In this comprehensive article, we delve into the visionary Intellectual Property (IP) tax regime of Cyprus, known as the IP Box, which has been driving innovation and research in the country since its implementation in 2016. Authored by Arofat Salayeva, an esteemed expert in finance and taxation, this piece provides an in-depth analysis of the regime’s structure and benefits. As the Managing Director of Arosal Audit Ltd, Certified Public Accountants, and Registered Auditors, Arofat Salayeva brings her expertise to shed light on the diverse landscape of the Cyprus IP Regime, the Qualifying Assets (QAs) it encompasses, and the targeted tax incentives it offers to qualifying taxpayers.
Cyprus has emerged as a frontrunner in promoting innovation through its visionary Intellectual Property (IP) tax regime, the IP Box. Compliant with the OECD BEPS Action 5 and in effect since 1st July 2016, this corporate tax scheme encourages research and development activities by offering a spectrum of tax incentives and benefits to Cypriot taxpayers engaged in qualified IP ventures.
Unveiling the Potential of Qualifying Assets
Central to the Cyprus IP Regime is the notion of Qualifying Assets (QAs). These encompass a broad range of mind creations, specifically IP that is economically owned and actively utilized within the framework of business operations. QAs primarily derive from intensive Research and Development (R&D) undertakings. Patents, meeting the provisions of the Patents Law, along with copyrighted Computer Software, constitute key examples of QAs. Furthermore, other IPs satisfying vital criteria such as novelty, non-obviousness, and usefulness, subject to specific conditions, also fall within the ambit of the regime.
It is noteworthy that marketing-related IP, including trademarks and brands, should not qualify for the Cyprus IP Regime.
The regime firmly focuses on stimulating research-driven enterprises, providing them with targeted incentives for sustained growth and development.
Qualifying Taxpayers: A Diverse Landscape
The Cyprus IP Regime warmly welcomes a diverse array of qualifying taxpayers. This encompasses Cyprus tax resident taxpayers, along with Cyprus tax resident Permanent Establishments (PEs) of non-resident entities. Additionally, foreign PEs subject to taxation in Cyprus can also partake in the benefits offered by the regime.
The IP Deduction Mechanics
A hallmark of the Cyprus IP Regime is the so-called “Nexus” approach, which employs a fractional methodology to ascertain the qualifying profits (QP) eligible for deduction. The Nexus Fraction plays a central role in computing the portion of qualifying profits, aligning the tax benefits with the taxpayer’s underlying R&D activities.
The Nexus Fraction is calculated using the formula: QP = OI × (QE + UE) / OE
OI signifies the overall income derived from the Qualifying Asset (QA).
QE represents the qualifying expenditure on the QA.
UE signifies the uplift expenditure on the QA.
OE denotes the overall expenditure on the QA.
An In-Depth Look at Overall Income, Qualifying Expenditure, and Uplift Expenditure
The overall income (OI) pertains to the gross income earned from qualifying IP during the tax year, adjusted for any direct costs or expenditures that are tax-deductible and incurred in generating that income. The OI encompasses royalties or other amounts resulting from the use of QAs, license income for the operation/exploitation of QAs, insurance receipts, and compensation in relation to QAs, among other components.
The qualifying expenditure (QE) includes R&D costs incurred exclusively for the development, improvement, or creation of qualifying intangible assets directly related to such assets. QE comprises wages and salaries, direct costs, general expenses related to R&D installations, R&D outsourced to non-related persons, and commission expenses associated with R&D activities, among others.
However, costs for the acquisition of intangible assets, interest payments, and amounts paid to related parties for conducting R&D activities do not fall under qualifying expenditure.
The uplift expenditure (UE) is the lower of (i) 30% of the QE and (ii) the total cost of acquiring the QA plus the cost of outsourcing R&D to related parties.
Overall Expenditure and CAP
Noting that the overall expenditure (OE) is defined as the sum of (i) the qualifying expenditure (QE), and (ii) the total cost of acquisition of the qualifying assets plus the cost of outsourcing to related parties, the final step for the calculation of the deduction under the IP regime, would be to apply an 80% portion/CAP on the qualifying profits (QP).
Capital Allowances, Books and Record
Intangible assets, excluding goodwill, qualify for capital allowances (tax amortization) under Cyprus tax legislation, regardless of whether they are QAs under the Cyprus IP regime or not, with a maximum useful life of 20 years. Taxpayers claiming IP benefits should maintain proper accounting books and records of income and expenses per intangible asset.
Simultaneous Claim of Notional Interest Deduction (NID)
Taxpayers may claim the Notional Interest Deduction (NID), available on assets generating taxable income, alongside an IP deduction, for QAs financed via qualifying equity.
Overall Remarks on the Cyprus IP Regime
The Cyprus IP Regime has garnered widespread acclaim as a catalyst for innovation-driven enterprises. With its comprehensive approach and steadfast commitment to fostering innovation, the regime bolsters Cyprus’ position as a global hub for Intellectual Property management and development. By empowering businesses to harness the full potential of their IP, the regime paves the way for a promising future of research, development, and progress.
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