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Indonesia planning tax reforms for ‘expat’ income and dividends

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Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government would eliminate dividend tax for companies with an ownership stake of less than 25 per cent. AGUNG RAJASA/ANTARA

Indonesia planning tax reforms for ‘expat’ income and dividends

Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati on Thursday shared the government’s planned tax reforms, which includes relaxing income tax for Indonesian and foreign expatriates as well as eliminating dividend tax in addition to reduced corporate income tax and a new digital economy tax.

Sri Mulyani said the sweeping reforms – intended to boost investment and stoke growth in the sluggish economy – would be part of the omnibus law that the government was currently finalising.

The planned reforms would change the Indonesian tax regime into a territorial tax system, so foreign residents and overseas Indonesians would no longer be taxed on income earned outside the country’s borders.

Foreigners who work in Indonesia for more than 183 days will be taxed on only the income they earn in Indonesia, while Indonesians who work abroad will be exempt from paying income tax in Indonesia.

“We will revise [the regulation] that expatriates need to pay tax on their incomes [earned both] in Indonesia and abroad,” Sri Mulyani told a business forum last week in Jakarta.

Under the prevailing 2008 Income Tax Law, every individual – including foreign nationals – who has resided in Indonesia for more than 183 days within a 12-month period, or has resided in Indonesia for a full tax year and intends to remain in Indonesia, is considered a domestic taxpayer.

Otherwise, the individual is considered a foreign taxpayer and is not obliged to pay income tax in Indonesia.

The government, Sri Mulyani continued, would also eliminate dividend tax for companies with an ownership stake of less than 25 per cent.

“We will eliminate the dividend tax. If the [attendants] here are the real CEOs and owners, you should be happy,” she told the forum.

“Normally, we don’t tax companies with more than 25 per cent share ownership, especially the dividends of companies outside the country. If you invest overseas, you will be taxed under the existing [regulation].

“Now we want to make it equal, no [overseas dividends] will be taxed,” she said, adding that the details of the regulation were still under review.

Sri Mulyani said that the omnibus law would also revise tax penalties.

“We will also reduce the [interest] penalty from two per cent per month [after the tax due date] by adjusting the penalty to the interest rate.

“Now it will be fair. The penalty will be as much as [market] interest rate, which is currently low. But if the underpayment is criminal and deliberate, there will be an additional five to 10 per cent charge. Quite fair,” she said.

“We will also gradually reduce the corporate income tax from 25 per cent to 20 per cent, as we are planning to impose [a corporate income tax of] 22 per cent in 2021 and then 20 per cent in 2023,” Sri Mulyani said. The plan included an additional three per cent reduction on corporate income tax for companies that went public.

“If your company goes public . . . then we will offer a three per cent tax incentive for five years, [so] our stock exchange will develop further,” she said.

The government would also tax digital companies, including Netflix, Spotify and Amazon, said Sri Mulyani. “They have an economic presence in Indonesia, although they have no physical presence. We will ask that they [pay taxes] in Indonesia.”

The new regulation on digital companies will use the Permanent Establishment designation for digital multinationals that do not have physical presence or employees in Indonesia, but benefits financially from the Indonesian market.



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