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IR56 Forms: Your Ultimate Guide

7 minute read

If you’re a small businessman or entrepreneur in Hong Kong, you know how important it is to make informed financial decisions. A large part of this is complying with tax regulations and filing returns on time.

We understand that this can become confusing. There are different types of taxes, many forms to fill, and many deadlines to meet. Relax! We’re going to demystify the taxation regime in Hong Kong, with a focus on the IR56 forms that employers must file.

In this employer’s guide, we break down the tax types and explain the IR56 forms in an actionable manner. Furthermore, Sleek aims to empower you to navigate this landscape with confidence

Understanding Hong Kong’s Taxation System

Hong Kong’s business-friendly tax policies have made it an attractive destination for many. Whether you’re a solopreneur, self-employed, or run a small business, you can take advantage of its great location, infrastructure and competitive environment.

Hong Kong also has a territorial-based tax system. What does this mean?

Well, it’s simple really! It means that only income generated within the territory’s borders is subject to tax. If your business profits come from outside Hong Kong, they are generally tax-exempt.

The main types of taxes in Hong Kong are:

Profits Tax: This applies to corporations and businesses operating in Hong Kong. The current tax rate is 16.5% on assessable profits. Small businesses may enjoy lower tax rates on the first HKD 2 million of assessable profits under certain circumstances.

Salaries Tax: This applies to individuals earning income from employment, business, or profession in Hong Kong. At present, there are five tax brackets of 2%, 6%, 10%, 14% and 17%, depending on your assessable income.

Property Tax: For landlords and property owners, this tax is imposed on rental income generated from properties in Hong Kong. There is a standard rate of 15%.

IR56 Forms: Understanding Your Responsibilities

As an employer in Hong Kong, you must comply with the rules of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (IRO) and file the relevant tax forms.

You have to report the amount paid to employees through an Employer’s Return. One of the most crucial forms to be familiar with is the IR56 form series. This set of forms deals with employee remuneration and benefits.

If you’re self-employed or run a solo business of any sort, you may wonder what the definition of “employee” is. According to the IRD website, an employee covers:

  • Those employed by Hong Kong companies, full-time or part-time; Hong Kong residents or non-Hong Kong residents; and those providing services in or outside Hong Kong.              
  • Those assigned or seconded to a Hong Kong company by its overseas holding company or subsidiary, providing services in or outside Hong Kong.
  • Individuals covered under section 9A of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, including those who render personal services with service contracts.

By the way, signing up for the e-tax portal is an efficient and pain-free way to file tax returns. And Sleek will give you seamless, compliant, and automated payroll solutions.

Types of IR56 Forms

There are different IR56 forms for separate needs. The main types of this public form that you should be aware of are:

IR56B: Employers must submit a copy of IR56B, which contains the employee’s income, tax deductions, and allowances. The information relates to the previous financial year, which runs from April 1 last year to March 31 this year.

IR56E: Employers also need to provide form IR56E, which relates to all new employees who have joined the company or firm.

IR56F and IR56G: The first form contains details of employees who are about to leave their jobs. The second form should have details of employees who are leaving their jobs and are also leaving Hong Kong.

IR56M: This is a separate form for freelancers and contracted staff. For example, consultants, agents, writers, artists and so on. At present, you must report payments to sub-contractors that exceed $200,000 per annum, or other if they exceed $25,000 per annum.




For employee remuneration


For new employees


For leaving employees


For employees leaving Hong Kong


IR56 Form Filing Deadlines

We don’t need to remind you that filing returns on time is vital. This year, the forms were issued by the Inland Revenue Centre on 3 April 2023.  Employers had to complete and file the returns within one month of this date.

Form IR56F has to be submitted within one month before the cessation of employment of an employee. Employers need to submit IR56G within one month before their employee departs Hong Kong.

It is always a good idea to work with professionals who will ensure that you are aware of the different deadlines, and file returns on time. Consider Sleek’s team of dedicated accountants for simplified and effortless filing.

Tips for Efficient IR56 Form Filing

Reading about all these IR56 forms may make you wonder how you are going to stay on top of them all. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Maintain Accurate Records: Every month, keep detailed records of each employee’s income, deductions, and benefits. This will ensure accuracy when filling out the IR56 forms.
  • Use Reliable Payroll Software: It makes sense to purchase reliable payroll software. As an IR56 taxpayer, you can ensure automation and compliance with tax regulations.
  • Stay Updated: Tax regulations can change. Details of income and reporting may need to be updated. It is important to stay informed about any amendments that affect your tax filing obligations. Hong Kong’s Inland Revenue Department regularly provides news and updates.
  • Get Professional Advice: As a small business owner, you already have your hands full with many work responsibilities. For peace of mind, contact Sleek’s accounting and audit services, and get expert assistance.

Maximising Deductions and Allowances

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, maximising deductions and allowances is important to lower your tax burden. Here are some to examine.

  • Employee Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Contributions: Such contributions are tax-deductible for employers. Ensure that you contribute the required amount on time.
  • Capital Allowances: Some types of expenditure, such as machinery or equipment, may qualify for capital allowances. You can deduct these from taxable income.
  • Home Office Deduction: If you conduct your business from a home office, you may get a deduction on some home-related expenses.
  • Depreciation: Depreciation on fixed assets can be claimed as deductions over time. 

Ensuring Compliance and Avoiding Pitfalls

In Hong Kong, it is vital to stay compliant with tax regulations. If you do not do this, it could seriously affect your business’s financial health, reputation and prospects.

To start with, missing tax deadlines can result in stiff penalties. You could face increased scrutiny from tax authorities in future years.

You should make sure that the information provided in the IR56 forms is accurate in every detail. This is important to avoid potential tax disputes. 

All sources of income should be duly reported. If you fail to do this, you will face tax evasion allegations.  

In a Nutshell 

An essential aspect of thriving in Hong Kong is understanding and following the tax regime. As an employer and entrepreneur, you should make sure that the required IR56 forms are filed on time.

This will enable smooth business operations and compliance with the law. By staying informed and making the most of available deductions, you can navigate the tax landscape with confidence.

The best way to do this is to work with the experts at Sleek. Then, you can look forward to more time and resources to focus on growing your business. Switching to Sleek is simple: we’ll handle all that is required, leaving you with peace of mind.


IR56 forms are an annual return of remuneration and pensions that must be completed by employers in Hong Kong. The forms provide the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) with information about the salaries and wages that have been paid to employees. They also include the deductions that have been made from their salaries.

All employers in Hong Kong who have paid salaries or wages to employees during the year are required to complete IR56 forms. This includes employers of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations.

The penalties for not filing IR56 forms can be harsh. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) can impose a fine of up to HK$10,000 for each offence. In addition, the IRD may also charge interest on any late payments of tax.

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