The tax authorities in the region have been intensely active over the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and have implemented several legislative changes.

The Republic of Serbia has introduced a transitional regime which will be in force until an electronic tax return filing system and the unified collection of withholding tax have been introduced.  The by-laws regarding VAT, income taxes and property taxes have also been amended and the new reduced VAT rate,  10%, became applicable on 1 January 2014. The rulebook on transfer pricing has also been amended.

Similarly, Croatia has introduced a new unified form for filing tax returns for withholding tax which has considerably simplified the income tax return system. Croatia has also increased the reduced VAT rate from 10% to 13% as of 1 January 2014.

Montenegro has amended regulations governing corporate income tax, personal income taxes and social security contributions, and the new Law on Real Estate Transfer Tax became applicable on 1 January 2014. The Montenegrin authorities have granted tax payers the right to write-off existing tax and customs debts under certain conditions and from 1 January 2014, new Double Taxation Treaties (DTT) have been implemented with the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan.

At the end of December 2013, the Law on Indirect Taxation Procedure, which applies to the entire territory of Bosnia & Herzegovina was amended and became applicable on 31 December 2013. On 1 January 2014, the DTT between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Azerbaijan came into effect and on 8 December 2013, the Law on Personal Income Tax in Republika Srpska was amended and became applicable on 1 February 2014.

Serbia

Tax Procedure

Amendments to the Rulebook on Tax Returns for the Withholding Tax on Personal Income Tax

At the end of 2013, the Ministry of Finance amended the previously adopted Rulebook on Tax Returns for Withholding Tax in order to further define the rules on filing tax returns for withholding tax during the transitional period before the introduction of the electronic system for the unified collection of taxes and contributions.

The amendments set out different outlines for the withholding tax return form (form PPP-PD) and the confirmation form for paid taxes and contributions (Form PPP-PO). The amendments also prescribe new rules for completing these forms.

According to the amendments, the reference number, which has been assigned in the system to every tax return applicant, must be included in the tax payment order, as well as in the payment order for income payments to individuals. The tax payment order must contain the appropriate payment code prescribed by the National Bank of Serbia. If a payment order does not contain all necessary elements, the bank must refuse to execute the income payment order.

Instead of by 31 December 2013, as originally prescribed, the transitional regime requires taxpayers file, in parallel, both the new (PPP-PD Form) and the old forms of the withholding tax return by 28 February 2014, however, tax and contributions debts will be  recorded based on the “old” forms.

Finally, as an exception to the general rule that the payment of income and related taxes to individuals can be made only after a tax return had been filed, banks will be allowed to pay interest and related taxes prior to the tax return filing, i.e. prior to obtaining of a special reference number that is filled in the tax payment money order and money order for the payment of income.

New Rulebook on Filing Tax Returns for the Purchase of Certain Goods in Cash has been adopted

A new rulebook on the method of determining, payment and filing tax returns for withholding tax on other individual income from the sale of goods when income is paid in cash at the moment of the delivery of goods has been passed.

This Rulebook defines the manner for filling out and filing a tax return for withholding tax on income payments for the purchase of agricultural goods from an individual that is not an agriculturist, the purchase of secondary raw materials and goods produced during temporary and/or part-time labour.

Similarly to the payment of interest, a tax return for withholding tax for the payment of the mentioned income in cash will be filed after the payment of taxes has been made, provided that tax was to be paid on the same day when the income was paid to the individual and not later than the first day when the payment is possible.

New Rulebooks on the Electronic Filing of Tax Returns

In December 2013, the Rulebook on the Method of Filing Electronic Tax Returns was amended and its name was changed to the Rulebook on Filing Electronic Tax Returns for Large Taxpayers. In addition, a new Rulebook on filing electronic tax returns for all other taxpayers was adopted.

The most important change is the new outline of the PEP Form whereby authorisation for the use of electronic services was granted and which should be filled out and filed by all tax payers who authorise other parties to file electronic tax returns via the Tax Administration Portal (https://eporezi.poreskauprava.gov.rs). If a tax return has been filed by a taxpayer’s legal representative, the PEP Form does not have to be submitted provided that the representative has an electronic certificate.

The amendments abolished the PREP form (a confirmation for the registration for electronic filing) and the PEK form (tax card).

The Rulebook on Filing Electronic Tax Returns is partially applicable to large taxpayers as of 1 January 2014, who now have to file a tax return for VAT (Form PP PDV) and personal income withholding tax (forms PPP and PPP PD) using the Tax Administration Portal, provided that they electronically submit the “old” forms of the aggregate tax returns (OPJ and OD) for payments made by 28 February to the Center for Large Taxpayers, as they did before.

For the time being, all other taxpayers are required to file only a tax return for withholding tax (Form PPP PD) using the Portal, provided that the full transition for all taxpayers to file all tax returns electronically is completed by 1 July 2014.

Corporate Income Tax

Rulebook on Transfer Pricing amended

The amendments to the Rulebook on Transfer Pricing and Methods of the “Arm’s Length” Principle Applicable to the Establishment of Prices of Transactions between Related Parties introduced the possibility to submit a Short Form Report.

The Short Form Report is submitted by entities which have had transactions with related parties (excluding loans and credits), subject to the condition that the on-off transaction with the related party does not exceed RSD 8 million, or that the total value of all transactions with one related party does not exceed RSD 8 million.

The Short Form Report is submitted for all transactions and contains only a description of the transaction, the transaction value, and information regarding the related party with whom the transaction has been executed.

Rulebook on Tax Balance in preparation

The New Rulebook on Content of Tax Balance and Other Issues of Importance for Establishment of Corporate Income Tax is in preparation, in which the outline of the form used for corporate income tax returns for 2013 will be changed.

In addition to changes in the form of tax balance, the form for calculation of tax credit in line with Article 48 of the Corporate Income Tax Law will be changed as well. Changes in the calculation of interest as per the rules of thin capitalization for legal entities whose fiscal year differentiates from the calendar year are also in preparation. We will report on the final text of the rulebook upon its adoption.

Value Added Tax

Decree on Implementation of the Law on Value Added Tax on the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija during the validity of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244

A new decree on the implementation of the VAT Law on transactions with APKM was adopted on 14 December 2013 and became applicable the same day. With the application of the new decree, all by-laws adopted on the basis of the previously applicable decree ceased to apply, including the Rulebook on Format, Content and the Method of filling out the Calculation Sheet for VAT and the Recording Sheet and Method and Procedure for Collection of VAT and Other Bank Guarantee Costs.

By the new Decree, transactions with APKM are in great part placed back under the regular VAT regime. In order to be VAT exempt for the shipping of goods to Kosovo, it is no longer necessary to have evidence of a sale of foreign currency, generated by export, to the National bank of Serbia. Exemption from VAT for export on the territory of APKM remained conditional upon receipt of full payment for exported goods. Also, the KMPDV Form which was used for the submission of information about transactions with APKM has been terminated, and the information regarding the supply of goods between the territories of Serbia and APKM is again declared in the same way as before, i.e. in the standard tax return for VAT on PPPDV Form.

The Decree abolished the EL and OLPDV forms, which were used as evidence on imports and exports from the territory of APKM. These forms are now replaced with the regular export-import customs declarations that are used for regular import and export to the territories of other countries.

In line with the new Decree, the Rulebook on Form and Content of Registration of VAT Payers, Procedure of Registration and Deletion from Registry and on a Form and Content of VAT return was amended as well, but only in order to make some technical and terminology corrections.

Amendments to the Rulebook on Determining the Goods and Services that are Subject to Special VAT Rate

The amendments to this Rulebook were adopted in order to align it with the amendments to the Law on VAT which increased the reduced VAT rate from 8% to 10%. These amendments provided that the supply of computers will be subject to the general VAT rate of 20% (instead of the reduced rate). The amendments became applicable on 1 January 2014.

Personal Income Tax

The Decree on detailed conditions, criteria and elements for lump sum taxation of self-employed taxpayers 

This Decree, which was adopted at the end of December 2013, became applicable on 1 January 2014 and it introduced significant changes in the lump sum taxation system.

This Decree is now aligned with the amended Law on Personal Income Tax, in terms of the conditions for lump sum taxation. It stipulates that the amenities of a business premises and the number of working family members are no longer an element in the determination of lump sum income.

The amendments reduced the number of groups in which entrepreneurs are classified according to the criteria of turnover volume and profitability. Now, there are six such groups, since the sixth group which consisted only of lawyers has been abolished and lawyers have now been moved into the fifth group.

The Decree amended percentages for determining the starting base per group of activities within which entrepreneurs are classified, which has reduced the fourth group to the applicable percentage 140% from , 150% and the fifth group was increased to 120% from 105% of the average monthly salary in Serbia.

Certain business activities, such as activities related to the maintenance of cars (car mechanics, car wash, tyre services) and entrepreneurs who provide advertising services, are completely excluded from the lump sum taxation system.

All entrepreneurs who are no longer subject to lump sum taxation are required to file a tax return by 31 January 2014 on Form PPDG-1, where they will declare planned income, expenses and profit.

Rulebook on method and procedure of the calculation of salary tax in reduced tax base cases

This Rulebook was amended in order to comply with the amended Law on Personal Income Tax and to further prescribe the procedure and method of salary reduction for non-taxable amounts and is applicable as of 1 January 2014.

The new Rulebook abolished the obligation of an employer to submit a report on part-time employees upon each payment of salaries (Form I). However, this amendment becomes applicable on 1 March 2014.

Property Tax

Amendments to the Rulebook on Tax Returns for Property Tax

The Rulebook on Amendments to the Rulebook on Forms of Tax Returns for Determining Property Tax, which became applicable on 1 January 2014, has been published.

The amendments are related to the forms for determining property tax on the real property of a taxpayer who keeps books and who determines property tax by self-taxation. The following forms are altered under these amendments: Form PPI-1, Form Prilog-1 and Form Pod-prilog with Prilog-1.

The amendments made legal-technical alignments and detailed the rules for filling out these forms for cases in which changes that affect taxation occur during the year.

Montenegro

In December 2013, the Montenegrin Parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Corporate Income Tax, the Law on Personal Income Tax and the Law on Mandatory Social Security. Also, Parliament has enacted a new Law on Real Estate Transfer Tax and a Law on Write-off of Interests on Tax and Customs Debts. All the mentioned regulations became applicable on 1 January 2014.

Corporate Income Tax

In Montenegro, legal entities operating in underdeveloped areas are exempt from paying corporate income tax for a period of 8 years starting from the day of registration with the Central Registry of Commercial Entities. The amendments prescribe a maximum amount for the tax exemption, which cannot exceed EUR 200,000 for an 8 years period, including the total amount of all other types of state aid received by the beneficiary of this tax incentive.

A legal entity operating in underdeveloped areas is also exempt from paying salary taxes for newly employed individuals that are employed for at least a 5 year period. This exemption may be used for a period of 4 years from the date of the employment. However, if the legal entity wishes to terminate such employment before the expiry of the period of 3 years from the date of employment, it is required to pay the salary taxes which would have been due had the tax exemption not been used.

The procedure for the use of this tax exemption is regulated in more detail. A legal entity may be entitled to a tax exemption if it submits a request to the relevant tax authority within 30 days from the day of the registration with the Central Registry of Commercial Entities. Also, along with filing the annual tax return, the legal entity has to submit a statement on the all other types of state aid received in previous fiscal years, including the above mentioned exemption from the payment of salary taxes for newly employed persons.

The number of business activities which do not qualify for this tax exemption has been expanded. Now, in addition to the legal entities engaged in the sectors of the primary production of agricultural goods, transportation, shipbuilding, fishing and steel, this exemption may not be used by entities within the sectors of trading and tourism, except for with primary tourist facilities.

The amendments encourage legal entities to pay their tax liabilities in a timely manner. Accordingly, if a legal entity pays its taxes before 31 March of the current year for a previous year, it will be entitled to a tax deduction (discount) of 6%.

Real Estate Transfer Tax

The new Law on Real Estate Transfer Tax was passed in July 2013, but for practical purposes its application was postponed to 1 January 2014. The new Law mostly corrected some technical errors from the previous version of this law. Also, the list of persons entitled to tax exemption was expanded, so as to include persons who acquired real estate under expropriation or in a procedure of property seized in the name of public interest, as well as banks for real estate acquired in the course of regular business activity (for example on the basis of a mortgage).

The most important change was the introduction of self-taxation, as a method of determining tax liability. A taxpayer who has acquired real estate is now obliged to file a tax return within 15 days from the day of the taxable event and to calculate and pay the real estate transfer tax when filing the tax return.

In line with the new Law, the Rulebook on content of the tax return for the calculation of the real estate transfer tax was enacted and introduced a new form for the declaration of taxes – Form PR-OPPN.

These amendments prescribe a new misdemeanour for failure to report and pay the tax: a legal entity which does not report and pay the tax within the prescribed deadline may be fined from EUR 1,000 to 10,000, the responsible person of a legal entity may be fined from EUR 200 to 1,000. An entrepreneur may be fined from EUR 800 to 6,000 for this misdemeanour.

Personal Income Tax

The amendments introduce, as with legal entities, a maximum amount for tax exemption for individuals (independent entrepreneurs) operating in underdeveloped areas. The maximum tax exemption, like  for  legal entities is EUR 200,000, including the total amount of received state aid.

Additionally, independent entrepreneurs are exempt from paying salary taxes for newly employed persons that are employed for a period of at least 5 years. The period of tax exemption is 4 years.

Business activities which do not qualify for this tax exemption are the same as the ones prescribed for  legal entities. The procedure for the use of this exemption is the same as for legal entities.

The amendments prescribe the amount of standard expenses for renting tourist facilities (rooms, apartments, houses and flats). Accordingly, the standard expenses in the amount of 50% of revenues are recognised if a tourist tax is paid, or in the amount of 70% if there is a lease agreement with a tourism organisation/agency and the average occupancy rate is achieved at least 60 days annually.

The amendments extended the period in which the higher tax rate of 15% is applicable on salaries higher than EUR 720 to 31 December 2014. Also, it prescribed that an individualwho generates income from two or more employers and whose monthly income exceeds EUR 720 is required to file an annual tax return.

The amendments abolished the right to lump sum taxation for persons engaged in the following business activities: advocacy, notary, audit, accounting, health care, consulting, design, surveyor, public enforcement, other professional and intellectual professions, hairdressers, billiards clubs, entertainment, gaming, retail and wholesale, catering, hospitality, financial intermediation and activities related to real estate, except for trading and commercial activities performed on the counter, in a temporary building or prefabricated/mobile facility.

All natural persons who were paying  annual lump sum amount taxes during 2013 and who continue to engage in that activity in 2014, were required to submit an estimation of income for 2014 by 15 January 2014.

Fines for misdemeanours prescribed under this Law were increased, so as that the maximum amount of the fines for legal entities was increased from EUR 10,000 to 20,000, for entrepreneurs from EUR 5,000 to 6,000, and for individuals from EUR 1,000 to 2,000. The minimum fine for the responsible person was increased from EUR 250 to EUR 500.

Contributions for Mandatory Social Security

Amendments to the Law on Mandatory Social Security Contributions prescribe that the base for payment of contributions for taxpayers paying ttax on real income was established based on the amount of realised or planned income in the appropriate percentage of the average salary in Montenegro, in the following manner:

  • for income of up to EUR 9,000, the base is 60% of the average monthly salary in Montenegro,
  • for  income of up to EUR 15,000, the base is 100% of the average monthly salary in Montenegro,
  • for income exceeding EUR 15,000, the base is 150% of the average monthly salary in Montenegro.

The fines for misdemeanours prescribed in this Law were increased, so as that the legal entity may be fined with a maximum of up to EUR 20,000, entrepreneurs may be fined  up to EUR 6,000, and individuals up to EUR 2,000. The minimum fine for the responsible person in a legal entity is EUR 500.

Write-off of Interest on Tax and Customs Liabilities

The Law on Write-off of Interest on Tax and Customs debts allows legal entities and individuals who pay unsettled tax and customs debts by 30 January 2014 to be exempt from interest. This is related to all legal entities and individuals who have unsettled tax or customs debts as of 31 December 2013.

In order to be exempt from interest, persons who pay their debts by 30 January 2014, have to submit a request to the relevant tax or customs authority within 15 days from the day of the payment of debt. The relevant authority decides on this request by issuing a resolution.

New DTTs applicable from 1 January 2014

New DTTs with the United Arab Emirates (ratified in 2012) and Azerbaijan (ratified in 2013) are applicable from 1 January 2014.

Under the DTT with the United Arab Emirates, the withholding tax rate on dividends is 5% or 10% depending on the recipient’s share of the company paying the dividend (a 5% shareholding threshold), on interest the rate is 10% and on royalties 5% or 10% depending on the type of royalty.

Under the DTT with Azerbaijan, the withholding tax rate on dividends, interests and royalties is 10%.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 16 December 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted amendments to the Law on Indirect Taxation Procedure.

The amendments reduce the rate of the default interest on unpaid VAT liabilities from 0.06% to 0.04% per day of delay. Also, the additional burden in the enforced collection procedure has been reduced from 10% to 5%.

The amendments grant the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina the right to publish the names of all taxpayers who have unpaid VAT, excise taxes and customs liabilities. The Authority now has the right to deliver the names of tax debtors to the media or to publish them on its website.

New DTT applicable form 1 January 2014

The new DTT which Bosnia and Herzegovina signed with Azerbaijan (ratified in 2013) is applicable from 1 January 2014.

Under this DTT the withholding tax rate on dividends, interest and royalties is 10%.

Republic Srpska – Personal Income Tax

The amendment to the Law on Personal Income Tax was adopted in December 2013 and is applicable as of 1 February 2014.

The most important change is the introduction of new grounds for the decrease of the base for income tax, in the form of a personal deduction in the amount of BAM 2,400 per year, i.e. BAM 200 per month. This deduction is realised upon calculation of the employees’ salaries and it is applicable as of1 February 2014.

In addition to the newly introduced personal deduction, taxpayers may reduce the tax base for an annual deduction in the amount of BAM 900 for a dependent member of immediate family, for interest paid on a housing loan and for the amount of contributions paid for voluntary pension insurance in the amount of up to BAM 1,200 per year.

Croatia

The amendments to the Law on VAT provide an increase of the reduced VAT rate from 10% to 13% and this rate is applicable as of 1 January 2014 on sugar, edible oils and fats, childrens food, water supply, concert entrance fees, periodical magazines, and also magazines for culture and art, and this rate applies to hospitality and tourism.

A new Law on Collection, Processing, Linking, Use and Exchange of Information about Revenues and Public Benefits for Insured Persons became applicable at the beginning of 2014.

Under this law, employers, and all other taxpayers for all types of income paid from the beginning of the year, including salary for December 2013, use a new unified form of taxes, surtaxes and contributions – Form JOPPD, which replaced the previous six forms for income, taxes, surtaxes and contributions.

Form JOPPD is a common form for the Tax Administration and the Central Register of Insured Persons (REGOS), and it will show information regarding income from employment, other income (service contact, royalties, other income in kind), on related taxes and contributions, data on payment of a quotidian  and travel expenses, transportation allowances, appropriate awards, severance payments, etc.