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Egyptian Stock Exchange: Overcoming Tax Implementation Barriers

Investment climate in Egypt is integral to the country’s economic advancement, with the Egyptian Stock Exchange playing a pivotal role in this context, being one of the key financial markets in the Middle East. However, the exchange encounters multifaceted challenges, notably taxation and implementation hurdles.

In the past, the Egyptian Stock Exchange enjoyed complete exemption from taxes on profits generated from transactions. However, the government decided to impose taxes on capital gains from investments in the exchange. Despite the implementation of these taxes, they were rescinded shortly afterward due to their adverse effects on the markets and a decline in investment confidence.

These challenges are epitomized by the difficulty in implementing capital gains tax and the back-and-forth between the Ministry of Finance and the Egyptian Clearing House, negatively impacting the exchange’s attractiveness to investors. In this context, some ponder over the solution to overcome these issues, whether by reintroducing stamp duty or abolishing the idea of taxing transactions altogether.

Tax History at the Egyptian Stock Exchange

Previously, the exchange enjoyed complete exemption from taxes on profits from transactions or cash distributions to shareholders. However, in July 2013, the government abolished stamp duty on transactions and imposed a10% tax on capital gains from stock investments. However, these taxes were revoked just one year after their implementation due to substantial stock losses and investor withdrawal.

The Egyptian Stock Exchange has experienced a tumultuous journey in the past decade regarding taxation, fluctuating between stamp duty on buy-and-sell transactions and taxation on capital gains realized from trading in the market. Each time this issue arises, the exchange incurs tangible losses, in addition to the difficulty in implementing capital gains tax between the Ministry of Finance and the Egyptian Clearing House.

Tax Collection History

Five years ago, the Egyptian Stock Exchange began collecting stamp duty, while the imposition of capital gains tax was canceled and postponed five times due to the difficulty in implementation and investor withdrawal upon its announcement.

Challenges and Proposed Scenarios

With the Ministry of Finance’s persistence in implementing capital gains tax despite the lack of implementing regulations, and the resilience of the exchange and the clearing house in facing challenges, the question arises: Is the solution to revert to stamp duty, or should the idea of taxing transactions be completely abandoned as a means to encourage investment in this domain?

Impact on Investment in the Egyptian Stock Exchange

With increasing tax challenges, the current situation may hinder attracting more investors to the Egyptian Stock Exchange. However, there remains an opportunity to find comprehensive solutions to ensure market competitiveness and enhance its appeal to both local and foreign investors.

Incentives for Investing in the Egyptian Stock Exchange

Despite current challenges, Egypt offers a range of incentives for investors in the Egyptian Stock Exchange, including facilitation of obtaining visas and permits necessary for working and investing in the country, along with legislative and regulatory measures aimed at promoting investment environment and stimulating economic growth.

Proposed Insights

In a meeting between the finance minister and members of the Egyptian Tax Association in Alexandria a few months ago, the Minister indicated that the Ministry of Finance is preparing a new law project that may involve amending or even abolishing capital gains tax. However, we are fully aware that this proposal currently faces challenges, making stamp duty a viable alternative. We believe this issue should be among the top priorities of the Supreme Tax Council in the near future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, caught between the hammer of taxation and the anvil of implementation challenges, the Egyptian Stock Exchange remains in a dilemma, amid calls for comprehensive solutions to maintain its competitiveness and attract investors. Enhancing investment in the Egyptian Stock Exchange requires careful consideration of tax aspects, while focusing on creating a conducive and stimulating investment environment. It is also important for the government and relevant authorities to collaborate with the private sector to find balanced solutions that promote economic development and achieve financial and economic stability.

To find out more, please fill out the form or email us at: info@eg.Andersen.com

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Written By

Hamdy Yahia - Tax Partner

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