What is an Employer of Record

How to hire globally with an EOR

What is a Global PEO

An alternative to EOR

What is a PEO

Hire locally with a PEO

Our Methodology

Why you can trust our guides

Hire Globally

Find international talents

Outsource Recruitment

How to outsource recruitment

Work Visas

How to get a work visa

Digital Nomad Visas

Get a digital nomad visa

Best Employer of Record (EOR)

Hire globally with the best EOR companies

Best Contractor Management

Hire and pay contractors and freelancers

Best Global PEO

Discover the best international co-employers

Best PEO Companies

Save on payroll and HR costs

Best Background Check Companies

Screen employees before hire

Best Global Payroll Providers

Outsource international payroll

Best Relocation Services

Relocate employees internationally

International Company Registration

Get help to incorporate overseas

All Reviews

Compare all providers

1. Horizons

Best Global EOR

2. Remote

Best EOR for Compliance

3. Deel

Best EOR Platform

4. Papaya Global

Best EOR for Payments

All EOR Reviews

Compare all providers

Where do you need a service provider?

All Countries

Explore our detailed guides for professional advice on international growth, recruitment, compensations strategies, and a curated list of top service providers.

3 min read

Understanding the difference between permanent establishment and tax residency

difference between permanent establishment and tax residency

Key Takeaways

  • Permanent establishment (PE) refers to a fixed place of business through which an enterprise conducts its activities either wholly or partly in a country other than where it’s incorporated or headquartered.
  • Tax residency determines the country where a business or individual is considered a tax resident and defines the scope of a company’s or individual’s tax obligations.
  • Understanding the interplay between permanent establishment and tax residency is crucial for businesses or individuals operating across borders to mitigate potential tax liabilities and ensure compliance with international tax laws.

Navigating international tax laws can be complex, and two crucial concepts that often arise are permanent establishment and tax residency. While they may appear similar, these terms have unique meanings and implications for businesses. This blog post will clarify the difference between permanent establishment and tax residency and their importance for your business.

Diving into Permanent Establishment

Permanent establishment (PE) is a tax concept determining if a business has a taxable presence in a country other than where it’s incorporated or headquartered. The PE definition varies by jurisdiction and tax treaty, but it typically refers to a fixed place of business through which an enterprise conducts its activities either wholly or partly.

This can include management locations, branches, offices, factories, workshops, or extraction sites for natural resources. It may also encompass construction, assembly, or installation projects lasting longer than a specific period (usually 12 months).

For instance, imagine Michael runs a consulting business incorporated in France. He has a physical office in Canada where some employees work. This office might be considered a PE in Canada, subjecting Michael’s business to taxation on profits attributable to that office in Canada.

Unraveling Tax Residency

On the other hand, tax residency determines the country where a business or individual is considered a tax resident. Tax residency is typically the location where a business is incorporated or managed and controlled, or where an individual resides for over half the year.

Tax residency defines the scope of a company’s or individual’s tax obligations. Generally, tax residents are subject to tax on their worldwide income in their residency country, while non-residents are only taxed on income sourced from that country.

For example, if Michael is a tax resident in France, he would be subject to French tax on his worldwide income, including any income generated from his Canadian office. In contrast, if Michael were a tax resident of another country, he would only be liable for French tax on income sourced in France.

The Intersection of Permanent Establishment and Tax Residency

These two concepts intersect and can potentially complicate a business’s or individual’s tax situation. For example, a business might have its tax residency in one country while having a permanent establishment in another. This scenario could lead to taxation in both countries, which is where tax treaties come into play.

Tax treaties between countries aim to prevent double taxation and fiscal evasion. They often include provisions defining PE and outlining how businesses with a PE in a contracting state should be taxed. In many cases, the profits that a PE of a foreign company generates in a country may be taxed in that country, even if the company has tax residency elsewhere.

Using Michael’s case, if France and Canada have a tax treaty in place, the treaty might stipulate that profits from Michael’s Canadian office (the PE) can be taxed in Canada, while the rest of his business income would be taxed in France (his tax residency country).

Conclusion

Understanding the concepts of permanent establishment and tax residency, and their interplay, is vital for businesses or individuals operating across borders. This knowledge can help mitigate potential tax liabilities and ensure compliance with international tax laws. To fully comprehend the implications of these concepts for your specific situation, it’s always recommended to seek professional tax advice.

At RemotePad, Lech draws on his professional experience to write about employment taxes and payroll (both remote, and in-office). Lech holds a Bachelors’ degree from the University of Kent, a Master of Arts (MA) from Kings College London, and professional payroll and tax qualifications. He has 20 years experience advising on all manner of tax and business planning matters.

Search

Search