Tilleke & Gibbins
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Foreign individuals and companies are not currently allowed to own real estate in Myanmar, except for condominiums, of which foreigners may own up to 40% of the total units of a condominium building.
The law currently considers companies as “foreign” if one or more shares in the company are held by foreign companies or individuals. However, the new Myanmar Companies Law (2017), expected to come into force in August 2018, allows Myanmar companies to have up to 35% foreign shareholding before being considered “foreign” and not eligible to own land.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
Foreign companies and individuals are restricted from owning land and other immovable properties by the Transfer of Immovable Property Restriction Law (1987). Therefore, there is no lending to foreigners for the purchase of real estate.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
A real estate buyer will not be taxed if their source of income for the purchase has already been taxed. Property purchases incur tax of 30% of the total value of the property if the buyer cannot purchase using income already taxed, or of the remaining value if the property is partially purchased using taxed income. The buyer must pay stamp duty at the rate of 3% of the purchase amount when registering the transfer of ownership agreement, plus an additional 2% if the land is located in a designated urban area. The registration fee for sales agreements is 0.2% of the total property purchase amount.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
No property taxes are currently chargeable to real estate owners, although real estate lessors must pay 10% income tax on their lease income. Lease income cannot be combined with other income for tax purposes, and the tax on lease income must be paid separately.
The government is currently drafting property tax regulations and planning to tax property ownership in the future. It is unclear whether the government will tax only owners of multiple immovable properties or all types of owners. Owners cannot share or pass any of their tax burden to someone else.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
Foreign companies and foreign individuals are only entitled to own condominiums under Myanmar law. At present, there is no clear guidance by tax authorities on how to assess taxes for condominiums owned by foreign entities. Foreign nationals who want to buy condominiums must bring foreign currency into Myanmar officially by way of bank transfer from their respective country for the purchase, in order to comply with money laundering laws. The buyer must pay stamp duty fees of about 5% of the total property purchase amount when registering a condominium ownership agreement.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
The state is the “ultimate owner” of land in Myanmar; citizens do not hold absolute property rights. Land ownership and land use in Myanmar are regulated under various laws depending on whether the land is designated grant land, freehold land, permit land, urban area land, forest land, farmland, or fallow land. Private individuals may hold land in the form of grants from the government, which are granted for a specific time period of time, and are transferrable and leasable, subject to registration at the local land authority. Most land authorities issue grants of lease for 30, 60, or 90 years.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
The identity of real estate owners is officially kept confidential by the government. Only the owner or their authorized representative(s) or the relevant government official can access details on land records. The identity of land owners is also not available online. Land authorities can only issue land maps, history, details of land area, demarcation, and land related documents pursuant to the request of a land owner or their authorized representative(s), or certain officials, such as a court official.