Intellectual property is increasingly becoming one of the most valuable assets of businesses. Thus, choosing the appropriate regime/location for structuring the exploitation of IP assets is vital in order for businesses to achieve business development, effective IP protection and maximum tax optimisation.
Cyprus IP Box Regime: Effective Tax Rate at 2.5% – Lowest in Europe
Cyprus offers an advantageous regime for businesses investing in IP rights. The IP Box Scheme put in place with effect from 1st January 2012 was a package of incentives and tax exemptions concerning income from intellectual property rights, intended to urge investment in research and development. The Cyprus corporate income tax rate at 12.5% would normally apply to the 100% of net profits produced. However, following the applicable tax exemptions, only 20% of the profits will be taxed, reaching an effective rate of 2.5% per annum. At 2.5%, this rate is considerably lower than the respective percentage in other countries offering similar ‘IP Box’ schemes, including Luxembourg at 5.7%, the Netherlands at 5% and the United Kingdom’s ‘Patent Box’ regime at 10%. The efficient IP tax regime of Cyprus in conjunction with the protection offered by EU and all major IP treaties and protocols in which Cyprus is signatory is what makes Cyprus highly attractive for the acquisition or development IP assets.
The increasing public discourse, including political and diplomatic mobility, as to energy exploitation in the Mediterranean and subsequent energy distribution, also includes the construction of the necessary energy infrastructure projects. The proximity of Cyprus to the recently discovered sources of energy in the Mediterranean, renders Cyprus a potential candidate for the construction of energy infrastructure projects. At the same time Cyprus is also an international shipping centre, involved in financing the construction of vessels. However, the significant length and cost of such projects (energy infrastructure and shipping finance) automatically raise the question of their smooth and viable financing. Recently adopted European Union Law in the form of a Regulation, undertakes to provide a financing tool for such and other projects of long-term nature by introducing the ‘European Long-Term Investment Funds’. This way, a legal framework tailored to the needs of long-term investments is established, which interacts with the current local investment funds framework, adds value to Cyprus’ physical proximity to possible long-term projects and allows for Paneuropean fundraising possibilities from both professional and retail investors. ‘European Long-Term Investment Funds’ are also eligible applicants for financing from the European Investment Bank, whereby the relevant application is assessed by priority.
The present memo undertakes to provide a brief overview of this new legal framework and of its interaction with the investment funds legal framework currently applicable in Cyprus. The aim is to facilitate, through Cyprus, the financing of long-term projects in Cyprus, the European Union and in third countries.
Ο Περί Εμπορικής Ναυτιλίας (Τέλη και Φορολογικές Διατάξεις) Νόμος παρέχει πλήρη απαλλαγή σε πλοιοκτήτες, ναυλωτές και διαχειριστές πλοίων από κάθε φόρο επί των κερδών επιβάλλοντας ΦΧ στη καθαρή χωρητικότητα των πλοίων, εφόσον πρόκειται για ‘επιλέξιμα πρόσωπα’ τα οποία έχουν στην ιδιοκτησία τους, ναυλώνουν ή διαχειρίζονται ‘επιλέξιμο πλοίο’ σε ‘επιλέξιμη ναυτιλιακή δραστηριότητα’
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- No tax on profits from the operation or management of a Cyprus-registered vessel or on dividends received from a vessel-owning company.
- No income tax on the wages of officers and crew.
- Low registration costs.
- Favourable tonnage tax scheme based on ship net tonnage.
- No stamp duty on ship mortgage deeds or other security documents.
- Double tax treaties with 43 countries.
- No exchange control and freedom of movement of foreign currency.
- Full protection for financiers and mortgagees.
- Low set up and operating costs for companies.
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Taxes can be a major burden in the chartering business.
With the introduction of the Tonnage Tax System in 2010, the Cyprus Ship Registry noted an increase of 300% in the number of Chartering companies registered under the Tonnage Tax system in a span of 4 years.
The reasons for such tremendous increase are obvious:
- Great Financial Incentives: as the Companies are solely taxed on the tonnage of their fleet and not on their profits;
- The clarity and simplicity of the law as well as the efficiency of the Department of Merchant Shipping ensure that almost all applications are examined within one month and
the overall application and examination procedure is very clear without any element of surprise or unpredictability;
- The system applies to mixed fleet situations (not solely to Cypriot fleet or EU fleet);
On the 14th April 2015, the ‘Cruise Casino Regulations’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘Regulations’) which are present in Subsidiary Legislation 400.03 of the Laws of Malta were put into effect as a result of Legal Notice 132 of 2015. The purpose for introducing these Regulations was to regulate casino operations on board cruise ships, which are either berthed in Malta or which are located within its territorial waters. The Malta Gaming Authority (the ‘Authority’) is to ensure that there is fair play in accordance with the Authority’s established fundamental principles and to safeguard the interests of the Maltese Gaming Industry as well as the interests of the passengers.
BENEFITS OF THE CYPRUS PROGRAM
- All nationalities are eligible to apply;
- Investment as low as €2.5 million (as per the collective scheme);
- Fast-track procedure allowing for direct gaining of citizenship within three months;
- No physical residence requirement before, during or after the approval of the citizenship application;
- No language requirements;
- No medical tests;
- No interview;
- No obligation to dispose of current nationality;
- Citizenship granted to the spouse of the investor and to the financially dependent adult children up to the age of 28 and are in full time higher education;
- The investment must be retained for a period of 3 years after which the investor is free to dispose of it however, the investor must hold a privately-owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus of at least €500,000 lifelong;
- Citizenship is passed on by descent subsequently offering a legacy to future generations of the investor and family;
- Cyprus passport holders can quickly and cost effectively obtain visas for USA for 10 years.
Keeping up with the changes.
What will the EU’s Collecting Management of Copyright and Multi-Territorial Licensing Directive mean for collecting societies in the EU?
The internet has changed the shape of the entire world. In some areas, such as communications,telecommunications and advertising,the impact was imminently discernible. In other
areas, however, a more conservative path has been taken. Nonetheless, the change is irresistible, and it has found collecting societies.
Collecting societies became an indispensable intermediary for rights holders in the music industry and users of such rights. Their core task was to protect the interests of rights holders so that users could not exploit them without providing for some consideration.
Their function includes three main obligations: licensing, monitoring, and ensuring payment of royalties by users and their distribution.
Regulation of investment funds in Cyprus under the AIF Law, recognises the need for a variety of collective investment products tailored to the needs of investors of different sophistication, net worth and risk-appetite.