Inventory may be stated at the lower of cost or market value. Last in first out (LIFO) may not be used for tax purposes. First in first out (FIFO) must be consistently applied.
The prevailing accounting standards require financial assets and liabilities held for trading purpose (e.g. shares and securities held as trading stock) to be carried at market value, with fluctuations in values of such assets and liabilities taken to the profit and loss accounts, irrespective of whether the profits or losses are realised. Following the court decision in the Nice Cheer case, the increases (unrealised gains) in the market values of trading securities are not taxable while the decreases (unrealised losses) may be deductible when they are recorded in the financial statements.
There are special tax provisions for valuation upon cessation of a business under which inventory is valued at market value, unless it is sold to a person carrying on business in Hong Kong, who may deduct a corresponding amount as the cost of the inventory in computing the assessable profits.
Gains from realisation of capital assets or receipts that are capital in nature are not taxed.
Dividends from local companies chargeable to tax are exempt, whereas dividends from overseas companies are generally offshore in nature and not subject to Hong Kong profits tax. Hong Kong corporations may declare bonus issues (i.e. stock dividends), which are not taxable in the hands of the recipients.
Hong Kong sourced interest income received by or accrued to a corporation carrying on a trade or business in Hong Kong is subject to profits tax. Exemption is provided to interest income derived from any deposit placed in Hong Kong with a financial institution, unless the deposit secures a borrowing where the interest expense is deductible. This exemption, however, does not apply to interest accruing to a financial institution.
Interest accruing to a bank or financial institution will be deemed to be sourced and taxable in Hong Kong if the interest arises through or from the carrying on of business in Hong Kong by the bank or financial institution.
Interest income arising through or from the carrying on of an intra-group financing business in Hong Kong by a corporation (other than a financial institution) will be deemed to be sourced and taxable in Hong Kong.
Royalties paid or accrued to a non-resident for the use of or right to use in Hong Kong or outside Hong Kong (if the royalties are deductible in ascertaining the assessable profits of a person for Hong Kong profits tax purposes) a trademark, patent, design, copyright material, secret process, or other property of a similar nature, or for the use in Hong Kong of cinema or television tape or any sound recording, are deemed to be taxable in Hong Kong.
A total of 30% of the sum receivable is deemed to constitute profits subject to tax in normal situations. Where such royalties are received by or accrued to an associated corporation, however, 100% of the sum is deemed to constitute profits under certain circumstances.
Partnership business is taxed as a single entity, although an individual partner can use its share of losses incurred by a partnership to offset against the assessable profits of its other business. In general, there is no special registration requirement other than business registration for a partnership. The assessable profits of a partnership are basically determined in the same way as those of a corporation, with certain special rules (e.g. salaries or other remunerations paid to a partner or a partner’s spouse are not deductible).
Unrealised exchange gains/losses
In general, unrealised exchange gains/losses are taxable/deductible if they are recognised in the profit and loss accounts in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), provided that they are revenue in nature and with a Hong Kong source. The nature and source of exchange gains/losses are determined by the nature and source of the underlying transactions. Exchange gains/losses arising from ordinary business transactions (e.g. trade receivables or payables) are taxable/deductible whereas exchange gains/losses arising from capital transactions (e.g. sale of capital assets) are non-taxable/non-deductible.
Hong Kong resident corporations are not taxed on their worldwide income. Foreign-sourced income, whether or not remitted to Hong Kong, is not taxed. As such, there is no specific tax provision dealing with deferral or non-remittance of foreign earnings. Nor does Hong Kong have any controlled foreign company (CFC) legislation.