Section 14 of Inland Revenue Ordinance lays down the basic charge: Every person carrying on a trade, profession or business in Hong Kong — who has profits arising in or derived from Hong Kong — is chargeable to Profits tax. This applies to both Hong Kong residents and non-residents.
Profits tax may be levied on the non-resident directly (assessed in his own name) or indirectly (assessed on his agent).
The tax can be recoverable from the non-resident or the agent in Hong Kong. According to Section 2 of Inland Revenue Ordinance, “agent” includes (a) the agent, attorney, factor, receiver or manager in Hong Kong, and (b) any person in Hong Kong through whom the non-resident is in receipt of any profits arising in or derived from Hong Kong.
The agent should withhold an adequate amount out of the non-resident’s assets within his control for payment of tax. Failure to do so may render him personally liable to pay the tax.
The agent can object to the assessment on behalf of the non-resident.