Double taxation arises when two or more tax jurisdictions overlap, such that the same item of income or profit is subject to tax in each.
Hong Kong adopts the territoriality basis of taxation, whereby only income / profit sourced in Hong Kong is subject to tax and that derived from a source outside Hong Kong by a local resident is in most cases not taxed in Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong residents generally do not suffer from double taxation. Many countries which tax their residents on a worldwide basis also provide their residents operating businesses in Hong Kong with unilateral tax credit relief for any Hong Kong tax paid on income / profit derived from Hong Kong. Hong Kong allows a deduction for foreign tax paid on turnover basis in respect of an income which is also subject to tax in Hong Kong. Businesses operating in Hong Kong therefore do not generally have problems with double taxation of income.
A DTA provides certainty to investors on the taxing rights of the contracting parties; helps investors to better assess their potential tax liabilities on economic activities; and provides an added incentive for overseas companies to do business in Hong Kong, and likewise, for Hong Kong companies to do business overseas.
Due to the international nature of aircraft operations, airline operators are more susceptible to double taxation than other taxpayers.
Shipping income is another area of concern. Hong Kong has amended the legislation to provide a reciprocal tax exemption from 1 April 1998 for shipping income so that ship operators can benefit from the tax relief offered by places with similar reciprocal tax exemption legislation.