Under the new CIT model in force as of 1 January 2018, all undistributed corporate profits are exempt. This exemption covers both active (e.g. trading) and passive (e.g. dividends, interest, royalties) types of income. It also covers capital gains arising on the sale of all types of assets, including shares and securities, except for the sale of immovable property by non-residents. This tax regime is available to Latvian-resident companies and non-resident companies’ permanent establishments (PEs) registered in Latvia.
The taxation of corporate profits is postponed until those profits are distributed as dividends or deemed to be distributed.
The CIT rate is 20% applicable to the taxable base. However, before applying the statutory rate, the taxable base should be divided by a coefficient of 0.8. As the taxable base is increased by the coefficient, the effective CIT rate is 25%.
- Dividends (including interim dividends).
- Payments equal to dividends (i.e. profit share-outs by [a] cooperative societies, [b] sole traders, [c] partnerships, and [d] PEs).
- Deemed dividends (i.e. the reduced amount of share capital that has been previously increased using part of earnings being added to share capital).
- Non-business expenses.
- Bad debts.
- Excess interest payments.
- Loans to related parties (with several exclusions).
- Transfer pricing adjustments.
- Surplus assets on liquidation.
- Benefits a non-resident gives to employees of its PE.
- Assets transferred abroad.
- Hybrid mismatches.
For non-business expenses, a non-taxable cap on representation expenses and staff sustainability expenses is calculated as 5% of the company’s total gross wages for the past year.
For bad debts, there is no CIT to pay on the allowance if the debt is recovered within 36 months. An exemption is also available if several conditions of the CIT Act are satisfied.
For excess interest payments, only one method applies up to 3 million euros (EUR) (i.e. a debt-equity ratio of 4:1). A second method (30% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation [EBITDA]) is applicable if interest payments exceed EUR 3 million.
Lending to related parties is considered a profit distribution with several exclusion (i.e. the parent’s loans to a subsidiary; short-term loans for up to 12 months; a loan not exceeding one received from an unrelated party or not exceeding a certain level of registered share capital; if the lender has no retained earnings at year-start, etc).
The definition of 'related party' includes Latvian companies with at least 20% shareholders.
From a Latvian perspective, this tax is considered a CIT, not a withholding tax (WHT), so the rate is not affected by an applicable double tax treaty (DTT).
In Latvia, resident companies are taxed on profits distributed from their worldwide income, while PEs of non-residents are taxed only on profits distributed from Latvian-source income. Other Latvian-source income derived by non-residents may be subject to a final WHT or CIT by way of assessment.
Micro-business tax (MBT)
The Micro-business Tax Act permits existing and newly formed businesses to acquire micro-business status and register for MBT if they meet certain criteria. In general, MBT status provided for the option to pay MBT at the standard rate based on a micro-business’s revenue of up to EUR 40,000, which covered payroll taxes, business risk duties, and CIT. As of 1 January 2021, extensive amendments have been introduced into MBT normative regulation.
As of 1 January 2021, limited liability companies (LLCs) cannot acquire MBT status; for the existing LLCs with MBT status, there is a transitional period of one year, after which this status will be withdrawn.
The revenue limit is reduced from EUR 40,000 in a calendar year to EUR 25,000. The applicable tax rate below this figure is 25%, and the applicable tax rate above this figure is 40%.
As of 1 January 2021, only the shareholder of the company having MBT status will be considered an MBT payer, whereas the remuneration of the new employees of such company will be subject to payroll taxes at the standard rates. For the existing employees, there is a transitional period providing for the application of payroll taxes as of 1 July 2021.