Operating a company is complex, and doing business globally presents additional challenges. Companies may mistakenly believe that the lack of a physical presence overseas exempts them from tax payments in that region. However, while global operations provide opportunity for growth, they also present opportunities for error. Understanding permanent establishment (PE) risk and how to minimize it in your company is essential.
Tired of scrolling? Download a PDF version for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers
In a hurry? Save this article as a PDF
Tired of scrolling? Download a PDF version for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers.
Fill up the form below 👇🏼
The Definition of a Permanent Establishment
In a nutshell, a PE is an organization established as a taxable presence overseas.
A PE is a company with a continuous and dependable appearance in a country other than its headquarters. As a result, the PE company is thus subject to the taxes levied by the law of its country of operation.
While it might seem obvious, this is an essential point for any company conducting business globally. It determines how much taxes you owe worldwide. Furthermore, poor knowledge of local legal structures can result in later tax debt and legal concerns.
What Causes Permanent Establishment?
A corporation has PE overseas when it has a fixed place of business that turns a profit somewhere other than its home country.
When the company is considered a PE, the host nation can tax all revenue generated in that region.
Below are the standards provided in Article 5 (1) of the OECD Model for a permanent establishment:
- Enterprises formed in a foreign country.
- Business entities that are «fixed» or permanent.
- Fixed establishments are where the business operates either entirely or partially.
How Do Permanent Establishments Work?
A permanent establishment exists if your company has a set location in a different country and turns a profit there. It implies that you will pay taxes in that jurisdiction.
Various local tax laws will determine the Permanent Establishment taxation you must pay between the host and home nations. Often, they may protect businesses from being taxed twice. In some cases, companies register in their receiving country and receive compensation for indirect taxes. This can include taxes on goods and services.
What are Goods and Service Taxes?
Goods and service tax, AKA value-added tax (VAT), is an indirect tax on goods or services supplied for personal consumption.
Can an Individual be a Permanent Establishment?
Yes. You can establish a permanent establishment if you are a dependent agent working in a different country.
When an individual regularly enters agreements in the firm’s name, they are regarded as the firm’s fixed presence in that region.
Types of Permanent Establishment
PE types are evolving in combination with technological advancements and new forms of communication. Though they constantly change to meet modern standards, we have listed some of the most popular types here:
1. Permanent Establishment at a Fixed Location
The most familiar type of PE is a fixed place of business. It means having a branch in a foreign country. Examples include:
- Oil wells
It is common for fashion companies to have their head office in their native country. However, their factories are often located in foreign markets. Suppose the fashion company conducts business and generates income in a foreign country. In that case, it is liable for various taxes in both jurisdictions.
2. Sales Representatives
Your business’s sales team may require a PE in different countries to complete tasks. For example, if they are working on projects in a foreign country for another company, that may constitute a PE.
Multiple variables may determine the status of a PE, like the frequency of staff traveling to the host nation.
Sales representative PEs are particularly prevalent in the medical, cyber security, and fashion industries.
3. Service Permanent Establishments
A Service PE refers to cases companies supplying technical and management assistance to a firm located beyond its region of origin. As a result, it leads to PEs with no physical presence in the foreign nation.
For instance, a consultancy company offering services in a country other than their homeland is officially making profits abroad. As a result, they must pay taxes to that foreign nation.
How to Avoid Permanent Establishment Risks
The first step toward reducing the risks of Permanent Establishments is to become aware of the potential complications of operations overseas. One way to do this is to contact tax experts before beginning overseas operations.
Establishing a local entity in your overseas target market is the only way to avoid PE risk entirely. This new entity has to function separately to the holding company and operate as a tax object in its freedom. So, it will then be taxed and administered separately, reducing the risk of double taxation or error.
Use an Employer of Record Solution
However, many firms usually do not want to take on the challenge of establishing a new entity in a new market. Fortunately, in most cases, it is possible to avoid this by benefitting from an Employer of Record (EOR).
An Employer of Record allows you to employ skilled employees overseas without establishing local companies in each country. Accordingly, experienced EOR providers can handle all your tax preparation needs, and take care of employer responsibilities.
EORs act as your international workforce’s lawful employer to ensure compliance with local recruitment liabilities. This can mean ensuring compliance with all local or federal taxes by using expert knowledge of local tax authorities. In the meantime, your company retains complete control over the worker’s daily operations.
INS Global Mitigates Your PE Risks
You may be unsure whether the staff you employ abroad will be able to establish a permanent presence. For this reason, INS GLOBAL can provide high-quality Employer of Record service (EOR) in over 80 countries to ease expansion concerns.
Our teams are available to assist you in selecting the best worldwide recruitment and global employment solutions. We maintain offices around the world, meaning help is always on hand.
INS Global can arrange and manage your corporate tax and income tax payments, wherever you operate worldwide. Alternately, by employing your staff through our PEO or EOR solution, you can simply tax requirements via our tax software processes.
So, contact us today to explore your worldwide tax return or international workforce needs.