7 Musts to Succeed in Business in Korea

We have the unique pleasure to have a bird’s-eye view of numerous clients’ businesses in Korea.  At this stage of our experience in Korea we are, typically, able to determine which companies will, likely, succeed and which companies will, likely, fail.  We are far from perfect, but companies that succeed in Korea, normally, have the following seven things in common: 1.  Comprehensive Understanding of the Korean Market by a Neutral Local Consultant This understanding, normally, comes from one of the few business consultants, in Korea, that are capable of providing a decent market overview with a detailed list of potential targets and contacts within these targets.  We, only, work with a handful of Korean consultants, since most, we find, don’t have the skills necessary to proactively assist client, but still sell market research reports that seemed to be, only, obtained through a Google search. 2.  Great Initial Representative Director for

Continue reading

Bithump Crypto-Currency Exchange in Korea to Ban Trading in 11 Countries

With the Korean government auditing Korean Alt Currency exchanges and the Korean government looking at the regulation of crypto-currency, a major exchange, in Korea, has banned the trading on the exchange from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu, and Yemen. These aforementioned nations are on the Financial Action Task Force’s Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories black list.  This Task Force, an intergovernmental agency, has deemed these countries to not have sufficient legal procedures in place to assist in preventing the laundering of money. The Korean government has raided Korean exchanges and investigated these raided exchanges for violation of Korean law.  On of the major worries was the use of Alt Currencies, including, Bitcoin for nefarious reasons including money laundering and the purchase of drugs. No criminal charges were levied against any individual from Bithump, however, charges of embezzlement and fraud were levied against executives from Coinnest

Continue reading

Company Car Expense Deductions in Korea: Korean Tax Law Updates

Companies, in Korea, sometimes provide senior employees of the company a company car.  A tax issue arises concerning the deduction of car expenses and the refunding of VAT.  In practice “company cars” are, often, used for the company as well as private use.  Thus, Korea has excluded deduction of expenses and exclusion of VAT for some automobiles. Corporate Tax Law formalities require Korean companies and Foreign Capital-Invested Companies, in Korea, to have detailed operation records or sufficient evidence to claim deductions and exclusions.  The rules have tightened over the past few years and a proactive and detail-oriented accountant is necessary. For example, if the legal defined size of the company car is less than nine passengers: No VAT refunds are legally allowable (we have fund that some accountants in Korea are not even aware of this reality); Maintenance expenses are not deductible expenses; and Other expenses, including fuel are not

Continue reading

Tax Liability of Controlling Shareholders in a Korean Company: Tax Law Updates

Under Article 39 of Korea’s Framework Act on National Taxes, unpaid taxes owed to the Korean government are enforceable against certain “ologopolistic” shareholders of respective debtor company’s shareholder.  This secondary liability of shareholders is codified within the Framework Act on National Taxation.  Article 39 of the Framework Act on National Taxes, specifically, notes that: “Where the property of a corporation is not enough to pay national taxes, additional dues and disposition fees for arrears imposed upon or to be paid by the corporation, any person who falls under any of the following as of the date on which the national tax liability is established shall have the secondary tax liability for the amount of such money shortage: Provided, That in case of an oligopolistic stockholder under subparagraph 2, his/her secondary tax liability shall be limited to the amount calculated by multiplying the amount obtained by dividing the amount of such

Continue reading

Korean National Tax Service Tax Law News Release to Foreign Corporate Taxpayers: Korean Tax Law Updates

The following Korean Tax Law News is a publicly released Korean tax notification that is intended for foreigner companies in Korea.  The notification was not translated or drafted by this law firm.  For any questions on this notification please Contact Us. Korean Tax Law News 【January 2018】 ☞ The following Korean tax information is translated from Korean for foreign-invested companies, and is not legally binding. ※ Year-end tax settlement by foreign workers in Korea □ With the increase in foreigners residing in Korea, the number of foreign workers in Korea has increased every year as well. ○ For the convenience of foreign workers‘ year-end tax settlement in Korea, here are a few tips on year-end tax settlement for foreign workers this year. □ If a foreigner has wage and salary income generated in Korea, he/she should perform year-end tax settlement just like domestic workers, regardless of his/her sojourn period and

Continue reading

Korean Tax Law Amendment Press Release by Korean Government

The following is a Press Release by the Korean Government on recent Korean Tax Law enforcement decrees.  We shall update the reader when more is known.  The following press release was not proofread or translated by this firm.  The Press Release was published by the Ministry of Strategy & Finance in the English language and copied, in its entirety, below. Decree Focuses on Boosting Investment and Broadening Tax Base The government announced a revision to a total of 17 tax enforcement decrees, including ones to help create jobs, improve income and broaden the tax base.  Major revisions to the 2017 tax enforcement decrees are as follows. – Expand the angel investment tax incentives (30 to 100 percent income tax deduction):  Include crowdfunding investment in companies run for less than 7 years, or investment in companies run for less than 3 years if they are qualified by credit rating agencies –

Continue reading

Korean Tax Risk of Foreign Corporation Deemed “Actual Business Management Locale” within Korea: Korea Tax Law Basics

Foreign corporations, doing business in Korea, may be deemed local corporations subject to taxation on worldwide income if the foreign-incorporated company is deemed a Korean “domestic corporation” for Korean tax purposes.  This liaison-office Korean Tax Risk can, thus, lead to taxes on worldwide income, a tax audit and even criminal sanctions against those operating in Korea.  We have dealt with matters were employees, even, received exit bans. Thus, in most cases the establishment of a local Korean corporation is essential in assisting in shielding your foreign corporation from tax and other liabilities unless substantial reasons exist to not establish a local Korean corporate entity. One of the most significant risks of foreign companies doing business in Korea without a local entity is being deemed a local corporation subject to tax on worldwide income.  A domestic corporation under the Corporate Tax Act of Korea is a company with its “actual business

Continue reading

Korean Real Estate Acquisition Taxes for Purchase of Real Estate in Korea

The following are the Korean real estate acquisition taxes for the purchase of real estate in Korea. These acquisition taxes are applicable to the purchase of an apartment, land or a commercial property. Taxes in Korea change, often, when new administrations come into office.  Thus, these taxes may change, thus, please consult with your real estate agent and/or accountant. Foreigner may purchase property in Korea, certain restrictions do apply to the purchase of property by foreigners. Basic Taxes Related to the Acquisition of Property in Korea.  Acquisition Tax (with surtax):     4.6% of Purchase Price Recording Tax:                        Zero. Presently, incorporated into Acquisition Tax under recent                                                        amendments to Real Estate Tax Law. Stamp Duty:  

Continue reading

Can a Foreign Company be Deemed a Domestic Company for Tax Purposes and Taxed on Worldwide Income?

If Korea deems a foreign incorporated company a Domestic Corporation, the company shall be taxed on its worldwide income.  The relevant law, this determination is made under, is the Corporate Tax Act of Korea (“CTA”).  In the typical case, the National Tax Service of Korea designates the foreign-incorporated company a Domestic Corporation and requests details on overseas earnings in order to impose taxes on overseas earnings.  Of course this leads, invariable, to your Korean tax lawyer challenging the determination to the Korean courts. Domestic Company Tax Residency Test in Korea The Korean Corporate Tax Act defines a Domestic Corporation as a corporation with: Headquarters within Korea; or  Actual Business Management Place in Korea.  Disputes, normally, concern the definition of Actual Business Management Place after an imposition of a tax on worldwide income (often based on funds being forwarded to the parent company by the Korean company – E.g. license fees) and

Continue reading

English-speaking Korean lawyers and International Lawyers at International Law Firm in Korea discussing issues of Korean Law

IPG Legal is a leading client-focused international law firm with offices in Korea that is, often, selected over the ubiquitous Korean Law Firms when success is essential and success depends on nuanced street-smart advice, proactive  and unconflicted representation. Our attorneys are, intentionally. different from the crowd.  From our retired judge partners to our junior associates, we are all trained with an intense focus on client success, lawyer proactivity, and to understand the nexus between your commercial and legal needs. Our attorneys shall never push to you useless memos, non-nuanced legal advice or get you into litigation without an honest assessment of the merits and shortcomings of the matter. We are  – intentionally different from the crowd.  Globally Experienced – Locally Connected.  We are IPG.  Korean Legal Practices Korean Antitrust, Competition & FTC Arbitration, Int’l & Domestic Korean Civil Litigation Korean Criminal Defense Korean Corporate Law & Compliance Korean Employment, Labor &

Continue reading

Filing your U.S. Taxes as an Expat in Korea: Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion

Often, American expats and American Permanent Residents are unaware of the fact that they, as U.S. citizens or resident aliens living abroad, are required to file U.S. tax returns even if they do not owe money to the U.S. government or earn income in the U.S. If you are behind on filing your U.S. taxes, you can file your prior year tax returns retroactively.  If you are caught by the IRS, prior to filing your taxes, you may be subject to penalties, law fees and may be obligated to pay taxes that you were not obligated to pay if you filed for a Foreign Income Tax Exclusion.  Some may even be criminally prosecuted for not filing.   How and When to File The filing deadline for IRS Tax Returns for the previous year is April 15. As a U.S. citizen or resident alien living overseas, you are entitled to an automatic

Continue reading

Korea’s Real Name Transaction Act Strengthened: Korea’s Banking Law Basics

The National Assembly of Korea, in May of 2014, passed an amendment to the Act Concerning Financial Transactions by Real Name and Confidentiality Protection (“Real Name Transactions Act”). The Real Name Transactions Act, prior to this amendment, only, imposed fines on employees of financial institutions that violated the law, but did not impose these fines on those that lend or borrow a name/identification details in order to engage in a transaction. The new Real Name Transactions Act shall be enforced from the end of November of 2014. Potential penalties for violation of this Act include imprisonment up to 5 years or a fine of up to KRW 50  million.  The administrative fines for employees of financial institutions is increased from KRW 5 million to KRW 30 milllion. The Real Name Transactions Act, also, imposes an affirmative duty on the employees of financial institutions, in some cases, to explain the details

Continue reading

File Your U.S. Taxes in Korea: Earned Income Tax Exclusion/FBAR

Most Americans/American permanent residents living abroad are required to file a U.S. Income Tax Return in order to avail themselves of the Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion.  The Exclusion allows a taxpayer not to pay U.S. taxes on all of one’s earning under a specific threshold.    You may lose the Exclusion if you do not file the return.  The Earn Income Tax Exclusion may be filed via IRS Forms 2555 or 2555-EZ.  Additionally, Americans/American permanent residents must report certain assets above a specific reporting monetary threshold.  Additional information may be found at: IRS Additionally, if a United States person (defined as citizen; resident; entity including but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, or limited liability) has a financial interest in/ signature authority over a foreign financial account then the electronic filing of the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is required if the aggregate value of the foreign

Continue reading

Tax Audits in Korea

Tax Audits, in Korea, often led to extreme stress for our clients.  However, understanding the system and having an experienced tax accountant and sometimes a tax lawyer with experience in audits, normally, leads to a decent outcome from the National Tax Service of Korea. Yes, you will, likely, be audited during your time doing business in Korea.  However, in all but the most flagrant of violations, the financial damage is, typically, minimal . The NTS has a decent basic explanation of the audit procedure in English.  The pamphlet may be found at: Audits in Korea: NTS.  We will be writing more about the audit procedure in the near future. The National Tax Service of Korea is an agency we are happy to say has a website with a great deal of useful information.  The NTS website may be found at: [email protected] (c) Sean Hayes – SJ IPG. All Rights reserved.

Continue reading

Accounting & Tax Consulting Services in Korea: JZ Associates

Most of the accounting needs at IPG are performed by JZ Associates.  The majority of our client’s accounting needs are, also, peformed by this accounting firm.  The firm performs for our client’s Payroll Services, Statutory Bookkeeping Services, Corporate Secretarial Services, Tax Advisory Services & often assists us on Customs, Tax & other Administrative Audits.  It is very difficult to find accountants, in Korea, that advise in a proactive manner.  Most are mere bookkeepers  – JZ Associates has a team of some of the most proactive accountants that we have met. If you would like a consultation on a tax matter either contact me at the email below or contact JZ Accounting at [email protected] Over the next couple of weeks, JZ Associates will be posting a weekly post on this blog concerning tax and basic business advice for foreigners doing business in Korea.  ___Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected] Sean

Continue reading

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal for the Week of July 21, 2014

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal for the Week of July 21, 2014Korean Legal News Reported by the Media on the Week of July 21, 2014 South Korea Plans $40 Billion Stimulus to Tackle Weakening Growth Seoul to push tax on corporate cash reserves U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief urges FTA implemantation Workers in Their 60s Outnumber 20-Somethings Mortgage deregulation raises concerns Most Recent Posts from the Korean Law Blog Debt Collection in Korea: Foreign Creditor vs. Bankrupt Korea Debtor Opportunities in Korea’s Growing Tuning & Performance Modification Industry for Foreign Companies Korean Fugitives on the Run: Getting more Difficult with Change of Law Distribution Agreements in Korea: Crawl before you Walk Is Samsung Doomed? No Innovation Price Trap ___ Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected] Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney

Continue reading

“Samsung’s First Family Struggles to Keep Grip on Company” Report by Bloomberg

The Samsung saga continues.  Lee Jae-Yong is likely to take over from his father soon.  It looks like Lee Kun-Hee’s health is not improving.  Bloomberg has an interesting article on this issue that may be found on the link below.   The Lee Family owns less than two percent of the total shares of Samsung Group, though they near absolutely control 74 companies “through a web of share holdings.” However, because of recently enacted regulations and tax laws, the family may lose its influences over the companies.  President Park has banned “new cross holdings.” Under current tax law in Korea, heirs have to pay inheritance taxes of 50 percent of the asset value which means that Lee Jae-Yong may have to pay about  $6 billion as inheritance taxes. While the Lees are planning to take two companies public in order to raise money to pay the inheritance taxes, Lee Jae-Yong has faced another challenge. According to

Continue reading

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal for the Week of July 14, 2014

Weekly Korean Legal News From International Law Firm – IPG Legal For the Week of July 14, 2014.Korean Legal News Reported by the Media on the Week of July 14, 2014 LG outpaces Samsung in UHD TV panel market in May: data Hana Bank set for merger with KEB Economists Doubt Korea Can Return to Solid Growth Line to Be Listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange Korea ranks third in e-trade readiness Most Recent Posts from the Korean Law Blog Opportunities in Korea’s Growing Tuning & Performance Modification Industry for Foreign Companies Korean Fugitives on the Run: Getting more Difficult with Change of Law Distribution Agreements in Korea: Crawl before you Walk Is Samsung Doomed? No Innovation Price Trap Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) in Korea ___Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected] Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean

Continue reading

Witholdings Taxes on Transactions between Korean & Hong Kong Companies

The Republic of Korea and Hong Kong signed a double taxation treaty on July of 2014.  The treaty will come into force, if ratified, by the respective assemblies.  Under Korea Tax Law, the, normal, withholding tax is 22%.  The main purpose of the treaty is to reduce this rate and, also, allow the governments to share information on potential tax evaders.  This double taxation treaty, among other things, includes provisions for: A 15% Withholding Tax on dividends and a 10% Withholding Tax if the company receiving the funds owns a minimum 25% interest in the company remitting the dividends;  A 10% Withholding Tax on most interest and royalties;  A cooperation mechanism to share tax information in order to apprehend Korean tax evaders; and  Taxation on capital gains, only, in the country where the income was earned.  ___Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected] Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea

Continue reading

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) in Korea

From this month, the Korea Financial Services Commission will require banks to request all to disclose if they are U.S. nationals or U.S. permanent residents when opening a bank account in Korea. Most U.S. taxpayers residing abroad must report, under U.S. law, the details of all foreign financial accounts held and controlled by the taxpayer under FACTA and also Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Get the picture?  The IRS is watching and now has more tools to watch. More information may be found at: Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: IRS Website._____Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected] Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. He is ranked, for Korea, as

Continue reading