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Taxes in Latvia

The Latvia's taxation system is affected by both the Latvian legislation and the requirements laid down by the European Union. It can be described as average, because every tax payer contributes to the budget 30 % of his/her income on average. Besides, the Latvia's diverse system of tax rates, tax relief and allowances enables every tax payer to choose the optimum sector for their occupation and management of funds. The Republic of Latvia has the lowest effective (average) tax rate in the European Union. There are several areas of trade business with individual tax privileges – payments that are lower by 80 % to 100 %: for example, Liepāja and Rēzekne have special economic zones, and free ports of Riga and Ventspils can grant tax relief.

The tax principles are laid down by the law On Taxes and Fees. Taxes are administered by the State Revenue Service (SRS), and they are classified as direct and indirect taxes. Indirect taxes are taxes that are not directly deducted from income and that are levied on goods and services. In their turn, the direct taxes are taxes that are levied on all taxable income of natural persons and companies.

Corporate income tax

The object upon which the corporate income tax is imposed is the taxable income obtained by a tax payer during a taxation period. The tax base is corporate financial income adjusted according to the law. The adjustments are mainly implemented in order to ensure that the income is greater than expenses on which the tax is not levied (for example, expenses that are not directly related to economic activity) or in order to reduce the income by a specific amount in case if the law envisages tax relief.
Corporate income tax payers are the following:

  • resident or domestic companies performing economic activity, organisations and institutions funded from the state budget or municipal budgets, which obtain income from economic activity;
  • non-resident or foreign companies, business entities, natural and other persons;
  • permanent representative offices of non-resident undertakings the income tax rate of which is 20%.

Individual undertakings are payers of the personal income tax, and the tax rate ranges from 20% to 31.4%, depending on the amount of income.

Personal income tax

The personal income tax is one of the steadiest sources of income adding funds to municipal budgets. Personal income tax payers are self-employed persons or undertakings that have been registered as tax payers, including agricultural and fishery farms. It is envisaged to repay the personal income tax to tax payers with eligible expenditure for education and medical services.

The personal income tax rates vary between 20% and 31.4%, depending on your income. It also must be noted that the tax is not levied on all income. Instead, a number of items are deducted from the total income before the tax is calculated:

  • non-taxable minimum
  • deductions for being a legal guardian of certain persons (e.g. children)
  • deductions for people with disabilities
  • other deductions

Social insurance contributions (social tax)

Compulsory social insurance contributions is a compulsory payment into a special budgetary account stipulated by the Law which entitles the insured person to receive the social insurance services defined by the Law. The social tax payments increase the state social insurance budget. Therefore an insured person can receive the following services: an old-age pension, disability pension, survivor's pension, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, insurance against unemployment and burial allowance.

The standard social tax rate is 35.09%, divided between the employer (24.09%) and the employee (11%). A number of deductions can be applied as well, mainly various tax cuts for state pension receivers.

Property tax

In Latvia, every property owner must pay the standard immovable property tax in the amount of 1.5% of the cadastral value of non-residential property – land and infrastructural buildings. Until January 2010, this tax in the amount of 1 % was a compulsory payment imposed only on the owners of land and commercial space. As for the residential real estate, the tax rate depends on the cadastral value of the immovable property:

  • EUR 56,915 - 0.2%;
  • EUR 56,915 to EUR 106,715 - 0.4%;
  • more than EUR 106,715 - 0.6% of the cadastral value of the immovable property.

The tax is applied to each part of the cadastral value. It means that, for example, if a residential property has a cadastral value of EUR 110,000, the property tax imposed would be calculated as follows:

  1. The part smaller than EUR 56,915 would generate 0.002 * 56,519 EUR worth of tax - EUR 113.04
  2. The part bigger than EUR 56,915 but smaller than EUR 106,715, i.e. EUR 50,196, would generate 0.004 * 50,196 EUR worth of tax - EUR 200.78
  3. The part bigger than EUR 106,715, i.e. 110,000 - 106,715 = 3285, would generate 0.006 * 3285 EUR worth of tax - EUR 19.71
  4. The individual tax sums generated would result in 113.04 + 200.78 + 19.71 = EUR 333.53 worth of tax

Please note that the above calculations merely demonstrate the theoretical basis for calculating the tax, and any real situation may differ.

Value added tax (VAT)

The VAT is a consumption tax imposed in the whole European Union, including Latvia. The said tax is levied on goods and services purchased and sold for use or consumption. This tax included in the price of a good or service is paid by the end consumer, therefore it is considered an indirect tax. In Latvia, based on the Law “On Value Added Tax” the basic tax rate currently in effect is 21%, but the reduced VAT rate can be 12%, 5% or 0%, depending on the good or service.

The VAT is a universal tax, because it is suitable for consumption with rare exemptions stipulated by the law, and this tax is not directly imposed on business. Due to the competition terms the European Union has put in place strict regulations on imposing the VAT.

Excise duty

The excise duty (called also selective consumption tax) is one of the most important taxes forming the core budget in Latvia; it is imposed on specific groups of produced or imported consumer goods and paid by natural and legal persons. The basic idea behind the excise duty is to limit the consumption of goods harmful to human health and naturally – to add funds to the budget. The duty is calculated as EUR per one item of the product or as percentage based on the product's price.

In September 2010, the law was amended stating that until 30 June 2011 the excise duty would not be imposed on natural gas used as fuel.