Turkey

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KEY COUNTRY FACTS
Flag of Turkey
System of government: parliamentary republic
Population: 81.62 million
Currency: Turkish lira (TRY)
FX regime: free float
GDP: $813.3bn (2014 est)
IGTA member: no
FATF member: yes
Other professional financial/banking associations: Banks Association of Turkey

Financial regulatory framework

Bank supervision

The independent Banking Regulation and Supervisory Agency (BRSA) supervises the banking sector within Turkey.

Exchange controls

Exchange controls and regulations are administered by the Central Bank and the Undersecretariat of Treasury. Foreign currency consumer and mortgage credits are not permitted to be issued from non-residents and resident banks to resident individuals. Resident insurance companies are not permitted to offer loans to non-residents (with the exception of OECD member countries’ financial institutions) if the credit accounts form part of their technical reserves. The issue and sale of securities by non-residents is to be registered with and approved by the Capital Market Board. All securities to be issued and sold abroad by residents must also be registered and approved. Foreign investment in mining, petroleum exploration and refining, transport, electricity, broadcasting, and accountancy is subject to restrictions. All proceeds from foreign investment which are transferred abroad are required to be reported to the Central Bank.

Taxation framework

Corporate income tax

The standard corporate tax rate is 20%.

Capital gains tax

Capital gains derived by a resident corporation are taxed at the standard corporation tax rate of 20%. The sale by a non-resident of unquoted shares or stock in a Turkish incorporated company to another non-resident will not normally be subject to Turkish capital gains tax. However this may still be challenged due to the fact that the legal seat is situated in Turkey. Where the sale of such unquoted shares is made by a non-resident corporation to a Turkish resident, the gain is subject to corporate tax at 20%, plus a further corporate withholding tax of 15% on after-tax profits if they are repatriated. (The withholding tax may be further reduced under a double tax treaty.) Capital gains arising from quoted shares acquired on or after 1 January 2006, government bonds and Treasury bills issued after 1 January 2006 (including private sector bonds), and derivative instruments issued through the Turkish Derivatives Exchange, are subject to withholding tax at either 0% or 10%.

Taxation of dividends

Withholding tax of 15% is levied on all dividends (except for dividends distributed by a resident company to another resident company and Turkish branches of non-resident companies). The rate levied on dividends paid to non-residents may be reduced through tax treaties, provided that the shares of the distributing company are registered in the names of shareholders, rather than issued as bearer shares.

Taxation of interest

Interest income arising from deposit accounts is subject to a 15% withholding tax rate. The provider is required to deduct the tax before payment. Interest on loans payable to a foreign state, international institution or foreign bank or foreign corporation that qualifies as a ‘financial entity’ is subject to a 0% withholding tax. A 10% rate applies to interest paid on loans from other non-resident entities, unless the rate is reduced under a tax treaty.

Transfer pricing

When a transaction between related parties (whether or not residents) is not carried out on arm’s-length terms, profits arising from the transaction will be deemed to be constructive dividends subject to both corporate income tax and dividend withholding tax. The transfer pricing rules provide for the comparable uncontrolled price, cost-plus and resale price methods, as well as profit-based methods (e.g. profit-split and transactional net margin methods). However, a taxpayer may adopt another method based on its particular circumstances.

Thin capitalisation

The thin capitalisation rules apply when loans from shareholders or related parties exceed a 3:1 debt-to-equity ratio at any time in an accounting period (six times shareholder equity for loans from related party banks or financial institutions). Related parties for these purposes are defined as shareholders and persons related to shareholders that own, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of the shares, voting rights or the right to receive dividends of the company. The amount of equity is that determined under the Tax Procedures Code at the beginning of the accounting period.

Indirect taxes

The standard VAT rate is 18%, but reduced rates of 8% and 1% apply to some goods.

Tax information provided by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Deloitte Highlight 2014 (www.deloitte.com).

Banking service provision

There are currently 49 banks (13 investment banks, 26 commercial banks, four participation (Islamic) banks and six branches of foreign banks) operating in Turkey, in addition to 49 representative offices of foreign banks. Approximately 33% of total banking assets in Turkey is state-controlled; three commercial banks (TC Ziraat Bankasi, Vakifbank and Halkbank) and four investment banks are state-owned. Foreign investment in the Turkish banking sector is limited. At present, 13 commercial banks and three investment banks in Turkey are foreign-owned banks. Foreign banks account for around 16% of the country’s total banking assets.

Clearing and payment systems

Operated by the Central Bank, EFT is the national RTGS system for Turkey. EFT processes domestic transfers in TRY regardless of value. There are 50 direct participants in EFT. All direct participants must hold a settlement account at the central bank. The Ankara and Istanbul Interbank Clearing Houses (ICHs) operate together as a deferred net settlement system for cheque payments in TRY. Every bank that issues cheques in Turkey participates in the ICHs; there are 40 direct participants in the ICHs. Owned by its member banks and institutions, the Interbank Card Centre (BKM) operates a deferred net settlement system for card payments in TRY. There are currently 27 participants in the BKM. The Central Bank continues to operate a giro system, primarily used by non-EFT participants, which processes a limited number of credit transfers between its 21 branches on a real-time basis. International payment transfers can be routed via SWIFT through correspondent banking arrangements.

Payment instruments

  • Credit transfers – Credit transfers are Turkey’s principal payment instrument in terms of value and are widely used for retail transactions, salaries and pension payments. Most corporate transactions are effected via credit transfer. All credit transfers are electronic.
  • Direct debits – Direct debit usage is very limited in Turkey; direct debit transactions are only possible on an intrabank basis.
  • Cheques – As a proportion of the total share of cashless payments, cheques have declined as the availability and popularity of electronic alternatives has increased. Banks generally give value within four to six days.
  • Card payments – The use of payment cards has increased rapidly over recent years and they are the most popular cashless payment method. There were approximately 108.1 million debit cards and 57.5 million credit cards in circulation at the end of March 2015. Visa and MasterCard are the principal card issuers in Turkey.
  • Other – The promissory note is a popular payment instrument in Turkey within the small and medium-sized enterprise business sector.

Postal cheques and postal money orders are available via the General Directorate of Post, Telegraph and Telephone (PTT).

Cash and bank account management

Account availability

Residents can open and maintain foreign currency and domestic currency (TRY) accounts both domestically and abroad. Domestic currency accounts are convertible into foreign currency. Non-residents can open and maintain foreign currency and domestic currency (TRY) accounts in Turkey. Non-resident domestic currency accounts can be converted into foreign currency.

Money laundering

Turkey has broadly implemented the requirements of the EU Money Laundering Directives in its legislation (Law on Prevention of Money Laundering No 4208 of 1996, largely repealed by Law on Prevention of Laundering Proceeds of Crime No 5549 of 2006; the Turkish Criminal Code No 5237 of 2005, most recently updated by Law No 5918 of 2009; the Anti-Terror Law No 5532 of 2006; and Law No 6415 on the Prevention of the Financing of Terrorism 2013; the Financial Crimes Investigation Board has issued a series of related General Communiqués and Regulations of 2008). The Council of Ministers has also issued a related Decree. A Financial Action Task Force (FATF) member, Turkey observes most of the FATF standards. Turkey has observer status in the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG). Turkey has established a financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Mali Suçlari Arastirma Kurulu (MASAK) or Financial Crimes Investigation Board, which is a member of the Egmont Group.

Supplied by BCL Burton Copeland (www.bcl.com). Data as at January 2015.

Notional pooling

Notional pooling is not available in Turkey.

Cash concentration

Single currency and one-country pooling is permitted and offered. Cross-currency cash pools are not permitted.

Cross-border cash pooling

Cross-border cash concentration is permitted but rarely practised.

Electronic and internet banking

Electronic banking is increasingly popular in Turkey. All commercial banks offer some form of electronic banking service. There is no bank-independent standard. Online banking is offered by 28 banks in Turkey. While service levels and facilities vary substantially, packages offered by the internationally oriented banks tend to be the most comprehensive. There are currently approximately 39.8 million account holders registered to bank online. Mobile banking is offered by 16 banks in Turkey; there are currently approximately 10.4 million account holders registered customers.

Liquidity management

Short-term investments

  • Bank deposits – Interest can be earned on both resident and non-resident current accounts. Demand and time deposits can be held in domestic currency or a major foreign currency. Most time deposits have maturities of one, three, six or 12 months.
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs) – Offered by commercial banks with maturities of up to one year, CDs are seldom used and deemed to be less liquid than time deposits. Yields differ drastically.
  • Bank bills – Bank bills are issued by investment banks and development banks.
  • Treasury bills (T-bills) – T-bills are occasionally issued by the Undersecretariat of Treasury with maturities of three, six, nine or 12 months
  • Government bonds – Government bonds have maturities over one year.
  • Repurchase agreements (Repos) – Repos are increasingly used by individuals and companies. Repos on government securities are usually issued with maturities of one, two or four weeks.
  • Mutual funds – Mutual investment funds are available, but not in the form of money market funds. The major mutual fund managers are affiliated to the country’s leading privately owned banks. Yields may differ drastically.
  • Other – Bankers’ acceptances are also available for short-term investment purposes but are not usually traded.

Websites

Ministry of Finance

Undersecretariat of Treasury

Ministry of Customs and Trade

Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey

Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency

Investment Support and Promotion Agency

Borsa Istanbul

Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Banks Association of Turkey

Participation Banks Association of Turkey