Given that within the European Union there are no withholding taxes on IP royalties between member states, we can suggest a number of countries where royalties are particularly advantageous.
The intellectual property royalties tax regime in Cyprus has changed as a result of the recommendations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Action Report 5 and the Ecofin Council conclusions published on 8 December 2015. Legislation has been changed to limit the companies that can benefit from research and development (R&D) exemptions, but the tax rate in Cyprus is still one of the most favorable in the EU for foreign companies using Cyprus intellectual property want to license -resident companies (intermediaries), where this right is then sub-licensed to the end user. Overall, the effective tax on IP royalty income should be less than 2.5%.
In 2015 Ireland introduced an effective corporation tax rate of 6.25% on intellectual property income based on an allowance for research and development costs borne by the company. By linking the two components in this way, Irish law encourages companies to conduct R&D directly within the EU – leading to the creation of intellectual property – while discouraging them from acquiring licenses without directly committing to R&D.
Belgium has introduced a tax system that favors those with income from acquired copyrights. This tax regime can have many different applications and can be used to protect artworks as well as a useful tax break for IT developers. Income from IP rights royalties is taxed at 15%. This income is not taken into account when calculating social security contributions. In addition, these taxes are reduced by 50% for imports due to the application of standard import costs. The first €15,000 that a copyright owner earns in a year is therefore taxed at 7.5%, and the next €15,000 at 11.25%. This tax system applies to people with a total annual income of up to 56,450 euros.
In general, corporate tax in Luxembourg is 29.22%, but for IP licensing income it can be as low as 5.8%. This is due to an 80% corporate income tax exemption. Interestingly, this exemption also applies to companies that have registered a patent for use in connection with their own business, which then calculate a notional net income as if they had received the licensing income.
Italy is a larger market compared to the other countries discussed and can be a very attractive place for a company to invest in R&D since 2015 companies have been able to deduct intellectual property income from their taxable income base. The tax deduction was set at 30% in 2015, 40% in 2016 and 50% from 2017. Businesses will therefore enjoy a significant tax rebate by reducing their taxable income.
Since 2010, IP income has been taxed at only 5% in the Netherlands. Except for patents, there is no income limit. Patent holders can actually have access to this tax regime if their share of the expected revenue is between 30% and 70%, taking into account the total combined revenue from patents and other sources. These rates also apply to foreign companies owning intangible assets or companies that have received research and development accreditation from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs if they are owners of software IP or trade secrets. The only other caveat to this favorable tax regime is that it doesn't apply to marketing and branding-related assets.