Video guides to tax in Turkey
You can learn about taxes and taxation in Turkey by watching our series of video interviews with Turkish accountant Burak Orkun. You can also scroll down and read his written guide to Turkish taxes on individuals and read our other tax guides for Turkey.
Getting a tax number in Turkey
Any foreigner wanting to stay in Turkey for more than six months will have to obtain a tax number (more correctly known as a Tax Identification Number – Vergi Kimlik Numarasi). It is needed for many purposes, including opening a bank account and registering to have utility bills in your own name. You’ll also need it (even if you’re not resident in Turkey) if you want to buy a property or pay your local property taxes.
Fortunately, it’s a very simple process.
To obtain your number, you will need to visit the closest tax office (Vergi Dairesi) for the area in which you live. You will need to take your passport with you, together with a photocopy of the page showing your photograph.
You will also need to know your mother’s and father’s full names, even if they are long dead.
If you have all this information, you will find that the whole process should only take a few minutes.
If you live in an area where no one is likely to speak your language, and if you don’t speak Turkish, your lawyer or accountant can arrange for a number to be issued for you.
Obtaining a Turkish Tax Identification Number does not have any impact on your obligation to pay taxes. For this reason, it was, originally, called the “potential tax ID number”. If taxes are due, they are due – whether or not you have obtained the number. Nor does not having a number keep you ‘below the radar’ in Turkey.
Who has to pay tax in Turkey?
Whether you have to pay tax in Turkey – and on what basis – depends upon whether or not you are classified as tax resident in Turkey.
Tax residents in Turkey
A person (for these purposes meaning a ‘real life’ person rather than a legal person such as a limited company) is treated as tax resident in Turkey if they are physically present in Turkey for at least 183 days in the calendar year. It does not matter whether those days are in one block or taken piecemeal throughout the year.
A day is counted as from 00:01 to 24:00. So, if you arrive in Turkey at 23:30 on Monday and leave at 07:00 on Tuesday, you have been in the country for two days. This can be important if you are trying to limit the number of days you spend in Turkey in order to avoid becoming tax resident.
It is increasingly difficult to hide your presence in Turkey, or the precise length of your presence, from the Turkish tax authorities. Immigration records, your telephone and your credit card give the game away.
If you are going to stop being tax resident in Turkey, you are required to file a tax declaration 15 days before your final departure.
If a person is treated as tax resident in Turkey then they will pay tax in Turkey (or, at least, be potentially liable to tax in Turkey) on their worldwide income, their worldwide assets, their worldwide capital gains, and any inheritances they receive from anywhere in the world.
At any given time, Turkish tax law may or may not actually call for the payment of taxes in all of these categories but, if it does, you are liable to pay them.
This is always subject to the relevant Double Taxation Treaties. Under these treaties, it may be that all or part of the relevant taxable items will be taxed in another country instead of in Turkey.
Non-residents in Turkey
A person who is not treated as a tax resident in Turkey is, for tax purposes, a non-resident.