January 2023

  • Bulgaria
    • Bulgaria Increases Thresholds for VAT Refunds to Non-EU Taxable Persons

      On 17 January 2023, Bulgaria gazetted changes to several thresholds for VAT refunds to non-EU taxable persons. The main changes are the following:
      • the minimum amount of VAT requested for refund for the annual period is increased from BGN 50 to BGN 100;
      • the minimum amount of VAT requested for refund for a period of less than 1 year but not less than 3 months is increased from BGN 400 to BGN 800;
      • the persons requesting VAT refunds will have to declare the ratio between the performed supplies with the right to a tax credit and the performed supplies without the right to a tax credit; and
      • various administrative simplifications have been introduced, i.e. persons are allowed to provide relevant electronic certificates issued by other tax administrations as well as copies of the documents related to the incurred VAT (instead of the original copies).
      The changes were introduced by amendments to the Ministry of Finance's Ordinance No. Н-10 dated 24 August 2006 on the refund of paid VAT to foreign persons who are not established on the territory of the European Union. The official text of the amendments is available here (in Bulgarian only).
    • Bulgaria Publishes 2023 Thresholds for Social Security and Health Insurance Contributions

      On 16 January 2023, the National Revenue Agency clarified the application of the social security and health insurance legislation for 2023. The written clarification states that the applicable thresholds for social security and health insurance contributions are as follows:

      • minimum monthly income – BGN 710; and
      • maximum monthly income – BGN 3,400.

      Although the minimum income for social security contributions remains the same as in 2022, as of 1 January 2023, the minimum salary was increased from BGN 710 to BGN 780. Therefore, the minimum income for social security contributions of employees who receive the minimum salary should be BGN 780 instead of BGN 710. In addition, the written clarification states that, in 2023, the social security and health insurance contribution rates remain the same as those applied in 2022. For example, the health insurance contribution rate remains unchanged at 8%.

      The written clarification is available here (in Bulgarian only).

    • Tax Authority Publishes 2023 Personal Income Tax Filing Dates

      On 6 January 2023, the Bulgarian tax authority and the National Revenue Agency published the dates of personal income tax (PIT) filings regarding income earned in 2022. More specifically:

      • from 10 January 2023, individuals will be able to submit to the tax authority their personal income tax returns for 2022;
      • the deadline for early declaration and payment of the annual PIT with 5% discount is 31 March 2023;
      • the deadline for submission of the 2022 PIT return is 2 May 2023 (as 30 April 2023 is Sunday, i.e. a non-working day); and
      • the individuals acting as traders and agricultural producers should submit their 2022 PIT returns during the period between 1 March 2023 and 30 June 2023.

      The notification on the tax authority's website is available here (in Bulgarian only).

  • China
    • Highlights of China’s judicial, procuratorial, public security work plan for 2023

      Following a new roadmap for judicial, procuratorial and public security work in 2023, China is gearing up to modernize these areas further on its new journey toward a modern socialist country.

      Below are highlights of the roadmap drawn at a central conference for judicial, procuratorial and public security work held in Beijing from Jan. 7 to 8.

      -- Advancing the impartial administration of justice

      The central conference urged dedicated efforts to focus on issues of public concern and to properly handle details relevant to people's vital interests.

      Cases related to people's livelihoods, such as education, employment, medical care, housing, marriage, family affairs and social security, should be processed in accordance with the law, per the conference.

      -- Pushing rule-based government administration, law enforcement

      The conference also outlined efforts to advance the system of law-based government administration that balances powers with responsibilities, and that is both authoritative and effective.

      It urged public security organs to redouble their law enforcement efforts in crucial areas related to people's well-being, comprehensively implement the benchmark standard system for administrative discretion, and boost the quality and efficiency of case-handling and law enforcement branches.

      According to the Ministry of Public Security, efforts are being made to improve the supervision of law enforcement, boost the coverage of digitalized case-handling, and implement the recording mechanism throughout the entire process of law enforcement.

      -- Offering sound lawmaking, legislation advice for emerging sectors

      The conference called on relevant authorities to enhance their awareness of legislation, offer legislation advice promptly, and round out judicial interpretations related to emerging sectors such as the digital economy, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.

      Through their handling of cases in such sectors, judicial, procuratorial and public security authorities will be able to identify issues in a timely manner and grasp certain patterns, which lays a solid basis for the implementation of relevant legislation work, said Ma Huaide, president of the China University of Political Science and Law.

      -- Tackling prominent public security issues

      The conference put forward specific objectives and measures to tackle prominent public security problems. It called for efforts to crack down on gang crime on a regular basis and develop new anti-crime mechanisms and approaches.

      In particular, it urged intensified efforts to combat wire and cyber fraud, as well as illegal online activities such as gambling, drug dealing and pyramid schemes.

      -- Improving urban and rural community governance system

      The conference specified efforts to improve the urban and rural community governance system further, with a combination of self-governance, the rule of law and the rule of virtue.

      It delineated the responsibility for judicial, procuratorial and public security in primary-level governance, and urged carrying out troubleshooting campaigns and constructing a joint work system to solve disputes and conflicts through mediation, arbitration, administrative adjudication, administrative reconsideration and litigation.

    • China’s consumer services see robust recovery as holiday consumption soars

      As restaurants resume indoor dining and shopping malls reopen following the implementation of China's optimized COVID response measures, cities across China have returned to their usual hustle and bustle.

      Yang Xiulong, board chairman of the Beijing Yan Restaurant, a high-end restaurant chain with 30 branches in the Chinese capital, said he felt the same. "I thought it would take some time for the catering industry to recover. But, given the current situation, I believe this recovery process will definitely be accelerated," he said.

      Popular travel destinations like the resort city of Sanya or Zhangjiakou, where snow and ice sports flourish, welcomed an influx of tourists during the three-day New Year holiday, with many hotels fully booked. Staff at Pullman Resort Xishuangbanna in Yunnan Province said that popular rooms were booked out a week before the holiday kicked off.

      Economic vitality has also been demonstrated in packed shopping centers and department stores. A monitoring system developed by Baidu Maps shows that the congestion index of shopping malls in cities like Chongqing, Xi'an, Beijing and Shenzhen increased significantly on Jan. 1.

      According to the Consumer Market Big Data Laboratory (Shanghai), Shanghai's total offline consumption hit 12.01 billion yuan (about 1.74 billion U.S. dollars) from Dec. 31, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023.

      Businesses in many cities have issued consumption coupons to attract shoppers. In late December, Hohhot in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region issued vouchers worth a total of 38 million yuan, covering consumption in sectors such as retail, catering, home appliances, automobiles and e-commerce.

      Guo Hongtu, an official of the bureau of commerce of Hohhot, said that customer flows in the city's shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants have returned to 70 percent of their normal levels.

    • China to maintain credit support for real economy

      China will maintain credit support for the real economy and step up financial support for the development of the domestic supply and demand system, according to the country's central bank and its banking and insurance regulator on Tuesday.

      China will ensure proper financial services for infrastructure, small and micro enterprises, and other key spheres. It will also ensure that the real estate financing runs smoothly and in an orderly fashion to prompt an overall economic upturn, according to a meeting jointly held by the People's Bank of China and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

      The two authorities urged major banks to front-load loans moderately, optimize their credit structure, and precisely underpin the key areas and weak links in national economic and social development.

      Favorable policies such as inclusive loans for micro and small businesses should be thoroughly leveraged to meet the reasonable capital demand of companies related to the production and supply of medical resources, the two authorities said.

      While reiterating the principle that "housing is for living in, not for speculation," they also pledged comprehensive measures to boost the operating and financing cash flows of high-quality property developers, and efforts to improve their balance sheets.

    • STA Optimizes several tax collection and administration services

      The State Taxation Administration ("STA") released on January 6, 2023 the Circular on Matters concerning Optimizing Several Tax Collection and Administration Services, to be effective on April 1, 2023.

      The Circular optimized four items of tax collection and administration services, including streamlining the process for registration of changed information, fine-tuning the tax services for trans-provincial relocation, optimizing the duties for management of tax sources, and stepping up coordination of registration business with market regulators. Specifically, starting from April 1, 2023, taxpayers that have registered changed information with the market regulators according to law will not need to report the changes to the tax authorities, and the provincial tax authorities will, based on the changed information shared by the market regulators, automatically update the changes of registered information in the core tax collection and administration system.

    • STA Clarifies Additional VAT Deduction Policy for 2023

      The Ministry of Finance ("MOF") and the State Taxation Administration ("STA") jointly released on January 9, 2023 the Announcement of the Policies for Exemption and Reduction of Valued-added Tax ('VAT") on Small-scale VAT Taxpayers, which clarified the additional VAT deduction policy for 2023.

      From January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023, taxpayers in producer services are eligible for a 5 percent additional deduction of creditable input VAT in the current period from the tax amount payable, and taxpayers in life services are eligible for a 10 percent additional deduction of creditable input VAT in the current period from the tax amount payable, according to the Announcement, which also clarified that the measuring standards on taxpayers in producer services and life services are consistent with the previous rules, and other matters related to the additional VAT deduction policy would be subject to the No. 39 (2019) Announcement and the No.87 (2019) Announcement.

      The STA released on the same day the Announcement of the Matters concerning the Tax Collection and Administration under the Policies for Exemption and Reduction of VAT on Small-scale VAT Taxpayers, as well as the new templates of the Statement for Applying a 5 Percent Additional VAT Deduction and the Statement for Applying a 10 Percent Additional VAT Deduction.

    • STA Updates Preferential VAT Policies for Small-scale VAT Taxpayers

      The Ministry of Finance ("MOF") and the State Taxation Administration ("STA") jointly released on January 9, 2023 the Announcement of the Policies for Exemption and Reduction of Valued-added Tax ("VAT") on Small-scale VAT Taxpayers.

      From January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023, small-scale VAT taxpayers with monthly sales of less than 100,000 yuan (inclusive) will be exempted from VAT. During the same period, small-scale VAT taxpayers can pay VAT at a rate of 1 percent on sales subject to a 3 percent VAT levy, and prepay VAT at a rate of 1 percent on items subject to a pre-levy VAT rate of 3 percent, according to the Announcement.

      The STA released on the same day the Announcement of the Matters concerning the Tax Collection and Administration under the Policies for Exemption and Reduction of VAT on Small-scale VAT Taxpayers to clarify the rules on the tax collection and administration.

    • Shanghai Expands Coverage of the Pilot Program for Issuance of Fully-digitalized E-invoices

      From January 20th 2023, the newly registered taxpayers in Shanghai are included in the digital electronic invoice issuing pilot scope. Taxpayers shall no longer receive VAT electronic special invoice and VAT electronic ordinary invoice from the date of inclusion in the pilot project of digital electronic invoice invoicing. Taxpayers who have special circumstances and cannot be included in the trial of digital electronic invoice shall apply to the competent tax authorities for the use of other invoices according to the current regulations on invoice management.

  • Focus Africa
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Singapore
    • Audits will be conducted to ensure compliance with GST rate change rules

      The Government recognises that businesses may adjust prices due to factors such as increase in operating costs including wages, utilities, rental and materials. While the Government does not regulate the pricing decisions of individual businesses, it is not acceptable for businesses to use the GST increase as the pretext for any increase in prices beyond the GST rate change. Where there is a need to raise prices, businesses should be transparent in communicating the actual reasons for the price increases to consumers, and not misrepresent the situation by attributing the price increases primarily or solely to the GST increase.

      The Government has been working with industry stakeholders on initiatives such as the Price Kaki mobile app to raise awareness on price transparency and facilitate price comparisons. Price Kaki allows consumers to compare prices of over 10,000 items sold at supermarkets and 37,000 cooked items sold at food courts, hawker centres and coffee shops, and is a useful resource for consumers to get the best deals or a basic pricing benchmark. We urge consumers to do such price comparisons when making purchasing decisions.

      To ensure that businesses comply with GST regulations relating to rate change, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will conduct audits to check that the correct GST rate is applied and that GST-registered businesses display GST-inclusive prices. It will also look into consumers’ specific feedback on non-compliance with GST rate change rules.

      The Committee Against Profiteering (CAP) takes a serious view when a business uses the GST increase as a cover to raise prices. If there are grounds to suspect profiteering on the pretext of the GST increase, the CAP will work with partners including the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, People’s Association, and Consumers Association of Singapore, to engage the relevant businesses to find out the reasons for the price increases. The CAP will not hesitate to make public errant businesses. Members of the public can report such cases via the CAP’s online and offline channels.

      Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

    • New Progressive Wage Mark To Identify & Support Companies Paying Progressive Wages To Workers

      Consumers and service buyers are now better able to identify and support companies that pay Progressive Wages to their lower-wage workers following the unveiling of the new Progressive Wage (PW) Mark. The PW Mark is an accreditation scheme that recognises such companies, which can then use the Mark to profile themselves as businesses that support better wages for lower-wage workers. This is part of a whole-of-society effort to uplift lower-wage workers. This scheme was recommended by the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers in August 2021, and is administered by the Singapore Business Federation on behalf of the tripartite partners (Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation). The PW Mark was launched on January, 2nd by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, at a visit to Uniqlo, a PW Mark-accredited company.

      PW Mark & PW Mark Plus

      • All employers who hire at least one local worker covered by Sectoral or Occupational Progressive Wages are eligible to apply for the PW Mark. To receive PW Mark accreditation, employers must (i) pay the relevant workers Progressive Wages, and (ii) pay all other local workers at least the Local Qualifying Salary.
      • Additionally, employers who go one step further in adopting the Tripartite Standard on Advancing Well-being of Lower-Wage Workers (TS-LWW) will be accredited with the PW Mark Plus. The TS-LWW outlines progressive practices that provide better support for our lower-wage workers in workplace safety and health, training and career development, and rest area provision. Please refer to the Annex for logos which accredited companies can use to display in their stores or websites.

      PW Mark required for eligible Government suppliers

      • For new tenders called from 1 March 2023, the Government will require eligible suppliers and their subcontractors to be accredited with the PW Mark for the duration of the contract period. This requirement will extend to procurement done via quotations from 1 March 2024.

      Application for PW Mark via GoBusiness

      • Employers who wish to apply for the PW Mark can do so through GoBusiness. Upon approval of accreditation, employers will be able to download a digital certificate that can be used to profile their companies to consumers. Since applications opened in December 2022, about 1,900 companies have been accredited with the PW Mark.

      Whole-of-society effort to uplift lower-wage workers

      • We encourage employers to do their part by paying Progressive Wages and getting their companies accredited with the PW Mark. Consumers and service buyers can also contribute by supporting PW Mark-accredited companies. The list of accredited companies can be found at go.gov.sg/pwmarklist.
      • Tripartite partners are progressively implementing the expansion of Progressive Wages to cover more lower-wage workers. From 1 March 2023, the Food Services Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and Occupational Progressive Wages for Administrators and Drivers will take effect. The Waste Management PWM will also be implemented from 1 July 2023. To support employers as they adjust to the Progressive Wage requirements, the Government provides co-funding support through the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme.
      • These milestones are part of a broad range of Progressive Wage moves to refresh our social compact and help uplift our lower-wage workers.
      Source: Government of Singapore - Ministry of Manpower 
  • Switzerland
  • United Arab Emirates
    • UAE announces fees on international imports from February 2023

      Pursuant to UAE Cabinet Decision No. (38) of 2022 on the attestation fees of commercial invoices and certificates of origin for importers into the United Arab Emirates, all imports into the country from 1 February 2023 must be accompanied by an invoice attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC).

      The customs notice provides that the MOFAIC will charge a fixed service fee of AED 150 for attestation of each commercial invoice of imported goods valued AED 10,000 or more. Such fee must be paid within 14 days from the date of completing the customs declaration.

      Exemptions for UAE import attestation fees include will be applicable for certain categories including Free Zone imports and GCC imports.

      The documents attestation service of the MOFAIC can be accessed directly through Attestation of Official Documents, Certificates and Commercial Invoices.

      The Customs notice was published on the official Dubai Customs website on 2 November 2022 and the decision will come into effect from 1 February 2023.

  • United Kingdom
  • United States