Businesses are placing greater focus on consistency of tax policies, according to Deloitte's 2014 Asia Pacific Tax Complexity Survey Report.
This finding is a reversal of the 2010 study where businesses placed greater emphasis on complexity and predictability of tax policies when deciding to enter or exit a market in Asia Pacific.
Additionally, the report highlights the broad spectrum of Asia Pacific tax regimes—from mature to developing markets—concluding that overall, tax has become more complex, less consistent and less predictable than it was three years ago. High growth markets such as China and India continue to have challenges in providing consistent and predictable tax regimes for taxpayers, while the mature markets of Japan, Korea and Australia are seeing more complex regimes as a result of slowing economic growth. Key regional operating hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore also scored well.
While tax is a key factor for investors in making investment decisions in Asia Pacific, respondents believe that consistency in tax policy is more important than predictability or complexity.
According to 85 percent of respondents, tax policy is a high priority when considering investing in the Asia Pacific region. Therefore, achieving this consistency should be carefully considered.
More than 80 percent of respondents believe that India, Mainland China and Indonesia are expected to be the three most complex tax regimes by 2017. Hong Kong and Singapore will be amongst the least complex. Moreover, current global tax policy efforts around tax sharing (i.e. OECD's BEPS project) is likely to cause even further complexity, confusion and change within Asia Pacific.
Respondents are very focused on taxation matters, their effect on business and their effect on their broader communities. Over 50 percent of respondents indicated that their board of directors and C-suite are now engaged in taxation matters and a high percentage indicating that they consider reputational risk when considering tax matters.
The growth in the Asia Pacific economies has placed an unprecedented challenge on tax bureaus and their ability to keep up with relevant legislation and trained tax inspectors. Tax inspector training and increased speed and resolution of tax audits should be a priority of governing bodies.
“The principles of tax consistency, complexity and predictability increasingly influence the decision of corporates as to whether they will invest in a market," says said Alan Tsoi, Deloitte’s Asia Pacific Regional Managing Director for Tax and Legal. "What we have found is that tax regimes in Asia Pacific have got increasingly more complex, bringing with it risk and uncertainty to businesses operating in the region. With the OECD's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project ("BEPS") set to bring sweeping changes to the tax landscape, I expect even greater complexity—but also opportunity—in the future.”