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Thu 2 Apr 2009 12:30 PM

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Qatar tops tax friendly global list

UAE comes in second out of 50 world economies in the 2009 Forbes Tax Misery and Reform Index.

Qatar, the UAE and Hong Kong have trumped other world economies to retain the friendliest tax climate, according to the 2009 Tax Misery & Reform Index.

The annual global ranking, compiled by Forbes Asia, surveyed 50 countries and assessed whether a jurisdiction’s tax policy attracted or repelled capital and talent by calculating its Misery score. The score is the sum of the corporate, personal, social security and sales tax rates.

Countries at the top of the index with high scores impose the harshest taxes, while the most tax friendly are at the bottom.

Qatar, with a Misery score of 12 points as it levies only corporate income tax, was the most tax friendly on the index.

The UAE, which has no corporate tax but imposes social security contributions, followed closely behind with 18 points. Hong Kong was third with 41.5 points. They were the only two Gulf nations included in the survey.

Unlike the other 47 economies on the index, all three jurisdictions do not levy value added tax.

This year, most Asian jurisdictions continued to have more tax-friendly environment compared with other parts of the world.

The survey showed that outside of China and Japan, the rest of Asia continues to enjoy stable, low tax advantage.

New Zealand made the biggest improvement among Asia-Pacific jurisdictions by reducing its Misery score by nine points, mainly through individual income tax and social security reductions that are designed to give a stimulus to personal spending.

South Korea also lowered top rates and provided tax incentives for research and development, but the country still has one of the least tax-friendly regimes in the region.

However the North Asian nation is still better off than China which continues to be the least tax-friendly economy in Asia-Pacific.

A seven-point hike in its Misery score over last yearputs China just behind France, the country with the harshest tax regime.

This year, India saw a 24-point rise in its Misery score as a result of hikes in social security charges for both the employer and employee. This move is part of a trend in Asia toward increasing social security coverage to a level comparable to that in Europe.

Eight of the 10 least tax-friendly countries on the list are European.

The three most tax-friendly economies in the index:1. Qatar2. UAE3. Hong Kong

The three least tax-friendly economies in the index:1. France2. China3. Belgium

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