|22 July, 2019

KPMG in Bahrain: Bahrain Economic substance legislation is a game changer

As part of KPMG's ongoing efforts to raise awareness of key industry developments, KPMG in Bahrain is calling out all commercial registration (CR) holders in Bahrain to assess their economic substance

Philippe Norre, Partner and Head of Tax and Corporate Services at KPMG in Bahrain

Philippe Norre, Partner and Head of Tax and Corporate Services at KPMG in Bahrain

As part of KPMG’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of key industry developments, KPMG in Bahrain is calling out all commercial registration (CR) holders in Bahrain to assess their economic substance.

The Minister of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) issued a Ministerial Decision no. 106 on 27 December 2018 and a Directive on 22 November 2018 respectively (hereinafter collectively referred to as ‘Economic Substance Legislation’) setting out the economic substance requirements to be satisfied by in-scope entities carrying on relevant activities.

The Economic Substance Legislation being introduced is a game changer from an international tax perspective. According to the new mandate, legal entities carrying on business activities in or through Bahrain are now required to demonstrate that substantial economic activity is undertaken in Bahrain. “The introduction of economic substance in Bahrain was in alignment with the recommendations imposed by the European Union (EU). Similar move was made by UAE, Bahrain is indeed moving towards aligning itself with the international standards from a tax perspective.” Philippe Norre, Partner and Head of Tax and Corporate Services at KPMG in Bahrain, commented.

According to Nik Faiziman Affandi, Manager in Tax and Corporate Services at KPMG in Bahrain, “economic substance requires profits to be matched with the economic activities generating those profits. What used to be a favorite tax avoidance strategy by multinational corporations by incorporating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), in an low or zero-tax jurisdiction that is merely acting as a conduit company, economic substance legislation aims at counter-acting the tax effects of such strategy and ultimately, providing more tax transparency and tax fairness globally through automatic exchange of information and mandating entities to have substantial economic activity to substantiate their profits

respectively. SPVs that are literally dormant and shell companies but with abundance of profit that is untaxed may soon be a history”.

The new requirement is applicable from 1 January 2019 on traders applying for new commercial registrations as well as Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) licensees. However, a transitional period of six months was granted for legal entities registered/incorporated prior to 1 January 2019.

“Failure to comply with the new regulation can lead to substantial fines between BD1,000 and BD100,000, to suspension of CR and/or imprisonment for non-compliance. Therefore, businesses should start reviewing their activities today and evaluate the level of additional substance required to be satisfied, if any.” Norre added.

KPMG in Bahrain is a member firm of KPMG International. The firm was established in 1968 as the first national accounting and auditing firm, and it has grown to be one of the largest professional services firms in the country. The firm provides Audit, Tax and Advisory services to a wide array of clients operating in different sectors, utilizing the in-depth technical and industry experience of its professional staff.

- ENDS –

About KPMG
KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and territories and have 207,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

For more information, please contact:
Afrah Faraj
Marketing and communications manager
KPMG in Bahrain afaraj@kpmg.com 

© Press Release 2019

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