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Qatar Tax Policy

As part of a delegation of the Bar Council, I just returned from Qatar and was very pleased with the visit. We saw an energetic and enthusiastic country with a great vision. After doing my research and visiting the country, it is clear to me that Qatar has done the homework to become a recognized international player.

Qatar has a wide network of double taxation conventions with 40 jurisdictions, including many OECD and G20 countries as well as important regional partners. These DTCs generally include the old wording of article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention. Qatar’s DTCs with France, UK and Singapore contain the current version of article 26. These agreements apply equally to Qatar generally as well as to the QFC.

Qatar is focusing on further developing businesses and investments that will allow the country to continue being competitive beyond their current dependency on fossil energies. The Qatar Vision 2030 outlines clear steps to that end, which are clearly being executed. The 2022 world cup was not in the agenda some years ago, but will definitively help the country to achieve its goals.

In the tax arena Qatar is moving in the right direction as supported by the Law No. (21) of 2009, creating a corporation tax rate of 10% for all companies. According to the OECD report on Qatar

European Commission vs Spain.- Transfer Tax on real estate companies

The European Commission has been very active during the last years regarding Spanish Tax position when a non resident element is involved. Our posting today deals with a matter involving transfer tax and stamp duty in the context of M&A.

During the last decades, individuals acquiring Spanish property owned by a Spanish Company (SL)  have been forced to create a double company structure to own the shares of the Spanish company.

In many cases the two shareholders were based offshore and increased substantially the costs of owning property in Spain. The reason was that this acquisition will save the application of a real estate transfer tax which was extended to the disposal of shares.

Spain has been applying for many years a transfer tax charge of 6-7% for the disposal of shares of companies owning real estate assets in Spain. Interestingly enough, the application of this tax was not included in the Transfer Tax Act but in Law 24/1988 on the securities market.

Article 108 of Spain’s Law 24/1988 on the securities market establishes that a 6-7 percent transfer tax  (7 percent in most autonomous regions) applies to the transfer of securities of a company whose real estate assets in Spain represent more than 50 percent of its total assets, or whose assets include securities in another entity whose real estate assets in Spain represent at least 50 percent of its total assets, if the acquirer gains control of the real estate entity as a result of the transfer.

The European Commission has asked Spain to modify its transfer tax provisions relating to the acquisition of securities in real estate companies, arguing that the provisions are not consistent with article 5 of Council Directive 2008/7/EC concerning indirect taxes on the raising of capital.