On 13 March 2013, Norwegian lawyers held Taxation Seminar in Singapore on behalf of global law firm DLA Piper
To tax, or not to tax, and how to report. Those are the questions for many Norwegians when filling out and handing in the annual Norwegian tax return report ‘Selvangivelse 2012’.
Broker bonuses, homeland investments and reporting on annual income and wealth; how does the Singapore-Norway taxation agreement really work?
The deadline is April 30th 2013 and could be the date not many Norwegian Expatriates living in Singapore and across Asia may look forward to. This is the annual tax return form Norwegian Expatriates must fill in on their income, bonuses, property investments and current wealth.
Global law firm DLA Piper’s Managing Director in Singapore John Goulios, Norwegian Lawyers Jon Ansten and Marcus Indrevaer held Wednesday the 13th March 2013, a taxation consultative seminar on rights and benefits to Norwegian expats in Singapore.
DLA Piper is one of world’s largest global law firms, with 4200 lawyers located in over 75 offices across Asia Pacific, Europe, The Middle East and the Americas. DLA Piper’s Singapore office is part of the international network delivering clients a seamless global capacity to meet their ongoing legal business needs – wherever they choose to do business.
The lawyers inform ScandAsia that the taxation seminar is held to guide both Norwegians and other Expatriates in Singapore and also worldwide.
Associate Partner and Lawyer Jon Ansten has extensive experience with shipping and offshore related transactions, financing, restructuring and general corporate/M&A. He has assisted several Norwegians and international banks with loan and security documents for ship finance.
“From my personal experience of living and working for four years in Singapore, I can see that it may be difficult to understand these rules, even for me as a lawyer.
I really wanted to see what all these rules are, and how to benefit from them, in a best possible way. A lot of people and clients started asking me questions and that is why we have this tax seminar for the Norwegian community here,” says Ansten.
With the support the lawyers have with DLA Singapore it was the perfect opportunity not only to host the tax seminar to the Norwegian community, but also tell them how they can benefit from these very favorable tax rules.
Associate Partner and Lawyer Marcus Indrevaer began in DLA Piper in August 2012. Indrevaer was previously employed as lead lawyer in Vogt & Wiig law firm in Bergen. He has also worked for the Norwegian law firm Wikborg, Rein & Co, hereunder 1.5 years in Singapore. Indrevaer focuses mainly on the shipping sector where he has previously assisted both Norwegian and international clients.
“My background is traditional work such as sale and purchase of vessels and new building contracts and at the same time ship financing. I have also experience with arrest of vessels and enforced sales of vessels in different jurisdictions around the world.
We also want to show that we have an English law team here that is able to assist the same clients. We are everywhere where the big shipping activities happen, and we also have offices in Brazil where there are a lot of things happening, especially on the Norwegian side.
As an example; If you have a shipbuilding contract under Norwegian law, where the ship is to be built on a shipyard in South Korea, with sub-deliveries from Singapore, with the ship going on to a contract with Petrobras in Brazil, DLA Piper can be there to assist them in all jurisdictions,” says Indrevaer.
DLA Piper and South East Asia
The Managing Director John Goulios states that Singapore is DLA Piper’s regional hub for their South East Asian Practice. As Head of litigation and regulatory practice, he handles international arbitration and commercial disputes generally throughout the region and is particularly specialized in insurance and reinsurance.
“We find that many leading global companies doing business in the Asia-Pacific are now headquartered in Singapore. We offer seamless service, co-ordination and integration of local, regional and global capabilities across multiple jurisdictions to help our clients realise their strategic, commercial and operational goals,” says Goulios.
The firm’s vision is to be the world’s leading business law firm with a presence in at least all the G20 countries. In that way they can follow where the clients go and be there to assist them with their ongoing legal business needs both at a local and global level.
China, Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand
The law firm states that doing business in China may be challenging yet rewarding. As an investment gateway to China, Hong Kong is a vibrant and international base for many multinational corporations including Chinese and local companies expanding overseas.
According to the Asian Legal Business Top 50 Survey in 2011, DLA Piper is one of the largest global legal practices in China, with lawyers having solid understanding of the local laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, the varying language skills and dialects, to assist clients operating there.
According to Ansten, the reason why many Norwegian companies use Singapore as a hub is the favourable tax treaty.
“Here they have very favorable tax rules for shipping and offshore industry, which means that for many, you end up paying maybe 0% local Singapore tax. And with the Tax treaty between Norway and Singapore the tax treaty states that if a Norwegian company owns 25% or more of a Singaporean company, as a subsidiary or as such, then you are actually allowed to give out the dividends to the Norwegian “parent” without any further taxation,” says Ansten.
Besides Singapore, DLA Piper has offices across the Asia Pacific region, and where it doesn’t, it has strong relationships with leading local firms. As a trusted business adviser to Korean and non-Korean based corporate clients taking full advantage of DLA Piper’s global platform, the Seoul office has a team comprising native Korean partners, lawyers, counsel and professional staff. In Thailand, Country Manager and Partner Peter Shelford is a very experienced shipping lawyer after spending years in Singapore knowing and understanding the Norwegian shipping community. However, most of the work seen from the Norwegian side will be made through Singapore, says Indrevaer.
The challenging Norwegian Law
One of the biggest challenges for the lawyers is that Norwegian law cannot always be applied internationally.
“We (Norway) have some really big international trades as shipping, oil and gas, fish and energy. With our international trades, which are basically those four, then, you cannot always expect a client in e.g. China to use Norwegian law, “says Ansten.
Indrevaer elaborates with an example.
“Sale Form 1993 is, for example, a standard shipping document based on Norwegian law. The major players in Shipping will normally not have a problem with Norwegian law basically because it is quite similar to the English contractual law. But very often we can see that if you have a Norwegian client dealing with a Chinese client or other counterparty not familiar with Norwegian law, the Chinese will try to get the Chinese law, and the Norwegian will try to get Norwegian law but they end up doing English law to meet in the middle. That way no one is going to get the benefits out of their own laws. English Law is often regarded to be natural and we can advise them,” says Indrevaer.
DLA Piper is open to client consultancy across the world and more information is available on http://www.dlapiper.com/