The principal taxes in Nepal are:
- The income tax and
- Indirect taxes, such as value added tax (VAT), customs duty and excise duties,
- Taxes levied by Province Government and Local Governments
Capital gains form part of normal business income. Natural persons are also charged on gain on non-business chargeable assets (investment assets). Tax incentives focus mainly on establishments in special zones, industries such as Information Technology, Hydropower etc., and encouraging investments in agriculture, tourism, and undeveloped areas. The incentives are normally in the form of rebates in income tax rates. The income tax law has provisions for GAAR, Transfer pricing and controlled foreign entities, but detailed guidelines are yet to be prepared. Inland Revenue Department under Ministry of Finance administers income tax, VAT and excise duties while Department of Custom administers custom charges.
2. Charge of Tax
A resident person is charged to tax on world-wide income, while non-residents are subject to tax only on Nepal sourced income. There are specific guidelines for ascertaining Nepal sourced incomes. Generally, a natural person is resident if he stays in Nepal for a period of 183 days or more in an income year (Shrawan 1st to Ashad End) or if his habitual place of abode is in Nepal. A company is considered resident in Nepal if it is incorporated in Nepal or if it has effective control and management in Nepal in the year.
3. Heads of Income
There are four heads of income:
- Windfall Gain
In general, a tax payer's taxable income is determined by aggregating the income from all of the heads. The computation of business income is normally based on the profits shown in the financial statements, after adjusting for exempt income, final withholding payments, nondeductible expenditure, special deductions and unabsorbed losses and depreciation. Expenditures are allowed for deduction for income from business and investment. But any deductions and expenditure incurred for earning final withholding payments and exempt incomes are not allowed as deduction. Resident Natural persons are eligible for special deductions such as contribution to approved retirement fund, life insurance premiums, remote area benefits, payment of health insurance premium, etc. There is no expenditure deduction for income from employment. Tax on windfall gains is collected through WHT in case payments are made by resident persons. Resident tax payers are required to pay tax on windfall gains earned outside Nepal.
4. Tax on Non-resident
Normally, tax on service fees etc. earned by Non-Resident by providing service in Nepal is collected through WHT deducted by the resident person. But where both service provider and recipient of service are non-resident, there is no WHT on service fee payment and the recipient is required to submit income tax return and pay tax on income from service provided in Nepal. The non-resident may create a permanent establishment if it provides service in Nepal for more than 90 days in a 365 days period. Such permanent establishment of non-resident is treated as resident taxable entity, independent from the non-resident parent company and taxed as resident person. The PEs are required to pay 5% tax on repatriation of profit to non-resident parent company. Foreign airlines operating in Nepal pay turnover based income tax for sales arising from travel of person and goods originating from Nepal (Excluding transits) and for sales of tickets from Nepal for travel outside Nepal (other than originating from Nepal). Other income of the airlines are treated as normal income and taxed accordingly.
5. Dividend Distribution & Profit Repatriation
Dividends paid by resident entities are subject to 5% WHT. This is final withholding and so is not required to be included in calculation of taxable income. Dividends received by resident tax payers from non-residents are taxed as normal income. Profit repatriated by permanent establishment to its parent company is subject to 5% WHT.
6. Double Taxation relief
Nepal has double tax avoidance treaty (DTAT) with eleven countries: Austria, Bangladesh, China, Korea, India, Mauritius, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Nepal also has unilateral tax credit mechanism where resident tax payers are eligible to claim foreign tax credit for tax paid abroad with respect to their taxable income in Nepal.
Nepal follows a self-assessment system and tax paid is not questioned unless the tax calculation is not in accordance with the law. If tax officer does not revise your assessment within four years, the tax return submitted and tax paid is considered final. The self-assessment of tax liability and submission of final annual tax return and tax payment should be done within 3 months from the end of an income year. An extension for return submission is granted on request, for a maximum period of 3 months, but there is no extension for tax payment deadline. Companies and certain tax payers are also required to submit estimated tax return and pay estimated tax on three installments. The return submitted by the taxpayer may be revised within one month of filing such return, if such returns are filed within due date.