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A Complete Guide to Profits Tax Return in
Hong Kong

Filing profits tax returns is a critical annual responsibility for individuals and businesses operating within the vibrant economic landscape of Hong Kong. This comprehensive guide is designed to provide you with in-depth insights into the complexities of the Hong Kong profits tax system. We’ll explore topics ranging from tax computation and exemptions to incentives and crucial deadlines. Whether you’re a seasoned business owner, a foreign company operating in Hong Kong, or an individual looking to decipher your tax obligations, this guide is your ultimate companion throughout the tax filing process.

You may also be interested to check out our guide on how to register a business in Hong Kong. Click that link to find out more.


Understanding the Hong Kong Profits Tax System

What is a Profit Tax Return in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, a Profit Tax Return (PTR) is more than just a tax document; it’s the key to accurately reporting your taxable income. This essential form is prepared in collaboration with audited accounting firms and documents the taxable income generated during a specific accounting period, typically spanning twelve months. For first-time tax filers, the assessment period cannot exceed 17 months. Filing a PTR ensures the accurate and timely reporting of taxable income, contributing to Hong Kong’s reputation for a transparent and efficient tax system.

When Are Profits Tax Returns Chargeable?

Profits Tax Returns (PTRs) in Hong Kong are chargeable to individuals and businesses that engage in trade, profession, or business activities within the region. Taxation applies to assessable profits derived from Hong Kong sources. Let’s delve into scenarios illustrating when PTRs may be chargeable:


For Independent Consultants:

Independent Consultant Earning Income in Hong Kong: If an independent consultant, like John, provides consulting services to Hong Kong-based clients and earns income from these services, filing a PTR is mandatory. John should diligently report his consultancy income and expenses to calculate his assessable profits.

Independent Consultant with International Clients: Sarah, another independent consultant, works with clients in Hong Kong and overseas. While her income from Hong Kong clients is subject to Profits Tax, income from clients outside Hong Kong generally isn’t charged, unless linked to a Hong Kong business operation.

For Small Business Owners:

Local Retail Store Owner: Suppose Lisa owns a small retail store in Hong Kong, selling clothing and accessories. The income generated from her store’s sales in Hong Kong constitutes assessable profits. Therefore, Lisa must file a PTR for her retail business, reporting her sales revenue and deductible business expenses.

Online Business Based in Hong Kong: Alex operates an online business selling handmade crafts worldwide. Although his global customer base, his business operations, such as product creation and management, are primarily based in Hong Kong. The profits he earns from this business in Hong Kong are subject to Profits Tax. Thus, Alex must file a PTR, reporting his worldwide income but apportioning it to Hong Kong sources.


Need advice on accounting? If so, check out our article “Accounting for Entrepreneurs: Unlocking Financial Success“.

Understanding Hong Kong’s Unique Fiscal Year

Hong Kong’s tax year is a departure from the conventional calendar year, commencing in April and concluding on March 31 of the following year. This unique fiscal cycle aligns with the Profit Tax Returns (PTRs) and allows businesses to synchronise their financial and tax reporting with this April-to-March cycle. This is unlike the more common January-to-December calendar year used in many other countries.

Let’s illustrate this with an example:

– Tax Year Start: April 1, 2023

– Tax Year End: March 31, 2024

During this period, a business like “ABC Corporation” operating in Hong Kong would conduct its financial activities, generate revenue, and incur expenses. When the tax year ends on March 31, 2024, ABC Corporation will be required to prepare and submit its Profit Tax Return (PTR) for this specific tax year.

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Hong Kong’s Flat Corporate Tax Rate and Two-Tier Profits Tax Rates Regime


Hong Kong prides itself on offering a simple and competitive tax regime. Corporations are subject to a single-tier corporate taxation system with a flat tax rate of 16.5% on their taxable profits. However, since the Year of Assessment 2018/19, a Two-Tier income tax regime has been in effect. This regime extends its benefits to both corporate entities and unincorporated businesses. It reduces tax rates on the initial HKD 2 million of assessable income. This progressive tax structure fosters a competitive environment by offering a lower tax burden for smaller enterprises while larger companies still maintain the 16.5% tax rate. This serves as an incentive to support and stimulate the growth of smaller businesses in Hong Kong.


Key Profits Tax Developments Relevant to Return Filing

Hong Kong’s tax landscape is dynamic, and staying informed about key developments is crucial. One significant development is introducing the FSIE (Fundamental Supervisory and Information Exchange) regime, effective January 1, 2023. For entities with an accounting year-end between January 1, 2023, and March 31, 2023 (referred to as M code entities), complying with the FSIE regime is essential. Adjustments are necessary to exclude specified foreign-sourced income accrued but not received in Hong Kong. If the applicable exemption conditions are met, tax exemptions may be claimed for specified foreign-sourced income accrued and received in Hong Kong. This regime involves the completion and electronic submission of a new Form IR1478.

Moreover, as of April 1, 2022, a favourable tax regime has been introduced for the maritime services sector in Hong Kong. This concessionary tax scheme aims to benefit qualifying ship agents, ship managers, and ship brokers by offering significant tax advantages. Depending on specific conditions, these entities can enjoy a complete profits tax exemption or a reduced profits tax rate of 0% or 8.25%. To avail of this tax concession, eligible taxpayers must complete and submit the newly introduced supplementary forms, namely S16 to S18, as applicable to their circumstances. These forms are vital in facilitating the application and compliance process under this beneficial regime.


Tax Incentives Available in Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers several tax incentives to promote economic growth and attract investments. These tax incentives encompass profit tax exemptions for onshore and offshore investments in the city. Here are some notable tax incentives:

Offshore Profits Tax Exemption: Hong Kong provides a complete exemption from profits tax for income generated from offshore activities. Companies engaged in offshore businesses with no Hong Kong-sourced income can enjoy this exemption.

Two-Tiered Profits Tax Regime: As mentioned earlier, the two-tiered profits tax regime offers reduced tax rates for the first HK$2 million of assessable income, benefiting small and medium-sized businesses.

Tax Deductions for Research and Development (R&D): Companies conducting qualified R&D activities in Hong Kong can claim tax deductions on their R&D expenditures, encouraging innovation and technological advancement.

Deductions for Capital Expenditure: Certain capital expenditures, such as machinery and equipment purchases, can be deducted from assessable profits over time, lowering the overall tax liability.

Tax Incentives for Specific Industries: Hong Kong provides sector-specific incentives for industries like film production, aerospace, and ship leasing, offering reduced tax rates or other benefits to attract investment in these sectors.

These tax incentives are designed to foster a business-friendly environment, promote innovation, and attract investments to Hong Kong.

Not sure what benefits an accounting system brings to one’s business? Read our article “Unlocking the Benefits of Accounting Systems” to learn more. 

Nil Return vs. Profits Tax Exemption

Operating within a simple tax system with low taxes demands high knowledge and compliance. In Hong Kong, every taxpayer must file a timely tax return with the Internal Revenue Department. Some erroneously assume businesses not operating in Hong Kong need not file PTR returns. This misconception can lead to tax complications, higher tax liabilities, and potential legal repercussions for companies. Understanding the distinction between a Nil Return and a Profits Tax Exemption is essential and adhering to the tax requirements accurately to avoid any adverse consequences.

Due Dates for Filing the 2022/23 Profits Tax Returns

Timeliness is crucial when it comes to tax compliance. The extended deadlines for submitting profits tax returns for the 2022/23 tax year under the Block Extension Scheme are as follows:

For Corporations: The deadline is typically one month after the date of issue of the Profits Tax Return. However, for corporations under the Block Extension Scheme, the extended due date is usually in November, providing them additional time to file their returns.

For Unincorporated Businesses: The original deadline is one month after the date of issue of the Profits Tax Return. The extended deadline typically falls in November for businesses benefiting from the Block Extension Scheme, offering extra time for return submission. This extension scheme is designed to accommodate businesses and ensure they have sufficient time for accurate tax return preparation and submission.

How to File Profits Tax Return/Corporate Tax Return

Filing a corporate profits tax return in Hong Kong typically begins with the release of income tax returns in April, often during the early part of the month. After receiving the Profit Tax Return (PTR), taxpayers usually have one month to apply for a statutory extension if needed. For instance, if the Hong Kong fiscal year starts on April 1, 2021, and ends on March 31, 2022, the PTR is typically issued on March 1, 2022. Understanding the timing and deadlines is crucial, as it ensures businesses can accurately prepare and submit their corporate tax returns within the stipulated timeframe, preventing potential penalties or issues with tax compliance.

Want a guide on accounting basics for small businesses? Look no further, we have just the thing for you. Click that link to read our article!

Offshore Income Taxation in Hong Kong

Hong Kong operates on a territorial tax basis, meaning that corporate income tax applies only to profits generated within the territory of Hong Kong. Any income derived from activities conducted outside of Hong Kong, regardless of whether the funds are remitted through Hong Kong or another jurisdiction, remains exempt from corporate income tax. This includes businesses receiving funds in Hong Kong bank accounts while primarily operating outside of Hong Kong. In essence, the offshore income of a company is not subject to taxation in Hong Kong, aligning with the principle of territorial taxation that forms the foundation of Hong Kong’s tax regime.

Discover our top-tier incorporation services or connect with our team now for personalised, game-changing advice. 

Tax Treatment of Losses

In Hong Kong, losses incurred by a company during a financial year can be carried forward and offset against future profits within the same business entity. However, it’s important to note that Hong Kong does not allow for group losses relief, meaning losses cannot be transferred from one company to another within a corporate group. Unlike some jurisdictions, capital losses cannot be deducted from an individual’s income in Hong Kong. Additionally, special provisions exist to adjust losses between concessional trading activities and regular trade activities, ensuring that losses are managed and applied appropriately within the context of the specific business activities.


Navigating the Hong Kong tax landscape requires a nuanced understanding of its unique tax regime, including provisions for tax incentives, exemptions, and the treatment of losses. Hong Kong’s territorial taxation system ensures that only income earned within its borders is subject to taxation, while offshore income remains exempt. Recent developments, such as the Two-Tier Profits Tax Rates Regime and the Block Extension Scheme, offer additional flexibility and benefits to businesses.

Taxpayers need to remain vigilant about filing deadlines and compliance requirements to avoid potential penalties. Staying informed about legal decisions, like the China Mobile case, is crucial for maintaining tax compliance and minimising liabilities in this dynamic tax environment.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of your taxes or need assistance with financial tax planning, consulting tax advisors at Sleek will save you time, money, and potential headaches. At Sleek, we provide accounting services to aid you with an efficient and seamless tax process.

If you have more questions regarding foreigners’ income tax in Hong Kong, feel free to contact Sleek!


A profit tax return is a formal document filed with tax authorities, such as the Inland Revenue Department in Hong Kong, to report a business’s assessable profits and calculate the amount of profits tax owed for a specific tax year.

Profits tax is typically paid by corporations, unincorporated businesses, and individuals who earn assessable profits within the jurisdiction where the tax is levied, such as in Hong Kong. The tax rate and rules may vary by location and tax laws.

In Hong Kong, corporations’ current standard profits tax rate is 16.5% of assessable profits. However, there are exceptions, such as the Two-Tier Profits Tax Rates Regime, which offers lower rates for certain businesses’ first $2 million of assessable income.

Yes, Hong Kong requires individuals and businesses to file tax returns, known as Profit Tax Returns (PTR) for corporations and individuals, to report their assessable profits and calculate the amount of profits tax owed to the Inland Revenue Department.

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