of double taxation.

Estonia has an extensive network of tax treaties covering income tax, currently there are 56 treaties concluded. Estonia generally applies the tax credit for foreign tax relief.

Upon calculation of income tax in Estonia the income tax already paid on income derived in foreign country will be taken into account. If the amount of income tax paid abroad is smaller of the amount of the income tax calculated on the Estonian income tax return, the taxpayer is required to pay the difference by which the amount of tax calculated in Estonia exceeds the income tax paid abroad.

Income tax paid or withheld abroad may be declared and taken into account in Estonia only on the basis of the documents certifying the payment of income tax.

In general in Estonia the social security payments and contributions paid abroad are not deducted from the income exempt from income tax. However if mandatory social security payments and contributions (pension, health, maternity, unemployment insurance premiums, accident at work or occupational disease insurance) have been paid abroad, the aforementioned mandatory payments or tax may be deducted in Estonia from the taxable income derived abroad. 

General tax credits

What are the general tax credits that may be claimed in Estonia? Please list below.

Please see above under general deductions from income. 

footnotes

1Certain tax authorities adopt an ‘economic employer’ approach to interpreting Article 15 of the OECD model treaty which deals with the Dependent Services Article. In summary, this means that if an employee is assigned to work for an entity in the host country for a period of less than 183 days in the fiscal year (or, a calendar year of a 12-month period), the employee remains employed by the home country employer but the employee’s salary and costs are recharged to the host entity, then the host country tax authority will treat the host entity as being the ‘economic employer’ and therefore the employer for the purposes of interpreting Article 15. In this case, Article 15 relief would be denied and the employee would be subject to tax in the host country.

2For example, an employee can be physically present in the country for up to 60 days before the tax authorities will apply the ‘economic employer’ approach.

© 2016 KPMG Baltics OÜ, an Estonian limited liability company and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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