Global Residence Programme for foreigners launched
Parliamentary Secretary Edward Zammit Lewis this morning launched the Global Residence Programme (GPR) which is the new residence programme for foreigners that will allow people who buy high value property and pay taxes in Malta to benefit from a residence permit.
This new residence programme is replacing the foreign residents' scheme which was controversially suspended in 2011. The previous scheme was suspended and initially replaced by the High Net Worth Individuals Scheme (HNWI) which did not prove popular because the minimum value of purchased property had been raised from €116,000 to €400,000.
Under the Global Residence Programme, the value of immovable property bought in Malta by foreigners has to be at least €275,000. However, when the property is in the south of Malta or in Gozo, the minimum value can be €220,000.
The threshold for renting of property has been lowered from €20,000 (under the HNWI) to €9,600 in Malta and €8,750 in Gozo or the South of Malta.
In the past, third country nationals also needed to place a €500,000 bond with the government and an additional €150,000 per dependant. This provision has been removed.
The annual minimum tax to be paid in advance has been reduced to a minimum of €15,000 on income derived in Malta, with further income charged at 15%.
Dr Zammit Lewis said foreign residents under this programme, including their dependants, have to be covered by a health insurance. They will not be entitled to free state health services.
The new regulations will be introduced by legal notice by the end of this month.
As from 10th January 2013, the Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs introduced the new procedures for the E-Residence Document which will replace the previous ID Cards, EU Registration Certificates as well as the Non-EU Residence Permits issued in a sticker format.
Residence documents in the sticker format will remain valid until their expiry or until the 30th June 2013 which ever is the earlier. ID cards issued by the ID card office will remain valid until their expiry date or until 30th November 2013.
Third Country nationals will be photographed by officials of the Department and for biometric data (two index fingers) of the applicant will be captured. Applicants who are EU, EEA, Swiss nationals, their family members and children under the age of 12 are exempt from the biometric capture and also from going to the department in person to submit their applications. Other exemptions may apply.
The E-Residence Document in addition to the printed identification features will also include an electronic component which will allow the user to access an array of electronic services provided by the Government and other parties.
2013 Budget Highlights
Please find a link to the 2013 Budget Highlights announced on Wednesday 28th November 2012 by the Hon Tonio Fenech, Minister of Finance
ID cards renewal 'intentionally delayed' until after the election
People should not expect new ID cards before the next general election since the rolling-out process has been “intentionally delayed” to avoid linking the two events. The project, which will cost almost €8 million of EU funds, is contractually bound to be concluded by the end of 2014. Besides wanting to “decouple” the process from the election, the process was also delayed because of technological developments that created more opportunities for the new high-tech cards.
Dr Godwin Grima, principal permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister explained that the old cards will nit be replaced by new cards as these are not similar. The new cards would include a chip that could be used to access anything from health records to banking information and electronic tickets, such as public transport. This will be an e-wallet and more and it would also replace the Kartanzjan (reserved for the over 60s) since there would be various age-related options on the cards. The delay will allow the Government to fully maximise these opportunities to ensure citizens are given added value. The process was almost complete and the new cards could be rolled out immediately. The plan was to wait until after the general election to conclude the project. Meanwhile, expired ID cards would remain valid thanks to legal notices which kept extending their validity.
The Government is planning to start issuing new cards for non-Maltese nationals by the end of this year. This would serve as a pilot project with a smaller population – an experience the Government would then be able to build on in the future. This was also the most urgent part of the project since the European Commission no longer allows member states to issue national ID cards to non-nationals. Another reason to delay rolling out the cards was to make sure the necessary defences were made against white collar crime and identity theft.
This is a particularly important issue since the rolling-out process will include the opportunity for all Maltese to correct any inconsistencies between their birth certificates and other documents. A publicity campaign, including an information leaflet to be distributed to each household, is also in the pipeline. The package of legal amendments is not restricted to the ID Card Act. There are other complementary changes such as what is being called a “live events certificate”. The Public Registry will be empowered to issue a certificate which records one’s main life events, including, for example, a sex change. If approved by the court, this change will be logged the way changes to a car are registered in a log-book.
Malta Retirement Programme Rules
On 28th September 2012, by means of a legal notice (LN317 of 2012) the Government has introduced the Malta Retirement Programme Rules in terms of the Income Tax Act. Malta Retirement Programme is aimed at EU, EEA or Swiss nationals whose main income is from pensions, retirement schemes and plans and lifetime or temporary annuities.
The rate of 15% shall apply on any income arising outside Malta which is received in Malta by the beneficiary or dependent, with the possibility to claim relief of double taxation. The minimum amount of tax payable in terms of these rules in respect of any year of assessment shall be seven €7,500 in respect of the beneficiary and €500 per year of assessment for every dependent and every special carer.
Income of a beneficiary or dependent that is not chargeable to tax under these rules at shall be charged to tax as separate income at the rate of 35%.
Other conditions apply.
Highly Qualified Persons Scheme
Recent amendment to the Highly Qualified Persons (Amendment) Rules on 28th September 2012, which shall be deemed to have come into effect as from 1st January 2012, include persons who occupy an eligible office with companies registered in terms of Civil Aviation (Air Operators’ Certificates) Act, holding an air operators’ certificate issued by the competent authority in one of the following positions:
· Chief Operations Officer including Aviation Accountable Manager;
· Aviation Continuing Airworthiness Inspector;
· Aviation Flight Operations Inspector;
· Aviation Training Manager.
Recent amendments to the Highly Qualified Persons (Amendment) Rules on 31st May 2013 as per LN 152 of 2013, which shall be deemed to have come into effect as from 1st January 2012, include persons who occupy an eligible office with companies registered in terms of Civil Aviation (Air Operators’ Certificates) Act, holding an air operators’ certificate issued by the competent authority in the following position:
· Aviation Ground Operations Manager
Malta - The best place to retire
As reported today by the Times of Malta, sunshine and the people’s fluency in English have propelled Malta to the number one spot in the list of top 10 places where British people should retire, according to the Yahoo! Finance website.
The site features a poster, entitled The Top Places To Go For Your Retirement, with Malta at the top of the list – followed by Portugal, Spain, Barbados, the US, Australia, Thailand, Jamaica, Morocco and Greece.
“With over 3,100 hours of sunshine a year, an average year-round temperature of 18.9°C and English as a first language for most people, it’s no surprise Brits flock to the Mediterranean archipelago, making Malta our top, all-round retirement destination” the site reads.
Yahoo! Finance came up with the list together with insurance company Castle Cover. They took into consideration everything from rainfall to crime rates, healthcare (availability and cost), tax, crime and how much homes cost to work out what the best options are.
The sum of all this got Malta named at the best place to escape Britain for a new life oversees – away from economic distress and rain of the British Isles.
European Parliament approves Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)
The European Parliament adopted by strong majority proposals on a French-inspired financial transaction tax (FTT) which has been bitterly opposed by Britain. Malta is also against the introduction of the tax and Maltese MEPs voted against.
The resolution in favour of the FTT, approved with 487 votes in favour, 152 against and 46 abstentions, calls for the implementation of the tax by the beginning of 2015 "even if only some member states opt for it." Nine countries have come out in favour. They are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
According to British Prime Minister David Cameron who joined the European Union summit to discuss how to spur growth across crisis-hit Europe, said that the tax would undermine London as a global financial centre.
"The FTT is an integral part of an exit from crisis, It will bring a fairer distribution of the weight of the crisis and will not lead to relocation outside the EU because the cost of this is higher than paying the tax" said parliamentary rapporteur Anni Podimata, a Greek Socialist.
Parliament approved the tax rates proposed by the Commission, 0.1 per cent for transactions of shares and bonds, and 0.01 per cent for derivatives.
Pressure group Oxfam said that EU leaders "cannot afford to ignore this overwhelming vote" and that cash raised should be "used to help poor people at home and abroad hit by the economic crisis and to combat climate change."
EU to simplify cross-border car registration
The European Commission said today that it is slashing formalities for cross-border registration of cars.
"Each year, EU citizens and companies have to move some 3.5 million vehicles to another Member State, and need to get them registered according to the national legislation. However, what should be a simple registration procedure in the 21st century Single Market remains a cumbersome and lengthy administrative procedure because of the diversity of rules and the various conflicting requirements," the Commission said.
"It takes on average five weeks to complete the procedure and the cost is estimated at €400 for citizen and for businesses. Moreover, these problems also represent a significant barrier to the free movement of goods, services and workers, and therefore for growth and jobs creation in Europe. This is why the European Commission is acting today to dramatically reduce this unnecessary administrative burden," it added.
The proposal presented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani would lead to a very substantial administrative simplification with total savings of at least €1.5 billion per year for businesses, citizens and registration authorities. The re-registration of vehicles coming from another EU country will be limited, for example citizens who work in another EU country using a car registered by their employer will not need to re-register it. Generally administrative formalities for the re-registration within the EU of cars, vans, buses and trucks will be greatly simplified, for example when moving residence from one EU country to another and when purchasing a second hand car from another EU country. It will also become impossible to register a stolen car in another EU country. Car-rental companies will save substantially, as they will be able to transfer cars to another EU country during the holiday periods without re-registration.
The proposal put forward today means an improvement for persons who spend a part of the year in another EU country who are currently often requested to re-register their vehicle. The proposal introduces the principle that a car should be registered in the EU country where its owner lives, and that all other Member States may not ask her/him to register the car with them, even if the car owner spend a longer period there.
The proposal in detail
When the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, this will imply that:
- Citizens who spend part of the year in a holiday residence in another EU country will not have to re-register their car there.
- Citizens who move permanently to another EU country will have six months to re-register their car there.
- Citizens who buy or sell a second-hand car in another EU country will not have to face additional technical controls and administrative problems.
- Citizens who work in another EU country and use a car registered by their employer there will no longer have to register it in their home country.
- Car-rental companies will be able to transfer cars to another EU country during the holiday periods without re-registration (e.g. keeping the same cars at the sea side during summer and in the Alps during the winter).
- This should lower the price of car rentals. For companies, the same principle applies: the cars, buses, vans and trucks should be registered in the EU country where the main office is established, and other EU countries must accept this.
Registration authorities will increasingly cooperate with each other, making it easier to track stolen cars. It will become impossible to register a stolen car in another EU country.
Many controls will be abolished altogether, with authorities getting any technical information they need about the car directly from their colleagues in the country where it is already registered.
Malta keeps inflation rate among eurozone's lowest
Malta again registered one of the lowest inflation rates in the eurozone, according to the latest data published in Brussels.
Eurostat said Malta had the second lowest 12-month average rate in February, at just 2.3 per cent compared to the average 2.8 per cent in the euro area. Compared to a year earlier, Malta’s inflation rate fell by 0.3 per cent. On an annual basis, Malta’s average inflation rate in February stood at 2.4 per cent, almost one per cent higher than January but lower than the 2.7 per cent registered in the euro area.
The only other member state with lower inflation than Malta was Slovenia with 2.1 per cent.