Doing Business records the taxes and mandatory contributions that a medium- size company must pay in a given year as well as measures of the administrative burden of paying taxes and contributions and complying with postfiling procedures. The project was developed and implemented in cooperation with PwC. Taxes and contributions measured include the proﬁt or corporate income tax, social contributions and labor taxes paid by the employer, property taxes, property transfer taxes, dividend tax, capital gains tax, ﬁnancial transactions tax, waste collection taxes, vehicle and road taxes, and any other small taxes or fees.
The ranking of economies on the ease of paying taxes is determined by sorting their scores for paying taxes. These scores are the simple average of the scores for each of the component indicators, with a threshold and a nonlinear transformation applied to one of the component indicators, the total tax and contribution rate. The threshold is deﬁned as the total tax and contribution rate at the 15th percentile of the overall distribution for all years included in the analysis up to and including Doing Business 2015, which is 26.1%. All economies with a total tax and contribution rate below this threshold receive the same score as the economy at the threshold.
The threshold is not based on any economic theory of an “optimal tax rate” that minimizes distortions or maximizes efficiency in an economy’s overall tax system. Instead, it is mainly empirical in nature, set at the lower end of the distribution of tax rates levied on medium-size enterprises in the manufacturing sector as observed through the paying taxes indicators. This reduces the bias in the total tax and contribution rate indicator toward economies that do not need to levy signiﬁcant taxes on companies like the Doing Business standardized case study company because they raise public revenue in other ways—for example, through taxes on foreign companies, through taxes on sectors other than manufacturing or from natural resources (all of which are outside the scope of the methodology).
Doing Business measures all taxes and contributions that are government mandated (at any level—federal, state or local) and that apply to the standardized business and have an impact in its ﬁnancial statements. In doing so, Doing Business goes beyond the traditional deﬁnition of a tax. As deﬁned for the purposes of government national accounts, taxes include only compulsory, unrequited payments to general government. Doing Business departs from this deﬁnition because it measures imposed charges that affect business accounts, not government accounts. One main difference relates to labor contributions. The Doing Business measure includes government-mandated contributions paid by the employer to a requited private pension fund or workers’ insurance fund. It includes, for example, Australia’s compulsory superannuation guarantee and workers’ compensation insurance. For the purpose of calculating the total tax and contribution rate (deﬁned below), only taxes borne are included. For example, value added taxes (VAT) are generally excluded (provided that they are not irrecoverable) because they do not affect the accounting proﬁts of the business—that is, they are not reflected in the income statement. They are, however, included for the purpose of the compliance measures (time and payments), as they add to the burden of complying with the tax system.
Doing Business uses a case scenario to measure the taxes and contributions paid by a standardized business and the complexity of an economy’s tax compliance system. This case scenario uses a set of ﬁnancial statements and assumptions about the transactions made over the course of the year. In each economy tax experts from a number of different ﬁrms (in many economies these include PwC) compute the taxes and mandatory contributions due in their jurisdiction based on the standardized case study facts. Information is also compiled on the frequency of ﬁling and payments, the time taken to comply with tax laws in an economy, the time taken to request and process a VAT refund claim and the time taken to comply with and complete a corporate income tax correction. To make the data comparable across economies, several assumptions about the business and the taxes and contributions are used.
Assumptions about the business
Assumptions about the taxes and contributions
The tax payments indicator reflects the total number of taxes and contributions paid, the method of payment, the frequency of payment, the frequency of ﬁling and the number of agencies involved for the standardized case study company during the second year of operation (table 1). It includes taxes withheld by the company, such as sales tax, VAT and employee-borne labor taxes. These taxes are tradition- ally collected by the company from the consumer or employee on behalf of the tax agencies. Although they do not affect the income statements of the company, they add to the administrative burden of complying with the tax system and so are included in the tax payments measure.
The number of payments takes into account electronic ﬁling. Where full electronic ﬁling and payment is allowed and it is used by the majority of medium-size businesses, the tax is counted as paid once a year even if ﬁlings and payments are more frequent. For payments made through third parties, such as tax on interest paid by a ﬁnancial institution or fuel tax paid by a fuel distributor, only one payment is included even if payments are more frequent.
Where two or more taxes or contributions are ﬁled for and paid jointly using the same form, each of these joint payments is counted once. For example, if mandatory health insurance contributions and mandatory pension contributions are ﬁled for and paid together, only one of these contributions would be included in the number of payments.
Table 1 - What do the paying taxes indicators measure?
Time is recorded in hours per year. The indicator measures the time taken to prepare, ﬁle and pay three major types of taxes and contributions: the corporate income tax, value added or sales tax, and labor taxes, including payroll taxes and social contributions. Preparation time includes the time to collect all information necessary to compute the tax payable and to calculate the amount payable. If separate accounting books must be kept for tax purposes—or separate calculations made—the time associated with these processes is included. This extra time is included only if the regular accounting work is not enough to fulﬁll the tax accounting requirements. Filing time includes the time to complete all necessary tax return forms and ﬁle the relevant returns at the tax authority. Payment time considers the hours needed to make the payment online or in person. Where taxes and contributions are paid in person, the time includes delays while waiting.
Total tax and contribution rate
The total tax and contribution rate measures the amount of taxes and mandatory contributions borne by the business in the second year of operation, expressed as a share of commercial proﬁt. Doing Business 2019 reports the total tax and contribution rate for calendar year 2017. The total amount of taxes and contributions borne is the sum of all the different taxes and contributions payable after accounting for allowable deductions and exemptions. The taxes withheld (such as personal income tax) or collected by the company and remitted to the tax authorities (such as VAT, sales tax or goods and service tax) but not borne by the company are excluded. The taxes included can be divided into ﬁve categories: proﬁt or corporate income tax, social contributions and labor taxes paid by the employer (for which all mandatory contributions are included, even if paid to a private entity such as a requited pension fund), property taxes, turnover taxes and other taxes (such as municipal fees and vehicle taxes). Fuel taxes are no longer included in the total tax and contribution rate because of the difficulty of computing these taxes in a consistent way for all economies covered. The fuel tax amounts are in most cases very small, and measuring these amounts is often complicated because they depend on fuel consumption. Fuel taxes continue to be counted in the number of payments.
The total tax and contribution rate is designed to provide a comprehensive measure of the cost of all the taxes a business bears. It differs from the statutory tax rate, which merely provides the factor to be applied to the tax base. In computing the total tax and contribution rate, the actual tax or contribution payable is divided by commercial proﬁt. Data for Iraq are provided as an example.
Commercial proﬁt is essentially net proﬁt before all taxes and contributions borne. It differs from the conventional proﬁt before tax, reported in ﬁnancial statements. In computing proﬁt before tax, many of the taxes borne by a ﬁrm are deductible. In computing commercial proﬁt, these taxes are not deductible. Commercial proﬁt therefore presents a clear picture of the actual proﬁt of a business before any of the taxes it bears in the course of the ﬁscal year.
Commercial proﬁt is computed as sales minus cost of goods sold, minus gross salaries, minus administrative expenses, minus other expenses, minus provisions, plus capital gains (from the property sale) minus interest expense, plus interest income and minus commercial depreciation. To compute the commercial depreciation, a straight-line depreciation method is applied, with the following rates: 0% for the land, 5% for the building, 10% for the machinery, 33% for the computers, 20% for the office equipment, 20% for the truck and 10% for business development expenses. Commercial proﬁt amounts to 59.4 times income per capita.
Doing Business focuses on a case study for a standardized medium- size company.
The postﬁling index is based on four components—time to comply with VAT refund, time to obtain VAT refund, time to comply with a corporate income tax correction and time to complete a corporate income tax correction. If both VAT and corporate income tax apply, the postﬁling index is the simple average of the scores for each of the four components. If only VAT or corporate income tax applies, the postﬁling index is the simple average of the scores for only the two components pertaining to the appli- cable tax. If neither VAT nor corporate income tax applies, the postﬁling index is not included in the ranking of the ease of paying taxes.
The four components include the time to comply with and complete a tax audit when applicable (see details below). The deﬁnition of a tax audit includes any interaction between the taxpayer and the tax authority post ﬁling of the tax return and payment of the tax liability due, including informal inquiries, formal inquiries and formal tax audits to verify whether such taxpayers have correctly assessed and reported their tax liability and fulﬁlled other obligations.
The indicators are based on expanded case study assumptions.
Assumptions about the VAT refund process
Assumptions about the corporate income tax correction process
Time to comply with VAT refund
Time is recorded in hours. The indicator has two parts:
A total estimate of zero hours is recorded if the process of claiming a VAT refund is done automatically within the standard VAT return without the need to complete any additional section or part of the return, no additional documents or tasks are required as a result of the input tax credit and, in 50% or more of similar cases, the company is not subjected to an audit.
An estimate of half an hour is recorded for submission of documents if the submission is done electronically and is a matter of minutes. An estimate of zero hours is recorded in the case of a ﬁeld audit if documents are submitted in person and at the taxpayer’s premises.
In Kosovo, for example, taxpayers spend 27 hours complying with the process of claiming a VAT refund. Taxpayers request the VAT refund in the standard VAT return. Taxpayers spend two hours gathering information from internal sources and accounting records to calculate the amount of the VAT refund. There is no additional time for preparing the refund claim because taxpayers indicate in the online VAT return that they want the outstanding VAT balance to be refunded. Taxpayers must also prepare and have available for review all purchase and sales invoices for the past three months, a business explanation of VAT overpayment for large purchases or investments, bank statements, any missing tax declaration and a copy of ﬁscal and VAT certiﬁcates. Taxpayers spend four hours preparing these additional documents. These documents are submitted electronically at the same time as the submission of the VAT return. Taxpayers must also appear in person at the tax office to explain the VAT refund claim and the reasons for the excess input VAT in the month of June. This takes three hours. Additionally, the claim for a VAT refund would trigger a full audit at the tax office. Taxpayers spend 16 hours preparing the documents requested by the auditor including purchase and sales invoices, bills, bank transactions, records on accounting software, tax returns and contracts. Taxpayers submit the documents to the auditor in person at the tax office (two hours for submission).
Time to obtain VAT refund
Time is recorded in weeks. Time measures the total waiting time to receive a VAT refund from the moment the request has been submitted. If companies with a request for a VAT cash refund due to a capital purchase are pooled into additional review in 50% or more of cases, time includes time to start the audit from the moment of claiming the VAT refund, time spent by TaxpayerCo. interacting with the auditor from the moment an audit begins until there are no further interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor (including the various rounds of interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor), time spent waiting for the tax auditor to issue the ﬁnal audit decision from the moment TaxpayerCo. has submitted all relevant information and documents and there are no further interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor and time spent waiting for the release of the VAT refund payment from the moment the ﬁnal audit decision has been issued by the auditor.
Time also includes an average waiting time to submit the refund claim. The average waiting time to submit the refund claim is half a month if the VAT refund claim is ﬁled monthly. The average waiting time to submit the refund claim is one month if the VAT refund claim is ﬁled bimonthly. The average waiting time to submit the refund claim is one and a half months if the VAT refund claim is ﬁled quarterly. The average waiting time to submit the refund claim is three months if the VAT refund claim is ﬁled semi-annually. The average waiting time to submit the refund claim is six months if the VAT refund claim is ﬁled annually.
Time includes the mandatory carry forward time before a VAT refund in cash can be paid. The carry forward time is zero if there is no mandatory carry forward period.
In Albania, for example, it takes 37 weeks to receive a VAT refund. The request for a VAT refund triggers an audit by the tax authorities. It takes four weeks for the tax authority to start the audit. Taxpayers spend 8.6 weeks interacting with the auditor and wait four weeks until the ﬁnal assessment is issued. Taxpayers only receive the VAT refund after the audit is completed. Taxpayers wait ﬁve weeks for the release of the VAT refund payment. In Albania the taxpayers must carry forward the VAT refund for three consecutive VAT accounting periods (three months in the case of Albania) before a refund in cash is requested. The three months (13 weeks) carry forward period is included in the total time to receive a VAT refund. The VAT return is ﬁled monthly and thus 0.5 month (2.1 weeks) is included in the total time to receive a VAT refund.
If an economy does not have a VAT, the economy will not be scored on the two indicators for a VAT refund process— time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. This is the case in Bahrain. If an economy has a VAT and the purchase of a machine is not subject to VAT, the economy will not be scored on time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. This is the case in Sierra Leone. If an economy has a VAT that was introduced in calendar year 2017 and there is not sufficient data to assess the refund process, the economy will not be scored on time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund.
If an economy has a VAT but the ability to claim a refund is restricted to speciﬁc categories of taxpayers that do not include the case study company, the economy is assigned a score of 0 for time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. In Bolivia, for example, only exporters are eligible to request a VAT refund. As a result, Bolivia receives a score of 0 for time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. If an economy has a VAT and the case study company is eligible to claim a refund but cash refunds do not occur in practice, the economy is assigned a score of 0 for time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. This is the case in Central African Republic. If an economy has a VAT but there is no refund mechanism in place, the economy is assigned a score of 0 for time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. This is the case in Sudan. If an economy has a VAT but input tax on a capital purchase is a cost on the business, the economy is scored 0 for time to comply with VAT refund and time to obtain VAT refund. This is the case in Myanmar.
Time to comply with a corporate income tax correction
Time is recorded in hours. The indicator has two parts:
An estimate of half an hour is recorded for submission of documents or payment of the income tax liability due if the submission or payment is done electronically in several minutes. An estimate of zero hours is recorded in the case of a ﬁeld audit if documents are submitted in person and at the taxpayer’s premises.
In the Slovak Republic, for example, taxpayers would submit an amended corporate income tax return electronically. It takes taxpayers one hour to correct the error in the return, half an hour to submit the amended return online and half an hour to make the additional payment online. Amending a corporate income tax return per the case study scenario in the Slovak Republic would not be subject to additional review. This brings the total compliance time to two hours.
Time to complete a corporate income tax correction
Time is recorded in weeks. Time includes the time to start an audit from the moment the tax authority has been noti- ﬁed of the error in the corporate income tax return, time spent by TaxpayerCo. interacting with the auditor from the moment an audit begins until there are no further interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor (including the various rounds of interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor), and time spent waiting for the tax auditor to issue the ﬁnal tax assessment from the moment TaxpayerCo. has submitted all relevant information and documents and there are no further interactions between TaxpayerCo. and the auditor.
Time to complete a corporate income tax correction is recorded as zero if less than 25% of companies will not go through an additional review.
In Switzerland, for example, taxpayers with an amended corporate income tax return per the case study scenario are subject to a single-issue audit conducted at the taxpayer’s premises. Taxpayers wait 30 days (4.28 weeks) until the tax authority starts the audit and interact for a total of four days (0.57 weeks) with the auditor and wait for four weeks until the ﬁnal assessment is issued by the auditor, resulting in a total of 8.86 weeks to complete a corporate income tax correction.
If an economy does not levy corporate income tax, the economy will not be scored on the two indicators: time to comply with a corporate income tax correction and time to complete a corporate income tax correction. This is the case in Vanuatu.
An economy receives a “no practice” mark on the payments, time, total tax and contribution rate and postﬁling index indicators if the economy does not levy any taxes or mandatory contributions.
The paying taxes indicator set tracks changes related to the different taxes and mandatory contributions that a medium- size company must pay in a given year, the administrative burden of paying taxes and contributions and the administrative burden of complying with two postﬁling processes (VAT refund, and tax audit) per calendar year. Depending on the impact on the data, certain changes are classiﬁed as reforms and listed in the summaries of Doing Business reforms in 2017/18 section of the report in order to acknowledge the implementation of signiﬁcant changes. Reforms are divided into two types: those that make it easier to do business and those changes that make it more difficult to do business. The paying taxes indicator set uses one criterion to recognize a reform.
The aggregate gap on the overall score of the indicator set is used to assess the impact of data changes. Any data update that leads to a change of 2% or more on the score gap is classiﬁed as a reform, except when the change is the result of automatic official fee indexation to a price or wage index (for more details, see the chapter on the ease of doing business score and ease of doing business ranking). For example, if the implementation of a new electronic system for ﬁling or paying one of the three major taxes (corporate income tax, VAT, labor taxes and mandatory contributions) reduces the time or the number of payments in a way that the overall gap decreases by 2% or more, such change is classiﬁed as a reform. Alternatively, minor updates to tax rates or ﬁxed charges or other smaller changes in the indicators that have an aggregate impact less than 2% on the gap are not classiﬁed as a reform, but their impact is still reflected on the most updated indicators for this indicator set.