Doing Business Guide Malta - GKK Partners

Doing Business Guide Malta - GKK Partners
Edition No. 2
January 2019

Doing Business Guide
Doing Business Guide Malta - GKK Partners
About This           This guide has been produced by the Morison KSi Maltese member firm
                     for the benefit of its clients and associate offices worldwide who are

Guide                interested in doing business in Malta.

                     Its main purpose is to provide a broad overview of the various issues that
                     should be considered by organisations when setting-up business in Malta.

                     The information provided cannot be exhaustive and – as underlying
                     legislation and regulations are subject to frequent changes – we
                     recommend anyone considering doing business in Malta, or looking to
                     Malta as an opportunity for expansion, should seek professional advice
                     before making any business or investment decision.

                     While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information
                     contained in this guide, no responsibility is accepted for its accuracy or

                     The information in this guide is up to date as at the edition date.

                     For more information, please contact:

                     KSi Malta

                     Bernard Charles Gauci
                     +356 2122 6176

                     6, Villa Gauci
                     Mdina Road
                     BZN9031 Balzan

                     Disclaimer: Morison KSi is a global association of independent professional
                     firms. Professional services are provided by individual member firms.
                     Morison KSi does not provide professional services in its own right.
                     No member firm has liability for the acts or omissions of any other member
                     firm arising from its membership of Morison KSi.
Edition No. 2
January 2019


Introduction                        1
Business Structures                 2
Labour and Personnel                5
International Mobility              6
Taxation System                     8
Banking and Finance                13
Reporting Requirements             14
Grants and incentives /
Agencies providing assistance      15
Specific sectors with favourable
business opportunities             17
Introduction         Why Malta?                               • History: Malta is proud of its
                                                                ancient temples, which date back
                     Malta has been described as one of         earlier in human history than any
                     the best places in the world to live,      other structure in the world –
                     and an ideal choice for investment. In     even the pyramids of Egypt.
                     a survey carried out by Expat Insider    • Infrastructure: Malta is known
                     and published at InterNations.             as a ‘smart island’ because of its
                     org (2016), Malta ranked in second         excellent information technology
                     place as the best country for expats       (IT) infrastructure.
                     to live in,1 based on its pleasant
                     climate, geographical position,          • Safety: The UN World Risk
                     low crime rate, reliable banking           Report Malta has consecutively
                     system, and – last but not least           rated Malta as the second safest
                     – its tax planning incentives and          country in the world, based on its
                     opportunities.                             exposure to and ability to cope
                                                                with natural disasters.2
                     The economy                              • Skills: As indicated in the
                                                                Education and Training Monitor
                     • Currency: Malta is a full member         2013 (issued by the European
                       of the European Union (EU), with         Commissioner for Education,
                       the Euro as its official currency.       Culture, Multilingualism and
                                                                Youth) Malta has amongst the
                     • Capital: The capital city of Malta
                                                                highest rates of graduates
                       is Valletta (named after the
                                                                among the 27 EU member states.
                       French nobleman, Jean Parisot
                       de la Valette, who led resistance      • Labour: When it comes
                       against the Ottomans at the              to recruitment and human
                       Great Siege of Malta in 1565).           resources, Malta guarantees value
                                                                for money, as wages are highly
                     • Language: Despite being such a
                                                                competitive notwithstanding the
                       small country, Malta has retained
                                                                remarkable quality of Maltese
                       its own language, Maltese. Most
                       of its population also speak
                       English and Italian.
                     • Climate: Malta’s bathing water is
                       among the EU’s best, which is an
                       additional bonus to the Island’s
                       300 days of sunshine.
                     • Accessibility: There are directs
                       flights to/from all major cities in
                       Europe and North Africa.

                                                              1. See:
                                                              2. See, for example:
                                                                 %E2%88%92-world-risk-report-2013.html                                                                        Malta            1
Business             While business activities could be
                     carried out on a personal basis as
                                                            service provider (CSP) would
                                                            submit on behalf of the prospective

Structures           self-employment, for additional
                     protection (in some cases) and
                                                            company the memorandum and
                                                            articles of association, mainly
                     formality one could consider the       highlighting the name (a name
                     following types of structure.          reservation facility in advance
                                                            is available), registered address,
                     Limited liability company              main objectives (usually including
                                                            a number of secondary objectives
                                                            that entitle the company to perform
                     Any person, resident or not, may
                                                            its legal business, aside from the
                     set up a private limited liability
                                                            specified principal objectives), share
                     company (LLC) in Malta with a
                                                            capital composition and structure,
                     minimum paid-up share capital
                                                            board composition and the
                     of €233. By default, any LLC
                                                            company’s expected fixed duration,
                     incorporated in Malta obtains
                                                            if any.
                     Maltese fiscal residence and
                     domicile, and is thus taxable on
                     worldwide income.                      Compliance obligations of limited
                                                            liability companies
                     A Maltese LLC would generally have
                                                            LLCs registered in Malta must
                     the following characteristics:
                                                            prepare and submit an annual
                                                            return on the date of the company’s
                     • At any time, must have at least
                                                            annual anniversary together with
                       one director and one secretary
                                                            settlement of the annual fee, which
                       (this could be the same person)
                                                            ranges from €100 to €1,400. In
                     • Shareholders’ liability is limited   addition, the company’s annual
                       to their capital contribution        audited accounts would must
                     • By default, shares cannot be         be submitted at the Registry of
                       sold to third-party shareholders     Companies within 10 months
                       unless previously offered to         after financial year-end (reduced
                       other existent shareholders          to 7 months in case of public
                       (although different pre-emption      companies).
                       rights could be set)
                                                            Redomiciliation of limited liability
                     • Must have its financial              companies
                       statements audited and
                       submitted annually at the            Malta allows for the redomiciliation
                       Registry of Companies.               in and out of LLCs in terms of
                                                            ‘continuation of companies’
                     How long does it take to form          regulations. Any profits accruing to
                     a limited liability company?           a company to be redomiciled into
                                                            Malta shall not be subject to any
                     Once all documents and signatures      taxation in Malta.
                     are in place, and the necessary
                     due diligence testing successfully     Branches in Malta
                     completed, a company is generally
                     set up within 3 business days.         Presence through branches in Malta
                                                            must be registered as overseas
                     Establishment procedure of             companies (OC) with the Registry
                     a limited liability company            of Companies. A branch is merely
                                                            the extension of the actual foreign
                     Once the company and all involved      company and would have no
                     parties have been duly vetted for      separate legal entity.
                     due diligence purposes, a corporate                                                                   Malta         2
How long does it take to form an           would have unlimited (general)          accumulation and maintenance,
overseas company (branch)?                 liability. The capital of such          fixed interest, spendthrift, charitable
                                           partnerships may be divided into        and unit trusts.
Once all documents and signatures          shares.
are in place and the necessary                                                     How long does it take to form a
due diligence testing successfully                                                 trust?
                                        Unless a partnership en commandite
completed, an OC to act as a branch
                                        has its capital divided into shares
in Malta is generally set within 3                                                 A trust need not be registered with
                                        (in which case, is to be treated as
business days.                                                                     any authority for its creation and
                                        a company for tax purposes) all
                                                                                   can be legally set up unilaterally
                                        partnerships, by default, are to be
Establishment procedure of an                                                      or bilaterally, by oral declaration,
                                        considered ‘transparent entities’
overseas company (branch)                                                          or in writing. When dealing with a
                                        for tax purposes, although they
                                                                                   written trust, the settlor must set up
                                        could elect to be treated as normal
Once the company and all involved                                                  the trust with a licensed trustee. An
parties are duly vetted for due                                                    exception to this rule exists when
diligence purposes, a CSP would                                                    dealing with private and family
                                        How long does it take to form a
submit on behalf of the prospective                                                trusts, where the law provides the
branch an authentic copy of the                                                    possibility for the trust to be set up
instrument of constitution, details                                                either by (i) a notarial deed with a
                                        Once all documents and signatures          close family friend or relative acting
of directors and secretaries, and
                                        are in place and the necessary             as the trustee, or (ii) establishment
a return outlining the key details
                                        due diligence testing successfully         of a private trust company – that
of the prospective branch such as
                                        completed, a partnership in Malta          is, a private trust services provider
name, registered address and the
                                        is generally set within 3–5 business       without a licence, providing trust
activities to be carried out.
                                        days.                                      services only to family members.
Compliance obligations of an
                                        Establishment procedure of a               Establishment procedure of a trust
overseas company (branch)
Overseas companies generally                                                       When establishing a written trust,
                                        A partnership en nom collectif is          the settlor simply needs to decide
have to submit financial statements
                                        formed by drawing up a deed of             how they would like their trust to
consistent with those required for
                                        partnership to be registered at            operate, and ensure that the trust
LLCs to the Registry of Companies.
                                        the Registry of Companies and to           deed is drafted properly for the
Where the accounting requirements
                                        include: (i) the name and residence        beneficiaries. In this regard, the
of the place of origination differ
                                        of each partner; (ii) the partnership’s    settlor can also be a beneficiary.
from those of Malta, the Registry
                                        name (ii) registered office; (iii)         The settlor can also opt for
of Companies may still accept such
                                        objectives; and the (iv) contribution      the creation of an office of the
accounts, subject to full and clear
                                        of each partner.                           protector to supervise the trustee
details about the activities in Malta
being included.                                                                    in the management of the trust.
                                        A partnership en commandite is             Once a trust is set up, ownership
                                        formed by drawing up a deed of             of all the trust property passes on
Partnerships in Malta                   partnership to be registered at the        to the trustee and not to the trust,
                                        Registry of Companies and includes         since a trust does not have legal
Partnerships in Malta could be          details of who will be the general         personality. Unless dealing with a
official setup under any of two         and the limited partners.                  charitable trust, a trust cannot last
forms:                                                                             more than 125 years.
                                        Trusts in Malta
• Partnership en nom collectif in
                                                                                   Associations in Malta
  which all partners would have
                                        The Maltese legal system offers any
  unlimited, joint and several
                                        person the possibility to open a trust     An association is created by
  liability which could go beyond
                                        under Maltese law. The law allows          persons for the purpose of either
  the initial capital contribution
                                        for great flexibility in the creation of   (i) promoting private interests, (ii)
  invested therein.
                                        a trust and thus allows all the main       promoting a trade or profession, (iii)
• Partnership en commandite in          kinds of trusts to be established          achievement of a social purpose,
  which at least one of the partners    – including discretionary,                 or (iv) any other lawful activity                                                                                          Malta          3
on a non-profit-making basis.
                     An association is thus the typical        Foundations are set up
                     body utilised for trade unions and        by public deed and are
                                                               registered; despite this,
                     How long does it take to form an          the contents of private
                                                               interest foundations
                     Although an association need              are confidential.
                     not be registered to be validly
                     constituted, an unregistered
                     association has limited legal            Establishment procedure of a
                     personality. By comparison,              foundation
                     registered associations have full
                     legal personality.                       Establishing a private interest
                                                              foundation requires a licensed
                     Establishment procedure of an            entity to act as administrators to
                     association                              the foundation assets, similar to
                                                              a trust. The founders would thus
                     No special requirement exists in the     need to establish a foundation
                     establishment of an association.         deed for the beneficiaries. A public
                     The persons involved simply need         purpose foundation on the other
                     to create a statute that suits their     hand, does not require a licensed
                     purpose.                                 entity to administer the funds
                                                              of the foundation. Unlike a trust,
                     Foundation in Malta                      a foundation will have legal
                                                              personality upon registration and
                                                              thus all foundation assets will be
                     A foundation in Malta can be
                                                              owned by the foundation. Both
                     established for a private interest
                                                              kinds of foundation can also opt
                     or for a public purpose. Private
                                                              for an office of the protector to
                     interest foundations act in a similar
                                                              supervise the management of
                     way to a trust, and also act as a
                                                              foundation assets. Private interest
                     wealth management tool. Public
                                                              foundations cannot last more than
                     purpose foundations, however,
                                                              100 years, while public purpose
                     serve as charitable institutions or
                                                              foundations can last indefinitely.
                     as bodies intended to promote a
                     specific purpose.

                     How long does it take to form a

                     Foundations are set up by public
                     deed and are registered; despite
                     this, the contents of private interest
                     foundations are confidential. The
                     timeframe for the establishment of
                     a foundation essentially depends
                     on the founding members. The
                     minimum capital requirements
                     are €1,165 for a private interest
                     foundation and €233 for a purpose
                     foundation.                                                                    Malta          4
Labour and                               Minimum wage                                 How are employee taxes handled
                                                                                      in Malta?

Personnel                                The labour market in Malta is
                                         completely free, with minimal pre-           Employers in Malta are required
                                         set wage ranges and guidelines.              to withhold tax from employees’
                                         However, in 2019 the national                salaries under the final settlement
                                         minimum wage per normal working              system (FSS). FSS works by
                                         week for employees aged ≥18 years            averaging the effective rate of tax
                                         will be set at €175.84.                      chargeable on the employee and
                                                                                      applying that rate to the monthly
                                         Working hours and leave                      salary. The amount so deducted
                                         entitlement                                  should be equal to the actual tax
                                                                                      chargeable on the individual. For
                                         Generally, the normal hours of               more information about FSS taxes,
                                         work are 40 hours per week, but              please refer to the section on
                                         specific working-time patterns and           individual taxation.
                                         arrangements may be negotiated
                                         between the employees and                    Employers must, by the last
                                         employers.                                   working day of the month following
                                                                                      that during which the salary would
                                         Employees are entitled to 25 days            have been earned, pay over to the
                                         paid annual leave as from 1 January          Commissioner the total amount of
                                         2018 and would also be eligible for          tax deducted or which should have
                                         special time-off hours for reasons           been deducted therefrom.
Labour laws and regulations              such as maternity, paternity or
                                         family emergency. Pregnant women             Social security and similar
All employee–employer relations          are entitled to an uninterrupted             obligations of employment in Malta
are regulated by the Employment          maternity leave of 14 weeks at full
and Industrial Relations Act (2002),     pay, with the right to have this             Employees and employers in Malta
which deals with a number of             extended by a further 4 weeks                make contributions with the aim of
issues such as (i) conditions of         paid at the minimum wage. There              being provided with medical care,
employment; (ii) protection of           are also 14 days of public holiday           pension, maternity benefits and
wages; (iii) termination of contracts    each year, with no obligation to             other social benefits. These are
and (iv) discrimination.                 compensate for these falling on              categorised into (i) social security
                                         a weekend.                                   contributions and (ii) maternity fund
The typical probation period                                                          contributions (see Table 1).
of an employment contract is
6 months (although this could be
                                         Table 1: Social security contributions in Malta, 2019
agreed differently). During the
probationary period, employment           Employed persons
can be terminated with no reason,                                                                 Paid by
as long as 1 week’s notice is given if
                                          Type of contribution                   Employer                   Employee
the employee has already worked
for at least 1 month. Outside the         Social security contributions             10%                        10%
probationary period, termination                                                 Min €6.62                  Min €6.62
of employment induced by either                                                 Max €46.53                  Max €46.53
the employee or the employer
would require advance notice to
                                          Maternity fund contribution        Min €0.53 per week                N/A
be given, depending on how long
                                                                                 Max 0.3%
the employee has been employed.
For example, an employee who has          Self-employed persons
been in employment for between
                                          Type of insurance
6 months and 2 years would
                                          Social security contributions             15%                     Min €30.25
require an advance notice period of
2 weeks.                                                                                                    Max €69.79                                                                                              Malta       5
International        Does Malta offer any specific
                     tax residence programmes?
                                                            Malta retirement programme

mobility             Although it is possible to obtain
                                                            This applies to EU/EEA/Swiss
                                                            nationals wishing to retire in Malta
                     Maltese residence on the basis of      and enables them to enjoy a flat
                     ordinary residence, as discussed       tax rate of 15% on foreign income
                     below, Malta offers a number           remitted to Malta (including pension
                     of programmes through which            income, which must constitute at
                     one’s fiscal residence is officially   least 75% of the applicant’s taxable
                     recognised and subject to certain      income) rather than the progressive
                     beneficial treatments.                 tax rates outlined above, while
                                                            foreign capital gains would not
                     Global residence programme             be subject to any taxes. This
                                                            notwithstanding, a minimum tax of
                     This applies to non-EU/EEA/            €7,500 is due annually and several
                     Swiss nationals and enables them       requirements, including investment
                     to enjoy a flat tax rate of 15% on     in (or rental of) real estate, must be
                     foreign income remitted to Malta       satisfied.
                     rather than the progressive tax
                     rates outlined above, while foreign    United Nations pension programme
                     capital gains would not be subject
                     to any taxes. This notwithstanding,    Those receiving a UN pension or
                     a minimum tax of €15,000 is            a widow’s/widower’s benefit who
                     due annually covering the main         remitting 40% of this to Malta are
                     applicant and also any family          not subject to any Malta taxes on
                     members so registered. Qualifying      any UN pension received in Malta;
                     criteria include investment in (or     they are also charged a flat tax rate
                     rental of) in real estate, health      of 15% on other foreign income
                     insurance and payment of a             brought into Malta. A minimum
                     government set application fee.        tax of €10,000 is due annually
                     The programme is a recognised          and various requirements must be
                     basis for being provided with a        satisfied, such as investment in (or
                     Maltese EU Schengen visa and a         rental of) real estate.
                     right to live and study in the EU/
                     EEA.                                   Qualifying Employment in
                                                            Innovation and Creativity
                     Residence programme
                                                            Taking employment in Malta
                     Based on the global residence          consisting of a senior position
                     programme (above), but applies to      within entities directly engaged
                     EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and enables     in industrial/product research and
                     them to enjoy a flat tax rate of 15%   experimental development may
                     on foreign income remitted to Malta    benefit on a 15% flat tax rate subject
                     rather than the progressive tax        that the minimum annual salary is of
                     rates outlined above, while foreign    €45,000. No tax would be paid on
                     capital gains would not be subject     income exceeding €5,000,000.
                     to any taxes. This notwithstanding,
                     a minimum tax of €15,000 is            Highly Qualified Persons
                     due annually covering the main
                     applicant and also any family          Taking employment in Malta
                     members so registered. Qualifying      consisting of a senior position
                     criteria include investment in (or     within entities directly engaged
                     rental of) in real estate, health      in Aviation/iGaming/Financial
                     insurance and payment of a             Services/IVF Services may benefit
                     government set application fee.        on a 15% flat tax rate subject that                                                                   Malta          6
the minimum annual salary is of
                     €84,000. No tax would be paid on          Malta offers the
                     income exceeding €5,000,000.              Individual Investor
                     Maritime Activities and the               Programme (IIP),
                     Servicing of Offshore Oil and Gas         recognised and
                     Industry Activities
                                                               approved by the EU,
                     Taking employment in Malta                through which Malta
                     consisting of a senior position
                     within entities directly engaged in
                                                               offers citizenship by
                     Maritime and Oil and Gas Services         means of a certificate
                     may benefit on a 15% flat tax rate
                     subject that the minimum annual
                                                               of naturalisation to
                     salary is of €65,000. No tax would        individuals and their
                     be paid on income exceeding               families in return
                                                               for contributions
                     Does Malta offer any                      to the country’s
                     citizenship by investment                 economic and social
                     Malta offers the Individual Investor
                     Programme (IIP), recognised and
                     approved by the EU, through which
                     Malta offers citizenship by means
                     of a certificate of naturalisation
                     to individuals and their families
                     in return for contributions to the
                     country’s economic and social
                     development. The programme
                     offers unrestricted visa travel to
                     over 166 countries including the EU,
                     United States and Canada, as well
                     as the right to live and study in the

                     From a tax point of view, the
                     IIP would typically not result in
                     the individual acquiring Maltese
                     domicile (as explained above,
                     domicile remains tied to the country
                     of birth or the country of intended
                     permanent residence), unlike
                     residence which is a fundamental
                     requirement of the programme
                     itself. As a result, IIP applicants are
                     taxed on Malta-sourced income and
                     foreign income received in Malta,
                     at the progressive rates outlined
                     below, while foreign capital gains
                     received in Malta will not be taxed.                                                             Malta    7
Taxation             The Maltese general tax system
                     follows a three-based principle under
                                                                 Maltese taxes would generally
                                                                 be nil

System               which Malta taxes:
                                                              • 2/3rds of the initial 35% paid by
                                                                the company in case of certain
                     • Income and capital gains sourced
                                                                foreign source income where
                       within Maltese territory
                                                                double taxation relief would have
                     • Foreign income and capital gains         been claimed
                       derived by persons who are both
                                                              • 5/7ths of the initial 35% paid
                       ordinary resident and domiciled
                                                                by the company where the
                       in Malta
                                                                underlying profits involve passive
                     • Foreign income remitted into             interest or royalties
                       Malta by persons who are
                                                              • 100% of the initial 35% paid by
                       either ordinary resident but
                                                                the company where underlying
                       not domiciled in Malta, or are
                                                                profits involve dividends and
                       domiciled but not ordinary
                                                                capital gains, subject to the
                       resident in Malta.
                                                                conditions of the participation
                                                                exemption (see section on
                     Taxation of companies                      dividends).
                                                              • Branches of an overseas
                     Companies incorporated in Malta            company are also subject to
                     are taxable on their worldwide             this treatment, but could avoid
                     income and capital gains at an initial     paying any taxes on foreign
                     corporate tax rate of 35% on taxable       capital gains or foreign capital
                     profit. Taxable profit is arrived at       gains not remitted to Malta.
                     after allowing for a deduction of
                     all expenses that are wholly and
                     exclusively incurred in the production   Notional Interest Deduction (NID)
                     of income.
                                                              As from 1st January 2017, Malta has
                     Reduced rates of tax for companies       introduced thea Notional Interest
                                                              Deduction regime. The purpose of
                     The initial 35% corporate tax rate       such regulation is to reduce any tax
                     could be lowered significantly to an     disadvantages that entities may have
                     effective tax rate ranging from 0%       when undertaking equity financing
                     to 6.25% following a distribution        rather than debt financing. NID
                     of dividends (or issue of bonus          provides for a framework whereby
                     shares) from the taxed company           entities may opt (on an annual basis)
                     to its shareholders (see section         to deduct an amount of interest that
                     on dividends). In this case, the         is determined with reference to the
                     shareholders would request and           value of the Company’s risk capital,
                     receive a tax refund from the Maltese    which is made up primarily of its
                     Government of the initial 35% paid       equity.
                     by the Maltese company, depending
                     on the underlying profits earned. The    The way the mechanism works is
                     following are the possible rates of      such that the shareholder/(s) of the
                     refund that could be claimed:            Company must unanimously agree
                                                              to the application thereof given that
                     • 6/7ths of the initial 35% paid by      in turn they would be deemed to
                       the company for an effective tax       have earned an equivalent amount of
                       rate of only 5%. Where additional      notional interest income. Such income
                       double tax relief in respect of        would not be chargeable to tax in
                       foreign taxes of 5% or more            Malta in the hands of non-residents,
                       could be claimed, the overall          allowing for tax savings. A company                                                                     Malta          8
having a considerable amount of risk       Notwithstanding any applicable          individuals in receipt of inbound
capital may significantly reduce its       double tax agreements or EU             foreign dividends to claim relief not
tax charge for the year especially         directives, dividends distributed       only for the withholding tax and
when the mechanism is applied in           out of Maltese companies to non-        other direct taxes imposed on them
conjunction with the local tax refund      resident shareholders would never       as shareholders, but also for the
mechanism aforementioned in the            be subject to any further taxation.     corporate income tax (underlying
previous point.                                                                    tax) paid by the non-resident
                                           Dividend income received by Maltese     distributing company on the profits
Losses and group of companies              companies from outside Malta could      from which the dividend is paid.
                                           be subject to an outright exemption
Losses from the trading activities of      (‘participation exemption’). In         Companies are also eligible for an
a company may be carried forward           general, for dividends received from    additional mechanism of double tax
indefinitely for relief against future     a foreign participating company,        relief, known as the flat rate foreign
profits (capital or trading), or can       a holding of at least 5% of the         tax credit system (FRFTC). This
be transferred to other companies          equity (although other parameters       offers double tax relief by taking
within the same group. Capital losses      are possible) would be subject to       the form of a notional tax credit
may be carried forward indefinitely        exemption from Maltese taxes. This      of 25% of foreign taxes deemed
for relief against future capital gains    exemption could also apply to gains     to have been paid on qualifying
arising in the same company only.          on disposal of shares in such foreign   income.
                                           participating companies.
In addition, besides exchanging                                                    Liquidation proceeds,
losses, companies forming part of          Relief from double taxation
the same group can transfer capital                                                payment of interest, royalties,
assets between them without                Malta offers various means to           discounts and premiums
incurring any taxes. This exemption        avoid double taxation; the main
could be clawed back should two            mechanisms are outlined below.          Notwithstanding any applicable
companies no longer remain part of                                                 double tax agreements or EU
a group following an initial exempt        Treaty relief takes the form of a tax   directives, any payments from Malta
transfer of asset.                         credit granted for foreign tax paid     in the form of liquidation proceeds,
                                           on income received from a country       interest, royalties, discounts and
Taxation of dividends                      with which Malta has signed a tax       premiums will not be subject to any
                                           treaty that makes provision for         withholding taxes.
Malta operates a full-imputation           double taxation relief. The amount
system regarding the distribution of       of credit is the lower of Maltese       Taxation of partnerships
dividends or issue of bonus shares         tax on the foreign income and the
(seen as equivalent to dividends).         foreign tax paid. Malta currently       By default, partnerships other
This entails that when dividends are       benefits from a network of double       than partnerships en commandite
distributed from Maltese companies,        tax treaties with over 70 countries,    of which capital is divided into
notwithstanding whether or not the         which facilitates business between      shares are subject to ‘look-through’
shareholder is a company or resident       the countries involved.                 taxation. This means that all profits
in Malta, no further tax is withheld                                               or income earned by the partnership
on the said dividends and the initial      The Commonwealth relief is a            are divided in the profit-sharing
corporate tax paid is imputed to the       limited form of double taxation         ratio and brought to charge in the
shareholder as a credit of the tax paid.   relief granted for taxes paid to        hands of the partners by including
                                           British Commonwealth countries in       it as part of their taxable income,
The only instance whereby                  respect of income received from         taxed at their respective tax rates.
dividends distributed by a Maltese         such countries that provide a similar
company could be subject to further        relief to Maltese-source income.        Nevertheless, partnerships en
withholding taxes is if these are                                                  commandite of which capital is
paid from a company’s particular           Unilateral relief works very much       divided into shares or ‘look-through’
tax reserve (an ‘untaxed account’)         in the same way as treaty relief,       partnerships, which specifically
to Maltese resident individual             except that it applies only where       elect to be treated as companies
shareholders. In this case, the            treaty relief is unavailable. With      for tax purposes, would be treated
dividend would be subject to a             effect from 1 January 2007, this        as companies for income tax
withholding tax of 15%.                    relief has been widened to allow        purposes without the application                                                                                          Malta       9
Table 2: Personal tax rates for resident individuals (irrespective of domicile status)

             Married                       Single                          Parent
                                                                                                 Maltese resident and
 Taxable          Tax rate (%)   Taxable         Tax rate (%)   Taxable         Tax rate (%)     domiciled individuals
 income                          income                         income
                                                                                                 are subject to Maltese
 0–12,700         0%             0–9,100         0%             0–10,500        0%
 12,701–21,200    15%            9,101–14,500    15%            10,501–15,800   15%
                                                                                                 taxation on their
 21,201–60,000    25%            14,501–60,000   25%            15,801–60,000   25%              worldwide income,
 Over 60,001      35%            Over 60,001     35%            Over 60,001     35%              including capital gains.
Table 3: Personal tax rates for non-resident individuals (irrespective of domicile
status)                                                                                           than €35,000 or its equivalent
 Taxable income                  Tax rate (%)                                                     in another currency – in the
 0–700                           0%                                                               case of a married couple, one
                                                                                                  would have to look at the income
 701–3,100                       20%
                                                                                                  derived by both spouses.
 3,101–7,800                     30%
 Over 7,800                      35%
                                                                                               As regards to capital gains arising
of the look-through approach. Such               How does the status of residence              outside Malta, the rules did not
partnerships would still be subject              and domicile affect individuals’              change, that is, no tax would be
to the 35% initial corporate tax                 taxation?                                     payable on capital gains arising
rate, but with the possibility of tax                                                          outside Malta irrespective of
refunds.                                         Maltese resident and domiciled                whether these are brought into
                                                 individuals are subject to Maltese            Malta or not.
Individuals, expatriates and                     taxation on their worldwide income,
                                                 including capital gains. Alternatively,       What are the applicable personal
residence schemes                                                                              tax rates?
                                                 Maltese resident but not domiciled
How is an individual defined as tax              (or vice versa) individuals who
                                                                                               Income tax for individuals is
resident of Malta?                               are neither permanent residents
                                                                                               calculated by applying a progressive
                                                 nor long-term residents would
                                                                                               tax rate schedule to taxable income
Generally, anyone who resides in                 be subject to Maltese tax only on
                                                                                               (see Tables 2 and 3). These apply
Malta for at least 6 months in a                 foreign income that they remit into
                                                                                               to any type of income derived by
year is considered a resident; but               Malta. Henceforth, capital gains
                                                                                               individuals including employment
for taxation purposes, Maltese tax               would not be subject to any Maltese
                                                                                               income, self-employment business
law looks at the notion of ordinary              taxation even if received in Malta.
                                                                                               income, dividends, interest and
residence regardless of whether
                                                                                               royalties as long as such income
an individual has spent 6 months                 With effect from 1 January 2018, non-
                                                                                               would have not been subject to
in Malta or not. For an individual to            domiciled persons will be subject to
                                                                                               separate final withholding taxes.
be considered ordinarily resident                a minimum tax of €5,000 annually in
of Malta, Malta must be part of                  Malta. This minimum tax is payable if
                                                                                               Are any concessions made for
the individual’s regular order of                the non-domiciled person:
                                                                                               assignees/expatriates in Malta?
life. Maltese tax authorities tend
to follow UK jurisprudence and                   • is not taxable in Malta in
                                                                                               Expatriates who render investment
practice in this matter.                           accordance with a scheme
                                                                                               or insurance services are generally
                                                   establishing a minimum amount
In addition to residence and                                                                   exempt for 10 years from income tax
                                                   of tax in Malta, including The
ordinary residence, Malta also                                                                 on specified fringe benefits.
                                                   Residence Programme, Global
relies on the concept of domicile.                 Residence Programme, Malta
Typically, persons who are not of                                                              In addition, individuals who are not
                                                   Retirement Programme and the
Maltese origin and who do not                                                                  domiciled in Malta and who are
                                                   Residents Scheme Regulations;
intend to permanently establish                                                                in receipt of emoluments payable
themselves in Malta are not                                                                    under a contract of employment
considered to be domiciled in Malta              • derives income arising outside              for an activity carried out in Malta
for tax purposes.                                  Malta amounting to not less                 as an eligible office with companies                                                                                                      Malta        10
licensed/recognised in the Maltese      non-residents, in terms of Article 73   • Interest deductibility limitation
gaming, aircraft and financial          of the Income Tax Act (1948), where       rule – came into force on
services sector may be subject to       a person pays to a non-resident           1 January 2019;
tax on such income at a flat rate       person any income chargeable
                                                                                • Exit taxation rule – shall come
of 15% (instead of the progressive      to tax in Malta, the payer must
                                                                                  into force on 1 January 2020;
rates up to 35% as set out above).      withhold tax. The withholding tax
                                        rate is 35% in case of a non-resident   • General anti-abuse rule (GAAR)
Malta’s taxation system                 company and 25% in case of other          – came into force on 1 January
                                        non-resident persons. This is not         2019, and;
applied in specific
                                        a final tax, and the non-residents      • Controlled foreign company
circumstances                           can choose to file a tax return in        (CFC) rule – came into force on
                                        Malta and be taxed according to           1 January 2019.
Malta’s taxation system is usually      the non-resident progressive rates
applied as outlined above, but          as outlined above. If the income-
this section outlines certain                                                   Interest deductibility limitation rule
                                        earning activities are definitely
circumstances or bodies of persons      conducted outside Malta and the
that involve different tax treatment.                                           The regulations limit the
                                        said non-resident does not have a
                                        permanent establishment in Malta        deductibility of taxpayers’
Investment income                                                               exceeding borrowing costs (i.e. the
                                        to which the income is connected,
                                        there should be no withholding tax.     amount by which the deductible
Certain investment income, such                                                 borrowing costs of a taxpayer, were
as interest from Maltese banks or                                               it not for the provisions of these
other payers and other type of          Further points of interest in
                                                                                regulations, exceed taxable interest
income, could be subject to a final     Malta’s taxation system                 revenues and other economically
withholding tax of 15% should it be                                             equivalent taxable revenues that
so opted by the Maltese resident        Advanced revenue rulings                the taxpayer receives) to only up
recipient.                                                                      to 30% of the taxpayer’s earnings
                                        For extra convenience and clarity,      before interest, tax, depreciation
Rental income                           Maltese tax authorities provide         and amortization (EBITDA).
                                        formal confirmations in the form
Rental income could be subject          of advanced revenue rulings that        As a result, any exceeding
to a final withholding tax of 15%       remain binding for 5 years. With        borrowing costs that exceed the
payable by 30 April of the year         the Maltese tax authorities being       30% EBITDA threshold would be
of assessment – that is, the year       particularly approachable, informal     considered to be non-deductible
following the calendar year in          non-binding yet still reassuring        in the tax period in which they are
which income arises. This option        confirmations are also very             incurred, with a possibility to carry
would not allow any deduction of        common.                                 forward the excess, without time
expenses, even if directly related to                                           limitation, and with a possibility to
the said rental income.                 EU ATAD implemented into                carry forward, for a maximum of 5
                                        Maltese domestic law                    years, unused interest capacity.
A person deriving rental income
may also opt not to be taxed at the     The regulations shall apply to          However, the regulations provide
15% withholding tax, but rather be      companies as well as to other           for several exclusions from, and
taxed on the rental profit margin       entities, trusts and similar            derogations to, the general rule.
at the progressive rates in case of     arrangements that are subject to
an individual or at 35% in case of      tax in Malta in the same manner as      Exit taxation rule
companies.                              companies. The said regulations
                                        shall also apply to entities that are   A change of residence of
Taxes withheld in Malta on behalf       not resident in Malta but have          a company, or the movement of its
of non-residents                        a permanent establishment in Malta,     assets or of its business to another
                                        provided that they are subject to       territory will be treated as a taxable
Although Malta does not withhold        tax in Malta as companies.              exit event. In such a case, the
any taxes on dividends, interest,                                               company will become subject to
royalties, premiums, discounts and      The regulations have introduced the     tax in the same manner as if it has
liquidation proceeds payable to         following anti-avoidance measures:      disposed of its assets. The accrued                                                                                       Malta           11
gains will be calculated by reference   • To a CFC whose accounting
                     to the market value of the asset at       profits amount to no more than
                     the time of the exit.                     10% of its operating costs for the
                                                               tax period.
                     Depending on the destination of
                     the assets which may be subject
                     to exit taxation on the basis of this   Indirect taxes
                     regulation and the recipient of those
                     assets, taxpayers may have the right    The most common types of indirect
                     to defer the payment of the amount      taxes in Malta are the following:
                     of tax by paying it in installments
                     over 5 years, although this would be    Value added tax (VAT)
                     subject to the payment of interest
                     and, potentially, the provision of      VAT is a tax incurred on
                     a guarantee.                            consumption the burden of which
                                                             ultimately falls on the end customer.
                     No exit tax will be chargeable in       As far as VAT is concerned, Malta
                     the case of a temporary movement        follows the EU’s directive and as
                     of assets that is linked to certain     such VAT law is very consistent with
                     financial transactions as long as       that of other EU countries except in
                     the assets are returned within 12       certain applicable rates or specific
                     months.                                 matters. The standard rate is 18%
                                                             but other reduced rates such as 7%,
                     General anti-abuse rule (GAAR)          5% or 0% could apply.

                     This measure will accordingly apply     Customs duty
                     to arrangements which are not
                     genuine, meaning that they are not      Goods imported into Malta from
                     put into place for valid commercial     outside the EU would typically be
                     reasons that reflect economic           subject to VAT and would also be
                     reality, and which have been put        subject to customs duty, depending
                     in place with a main purpose of         on their type and place of origin.
                     obtaining a tax advantage that          Should the imported goods have
                     defeats the object or purpose of tax    originated from the EU, customs
                     law.                                    duty does not apply.

                     Controlled foreign company (CFC)        Excise duty
                                                             Products such as tobacco, alcohol,
                     An entity will be considered a CFC      fuel oils and mobile telephone
                     where it is subject to more than        services are also liable to excise
                     50% control by a parent company         duty in Malta.
                     that is tax resident in Malta and its
                     associated enterprises and the tax      Stamp duty
                     paid on its profits is less than half
                     the tax that would have been paid       Certain transactions are subject to
                     had the income been subject to tax      stamp duty instead of VAT – such
                     in Malta.                               as transfers of immovable property,
                                                             marketable securities, insurance
                     The measure will not apply:             policies or interest in partnerships.

                     • To a CFC with accounting profits
                       of no more than €750,000 and
                       non-trading income of no more
                       than €75,000; or                                                                   Malta        12
Banking and          Maltese banking system                  • Copy of company’s incorporation

Finance              Malta’s banking sector has rapidly
                     evolved from retail banks serving
                                                             • Certificate of good standing for
                     the local population to a reputable
                                                             • Utility bill (for each beneficiary,
                     international financial hub. This
                                                               shareholder, director etc.)
                     has added dynamism to Malta’s
                     financial services industry, and the
                     expectation is that many other          Accounts can be opened in all major
                     banking institutions will follow this   currencies, including Euros (EUR),
                     lead.                                   British pound (GBP) and US dollars
                     Setting up a Maltese bank
                     account                                 Maltese financing sources

                     Opening a bank account in Malta         Domestic small and medium
                     is usually a simple process if you      enterprises (SMEs) are more
                     meet the terms and conditions. Bank     dependent than their European
                     accounts are not opened solely to       counterparts on bank overdrafts,
                     Maltese residents: non-residents and    credit lines or credit card facilities,
                     foreign companies can also open an      according to a survey carried out
                     account in Malta.                       by the Central Bank of Malta in
                                                             conjunction with the European
                     Foreign nationals wishing to set up     Commission and the European
                     a bank account in Malta must have       Central Bank1). In 2014, more than
                     a connection with Malta and supply      70% of Maltese SMEs used these
                     documentation for the relevant          types of financing, compared with
                     qualifying criteria, such as:           around 37% in the EU – an inefficient
                                                             strategy, the survey suggests,
                     • Renting a property in Malta – a       given that banks typically charge
                       valid rental agreement of at least    higher interest rates on these forms
                       6 months                              of financing, compared with bank
                     • Buying a property in Malta –
                       preliminary agreement
                     • Working – contract of work,
                       which must bear the employer’s
                       name and address
                     • Owning a property – contract of

                     Foreign companies can also open a
                     bank account in Malta by supplying
                     the necessary documentation, such

                     • A reference from a bank you
                       currently hold an account with
                       (for each beneficiary of the
                     • Copy of passport (for each
                       beneficiary, shareholder,
                                                             1. Download:
                       director, etc.)                          file.aspx?f=31397                                                                      Malta         13
Reporting            Every Maltese registered
                     company is required to submit an
                                                              • Filing of income tax returns
                                                                by partnerships that have

Requirements         annual return to the Registrar of
                     Companies, accompanied by the
                                                                not elected to be treated as
                                                                companies: The tax year-end
                     appropriate registration fee, upon         will always be 31 December and
                     each anniversary of the company’s          the deadline for the filing of tax
                     registration. The return should be         returns is 30 June of the year of
                     signed by at least one director or by      assessment (the year following
                     the company secretary and should           the calendar year in which
                     be submitted to the Registrar no later     income arises).
                     than 42 days from the anniversary
                     date. Annual accounts need to be         Audit
                     submitted to the Registrar no later
                     than 10 months and 42 days (in           Although thresholds exist in terms of
                     the case of a private company) or        the Companies Act (1995), Maltese
                     7 months and 42 days (in the case of     income tax law prescribes that all
                     a public company) from the financial     companies, regardless of size and/or
                     year end. The statutory accounts         turnover, are subject to full audits.
                     of a Maltese company are required
                     either to meet the requirements of
                     International Financial Reporting
                     Standards (IFRS) or General
                     Accounting Principles for Small
                     Medium Enterprises (GAPSME). It is
                     important to note that penalties are
                     incurred for late filing of accounts;
                     the size of the charge depends on
                     the number of months late.


                     • Filing of income tax returns by
                       individuals: The tax year-end
                       will always be 31 December and
                       the deadline for the filing of tax
                       returns is 30 June of the year of
                       assessment (the year following
                       the calendar year in which
                       income arises).
                     • Filing of income tax returns by
                       companies is made in the year
                       of assessment – that is, the year
                       following the calendar year in
                       which income arises, as follows:          Table 4: Deadlines for filing tax return

                      Financial year-end                      Deadline for filing of tax return
                      30th June or earlier                    31st March of the following year
                      31st July                               30th April of the following year
                      31st August                             31st May of the following year
                      30th September                          30th June of the following year
                      31st October                            31st July of the following year
                      30th November                           31st August of the following year
                      31st December                           31st September of the following year                                                                              Malta   14
Grants and           Through a business-friendly agency,
                     the Maltese Government offers
                                                             Tax credits for qualifying
                                                             certifications (2018-2020)
incentives           a number of additional fiscal and
                     non-fiscal incentives to start-ups
                                                             Undertakings looking to
                     and businesses in general. Some of
                                                             continuously improve the quality
                     the currently available incentives
                                                             of their products, services
Agencies             are described briefly here.
                                                             and processes through the
                                                             attainment of industry-recognised
providing            Investment tax credits
                                                             certifications and quality marks may
                                                             also be supported through a tax
assistance           This is a tax incentive primarily
                                                             credit up to €25,000 by recovering
                                                             the costs of achieving approved
                     aimed at manufacturing industries,      certifications, quality marks, or
                     although it may also apply to           licences. This incentive should
                     certain other sectors. It typically     make it easier for undertakings to
                     consists of credits that can be         carry out investments that lead
                     deducted from taxes due on              to superior products, services of
                     chargeable income. Two types of         higher value and more efficient
                     investment tax credits (ITCRs) are      processes.
                                                             Tax credits for assistance for
                     • ITCRs calculated as a percentage      research and development
                       of a company’s expenditure
                       on qualifying tangible and
                                                             and innovation (2014–2020)
                       intangible assets in relation to an
                       initial investment project            Expenditure on industrial research
                                                             or experimental developments
                     • ITCRs calculated on the value         carried out for the acquisition
                       of wage costs for jobs directly       of knowledge leading to the
                       created by the initial investment     development of innovative
                       project.                              products and solutions may also
                                                             qualify for tax credits and/or cash
                     The percentage at which the ITCRs       grants calculated on the basis of
                     are calculated varies depending         qualifying R&D expenditure, subject
                     on the size of the business and the     to conditions.
                     amount of qualifying expenditure.
                                                             Business start (valid until
                     Tax credits for small and               30 October 2020)
                     medium enterprises
                     (2014–2020)                             Small start-up enterprises that have
                                                             a viable business concept and are
                     SMEs may also be eligible for tax       in the early stages of development
                     credits in respect of investment        may be supported through a grant
                     seeking to innovate, expand or          of up to €25,000.
                     develop operations. The tax credit
                     is calculated as a percentage of        Start-Up Finance (2017-2020)
                     wages, furbishing and refurbishing,
                     investment and/or motor vehicle         The aim of this measure is to
                     costs. The maximum eligible tax         finance innovative undertakings in
                     credit is capped at €50,000, which      their early stages of development
                     can increase to €70,000 for SMEs        by supporting Small Start-up
                     established in Gozo, female-owned       Undertakings that demonstrate
                     undertakings and those registered       a viable business concept in the
                     as a family business.                   setting-up and initial growth phases.                                                                    Malta          15
Support is linked to private            Finance to SMEs
                     equity, crowd funding and the
                     procurement of machinery and            Attractive financing packages
                     equipment. Depending on the type        are available to SMEs seeking to
                     of support provided, assistance         support their growth through
                     may be up to Euro 100,000 if linked     capital investment. Though subject
                     to crowd funding campaigns and up       to normal banking criteria, these
                     to Euro 200,000 when the support        facilities offer advantageous
                     is linked to private equity or          interest rates and considerably
                     required to fund the procurement        reduced collateral obligations.
                     of machinery and equipment.
                                                             Start-up investment grant
                     Micro Guarantee Scheme
                                                             scheme (valid until 2020)
                                                             This grant offers a reimbursement
                     This Micro Guarantee Scheme
                                                             of up to 50% of the investment
                     shall provide eligible undertakings
                                                             cost, up to a maximum of €300,000.
                     with a guarantee of up to 70%
                     on loans required to finance
                     business enhancement, growth and        SME growth grant scheme
                     development.                            (valid until 2020)

                     Rent subsidy (1 March 2016 to           This grant offers a reimbursement
                     31 December 2019)                       of up to 30% (20% for medium-
                                                             sized enterprises) of the investment
                                                             cost, up to a maximum of
                     Small undertakings engaged in
                     manufacturing activities that require
                     industrial space as a temporary or
                     permanent solution to implement
                     growth plans, handle an increase
                     in orders, and/or carry out process
                     innovations required to increase
                     efficiency may be supported
                     through a grant of up to €20,000.                                                                  Malta       16
Specific sectors                        Aviation                                    licensed shipping organisation
                                                                                    may be exempt from tax under

with favourable                         The following are among the
                                        various fiscal incentives available in
                                                                                    the Income Tax Act, provided
                                                                                    that the registration fees and

business                                this sector:                                tonnage taxes are duly paid;
                                                                                 • Instead of calculating the tax
opportunities                           • income derived by non-Maltese
                                          resident operators from the
                                                                                   due according to income, profit
                                                                                   or gains deriving from shipping
                                          ownership, leasing or operation          activity, a flat rate will be paid
                                          of aircrafts or aircraft engines         in accordance with the net tons,
                                          used in international aviation           where the regime specifies the
                                          business, such as transport of           standard rates applicable;
                                          passengers or goods, will not
                                                                                 • The inapplicability of the Social
                                          be taxed in Malta unless such
                                                                                   Security Act, provided those
                                          income is actually received in a
                                                                                   involved are operating as
                                          Maltese bank account. This will
                                                                                   officers of employees within a
                                          apply despite the fact that the
                                                                                   licenced shipping organisation,
                                          aircraft may be registered and/or
                                                                                   and are not resident in Malta;
                                          is operated in/from Malta
                                                                                 • The Duty on Documents will
                                        • Should any Maltese tax be
                                                                                   also be exempt in relation to the
                                          incurred eventually, through
                                                                                   tonnage tax ship.
                                          Malta’s tax refund system, this
                                          may be lowered to an effective
                                          tax rate of 5% or lower                Movies and filming
                                        • A considerable cash flow
                                          advantage by enjoying an               Besides Malta’s natural beauty and
                                          accelerated tax depreciation           multicultural surroundings, which
                                          rates: 6 years for the aircraft        over the years have attracted a
                                          and engines, and 4 years for the       number of blockbuster Hollywood
                                          interiors.                             movies, several financial and fiscal
                                                                                 incentives are offered in this sector.
                                                                                 Of particular relevance is the
                                        Yachting and shipping                    opportunity for producers filming
                                                                                 in Malta to enjoy a cash rebate of
                                        The commercial shipping sector           up to 25% on eligible costs incurred
                                        offers a number of incentives,           while in Malta.
                                        primarily a highly reputable flag at
                                        reasonable costs. Income derived         Investment funds
                                        from commercial yachting and
                                        shipping activities would still enjoy
iGaming and iBetting                                                             Malta is gaining a strong reputation
                                        low rates of income taxes as per the
                                                                                 for being an efficient and reputable
                                        usual refund system.
                                                                                 fund jurisdiction, with a number
Besides experiencing an effective
                                                                                 of world-renowned specialised
corporate tax rate of only 5% or        As of 1 April 2018, Malta finally
                                                                                 parties ancillary to this sector
lower, Maltese iGaming and iBetting     re-introduced the Tonnage Tax
                                                                                 already established. In addition to
companies also enjoy very low           Scheme, strengthening our tonnage
                                                                                 offering clear and practical licensing
gaming taxes and licence fees.          tax principles, whilst also promoting
                                                                                 procedures, Malta offers a number
International statistics continuously   the registration of ships in Malta
                                                                                 of fiscal incentives such as the
show that Malta remains the leading     and Europe. The scheme provides
                                                                                 absence of any taxes withheld on
iGaming jurisdiction in Europe – a      that:
                                                                                 the net asset value of the fund.
status acquired by offering the right
blend of low-cost incentives while      • Any income, profits or gains
also guaranteeing high EU-standard        which derive from shipping
regulation.                               activities carried out by a                                                                                        Malta         17
The Next Step
                                    To discuss your needs, please contact:

                                    KSi Malta

                                    Bernard Charles Gauci
                                    +356 2122 6176

                                    6, Villa Gauci
                                    Mdina Road
                                    BZN9031 Balzan

                                    Disclaimer: Morison KSi is a global association of independent professional
                                    firms. Professional services are provided by individual member firms.
January 2019

                                    Morison KSi does not provide professional services in its own right.
                                    No member firm has liability for the acts or omissions of any other member
                                    firm arising from its membership of Morison KSi.

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