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Hong Kong

Tax Obligations Detailed

Discover employer and employee tax responsibilities in Hong Kong

Employer tax responsibilities

As an employer in Hong Kong, you have various obligations regarding your employees' taxes.

Reporting Remuneration and Employment Changes

Employers must report the total remuneration paid to each employee throughout the year by filing the Employer's Return (Forms BIR56A and IR56B) with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). This should be done annually.

Employers are also required to notify the IRD about specific employment changes. This includes:

  • New Employment (IR56E): File this form within three months of employing someone you anticipate being liable for Salaries Tax.
  • Termination of Employment (IR56F): Submit this form one month before an employee's termination date.
  • Leaving Hong Kong (IR56G): Inform the IRD if an employee is leaving Hong Kong permanently or for a significant period.

Payroll Record Keeping

Employers are obligated to maintain comprehensive payroll records for each employee. These records should include details like:

  • Salary and wages
  • Bonuses and allowances
  • Mandatory contributions (e.g., Mandatory Provident Fund)

The IRD may request these records during tax audits, so it's crucial to maintain them accurately and for a minimum period as required by law.

Additional Notes

It's important to note that the employee may be responsible for filing their own tax return and claiming any tax exemptions or deductions they are entitled to. Employers are not responsible for directly withholding or paying employees' Salaries Tax. For further details and the latest information, it's recommended to consult the official IRD website or seek guidance from a tax professional.

Employee tax deductions

Hong Kong provides several tax deductions for employees that can help lessen their tax burden. These deductions are applied to your gross salary to calculate your net chargeable income, which is then taxed at a progressive rate or a standard rate, whichever is lower.

Mandatory Contributions to Retirement Schemes

Contributions to a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme or recognized occupational retirement schemes are fully deductible up to a maximum of HKD$18,000 per year of assessment. This means you can reduce your taxable income by the amount you contribute to your retirement plan, up to the specified limit.

Self-Education Expenses

You can claim a tax deduction for self-education expenses incurred for employment-related courses. The maximum deduction allowed for each tax year is a generous HKD$100,000. This deduction encourages continuous learning and professional development.

Important to Note

These are just some of the common employee tax deductions in Hong Kong. It's advisable to consult the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) for a comprehensive list and detailed information on eligibility requirements and claim procedures. The Hong Kong tax system is subject to change, so it's always best to refer to the latest guidelines from the IRD for the most up-to-date information.


Hong Kong does not have a Value-Added Tax (VAT) or a Goods and Services Tax (GST). This means that businesses operating in Hong Kong do not collect VAT on sales of services, nor do they pay VAT on services they purchase for business operations.

Zero-Rated Services

Even though Hong Kong doesn't have a VAT system, there are some instances where services can be treated as 'zero-rated'.

  • Exported Services: Services provided to customers located outside of Hong Kong are generally considered exported and zero-rated, meaning they are not subject to any tax similar to VAT in Hong Kong.

Important Considerations

  • Imports: Despite the absence of VAT, imports of goods into Hong Kong may be subject to other duties or taxes.
  • Future Changes: There have been discussions about potentially implementing a VAT in Hong Kong in the future, so it's advisable to stay updated on any potential changes to the taxation landscape.

Tax incentives

Hong Kong's competitive tax regime offers various incentives to attract and support companies. One of the key benefits is the Two-Tiered Profits Tax System, which offers a concessionary tax rate for qualifying businesses. The first HKD$2 million (around USD$255,000) of assessable profits are taxed at a lower rate of 8.25%, compared to the standard rate of 16.5% for profits exceeding this threshold. This benefit helps alleviate the tax burden on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Profit Tax Concessions

Qualifying startups can enjoy a profits tax exemption on the first HKD$2 million of their assessable profits for each of the first three years of assessment. This concession provides valuable tax relief during crucial growth stages for new businesses. However, eligibility criteria and specific details for these profit tax concessions may change, so it's recommended to refer to the latest guidelines for the most accurate information.

Capital Expenditure Deductions

Businesses can claim a full deduction for capital expenditure on qualifying machinery and equipment used for producing assessable profits. This incentive encourages investment in production facilities and technological advancements. Additionally, there's a 5-year write-off period for capital expenditure on the renovation or refurbishment of business premises, providing tax relief for property-related upgrades.

Other Tax Incentives

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) offers depreciation allowances for various assets used in business operations. These allowances let businesses deduct a portion of the asset's cost from their taxable profits each year. Furthermore, the Cash Rebate Scheme for Enterprise Development provides a cash rebate equivalent to 40% of a local enterprise's eligible expenditure on professional services used for market development, design innovation, and branding promotion. This initiative encourages investment in areas that can enhance a company's competitiveness.

For a comprehensive understanding of the applicable incentives and how to claim them effectively, it's advisable to consult the latest guidelines.

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