Syria's system of income tax is apportioned into three main income categories: (1) profits from an industrial, commercial, or non-commercial activity; (2) wages; and (3) income derived from movable capital assets.
Legislative Decree No. 85 of 1949 regulates income tax. It is subject to wide interpretation by tax officials and tax committees. The Tax Department administers Syria's tax laws and is supervised by the Ministry of Finance.
A business profits tax is charged on net profits derived from professional and industrial, commercial and non-commercial activities, as well as on net profits from all other activities not specifically subject to the wage tax, to the tax on income from personal property or to the real property tax. The business profits tax is levied on the profits of individuals as well as on the profits of corporate entities. Non residents are subject to the business profits tax on all profits arising from sources or activities in Syria.
The business profit tax is applied in progressive rates between 10 percent to 45 percent, depending on the amount of taxable income. Shareholding companies and industrial limited liability companies are taxed at a flat rate of 32 percent and 42 percent respectively.
Dividends are not subject to a withholding tax provided such dividends are paid from company profits. The company profits from which dividends are paid are taxed under the business profits tax unless specifically exempted.
An individual is liable to the same taxes as a company on his business income, income from movable capital and real property. In addition to these taxes, individuals are also subject to a wage and salary tax. Income, taxable under the wage and salary tax, includes the basic salary, bonuses, overtime, allowances and foreign benefits. This income is taxed at progressive rates of 5 percent to 12.5 percent. Foreign employees working in Syria are subject to the same rules and rates as those applied to Syrian employees.
Tax on income from movable capital applies to interest, royalties and foreign source dividends. Royalty payments are subject to this tax and payable by the recipient, unless the royalty payments would be subject to the tax on business profits for the recipient.
The tax is levied at a flat rate of 7.5 percent on such income received by a Syrian resident and at a rate of 15 percent on such income received by a non-resident, unless reduced by an applicable tax treaty.
Real property gains are taxed at rates ranging from 17 percent to 60 percent. A property registration fee is due upon the registration of real estate, its sale, assignment or inheritance. The fee amounts to 10 percent of the value of the property, as estimated by the Ministry of Finance.
A stamp duty is imposed on the documents relating to the formation of companies, contracts, deeds and a variety of other instruments and transactions in Syria. The stamp duty is charged at a fixed or proportional rates depending on the type of transaction and is levied at a rate of 0.624 percent on contracts signed in Syria.
Syria has entered into tax treaties for the prevention of double taxation with Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, India and Romania. Under these treaties, business profits of a foreign company that is a resident of a signatory country, arising from its business conducted in Syria, are taxable in Syria, provided that such business is carried out by a permanent establishment of such company in Syria. Furthermore, Syria is also a party to the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Tax Evasion between the States of the Arab Economic Union Council.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)