Business Environment

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In this page: Accounting Rules | Tax Rates | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework | Standards | Business Practices

 

Accounting Rules

Tax Year
The fiscal year begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st of the same year.
Accounting Standards
IFRS Standards are required for all domestic public companies and listings by foreign companies (except in the case of a foreign company whose home jurisdiction’s standards are deemed by the EU to be equivalent to the IFRS Standards. SMEs do not have to follow IFRS Standards for SMEs and are required to file in compliance with the Estonian GAAP (the new version is effective from 1 January 2013). The Estonian GAAP is based mostly on IFRS Standards for SMEs with some differences in disclosure.
Accounting Regulation Bodies
EASB
Accounting Reports
The main financial documents in Estonia are the balance sheet, the profit and loss account and the cash flow statement.
The Accounting Act sets a number of formal requirements to accounting source documents. Each entity has to prepare its internal regulations on accounting and the chart of accounts.

Accounting registers can be maintained as hard or electronic copies. The annual statements should be prepared in Estonian language and must be signed by the management board.

Professional Accountancy Bodies
Estonian Board of Auditors
EAA , European Accounting Association
Certification and Auditing
Audit has been compulsory for the majority of companies since 1991. Under the Commercial Code, an audit is compulsory for all public companies. Audit is compulsory for companies with annual net sales of EUR 4 million and more, a balance sheet volume of EUR 2 million and employ at least 60 employees. Audit is also complusory for companies that meet at least of one of the conditions: Annual net sales of EUR 12 million and more, balance sheet volume of EUR 6 million, number of employees is 180 or more  You can contact an external auditor: KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Accounting News

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Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
Value Added Tax (VAT) - Käibemaks (in Estonian)
Tax Rate
20%
Reduced Tax Rate
Two reduced rates are available: 0% and 9%.
A reduced rate of 9% is available on items such as books, periodicals, medical equipment and products for disabled people, and accommodation sevices.
Zero-rated items include exported goods, most exported services, intracommunity supplies of goods, the sale of certain services to foreign persons and goods supplied on vessels and aircraft.
Exemptions are provided for health care services; real estate transactions; financial services; insurance, reinsurance and insurance mediation services; educational services (only non-commercial basic education); lotteries and gaming; postal services; learning materials related to education.

The import of goods used to contrast the COVID-19 epidemic is exempt from customs duties and import VAT from 30 January 2020 to 31 July 2020.

Other Consumption Taxes
Excise taxes are levied on tobacco, alcohol, electricity, some packaging materials and motor fuel. Please visit the website of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board for further information on excise duties.
A tax is levied on heavy vehicles intended for the carriage of goods, with quarterly rates varying between EUR 0 and EUR 232.60.
A gambling tax is levied on income derived from the operation of games of skill, totalizers, betting, lotteries and promotional lotteries. The tax is also levied on gaming tables and machines used for games of chance in authorised premises.

Following the COVID-19 emergency, excise duty rates on certain fuels (such as diesel and natural gas) and electricity were temporarily reduced from 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2022.

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Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
20% CIT at 20/80 of the net amount of profit distribution
Tax Rate For Foreign Companies
Resident companies are taxed on profits distributed from their worldwide income, while permanent establishments of non-resident companies are taxed only on profits distributed from Estonian-source income. Other income sourced in Estonia derived by non-residents may be subject to final withholding tax or corporate income tax rate by way of assessment.
Companies are considered resident if they are established pursuant to Estonian law.
Capital Gains Taxation
Capital gains are treated as ordinary income of Estonian resident companies; however, they are taxed only where there is a profit distribution.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
Companies are no longer subject to income tax, they are only taxed on distributed benefits according to the Estonian Company Tax Law. According to the terms of this new law, legal entities are exempt from tax on profits that are not distributed, whether reinvested or retained. Payments made to foreign affiliates are also exempt from tax when they serve the business interests of the company. As a result, there is no provision for depreciation or for carrying forward or backward tax losses.
Since 1 January 2018, companies that are subject to tax on benefits in kind granted to staff may be exempted up to a maximum of EUR 100 per quarter if these benefits relate to expenditure on sports or health programmes. Entertainment expenses may be exempted from corporate tax up to a maximum of EUR 32 per month.
All taxes paid are deductible.
Other Corporate Taxes
Land is subject to a tax which is calculated according to the estimated value of the land at rates varying between 0.1% and 2.5% depending on the municipality. The tax can be paid by the owners or the users.
The social tax payable by the employer amounts to 33% of the salary (20% for the pension fund, 13% for the health insurance). Employers also contribute 0.8% of the salary for unemployment insurance and withhold 1.6% for their employees' contributions to the compulsory accumulative pension scheme, if the employee has joined such scheme.
Employers are liable for tax on fringe benefits granted to employees. Benefits are subject to a 20/80 corporate income tax and 33% social tax on the sum of the benefit and the 20/80 CIT (a fringe benefit of EUR 100 would give rise to a EUR 25 CIT and a EUR 41.25 social tax with a 33% tax applying to EUR 125).
A gambling tax is levied on income derived from the operation of games of skill, totalizers, betting, lotteries and promotional lotteries. The tax is also levied on gaming tables and machines used for games of chance in authorised premises.
Taxes apply on heavy goods vehicles, at rates varying between EUR 0 and 930.4 per year.
Local authorities may also levy certain taxes, often at negligible rates for companies.
Other Domestic Resources
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Estonia Eastern Europe & Central Asia United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 8.0 13.9 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 50.0 226.2 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 47.8 36.5 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Individual Taxes

Tax Rate

Individual income tax 20%
Certain qualified pension payments 10%
Dividends dividends distributed and subject to the reduced rate of 14% are subject to an additional WHT of 7%
Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
There is a basic personal allowance of EUR 6,000 (i.e. EUR 500 per month) for annual income up to EUR 14,400. The yearly allowance is gradually reduced for annual incomes between EUR 14,400 and EUR 25,200 and is zero for any annual income exceeding EUR 25,200. Click here for more info.
Residents can deduct an extra EUR 2,160 for his/her resident spouse when their total combined taxable income is below EUR 50,400. A lump-sum 20% deduction is available for income from renting out immovable property.

Further deductions are available for certain additional personal allowances, as well as certain deductible documented expenses, which fall into two categories:

- the first category includes certain mandatory payments, which can be deducted without any limitations, including unemployment insurance contributions, contributions to a compulsory accumulative pension scheme, and certain obligatory contributions to foreign social security schemes;

- the second category includes deductions that are allowed for tax policy reasons and which have various limitations on deductibility. It includes certain bank and leasing interest paid in relation to acquiring a personal residence, certain educational expenses, certain gifts and donations, and certain payments to personal pension schemes.

Special Expatriate Tax Regime
Resident individuals are liable to tax on worldwide income, irrespective of the origin of the income. Non-residents are taxed on their Estonian-source income.
A limited list of taxable items applies to non-residents: income from work under an employment contract or contractor's agreement in Estonia; income from a business carried on in Estonia; royalties; income from the lease of assets located in Estonia; gains from the disposal of assets located in Estonia; directors' fees paid by Estonian enterprises or non-residents; income of a sportsperson or an artist from activities in Estonia; and pensions and scholarships.
Starting from 2022, non-residents from another member state of the European Economic Area are allowed to apply for calculation of the basic exemption monthly, at the moment of payment.
Consult the website of the EMTA for further details.

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Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
See the list of the tax treaties
Withholding Taxes
  • Dividends: 0%/7% (dividends paid to individuals if the distribution has been subject to the reduced CIT rate at the hands of the paying company)
  • Interest: 20% (resident individuals)/0% (non-residents)
  • Royalties: 0% (resident companies)/10% (non-resident companies and individuals)/20% (resident individuals)

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The patents office of Estonia was created on 3rd December 1991. It started functioning in 1992. Among its activities were included the implementation of laws concerning trademarks of manufactured products or business trademarks, the law concerning the copyrights of authors, laws concerning patents and finally the laws concerning utility models.
The principle of priority to the first patent applicant is applied.
Estonia is a member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) since 1994, and is also a member of Paris and Berne Conventions.
Regional Organisations
Estonia has signed several regional conventions on intellectual property. For instance, the Paris and Berne Conventions, Rome convention as well as the Madrid protocol.
 

National Regulation and International Agreements

 
Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patent
 
Patent Act, March 16, 1994
20 years
Trademark
 
Trade Marks Act, August 1992 (last amended December 1997)
10 years (renewable) Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Design
 
Industrial Design Protection Act, November 18, 1997 (last amended November 25, 1998)
5 years, renewable for two further 5-year periods  
Copyright
 
Copyright Act, November 1992, (last amended February 1999)
The term of protection is the life of the author and seventy years after his or her death irrespective of the date in which work is lawfully made available to the public WIPO Copyright Treaty
Industrial Models
 
Industrial Design Protection Act, November 1997 (last amended in 1998)
5 years from the date in which the application has been duly filled in.  

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Legal Framework

Independence of Justice
Judiciary is independent in Estonia, and generally free from government influence.
Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreign nationals can expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system.
The Language of Justice
The judicial language in the country is Estonian.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Having an interpreter is always possible.
Sources of the Law and Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the Constitution of June 1992 and has been going through a transition period since the Soviet era. The legal system is influenced by German traditions and is based on civil law system. Estonia being a member of the European Union, the national law in the country needs to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation.
Checking National Laws Online
Estonian legal acts in English

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Standards

National Standards Organisations
Estonian Centre for Standardization
Integration in the International Standards Network
The Estonian national standards body (EVS) is member of European Committee for Standardization (CEN), of European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), of International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and of International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Classification of Standards
The main standards are those based on Europe's standardization system, with "CE" marking.
Online Consultation of Standards
More information about national standards in Estonia can be found on the Estonian Centre for Standardization website.
Certification Organisations
Certification Centre of Estonia

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Business Practices

General Information
Passport to Trade, Business etiquette in Estonia
Career Addict, How to Master Business Etiquette in Estonia
Opening Hours and Days
Business hours are between 8 am and 6 pm from Monday to Friday.
 

Public Holidays

New Year's day January 1
Good Friday Friday before Easter
Easter Sunday Depending on Easter's date
Spring Day May 1
Pentecost Moveable (50 days after Easter)
Victory Day June 23
St John's Day or Midsummer Day

 

June 24
Day of Restoration of Independence August 20
Christmas Eve December 24
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
 
 

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Winter holidays Between Christmas and New Year
Summer holidays Starting on Midsummer (Summer solstice)
 

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Latest Update: November 2022