IntroductionIf an individual qualifies under a “small business” status, he/she can enjoy 1% taxation in Georgia. Although, there are several important preconditions an individual entrepreneur needs to meet for qualifying under 1% tax rate. In this brief article, I will provide information on currently strengthened control by the Georgian Revenue Service (GRS-Georgian tax and custom administration) on the taxpayers with “small business” status, aiming to qualify their business activities as employment than service provision notwithstanding the title of their “service” agreements (if there are sufficient reason for it).
Service fee or wages?Currently, GRS pays more attention to the analysis of individual taxpayers’ contracts to find out whether they are “service” or “employment” agreements, regardless of the title. The reason for such analysis is that if an agreement is qualified as “employment”, a 20% tax rate will be applicable (retrospectively) instead of 1% even for individuals with “small business” status. As you might already know, apart 0.5-mln-GEL annual income threshold applicable for “small business” there is a list of services (and other business activities) that do not qualify under such tax incentive. For example, consultation service represents a “forbidden” activity and “small business” status does not apply to it.
Georgia small business status registrationBesides, “small business” status and 1% tax rate do not apply to an income from employment. A total of 20% is payable on employment income. Yes, this income is not considered a foreign-source income if you meet employment contractual obligations while being in Georgia. For more clarity, the salary reception does not prevent you from obtaining and benefiting from a “small business” status regarding other permitted business activities (if any); however, your wages will be taxed at a 20% rate in Georgia if you live in and work from here. Notably, it is not enough to merely change the title of your employment contract to “service agreement” and declare your earnings as “service fee” (to which 1% taxation regime might apply) instead of “salary” (to which 1% taxation does not apply). Besides, it is crucial that the terms of the contract and the real conduct correspond to the title; otherwise, tax admiration of Georgia might requalify your service contract as employment. Such requalification risk is greater if you provide services to only one or two clients. It is the reason for which Georgia’s tax administration started paying more attention to the real conduct and terms of contracts instead of the title to determine the real qualification of the contract (whether it is employment or a service-related). For this purpose, GRS developed a specially designed questionnaire, available at www.rs.ge (official website of GRS), where up to 40 questions are to be answered by taxpayers. The questionnaire determines whether the terms of your business relationship with your client(s) (or the employer) is closer to the typical terms of employment or service provision. When you fill in the questionnaire, on the website you will receive one of the following answers: “Employment” or “Service”. For example, some questions listed in the questionnaire are as follows:
- Whether your income received from a specific “client” (or an employer) includes more than 85% of your total income;
- Whether a “client” (or an employer) remunerates your holidays;
- Whether a “client” (or an employer) provides your health insurance;
- Whether a “client” (or an employer) provides the equipment (e.g. laptop) you need to fulfil your contract liabilities;