Extended business travelers are likely to be taxed on employment income received in Georgia.
Liability for income tax
Income tax payers are resident and non-resident individuals of Georgia. Residency is defined by the Tax Code of Georgia (TCG) as follows:
- During the entire current tax year, an individual shall be recognized as a resident of Georgia if he/she was ‘actually present’ in the territory of Georgia for 183 days or more in any continuous calendar 12-month period ending in this tax year, or was in the Georgian state service abroad during the tax year.
- ‘Actually present’ shall be considered as the time of actual presence in the territory of Georgia during which a person has been in the territory of Georgia, as well as the time period which he/she has spent outside the territory of Georgia specifically for the purposes of medical treatment, vacation, business trip, or study. Time during which a person was in Georgia is not considered as a time of actual presence on the territory of Georgia if he/she stayed: - as a person having diplomatic or consulate status or as a family member of such person.
- as a staff member of an international organization under Georgian international agreements, or as a person who is in the state service of a foreign country, and/or a family member of such a person, except citizens of Georgia.
- exclusively for moving from one foreign country to another through the territory of Georgia
- for medical treatment or resting purposes.
A day of presence in Georgia is considered any day during which a person actually stayed in the territory of Georgia, regardless of the duration of this stay. The status of residence or non-residence is established for each tax period. Moreover, days to which the person was considered a resident during the previous tax period shall not be considered while establishing residency for the following tax period.
An individual is regarded as a non-resident of Georgia if he/she does not comply with the criteria established for residency.
Irrespective of the above-mentioned criteria established for residency, Georgian residency may be granted:
- to a high net worth individual according to the rule and the conditions prescribed by the Ministers of Finance and Justice of Georgia.
- to Georgian citizen, if it is impossible to identify the residency of this individual for any country and the individual appeals to the Georgian tax authorities.
Tax trigger points
There is a tax exemption for income from employment of a non-resident employee received from a non-resident employer, provided that the employee spends less than 31 days in a calendar year in Georgia and the expenses on salaries are not attributable to the non-resident employer’s permanent establishment (PE) in Georgia. Otherwise there is no threshold/minimum number of days that exempts the employee from the requirements to file tax returns and pay tax in Georgia.
To the extent that the individual qualifies for relief in terms of the employment income article of an applicable double tax treaty, there will be no Georgian tax liability.
Types of taxable income
Generally, all earnings (whether in cash or in the form of a benefit-in-kind), made by an employer to an employee, are taxable unless specifically exempted.
Individual whose employment income in a calendar year does not exceed GEL 6,000 is entitled to make deduction of GEL 1,800 from employment income and claim a tax refund by means of filing a tax return to the Georgian tax authorities.
For the year ending 31 December 2014, the following rates apply for various types of income:
|Interest from Georgian source
|Dividends from Georgian source
|Taxable income of entrepreneur individuals
|International traffic, international telecommunication
|Other payments (except for sale of property)
|Taxable income of individuals through his/her PE
Employers, employees, and individual entrepreneurs are not liable to any obligatory social security payments on income paid/received.
Employee compliance obligations
Annual income tax returns must be filed by non-resident or resident individuals who derive any Georgian-sourced income which are not subject to withholding tax.
Income tax returns are due by 31 March following the tax year-end, which is 31 December.
Employer reporting and withholding requirements
Normally withholdings from employment income are covered under the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system. If an individual is taxable on employment income, the employer has a PAYE withholding requirement. Particularly, the employer (who is considered as a tax agent according to Georgian tax legislation) shall withhold taxes at the source of payment and transfer to the budget upon salary payment. In case of benefits-in-kind, the taxes should be withheld and paid to the budget no later than the last day of the respective month.
Monthly withholding tax returns must be filed by tax agents. Withholding tax returns are due by the 15th day of the month following the reporting month. Within the same deadlines the employer is obliged to present to the tax agency a statement reflecting the registration number of that person, his/her name, living address, the total amount of income, and the total amount of tax withheld during the reporting period.
In the case where salary is paid by a non-resident entity and this expense is not attributable to PE expenses, the employee may have to account for income tax.
Double taxation treaties
Georgia has entered into double taxation treaties with more than 35 countries to prevent double taxation, and allow cooperation between the Georgian and overseas tax authorities in enforcing their respective tax laws.
Permanent establishment implications
There is the potential that a PE could be created as a result of extended business travel, but this would be dependent on the type of services performed, the functions and level of authority of the employee, and the specific terms of any applicable double tax treaty.
Georgia imposes value-added tax (VAT), which is a tax on consumer expenditures. Businesses (that are VAT registered and fully taxable) do not bear the final costs of VAT. They are able to charge VAT on the supplies that they make (output VAT) and recover VAT on purchases that they have made (input VAT).
VAT is applicable at 18 percent of taxable supplies. Some goods and services may be exempt from VAT (with or without the right to credit input VAT).
The TCG contains a specific chapter on transfer pricing with rules based on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) arm’s length principle and OECD methods. The TCG states that the guidance on the application of transfer pricing rules is issued by the Minister of Finance (MOF). Accordingly in December 2013 MOF issued the instruction on “Pricing International Controlled Transactions” defining transfer pricing methods and their application, comparability criteria, documentation requirements, information sources on arm’s length prices, procedure for application of arm’s length range, procedures on advance pricing agreements and other procedural issues. The TCG and the current administrative practice recognize the concept of ‘market price’ with respect to transactions between related parties.
Work permit/visa requirements
The citizens of more than 64 states (e.g. European Union (EU) member states, the US, Canada, Japan, the Swiss Confederation, Lichtenstein, Norway, etc.) are not obliged to have a visa for entering and staying in Georgia up to 360 days. The citizens of Russian Federation are not obliged to have visa for entering and staying in Georgia up to 90 days. The citizens of other countries are obliged to obtain an ordinary visa.
In order to stay in Georgia after termination of the validity of the ordinary visa (or after expiration of 360/90 days for the individuals who do not need a visa for entering and staying in Georgia up to 360/90 days) an individual should obtain a temporary residence permit.
There is no requirement for the citizens of foreign countries to obtain a work permit, which allows a person to take employment in Georgia.
Other immigration considerations
Visa for entering Georgia can be obtained in Diplomatic missions and consular’s of Georgia abroad.
In some cases regulated by Government of Georgia visa/entry permit for three months can be issued by authorized agency of Ministry of Internal Affairs at border crossing points.
Administrative sanction may be imposed for violation of legal terms of stay on territory of Georgia. Maximum penalty is GEL 360
Local data privacy requirements
Georgia has data privacy laws.
Georgia does not restrict the flow of Georgian or foreign currency into or out of the country. Certain reporting obligations are imposed, however, to control money laundering. Certain limitations on the amount of importing and exporting of cash (or securities) without customs declaration are applied (the limit is 30,000 Georgia lari (GEL) (approximately 16,950 US dollars), or its equivalent in foreign currency).
A bank account cannot be opened in Georgia without proof of identity.
Non-deductible costs for assignees
A person is declined a deduction for an amount of expenditure to the extent to which it is incurred in deriving income from employment. Furthermore, as a rule, expenses not related to economic activity are not deductible from the gross income.