FAQs

Will tourists also pay VAT?

Yes, tourists are a significant source of revenue for the UAE and will pay VAT at the point of sale for items that are consumed while in the country. However, duty free items at airport have been exempted, and tourist will have the facility for a tax refund if they self-carry the items with them while leaving the country. The exact process for tax refund is yet to be announced.

Why is VAT in UAE being implemented?

The UAE Federal and Emirate governments provide citizens and residents with many different public services – including hospitals, roads, public schools, parks, waste control, and police services. These services are paid for from the government budgets. VAT will provide our country with a new source of income which will contribute to the continued provision of high quality public services into the future. It will also help government move towards its vision of reducing dependence on oil and other hydrocarbons as a source of revenue.

Why does the VAT in UAE need to coordinate with other GCC countries like KSA?

The UAE is part of a group of countries which are closely connected through “The Economic Agreement Between the GCC States” and “The GCC Customs Union”. The GCC group of nations have historically worked together in designing and implementing new public policies as we recognize that such a collaborative approach is best for the region.

When will the UAE VAT go into effect and what will be the rates?

VAT is likely to be introduced across the UAE on January 1 2018. The rate will be low and is likely to be 5%.

How can someone access UAE Tax Law?

Tax Laws and the related Executive Regulations will be published as soon as issued

What other taxes is the UAE considering?

As per global best practice, the UAE is exploring other tax options as well. However, these are still being analysed and it is unlikely that they will be introduced in the near future. The UAE is not currently considering personal income taxes, however.

Will this impact economic growth of the UAE?

Our analysis suggests that it will help the country strengthen its economy by diversifying revenues away from oil and will allow us to fund many public services. This is a sign of a maturing economy.

What measures will the government take to ensure that businesses don’t use the VAT implementation as an excuse to increase prices?

VAT is intended to help improve the economic base of the country. Therefore, we will include rules that require businesses to be clear about how much VAT you are paying for each transaction. You will have the required information to decide whether to buy something or not.

How can one object to the decisions of the Authority?

Any person will be able to object a decision of the Federal Tax Authority.

As a first step, the person shall request the FTA to reconsider its decision. Such request for reconsideration has to be made within 20 business days from the date the person was notified of the original decision of the FTA, and the FTA will have 20 business days from receipt of such application to provide its revised decision.

If the person is not satisfied with the revised decision of the FTA, it will be able to object to the Tax Disputes Resolution Committee which will be set up for these purposes. Objections to the Committee will need to be submitted within 20 business days from the date the person was notified of the FTA’s revised decision, and the person must pay all taxes and penalties subject of objection before objecting to the Committee. The Committee will typically be required to give its decision regarding the objection within 20 business days from its receipt.

As a final step, if the person is not satisfied with the decision of the Committee, the person may challenge its decision before the competent court. The appeal must be made within 20 business days from the date of the appellant being notified of the Committee’s decision

What kind of records are businesses required to maintain, and for how long?

Businesses will be required to keep records which will enable the authorities to identify the details of the business activities and review transactions. The specifics regarding the documents which will be required and the time period for keeping them will be communicated in due course.

How long must a taxable person retain VAT invoices for?

Any taxable person must retain VAT invoices issued and received for a minimum of 5 years.

Will there be bad debt relief?

VAT registered businesses will be able to reduce their output tax liability by the amount of VAT that relates to bad debt which has been written off by the VAT registered business. The legislation will include the conditions and limitations concerning the use of this relief.

Will there be a margin scheme?

To avoid double taxation where second hand goods are acquired by a registered person from an unregistered person for the purpose of resale, the VAT-registered person will be able to account for VAT on sales of second hand goods with reference to the difference between the purchase price of the goods and the selling price of the goods (that is, the profit margin). The VAT which must be accounted for by the registered person will be included in the profit margin. The legislation will include the details of the conditions to be met in order to apply this mechanism.

How will partial exemption work?

Where a VAT registered person incurs input tax on its business expenses, this input tax can be recovered in full if it relates to a taxable supply made, or intended to be made, by the registered person. In contrast, where the expense relates to a non-taxable supply (e.g. exempt supplies), the registered person may not recover the input tax paid.

In certain situations, an expense may relate to both taxable and non-taxable supplies made by the registered person (such as activities of the banking sector). In these circumstances, the registered person would need to apportion input tax between the taxable and non-taxable (exempt) supplies.

Businesses will be expected to use input tax (ratio of recoverable to total) as a basis for apportionment in the first instance although there will be the facility to use other methods where they are fair and agreed with the Federal Tax Authority.

What are the cases that would lead to the imposition of penalties?

Penalties will be imposed for non-compliance.

Examples of actions and omissions that may give raise to penalties include:

  • A person failing to register when required to do so;
  • A person failing to submit a tax return or make a payment within the required period;
  • A person failing to keep the records required under the issued tax legislation;
  • Tax evasion offences where a person performs a deliberate act or omission with the intention of violating the provisions of the issued tax legislation.

Will there be any special schemes for SMEs?

No special rules are planned for small or medium sized enterprises. However, the FTA will provide materials and resources available for these entities to assist them in their enquiries.

Will there be transitional rules?

Special rules will be provided to deal with various situations that may arise in respect of supplies that span the introduction of VAT. For example:

  • Where a payment is received in respect of a supply of goods before the introduction of VAT but the goods are actually delivered after the introduction of VAT, this means that VAT will have to be charged on such supplies. Likewise, special rules will apply with regards to supplies of services spanning the introduction of VAT.
  • Where a contract is concluded prior to the introduction of VAT in respect of a supply which is wholly or partly made after the introduction of VAT, and the contract does not contain clauses relating to the VAT treatment of the supply, then consideration for the supply will be treated as inclusive of VAT. There will, however, be special provisions to allow suppliers to charge VAT in situations where their recipient is able to recover their VAT but where there is no VAT clause.

Can UAE nationals claim VAT?

A scheme will be introduced to allow a UAE national who is not registered for VAT to reclaim VAT paid on goods and services relating to constructing a new residence which will be privately used by the person and his family. This will allow the recovery of VAT on such expenses as contractor’s services and building materials.

How quickly will refunds be released?

Refunds will be made after the receipt of the application and subject to verification checks, with a particular focus on avoiding fraud.

Will FTA issue rulings or provide tax advice?

In the course of its interaction with taxpayers, the FTA may provide its views on various matters in the law. Taxpayers may choose to challenge these views. It should be noted that penalties may be imposed on taxpayers who are found to violate any tax laws and regulations.

Will it be possible to issue cash receipts instead of VAT invoices?

A supplier registered or required to be registered for VAT must issue a valid VAT invoice for the supply. To be considered as a valid VAT invoice, the document must follow a specific format as mentioned in the legislation. In certain situations the supplier may be able to issue a simplified VAT invoice. The conditions for the VAT invoice and the simplified VAT invoice are mentioned legislation.

Will VAT be paid on imports?

VAT is due on the goods and services purchased from abroad.

In case the recipient in the State is a registered person with the Federal Tax Authority for VAT purposes, VAT would be due on that import using a reverse charge mechanism.

In case the recipient in the State is a non-registered person for VAT purposes, VAT would be paid on import of goods from a place outside the GCC. Such VAT will typically be required to be paid before the goods are released to the person.

Will Businesses have to report on their business in each of the Emirates?

It is expected that businesses will need to complete additional information on their VAT returns to report revenues earned in each Emirate. Guidance will be provided to businesses with regards to this.

It is expected that the rules will be relatively straightforward for most businesses and will be based, for example, for B2C transactions, on the location of the transaction (e.g. in a retail environment, the location of the shop).

Where can I learn more about the UAE’s plan to implement VAT?

The government has launched an awareness and education campaigns to educate UAE residents, businesses, and other impacted groups. Our aim is to help everyone understand what VAT is, how it works, and what businesses will need to do to comply with the law.
As part of its awareness campaign, the Ministry of Finance has launched the first phase of the awareness sessions during the period from March till May 2017. These sessions were held in the different Emirates.
We will also set up a website where you can find information to understand the new tax in detail.
A telephone hotline has been set up so that you can call and speak to one of our employees directly on 600599994.