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Luxembourg

Luxembourg

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All information contained in this document is summarized by KPMG Luxembourg, Société coopérative, a Luxembourg entity and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. This document has been prepared on the basis of the Luxembourg income tax law (law modified on the 4 December 1967); the Luxembourg domestic tax rules; the tax circular n° 95/2 L.I.R. of 27 January 2014 (impatriate workers); The Double Tax Treaties in force with Luxembourg (OECD Model); the Web site of the Luxembourg Social Security authorities; publicly available jurisprudence and the current practice in Luxembourg; all currently applicable on 31 March 2019. The document will not be updated, unless a written request received from you. The document cannot be communicated to third parties without the express written permission of KPMG Luxembourg.

Individuals domiciled in Luxembourg are subject to income tax on their worldwide income unless exempt under the provisions of a treaty. Under Luxembourg tax law, the concept of ‘domicile’ is essentially equivalent to the term ‘residence’ as used in most jurisdictions. In this article, the two terms are used interchangeably.

Non-residents are subject to income tax on certain categories of income from Luxembourg sources. The official currency of Luxembourg is the euro (EUR).

Key message

Extended business travelers who are not residents of Luxembourg are likely to be taxed on employment income relating to their Luxembourg workdays.

Income tax

Liability for income tax

Individual liability to Luxembourg tax is determined by residence status. A person can be a resident or a non-resident.

An individual will be considered domiciled in Luxembourg for tax purposes if either of the following circumstances are met, subject to tax treaty provisions.

  • The individual maintains a permanent home in Luxembourg. When an individual’s family (spouse and children) resides in Luxembourg, the individual may be considered to have a home in Luxembourg. Special rules may apply, however, for married couples where one of the spouses lives abroad.
  • A usual abode is deemed to exist if the individual remains in Luxembourg for more than 6 consecutive months (short periods of absence are disregarded). Tax residence applies as from the first day of the individual’s presence in Luxembourg. However, this is not restricted to 6 months in the same calendar year. If an individual arrives on 1 October in year N and is still staying in the country/territory on 2 April in year N+1, the 6 months’ stay will be deemed to have been met. The individual will be deemed to have been resident in Luxembourg from 1 October in year N.

Tax trigger points

To consider the start and end dates of residency status, there is no minimum threshold/number of days that would exempt an individual from paying tax in Luxembourg. The determination is essentially based on facts and circumstances. The assignee is considered to be a Luxembourg tax resident as of the first day the individual arrives in Luxembourg (according to Luxembourg domestic tax rules).

Types of taxable income

For extended business travelers, the types of income that are generally taxed are employment income (including non-cash benefits), Luxembourg-sourced income, and gains from taxable Luxembourg assets (such as real estate). Salaried benefits arising from the allocation of transferable stock options to employees may have a deemed market value according to the "Black-Scholes" method, or fixed at 30% of the value of the underlying share (subject to reasonable conditions)

Specific tax regime for impatriate workers 

On 27 January 2014, the Luxembourg Tax Authorities published a circular (L.I.R. n° 95/2 of 27 January 2014) regarding the tax regime applicable to impatriate workers ('the Circular'). This Circular applies retroactively as from 1 January 2014 and replaces the circular n° 95/2 of 21 May 2013. Specific tax provisions apply in Luxembourg to impatriate workers relocating to Luxembourg since1 January 2014, to the extent that specific conditions related to employees, employer, and salaried employment in Luxembourg are fulfilled. These provisions aim at exempting part of impatriate workers' costs and expenses in relation with their impatriation to Luxembourg. Extended business travelers who do not become residents of Luxembourg would not qualify for this tax regime.

Scope of the Circular

The aim of the Circular is to attract foreign workers to Luxembourg to respond to a need for skill and labor.

Persons covered

  • employees usually working abroad, assigned by a company located outside of Luxembourg, to perform an employment activity in a Luxembourg company, member of the same international group; and
  • employees directly hired abroad by a Luxembourg company, or a company located in the European Economic Area to perform an employment activity in the company.

Conditions relating to the employer

The employer should meet the following conditions:

  • Must employ (or commit to employ) at least 20 local full-time staff in the mid-term.
  • If established in Luxembourg for ten years or more, no more than 30% of the employer’s work force may benefit from the impatriate regime.
  • In case of intra-group assignment:
    • Must be part of an international group.

Conditions relating to the employee

The employee must meet the following conditions:

  • Must be a Luxembourg tax resident.
  • Must have their primary employment in Luxembourg.
  • Must have a minimum gross annual salary of EUR 50,000.
  • During the five preceding years:
    • May not have been a Luxembourg resident or subject to Luxembourg income tax on professional income.
    • Must have lived at least 150 kilometer from the Luxembourg border.
  • May not replace a non-impatriate employee.
  • Must be hired to share their knowledge and experience with the Luxembourg staff.
  • In case of intra-group assignment:
    • Must have the right to return to the home country/territory employer.
    • Must have five years of seniority within the group/sector.
  • In case of direct recruitment:
    • Must have acquired a deep specialization in a sector or profession characterized by difficulties in recruitment in Luxembourg.

Application of the exemption

Assignment costs typically represent a heavy financial burden to employers. Thus, the principle of the Circular is the exemption of the part of relocation expenses exceeding those, which would have incurred had they remained in their home country/territory. The Circular stipulates that the costs should remain reasonable.

  • Non-recurring expenses: removal expenses in respect of the domicile transfer to Luxembourg, housing (furniture, etc.), special travel costs (e.g. birth, wedding, death of a family member), etc.
  • Recurring expenses in case of cross-border domicile transfer (limited thresholds): housing costs (e.g. rent, utilities, heating, etc.), yearly home travel, and tax equalization. These recurring expenses are limited to the lesser of EUR50,000 per year (or EUR80,000 per year if the employee shares a house with their spouse or partner) and 30 percent of the impatriate worker's total annual fixed remuneration.
  • School fees (primary and secondary education): borne by the employer for the children of the impatriate worker, of their spouse or partner, if the children move with their parent(s) and have to change school.
  • Tax-free lump-sum indemnity for other recurring expenses (i.e. cost of living adjustment and other relocation-related expenses not covered anywhere else by the Circular): fixed at 8 percent of the employee’s fixed monthly remuneration, capped at EUR1,500. The lump-sum indemnity can be doubled (i.e. 16 percent capped at EUR3,000) to the extent the employee shares a common residence or domicile housing with their spouse or partner, and the latter does not perform any professional activity.

Duration of the specific tax regime

The benefit of the specific tax provisions for impatriate workers is granted for the duration of their impatriation. It applies until the end of the 5th tax year following the impatriate’s starting date in Luxembourg.

Procedure

At the beginning of each year (i.e. by 31 January at the latest), the employer is required to provide the Tax Authorities with a nominative list of employees benefiting from the regime. The employer will maintain sufficient evidence to support the eligibility in case of an audit. In case of doubt, an application can be filed with the tax authorities to obtain certainty about the eligibility

Moreover, the circular stipulates that in case the foreign employer has no wage tax withholding obligations in Luxembourg, and did not elect to levy wage tax in Luxembourg on a voluntary basis, then the concerned impatriate workers will have to file an individual income tax return in order to benefit from this regime.

Carried interest

Carried interest received by individuals, employees or managers of alternative investment funds qualifies as speculative gains provided some conditions are met.

Tax regime:

These gains are taxable at the normal progressive income tax rate, i.e. maximum 47.18 percent including 1.4 percent dependence insurance.

Carried interest can benefit from a favorable taxation, i.e. around 14 percent in 2019 - including 1.4 percent dependence insurance, provided the following conditions are met:

  • the individual became tax residents in Luxembourg between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2018
  • they have never been Luxembourg tax resident nor subject to taxation on their professional income in Luxembourg during the 5-year period preceding the year 2013
  • they did not receive any advance tax payment related to their carried interest; and
  • they can demonstrate that prior to the payment of their carried interest, committed capital has been fully repaid to investors.

The favorable taxation only applies for income realized within 10 years after the year the individual took their functions in Luxembourg.

Capital gain realized upon sale of their units, shares or securities of AIFs are taxable according to the usual regime applicable to capital gains:

  • taxable at progressive tax rate if holding lower or equal to 6 months 
  • tax free if held for more than 6 months
  • except if the individual holds, or held a substantial participation, i.e. a shareholding of more than 10 percent, at any point of time during the 5 years’ period preceding the sale or redemption.

Possible full exemption of the carried interest should be checked on a case-by-case approach.

Tax rates

Net taxable income is taxed at graduated rates ranging from 0 percent to 45.78 percent, with a top rate of 45.78 percent for the part of the taxable income exceeding EUR200,004 (EUR400,008 for spouses/partners filing jointly), including a 7 to 9 percent unemployment contribution.

Excluding specific earned income, Luxembourg source income may be subject to a 15 percent minimum income tax (increased by the surcharge for unemployment fund) at the level of non-resident individuals. However they may opt for the application of standard progressive tax rates instead of the 15 percent taxation. Progressive rates are applied by adding EUR11,265 to the actual income.

Social security

Liability for social security

In Luxembourg, registration with the Social Security Authorities is compulsory for all employees. An exemption from paying Luxembourg social security contributions may be granted under a multilateral social security agreement, or a bilateral one concluded between Luxembourg and the individual’s home country/territory. Generally, the benefits might cover:

  • old-age pension, disabilities pension, survivors’ pension
  • health and medical expenses
  • allowances in cash for children.

The employee’s part of social security contributions ranges between 12.20 percent and 12.45 percent. The employer’s part of social security contributions ranges between 12.12 percent and 14.75 percent. All employer’s contributions and most of the employee’s contributions are capped.

Employee’s part (capped):

  • pension (1st pillar): 8 percent
  • sickness: 2.8 - 3.05 percent
  • maximum annual income basis subject to contributions: EUR124,266.00 (index 814.40).

Non tax-deductible contributions (uncapped):

  • Dependence insurance: 1.4 percent minus a deduction of EUR517.78 per month on gross salary. No ceiling is applicable.

Compliance obligations

Employee compliance obligations

Tax returns are due by 31 March of the year following the tax year-end concerned, which is on 31 December. Filing of tax returns may be required from non-residents who derive Luxembourg-sourced income under certain conditions. A filing extension until June 30 is available upon request. The enforcement of filing deadlines will increase in 2018, with a significant increase in potential penalties.

Employer reporting and withholding requirements

The Luxembourg employer has the legal obligation to withhold the correct amount of tax on salaries paid to employees.

Advance payments of tax, together with tax withheld at the source, are deductible from the final income tax liability. Any overpayment of tax may be refunded subject to conditions. Tax withheld on wages and pensions is adjusted annually.

The Luxembourg government has transposed in the Luxembourg Tax Law of a section of the EU Directive in respect of the automatic exchange of information on salaries, pensions and directors’ fees.

Therefore, Luxembourg paying entities/employers have to report prior end of February 2018 the information related to calendar year 2017 salaries to the Luxembourg tax authorities.

Each year on 30 June, the EU Member States of residence of the employees will be automatically provided information on these income (i.e. salaries, pensions and directors’ fees), and will be able to tax these income based on the applicable tax treaty provisions.

If an expatriate establishes residence in Luxembourg during the course of the year, the expatriate will generally be required to provide the Luxembourg tax authorities with evidence of salary earned during the part of the year the expatriate was not resident in Luxembourg. The computation of the expatriate’s salary for the entire year allows the determination of a possible refund of tax withheld in excess.

Generally the amount of tax prepayments is based on the amount of income tax due for the previous year. The income tax withheld monthly on employment or pension income is computed according to tax tables set forth by the government.

Other issues

Work permit/visa requirements

Visa, work and residence requirements should be checked before the individual enters Luxembourg. The type of documentation required will depend on the purpose of the individual’s entry into Luxembourg.

Double taxation treaties

In addition to Luxembourg’s domestic arrangements that provide relief from international double taxation, Luxembourg has entered into double taxation treaties with 83 countries/territories to prevent double taxation and allow cooperation between Luxembourg and overseas tax authorities in enforcing their respective tax laws.

Permanent establishment implications

There is the potential that a permanent establishment could be created as a result of extended business travels, but this would be dependent on whether the employee has a fixed place of business, the type of services performed and/or the level of authority the employee has (such as the power to negotiate and sign contracts on behalf of the employer). For a complete check of these implications, reference should be made to article 5 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model Convention and to available treaty provisions.

On 7 June 2017, Luxembourg signed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS (MLI). One of the main purposes of the MLI is to enable countries/territories to meet the treaty-related minimum standards that were agreed as part of the final Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) package, i.e., the minimum standard for the prevention of treaty abuse and for the improvement of dispute resolution. The MLI also contains a number of alternatives or optional provisions. Part IV of the MLI (art. 12 to 15) describes the mechanism by which the permanent establishment definition in existing tax treaties may be amended pursuant to the BEPS Action 7 Final Report to prevent the artificial avoidance of permanent establishment status. Luxembourg made reservations on most of the changes dealt with in part IV.

Indirect taxes

Value-added tax (VAT) should be applicable to sale of goods and supply of services. Individuals carrying out economic activities (trading, producing, consulting etc.) independently should in principle register for Luxembourg VAT purposes. The standard VAT rate applicable in Luxembourg is 17 percent.

Transfer pricing

Luxembourg applies the OECD transfer pricing guidelines for multinational enterprises and tax administration, as well as certain provisions set forth under the BEPS actions. Hence, the Luxembourg tax authorities may raise transfer pricing questions when the employee is being paid by an entity in one jurisdiction but performing services for the benefit of the entity in another jurisdiction and no corresponding recharge is performed, in other words, if a cross-border benefit is being provided. The transfer price would be dependent on the nature and added value of the services performed.

Local data privacy requirements

Luxembourg has data privacy laws.

Exchange control

Luxembourg does not restrict the flow of European or foreign currency into or out of the country/territory.

Footnote

1Same-sex married couples are recognized in Luxembourg since 01.01.2015.

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