Papua New Guinea
Income Tax Act rewrite
In 2020, Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Treasury released for public consultation the much-anticipated rewrite of the Income Tax Act (the Act). The consultation draft proposed a commencement date of 1 January 2021. However, despite consultation during 2021 and 2022, the Bill was not presented to Parliament for the budget session in 2021 and was again not presented in November 2022. As of the end of 2022, there has been no formal commitments from Treasury in relation to further consultation or the expected date of entry into force once passed, although the Treasurer did note that, in accordance with feedback from various stakeholders, the Bill's transitional provisions and certain subsidiary legislation would be fully developed before the Bill is presented to Parliament.
This statement from the Treasurer is a reaction to the fact that despite the rewrite being advertised as an attempt to simplify tax law to enable greater participation, and ultimately greater compliance, in the tax system, a number of design features have permeated the initial and most recent drafts, including:
- simplifying and consolidating provisions in a more consistent and structured manner
- placing further emphasis on self-assessment
- assuming the application of the legislated, but not yet enacted, Tax Administration Act by removing administration elements from the rewritten Act, and
- proposing to implement a number of policy shifts, including some that were previously unannounced.
A number of the proposed policy shifts that may impact companies include:
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT): The previously announced CGT regime has been narrowed and included. Commencement of a CGT regime will require additional steps beyond the passage of the rewritten Act; however, it is expected to apply to PNG land and interests in companies whereby more than 50% of their assets are PNG land.
- Resources taxation: Whilst ring fencing of project income and expenditure looks to be maintained, changes to depreciation calculations, including deductions for acquisition costs and the reduction in the additional profits tax uplift factor from 15% to 13%, may impact the resources sector. Transitional provisions and how the measures will impact other projects taxed under the existing regime are the subject of further consultation.
- Taxation of employment benefits: The rewritten Act has opened the possibility of revisiting the taxation of employment benefits, in particular housing and motor vehicle benefits, from a ‘prescribed value’ approach to a 'market value' approach (albeit with a long transition period). Previous suggestions to revisit this policy were met with strong resistance from a number of stakeholders.
- Taxation of non-residents: Recent policy changes have sought to rely more heavily on withholding taxes (WHTs), as opposed to income taxes, to collect taxation from non-residents deriving PNG-sourced income. The current draft of the rewritten Act suggests a return to taxation of non-residents in PNG only where a permanent establishment (PE) exists in PNG, with WHTs applying to specific payments of amounts that may be deemed to have a PNG source.
Although the timing for the reintroduction of the Bill is uncertain, if the matters above are relevant to your circumstances, then these potential changes should be considered and discussed with a PwC contact.
2023 legislative developments
In November 2022, the Budget introduced further extensions of the 'cost of living' package involving personal income tax (PIT).
The tax-free threshold available to individuals has been increased by 7,500 PNG kina (PGK) per annum for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2023. This change will automatically expire.