Foreign companies may establish branch offices in Hungary. A branch office is an organisational unit of a foreign company without legal personality, vested with financial autonomy, and registered in the Hungarian companies register as a branch office of the foreign company. The provisions of the Hungarian Accounting Act apply to branch offices, which must prepare reports using double-entry bookkeeping. Statutory audits are obligatory, except for the branches of corporations whose registered office address is in the European Union.
A branch office is regarded as established when it has been entered into the companies register. A branch office may start operating once the application for registering the branch office has been submitted to the Court of Registration, provided that it indicates ‘under registration’ on its corporate correspondence. Until a branch has been registered, it cannot carry out any activities that are subject to official permission. A branch office is considered dissolved upon its removal from the companies register.
Branch offices are treated as PEs for taxation purposes. They have to determine their tax base according to the general rules applicable to Hungarian companies. The profit for the year (calculated on the basis of the Hungarian accounting system and adjusted by specific provisions of the CDTA) is subject to CIT of 9%. The definition of PE is similar to that in the tax treaties but somewhat broader. For treaty countries, the respective treaty definition applies.
A foreign company’s CIT base is determined for all its domestic PEs (except for branches) collectively and for its branches separately. A branch should account for costs and revenues as if it were independent from its foreign parent company.
For a Hungarian PE, earnings before taxes are reduced by cumulated administrative costs incurred proportionately at the headquarters and any of its PEs, with the maximum proportion defined as the revenues of the PE compared to all revenues of the foreign company.
However, if there is a treaty between Hungary and the other country, the provisions of the treaty have priority over domestic law. Consequently, the provisions of the treaty have to be followed in the first instance, and all costs related to the activity of the branch have to be allocated to the branch, without the above restrictions in domestic law, and all profit realised with respect to the branch must also be allocated to the branch. The allocation method must be consistent from year to year, unless there is a good reason for changing it.
The foreign parent must continuously provide the assets and funds required for the operation of the branch office and the settlement of its liabilities. The employees of a branch office are in a legal relationship with the foreign company, and the foreign parent exercises employer’s rights. A branch is considered to be related to its parent company/headquarters. Consequently, the prices used in inter-company transactions have to be at arm’s length, and the transfer pricing documentation requirements have to be taken into consideration.