1. International News
- Russia notifies Malta about tax treaty changes
- European Commission issues guidance to ensure full data protection standards of apps fighting the pandemic
2. Administrative Notices
- Updates to the COVID Wage Supplement Scheme conditions
- Statement by the Ministry for Finance and Financial Services: More Financial Assistance to help Businesses Address Liquidity Difficulties
- Statement by the Ministry for Social Accommodation: Those impacted by COVID-19 will receive a benefit covering up to 80% of their rental expenses
- Press Release by the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs: The government’s voluntary repatriation assistance scheme for all foreign nationals extended
1. International News
1.1 Russia notifies Malta about tax treaty changes
Following the Russian President’s address on 25 March 2020, wherein it was announced that Russia intends to amend its double taxation treaties with some countries to protect its tax base, the Russian Ministry of Finance has notified Malta’s Finance Minister about amendments to the Russian-Maltese double taxation treaty. The intention is to increase the tax on outbound Russian dividends and outbound interest income to 15%. Changes will not affect interest gains paid on Eurobond loans, bond loans of Russian companies and loans extended by foreign banks.
In his address on 25 March 2020, the President of Russia had stated that a unilateral withdrawal from treaties will be considered if approached countries do not accept Russia’s proposal.
1.2 European Commission issues guidance to ensure full data protection standards of apps fighting the pandemic
The European Commission published guidance on the development of new apps that support the fight against coronavirus in relation to data protection. The guidance provides that the main prerequisites for the development of such apps are the following:
- any such apps must clearly establish who is accountable for compliance with EU personal data protection rules, ideally the national health authorities;
- the installation of such apps on a user’s devise should be voluntary and the user should be able to give their consent to each functionality separately;
- such apps should adhere to the principle of data minimization and personal data should not be kept for longer than necessary;
- data should be stored on an individual’s device and encrypted;
- personal data processed by a third party must be accurate and there must be efficiency of contact tracing apps; and
- data protection authorities should be fully involved and consulted in the development of such apps and should be tasked with reviewing the deployment of such apps.
2. Administrative Notices
2.1 Updates to the COVID Wage Supplement Scheme conditions
Malta Enterprise has updated the COVID Wage Supplement Scheme conditions, as follows:
- It has been clarified that employees cannot be made redundant while being supported through a COVID Wage Supplement
- The requirement to record the COVID Wage Supplement separately on the employee’s pay slip and FS3 has been removed, although the conditions still provide that the pay slip should show this information, if possible. An employer is nonetheless required to communicate the details of the COVID Wage Supplement to each employees, including its gross value.
- The funds disbursed by Malta Enterprise must be forwarded to each respective employee, as applicable after deducting any taxes due.
- It is no longer provided that the COVID Wage Supplement is non-taxable (a notice published by the Commissioner for Revenue had confirmed that the wage supplement is taxable in the hands of the employee). However, it has been clarified that the COVID Wage Supplements should not be recorded as income to the employer.
- An additional condition appears to have been included, requiring that the applicant ensures that the provision of COVID Wage Supplement does not, at any time, result in a global salary package in excess of the employee’s average basic salary for January and February 2020. Should this occur, the applicant will be liable to effect a full or partial refund of the COVID Wage Supplement which shall be equal to the amount in excess of the employee’s average salary for January and February 2020.
- Moreover, the COVID Wage Supplement may only be claimed with respect to employees who were registered as employees of the Company with Jobsplus as at 9th March 2020. A caveat provides that this limitation shall not apply where such registration was delayed due to administrative reasons beyond the control of the employer, or when the supplement is claimed in relation to an employee who already had an employment contract with the employer dated prior to 9th March 2020 with an engagement date after the said date.
2.2 Statement by the Ministry for Finance and Financial Services: More Financial Assistance to help Businesses Address Liquidity Difficulties
During a press conference on 16th April 2020, it was announced that the Government of Malta will be subsidizing interest rates on the working capital loans for two years and up to a maximum of 2.5%. Several banks in Malta have already reached an agreement with the Government of Malta on this matter.
2.3 Statement by the Ministry for Social Accommodation: Those impacted by COVID-19 will receive a benefit covering up to 80% of their rental expenses
During a press conference on 16th April 2020, it was announced that those impacted by COVID-19 may access a rental benefit which covers up to 80% of their rental expenses. This benefit is available for persons made redundant, those who are temporarily suspended from work and are not being paid, self-employed individuals whose operations are suspended or significantly restricted further to the COVID-19 pandemic, and those individuals experiencing domestic violence.
2.4 Press Release by the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs: The government’s voluntary repatriation assistance scheme for all foreign nationals extended
A press release issued on 20th April 2020 has announced that the voluntary repatriation assistance scheme for all foreign nationals wishing to return to their home country has been extended. Applications will be received until the 10th May 2020.
Assistance is available to all European Union citizens and third-country nationals. Foreign individuals who are not in possession of a residence document are also entitled to assistance.