News & Insights
Legal Infrastructure and Investment Incentives at Istanbul Finance Center
Ezgi Anasız | ASSOCIATE11.05.2023
It is significant for Turkey, which participates in the global race the world of financial competition by attracting foreign investors to our country, to provide legal infrastructure to the Istanbul Finance Center. In the Istanbul Financial Center Law, It is stated that transactions such as banking, insurance capital markets, factoring, financial leasing, securities, derivative instruments, payment services, and electronic money can be carried out within the scope of financial activities at IFC. For this reason, the "Istanbul Financial Center Law," which envisages some discounts, incentives, exceptions, and exemptions by strengthening the harmony in finance and capital markets, entered into force. According to the law, three main conditions are foreseen to operate in IFC and benefit from discounts, exemptions, and other tax advantages:
1) Obtaining the 'participant certificate' from the Presidential Finance Office
2) Being located in one of the office areas at IFC
3) Realization of financial services export
Legal persons who meet the above conditions will benefit from the incentives and tax reductions in the law. These incentives are;
• Banking and insurance transactions tax on financial export transactions and the money received in favor of these transactions,
• From 60 to 80 percent income tax of the personnel employed by financial institutions at IFC, depending on their professional experience abroad,
• Papers drawn up in transactions regarding leasing immovables in IFC will be exempted from all kinds of fees and stamp tax.
• Financial activity fees, which must be collected from the headquarters and branches of IFC following the Fees Law, will not be collected for five years as of the effective date of 28.06.2022.
• Between 2022 and 2031, 100 percent of the earnings from financial service exports, and 75 percent in the future, will be deducted from corporate income, provided that it is separately stated in the corporate tax return.
• Relevant tax exemptions and discounts will also be applied to the active participants' regional treasury and financial management centers in at least three countries. Accordingly, the relevant ministry will primarily evaluate the work permit applications of the participants who will operate in the IFC and the foreign personnel of the participants who are active in at least three countries.
The law introduced a "one-stop office" system to monitor the participants' permission and license application processes regarding financial activities from a single place and ensure coordination between public institutions and organizations.
Financial services provided by financial institutions to non-residents by obtaining a participant certificate will be considered financial service exports, provided that the service is ultimately utilized abroad. However, transactions of financial institutions to buy assets into their portfolios or sell assets from their portfolios, derivative transactions and activities, services and transactions of domestic residents that take their savings abroad, which they carry out on their behalf and account, will not be considered within the scope of financial service exports.
Within the scope of the activities they carry out at IFC, the participants can freely choose the law in all kinds of transactions and contracts they make subject to private law, provided that the activities are not contrary to the applicable legislation.
The Istanbul Finance Center is anticipated to make significant contributions to our country's economy with the launch of domestic and foreign financial institutions. The expectations for attracting foreign investors are pretty high. To meet these expectations, it is necessary to gain foreign investors' trust and ensure legal and economic stability in terms of markets. Based on the reporting criteria in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index, practical procedures for establishing a company, applying for loans, and obtaining construction permits within the Financial Center should be implemented. Real estate transfer and registration processes must be carried out quickly, and tax and customs payments must be made promptly and efficiently. It is predicted that reducing bureaucratic procedures and opening the way for foreign investors to open their companies online on the same day and open their taxes will attract more investors.