Countdown revs up for VAT implementation in UAE

Source: Khaleej Times
By: Waheed Abbas

Filed on November 9, 2017

"[Companies] must make changes to core operations, financial management procedures, accounting methods and the technical means they use" - Khalid All Al Bustani, Director-general of the Federal Tax Authority


  • October 31: Was deadline for businesses with annual turnover of Dh150M
  • November 30: Deadline for businesses with annual turnover of more than Dh10M but less than Dh150M
  • December 4: Deadline for Businesses with annual turnover of more than Dh375,000
  • January 1,2018: VAT comes into affect at 7am

VAT’S Big Idea

  • If any business has an annual turnover of less than Dh375,000 but more than Dh187,500, it may still opt for voluntary VAT registration
  • If the company’s turnover for the last 12-month period is less than the mandatory threshold of Dh375,000, but the expected turnover within the next 30 days is more than Dh375,000, the business will have to register
  • There is an optionfor companies to register as a tax group
  • In the application the name of the company as well as the name of the manager should be filled in Arabic too
  • The applicant should fill the name of the bank, branch and the IBAN number of the UAE bank in which it operates
KT Graphic . Source: Federal Tax Authority

The message is loud and clear to all UAE businesses required to register for value-added tax (VAT) to complete their registration prior to the January 1, 2018 deadline or face penalties for late registration as executive regulations have been approved by the Cabinet.

The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) on Wednesday announced that the countdown has begun as 53 days are left in total, of which 35 are working days, before VAT comes into effect from 7am on January 1, 2018.

As part of the GCC-wide agreement, the UAE and Saudi Arabia will be the first countries to implement VAT while the other countries will follow. VAT has been set at a standard rate of five per cent on the import and supply of goods and services at each stage of production and distribution, as well as on deemed supply.

All those businesses are required to register if the total value of their taxable supplies made in the UAE exceeds Dh375,000 during the 12-month period. A business may choose to register for VAT voluntarily if its supplies and imports are below the mandatory registration threshold.

VAT is expected to generate Dh12 billion revenues for the government in its first year and Dh20 billion in its second year.

The UAE Ministry of Finance has announced that the executive regulation for the Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT at a Cabinet has been approved.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, said the release of the Executive Regulation of Federal Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT is a new stage in the implementation of an effective tax system in the UAE – one that measures up to the highest international standards.

“We extend our hand in partnership to all concerned parties, inviting them to work together for the advancement, progress and prosperity of the UAE,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

Explaining the executive regulations, Thomas Vanhee, founding partner at Aurifer Middle East Tax, pointed out that supplies to free zones are subject to VAT. This means potentially high VAT pre-financing for companies in fenced free zones such as Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Airport Free Zone, etc.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of the Federal Tax Authority, said: “We have allowed businesses considerable time to fulfill their registration requirements, with free registration through our website 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as extensive awareness campaigns. The registration process is seamless and simple, taking no more than 20 minutes.” Al Bustani added: “With the countdown to the introduction of the tax system, we call on businesses to expedite their registration and compliance procedures. They must make changes to their core operations, financial management procedures, accounting methods, and the technical means they use, in addition to changes in their human resources, including accountants and tax advisers.”

Speaking on the impact of VAT on UAE-based firms, Mansoor Sarwar, regional technical director for the Middle East at Sage, said compliance with the UAE VAT law requires significant changes to a firm’s technology, operations, financial management and accounting practices. The reality is that businesses in this region have never had to deal with taxation before, and it is unlikely that their current systems are VAT-ready.

“Investing in a cloud-enabled accounting solution can streamline the VAT collection, record-keeping and reporting processes,” he added.

VAT implementation in UAE