Korea’s Beneficial Owner Rules: Implications of the Amendment to the Special Deeming Rule for Overseas Investment Vehicles

Foreign investors wishing to apply a reduced tax rate or tax exemption under Korea’s tax treaties must determine whether they qualify as the “beneficial owner” of the relevant Korean-sourced income. For foreign fund investors who hold Korean investments indirectly via one or more offshore special purpose vehicles (SPVs), the beneficial owner analysis can be much more complex as they also need to consider the potential application of the special deeming rule for overseas investment vehicles (OIVs). This article provides an overview of Korea’s beneficial owner rules with a particular focus on the recently amended special deeming rule for OIVs. It also aims to shed some light on aspects of the beneficial owner rules that should be considered by foreign funds investing in, and deriving income from, Korea, through intermediated structures using one or more offshore SPVs.