The Malta Highly Qualified Persons Rules
Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, as a full member of the European Union, Malta is an ideal jurisdiction from which to do business within the EU, and also with jurisdictions situated outside the EU. A number of international businesses have established a presence in Malta for this reason, taking full advantage of Malta’s strong legal and regulatory system, excellent commercial infrastructure and framework and competitive tax system.
As a result of the increase in commercial activity in Malta, a number of Malta based companies require the services of employees from outside Malta.
The Maltese authorities have introduced the Malta Highly Qualified Persons Rules (HQPR) to encourage growth in certain areas of the Maltese economy and to attract expertise and skill in the financial services, remote gaming and aviation sectors.
Income earned from a “qualifying contract of employment” may benefit from the HQPR. The employment activity contemplated in a qualifying contract of employment has to be activity in relation to an “eligible office”.
Eligible office means employment or office with a company licensed and/or recognised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) in respect of any employment or office with a company licensed or recognised by the MFSA, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) in respect of any employment or office with a company licensed or recognised by the MGA and Transport Malta (TM) in respect of any employment or office with an undertaking holding an air operators certificate or an aerodrome licence issued by TM.
The eligible employment and offices are the following:
- Chief Executive Officer, Chief Risk Officer (including Fraud and Investigations Officer), Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer (including Aviation Accountable Manager), Chief Technology Officer and Chief Commercial Officer
- Portfolio Manager, Chief Investment Officer, Senior Trader/Trader, Senior Analyst (including Structuring Professional), Actuarial Professional, Chief Underwriting Officer, Chief Insurance Technical Officer, Odds Compiler Specialist, Head of Research and Development (including Search Engine Optimisation and Systems Architecture), Aviation Continuing Airworthiness Manager, Aviation Flight Operations Manager, Aviation Training Manager and Aviation Ground Operations Manager
- Head of Marketing (including Head of Distribution Channels) and Head of Investor Relations
- Chief Executive Officer of undertakings holding an aerodrome licence
Applicants in receipt of a determination by the competent authority (ie MFSA/MGA/TM) may opt to have their income from a qualifying contract of employment taxed at a maximum rate of 15%.
Income from a qualifying contract of employment in excess of €5,000,000 would not be charged to tax in Malta.
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals may apply for the benefit for a maximum of 5 consecutive years, renewable for one extension of another 5 years (but subject to the expiry date below).
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals may apply for the benefit for a maximum of 4 consecutive years.
No determination for qualification will be issued after 31 December 2020 and no benefit can be claimed after 31 December 2025.
The minimum amount of income chargeable to tax at the rate of 15% is equivalent to €75,000 in 2010, adjusted by the Retail Price Index as published by the Maltese National Statistics Office. In 2017 this means an income of approx. €82,881.
A beneficiary under the HQPR must be able to demonstrate that:
- He/she is an individual who derives income subject to tax in Malta as income from employment or office payable under a qualifying contract of employment and received in respect of work or duties carried out in Malta
- He/she is protected and paid as an employee under Maltese law
- He/she has adequate and specific competence and professional qualifications
- He/she has not benefitted from the special income tax provisions relevant to Investment Services and Insurance Expatriates
- He/she resides in accommodation in Malta regarded as normal for a comparable family in Malta
- He/she is in possession of a valid travel document
- He/she is in possession of sickness insurance in respect of all risks normally covered for Maltese nationals for himself/herself and his/her family
- He/she is not domiciled in Malta
The benefit is conditional upon the beneficiary disclosing and declaring all emoluments, including fringe benefits, received in respect of the qualifying contract of employment (or from any person related to his/her employer) for income tax purposes. Furthermore, the beneficiary must not own, directly or indirectly 25% or more of the company providing the eligible office.
Applications for determination from the MFSA/MGA/TM must be applied for and accepted before the benefit can be claimed.
Author: Thomas Jacobsen, Papilio Services Limited