Foreign Business Taxation Essentials in Turkey

Navigating the Tax System in Turkey for Foreign Companies: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the tax landscape is crucial for foreign companies operating or planning to invest in Turkey. The country offers a strategic location bridging Europe and Asia, and its tax system is designed to encourage investment while ensuring compliance with international standards. This detailed guide provides an in-depth look at the key aspects of the Turkish tax regime that are pertinent to foreign businesses.

Overview of the Turkish Tax System

The Turkish tax system is structured to be competitive while aligning with global tax practices. It includes several types of taxes such as corporate income tax, value-added tax (VAT), withholding taxes, and customs duties, which are administered by the Turkish Revenue Administration. The system aims to support business activities while ensuring fair taxation.

Corporate Income Tax

Foreign companies are subject to corporate income tax on their income generated in Turkey. The current corporate tax rate is 22%, but it is subject to change as the government periodically adjusts it for economic conditions. Companies are taxed on their worldwide income if they are considered resident in Turkey, typically defined by their place of management being located in the country. Non-resident companies are only taxed on their Turkish-sourced income.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is applicable on the sale of goods and services in Turkey, as well as on imports. The standard VAT rate is 18%, with reduced rates of 8% and 1% applying to specific goods and services. Foreign companies must register for VAT if they are carrying out taxable transactions in Turkey.

Withholding Tax

Withholding tax is applied to several types of payments made to non-residents, including royalties, service fees, and interest payments. The rates vary depending on the nature of the payment and can range from 10% to 20%. Turkey's network of double taxation agreements can reduce these rates for companies from countries that have a treaty with Turkey.

Special Consumption Tax

This tax is levied on a range of products categorized into four main groups: petroleum products, automobiles and other vehicles, tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages. The rates vary by product category and are periodically updated based on policy changes.

Property Taxes

Foreign companies owning property in Turkey are subject to property tax, which is calculated based on the value of the property. The rates range from 0.1% to 0.6%, depending on the type and location of the property.

Customs Duties

Turkey is a part of the Customs Union with the EU, which influences its customs duties framework. Goods imported into Turkey may be subject to customs duties depending on their origin and the specific regulations applicable to them.

Incentives for Foreign Investors

Turkey offers various tax incentives to encourage foreign investment, particularly in technology, manufacturing, and energy sectors. These incentives include tax deductions, reduced corporate tax rates, and VAT exemptions. Specific zones, such as Technology Development Zones and Free Zones, provide additional incentives like complete exemptions from corporate income tax and customs duties.

Compliance and Reporting

Foreign companies must comply with local accounting standards and are required to file annual tax returns. The fiscal year in Turkey aligns with the calendar year, and annual returns must be filed by the 25th of the fourth month following the fiscal year-end. Regular VAT filings and other periodic reports may also be required depending on the company's activities.


The Turkish tax system offers a framework that balances the needs of the government with the growth objectives of businesses. By understanding and leveraging the intricacies of this system, foreign companies can effectively manage their operations and optimize their fiscal responsibilities in Turkey. Engaging with local tax professionals and advisors is recommended to navigate the complexities of the tax landscape and ensure compliance with Turkish tax law.

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