Digital Service Tax (DST) has been introduced to the Turkish tax legislation with Law No. 7194 (Law No. 7194) published in the Official Gazette dated 07.12.2019 and numbered 30971.
Accordingly, proceeds from all advertisement services, content sales (game, music, video and in-app sales etc.), paid-services on social media, brokerage services offered on the web sites that intermediate in the sale of goods and services in Turkey will be subject to 7,5% Digital Services Tax.
SCOPE OF DIGITAL SERVICE TAX
Subject to this Law No. 7194, revenue generated from the following services provided in Turkey are subject to the Digital Service Tax:
a) All types of advertisement services provided through digital platforms (including advertisement control and performance measurement services, data transmission and management services concerning users, and technical services such as presenting advertisements);
b) Services regarding the sale of all types of auditory, visual or digital content on digital platforms (including computer programs, applications, music, videos, games, in-game applications, and counterparts), and services provided in digital media for listening, watching, playing, recording, or using such content via electronic appliances;
c) Services related to the provision and management of digital platforms for user interactions (including providing or easing services for the sale of products or services among users).
The revenue generated from brokerage services of the above-mentioned digital services provided by digital service providers through digital media are also subject to the Digital Service Tax.
The Digital Service Tax applies to service providers. In other words, those who offer these digital services will pay, that is to state that the consumers will not make a direct payment.
Being subject to digital services tax is not related or effected by being a resident full taxpayer or a non-resident limited taxpayer or providing the service through a permanent residence or permanent agents determined by Income Tax Law dated December 31, 1960 No.193 and Corporate Tax Law dated June 13, 2006 No. 5520.
Accordingly, being a subject to digital service tax by the digital service provider is not related to it being a Turkish income or corporate tax subject.
In line with the regulation, digital service providers are required to establish a special digital tax liability account. Taxpayers will be recorded electronically by the General Directorate of Large Taxpayer Office.
In this context, digital service providers are required to fill a form published at the website of the Revenue Administration: www.digitalservice.gib.gov.tr before making their initial submissions for the first time.
Upon completion and approval of the said form in electronic format, Digital Service Tax liability account will be created for the digital service provider.
Companies with revenue generated from digital services in Turkey amounting to less than TRY 20 million or generated from digital services worldwide amounting to EUR 750 million (or its TRY equivalent) are exempt from the Digital Service Tax.
If the taxpayer is a member of a consolidated group with regard to financial accounting, the total revenue generated by the group for services falling within the scope of the Digital Service Tax will be taken into consideration.
TAX BASE AND RATE
- Digital Service Tax is applied at the rate of 7.5% over the revenue obtained due to the services included in the tax in the relevant taxation period.
- If more than one services included in the subject of the tax is offered together for a single price, the tax rate to be applied to the tax base is taken into account based on the highest tax rate applicable to such services.
- No deductions for expenses, costs, or tax will be made from the tax base. Digital Service Tax cannot be presented separately on invoices or invoice substitutes.
- The President has the discretion to lower this rate to 1% or to increase it by twofold.
DECLARATION AND PAYMENT OF TAX
- Taxpayers and tax withholders are responsible for submitting Digital Service Tax declarations to the related tax offices before the end of the month following the (monthly) taxation period.
- The Digital Service Tax is levied by tax offices for service providers responsible for value-added tax (VAT) and by tax offices determined by the Ministry of Treasury for service providers who do not have such VAT registration.
- Taxpayers who are obliged to submit a declaration and those who are held responsible for tax deduction shall pay the digital service tax for the taxation period within such declaration period.
- Digital Service Tax is tax deductible from the taxpayer's taxable income with respect to personal income and corporate income taxes.
BAN OF ACCESS TO SERVICES
Taxpayers or their representatives in Turkey falling within the scope of this Law who do not submit declarations or make payments in accordance with Tax Procedural Law No. 213 may be issued a notice from the tax office responsible for the Digital Service Tax assessment urging them to fulfil these obligations. This notice will be served based on information obtained through the communication instruments listed on their websites, domain names, IP addresses, and information obtained from similar sources through the notification methods listed under Law No. 213, electronic mail, or any other communication instruments and such will also be announced on the Revenue Administration's website.
If the declaration and payment obligations are not fulfilled within thirty days following the announcement, the Ministry of Treasury and Finance may ban access to the services provided by these service providers until the obligations are fulfilled. This decision will be sent to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority in order to notify the access providers.
Decisions to block (ban) access will be executed within twenty-four hours following the notification sent to the access providers.
OTHER TAXES APPLIED TO DIGITAL SERVICES
On the other hand, as of January 1, 2019, with the Decision of the President, published in the Official Gazette No. 30630 dated December 19, 2018, regarding the advertising services provided on the internet, those who provide this service or those who mediate advertising services on the internet an obligation to withhold;
- 15% of payments to real persons, regardless of whether they are taxpayers or not,
- 15% from payments to limited taxpayer institutions,
- 0% of payments to corporate income tax liable institutions in Turkey
was also introduced.
The Digital Service Tax was introduced independently from the above regulation.
In other words, 7.5% DST application did not remove the 15% withholding tax application and the Digital Service Tax will be applied as a tax independent of the withholding tax application in question.
Article 1 of the Value Added Tax Law No.3065 (Law No.3065) regulates that commercial, industrial, agricultural and self-employed activities for deliveries and services rendered in Turkey are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT).
As for assumption of services being rendered in Turkey, Article 6/b of the Law No. 3065 designates that such will be the case if the service is performed in Turkey or is benefitted in Turkey.
For individuals and entities creating their digital services outside of Turkey, in case such services are published in Turkey or created for Turkey, such services are assumed to be benefited in Turkey.
Declaration of the tax is stated in Article 9 of the Law No. 3065. Accordingly, in case the service provider does not have a workplace, legal business headquarter or work center in Turkey (non-resident limited taxpayer), then the tax is to be declared by the service recipient (buyer) that is in Turkey, as the responsible party of the tax (this declaration type is referred as VAT2).
One of the issues at this point is whether or not the Digital Services Tax will be included in the VAT base.
Since the digital service tax is not shown separately in the invoice and is included in the service revenue base, the issue is the taxation of a tax.
Article 9 of the Law No. 7194 regulating the Accommodation Tax, notes that such tax is shown separately in invoices and similar documents issued by accommodation facilities and that this tax shall not be included in the value added tax base. However, subject to the provision stated in the paragraph 7 of Article 4 of the Law No. 7194 noting that exemptions related to the digital service tax are regulated only by adding provisions to this law or by amendments of this law; we conclude that the digital services tax shall be part of the revenue base that is subject to VAT.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.