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Double Taxation agreements explained A guide for Thailand businesses H&P Bangkok specialized tax lawyers

As a business with international operations, double taxation poses a significant financial risk.  It can seize a large portion of your profits and make cross-border transactions less attractive. Double tax agreements (DTAs) are designed to mitigate this risk, creating a more predictable and favorable tax environment for businesses. 

Today, we will explore the impact of double taxation of income and how double tax agreements benefit your business’s bottom line.

Double Taxation of Income

To fully understand the necessity of double tax agreements, let’s explore how double taxation of income occurs. Here are two common scenarios:

1. Corporate and Personal Income Tax 

Imagine a company incorporated in Thailand earns profits in another country. The company may be taxed on its profits at the corporate level in the source country. If it then distributes those profits as dividends to shareholders in Thailand, the shareholders may face additional income tax on those dividends to comply with tax law in Thailand. As a result, the same income is being taxed twice.

2. Taxation by Multiple Countries

If you are a Thai resident earning income in another country, both Thailand and the foreign country might claim the right to tax your income. Without a tax treaty, you could end up paying taxes twice on the same earnings.

Double taxation scenarios can significantly erode your income, discourage international investment, and hinder business growth. Thus, double taxation agreements aim to address these issues and create a more equitable tax environment.

What is a Double Tax Agreement ?

A double tax agreement (DTA), also known as a double tax treaty, is a bilateral agreement between two countries designed to prevent double taxation. It aims to ensure that businesses and individuals operating internationally do not have to pay tax on the same income in multiple jurisdictions.

How Double Tax Agreements Work ?

Double tax treaties provide a framework for resolving conflicting tax claims between countries. Key provisions within these agreements include:

  • Reduced Tax Rates: DTAs often specify lower withholding tax rates on income types like dividends, royalties, and interest flowing between signatory countries.
  • Tax Exemptions: Certain types of income may be fully exempt from taxation in one country if they have been taxed in the other.
  • Tax Credits: If you have paid taxes in a foreign country, your home country may offer a tax credit to offset the amount, helping you avoid double taxation.
  • Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP): A vital dispute resolution mechanism, MAP allows taxpayers and tax authorities of the two countries to negotiate potential double taxation issues.
Get to know Double taxation agreements in Thailand

Double taxation agreements in Thailand

Thailand establishes double taxation agreements (DTAs) with other countries to mitigate double taxation for individuals and businesses with cross-border operations. The country has a growing network of double tax agreements with over 60 countries worldwide. 

These DTAs play a crucial role in promoting cross-border investment and trade while protecting taxpayers from double taxation burdens. If you are conducting business between Thailand and another country with a DTA in place, you could potentially reap significant tax benefits.

DTA Thailand: Key Benefits

  • Reduced Withholding Taxes: Thai DTAs often reduce the standard withholding tax rates on dividends, interest, and royalties paid to foreign recipients. This can significantly increase your after-tax income.
  • Attracting Foreign Investment: DTAs create a more favorable tax environment, making Thailand more attractive to foreign businesses and investors.
  • Prevention of Tax Evasion: DTAs include provisions for the exchange of tax information between countries, which helps combat tax evasion and ensures everyone pays their fair share.

Taxes Covered and Taxes Exempt From DTAs in Thailand

Different double taxation agreements between Thailand and other countries may offer varied provisions. Generally, DTAs in Thailand will often cover personal income tax, corporate income tax, petroleum income tax, and value-added tax (in some cases). 

Conversely, DTAs may exempt certain income types, such as business profits attributable to a permanent establishment in a foreign country or income from shipping and air transport operations.

In practice, the list of covered and exempted taxes will depend on each treaty and the respective signatories.

Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) to Resolve DTA Disputes

When disputes or potential instances of double taxation arise, even with DTAs in place, the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) offers a vital resolution mechanism. The MAP is a provision within double tax agreements that allows the tax authorities of the two contracting countries to communicate and negotiate directly.

Typically, if a taxpayer believes they are facing double taxation contrary to the DTA, they can file a request for MAP with the competent authority of their country of residence. Then, competent authorities of both countries review the case and exchange information to understand the specific tax issue. They will continue to engage in discussions aiming to reach a mutually agreeable solution that eliminates double taxation and aligns with the provisions of the DTA.

To conclude, double tax agreements are essential instruments for promoting fair and efficient cross-border taxation. Businesses and individuals with international income streams should familiarize themselves with the DTAs their relevant countries have signed. Understanding these agreements and utilizing them strategically can save you a significant amount of money and help your business thrive globally.

Seeking Counsel from a Law Firm in Bangkok

If you are a business operating internationally or an individual with income sources in multiple countries, consulting a reputable law firm in Bangkok specializing in tax law in Thailand is vital.  They can  provide expert advice on:

  • DTA Eligibility: Determining your eligibility for the benefits of a double tax agreement based on your business structure and income flows.
  • Treaty Interpretation: Navigating the often-complex provisions and terminology of DTAs.
  • Tax Planning: Strategizing to minimize tax liabilities by leveraging DTAs effectively.
  • Dispute Resolution: Assisting with the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) if double taxation issues arise.

Contact H&P for Assistance on DTAs in Thailand

At H&P, our expert lawyers provide an extensive array of legal services, ranging from Thailand company formation to intellectual property trademarking, tax planning, and more, all tailored to meet the needs of both individual and corporate clients.

Our team of lawyers at H&P possess the expertise and experience necessary to assist businesses in Thailand with tax planning strategies, ensuring compliance and optimization.

For professional consultation with a Thai Tax Lawyer, contact us at:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: +66 22545600

Office in Bangkok: Herrera and Partners Co., Ltd. 142 Two Pacific Place, 17th Floor, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110

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