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Comprehensive taxation agreement between Australia and the Russian Federation.



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ASSISTANT TREASURER

NO.044

Comprehensive Taxation Agreement Between Australia and the Russian Federation

The Assistant Treasurer Senator Rod Kemp today announced that he had in Canberra today signed with the Russian First Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Sergei Shatalov a comprehensive taxation agreement between Australia and the Russian Federation for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion.

"I believe the new agreement will foster the development of trade and economic cooperation between our two countries and will add significantly to the substance of our bilateral relationship with Russia. I am confident that it will be well received by the business communities in both countries," Senator Kemp said.

The new tax agreement will assist in the development of Australia's trade and investment links with Russia. The agreement prevents double taxation by allocating taxing rights between Australia and Russia in respect of all forms of income flows between the two countries. The basis of allocating these rights is substantially similar to that adopted in Australia's other modern taxation agreements. Attachment A provides further details of the agreement.

The new agreement will enter into force only after the Australian and Russian Governments have exchanged notes advising each other that the last of the necessary constitutional processes to give the agreement the force of law in both countries has been completed.

Copies of the agreement will be available at offices of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and can also be accessed via the ATO's internet site at: http://www.ato.gov.au under the heading What’s New.

CANBERRA 7 September 2000

Contacts: Richard Allsop Assistant Treasurer's Office (02) 6277 7360 Michael Lennard Australian Taxation Office (02) 6216 2611

 ATTACHMENT A

The agreement provides for certain types of income to be taxed in full by the country in which the income has its source. These include income from real property and alienation of real property, business profits attributable to a 'permanent establishment', most income from employment, most government remuneration (including government service pensions), and income derived by entertainers and sportspersons.

This agreement also contains specific rules concerning income, profits or gains arising from indirect alienation of real property following the Federal Court's decision in the Lamesa Holdings BV case.

Other types of income may be taxed only in the country of residence of the recipient. These include shipping or aircraft profits derived from international operations, non-government service pensions and annuities and subject to certain exceptions, income derived by an individual from professional or other independent services.

Dividends, interest and royalties may be taxed by both countries, but there are limits on the tax that the country in which the dividend, interest or royalty is sourced may charge on such income flowing to residents of the other country who are beneficially entitled to that income.

A limitation of 15 per cent applies to dividends unless certain conditions are met which reduce the maximum rate of tax to 5 per cent. These conditions are that the dividends have been fully taxed at the corporate level, the dividend recipient is a company that holds directly at least 10 per cent of the capital of the company paying the dividends, and the resident of the other country has invested a minimum of $A700,000 or the Russian rouble equivalent in the company. In addition, for the 5 per cent limit to apply, where dividends are paid by a company that is resident in Russia, the dividends must also be exempt from Australian tax.

In practice however, Australia’s domestic withholding tax exemption will continue to apply for franked dividends paid to residents of Russia, whilst the withholding tax applicable to outgoing unfranked dividends will generally be reduced from 30 per cent to 15 per cent in respect of such payments.

A source country tax rate limit of 10 per cent will generally apply for both countries in the case of interest and royalties. This agreement is also the first of Australia’s new Double Taxation Agreements to include spectrum licences in the definition of royalties, as announced in the Treasurer’s Press Release No 26 of 1998.

Subject to specific rules in relation to gains from the alienation of real property, business assets, ships or aircraft, and some shares, capital gains are to be taxed in accordance with the respective domestic laws.

As a matter of general policy Australia is concerned that a tax privileged region might be established by its treaty partners which could potentially deny access to information by Australia. Accordingly a bilateral provision which excludes certain tax privileged regimes from treaty benefits is included in this agreement. Article 23 ( Limitation of Benefits) denies treaty benefits for highly mobile income where the relevant income or profits are preferentially taxed and information concerning that income is granted greater than usual confidentiality.

The new agreement will enter into force only after the Australian and Russian Governments have exchanged diplomatic notes, advising each other that the last of the necessary constitutional processes to give the agreement the force of law in their

respective countries has been completed.

Reflecting the Government’s commitment to open and accountable treaty making, the agreement and a National Interest Analysis will be tabled in the Parliament for review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. In Australia, legislation will also be necessary to give the agreement the force of law and a Bill for that purpose will be introduced into the Parliament as soon as practicable.

Upon entry into force, the agreement will have effect in Australia for all Australian taxes covered by the agreement, in relation to income or profits of any year of income beginning on or after 1 July in the calendar year next following the date on which the agreement enters into force.

In the case of Russia, the agreement will have effect for taxable years and periods beginning on or after 1 January in the calendar year next following that in which the agreement enters into force.

 

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