For legal & regulatory reasons companies have to maintain proper accounting records for their business or any other income/expenses.
What happens if you dont keep proper VAT records and accounts?
You could land up paying excess to the government. As you wont be able to justify the actual transactions.
What records should we maintain?
- Sale and purchase invoices & receipts
- Bank records
- All the VAT related payments and returns
- Legal / Contractual agreements
Hear it direct from UAE Ministry of Finance
We have selected few important Q&As which will help any business in UAE to obtain knowledge and plan the execution.
UAE Ministry of Finance has answered questions regarding the Implementation of VAT and other additional related terms. We have selected few important questionnaire from there which will help any business men in UAE to obtain knowledge and plan the execution well in his business.
What is VAT?
Value Added Tax (or VAT) is an indirect tax. Occasionally you might also see it referred to as a type of general consumption tax. In a country which has a VAT, it is imposed on most supplies of goods and services that are bought and sold.
VAT is one of the most common types of consumption tax found around the world. Over 150 countries have implemented VAT (or its equivalent, Goods and Services Tax), including all 29 European Union (EU) members, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
VAT is charged at each step of the ‘supply chain’. Ultimate consumers generally bear the VAT cost while Businesses collect and account for the tax, in a way acting as a tax collector on behalf of the government.
A business pays the government the tax that it collects from the customers while it may also receive a refund from the government on tax that it has paid to its suppliers. The net result is that tax receipts to government reflect the ‘value add’ throughout the supply chain.
Why is the UAE implementing VAT?
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 UAE 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.
When will the 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%.
Who can or will be able to register for VAT?
A business must register for VAT if their taxable supplies and imports exceed the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000.
Furthermore, a business may choose to register for VAT voluntarily if their supplies and imports are less than the mandatory registration threshold, but exceed the voluntary registration threshold of AED 187,500.
Similarly, a business may register voluntarily if their expenses exceed the voluntary registration threshold. This latter opportunity to register voluntarily is designed to enable start-up businesses with no turnover to register for VAT.
Will all businesses need to register with the government for VAT?
No, not all businesses will need to register for VAT. In simple terms, only businesses that meet a certain minimum annual turnover requirement will have to register for VAT. That is, many small businesses will not need to register for VAT. We have made this decision to safeguard small businesses from the extensive documentation and reporting that a system like VAT requires. Also, businesses may not need to register with the government if they only provide goods and services which are not subject to VAT.
Please note that we have not yet finalized the specific conditions (such as minimum annual turnover) that will help identify businesses that do not need to register for VAT. Once that information is finalized, it will be shared with the public.
What are the VAT-related responsibilities of businesses?
All businesses in the UAE will need to record their financial transactions and ensure that their financial records are accurate and up to date. Businesses that meet the minimum annual turnover requirement (as evidenced by their financial records) will be required to register for VAT. Businesses that do not think that they should be VAT registered should maintain their financial records in any event, in case we need to establish whether they should be registered.
VAT-registered businesses generally:
- must charge VAT on taxable goods or services they supply;
- may reclaim any VAT they’ve paid on business-related goods or services;
- keep a range of business records which will allow the government to check that they have got things right
If you’re a VAT-registered business you must report the amount of VAT you’ve charged and the amount of VAT you’ve paid to the government on a regular basis. It will be a formal submission and it is likely that the reporting will be made online.
If you’ve charged more VAT than you’ve paid, you have to pay the difference to the government. If you’ve paid more VAT than you’ve charged, you can reclaim the difference.
What does a business need to do to prepare for VAT?
Concerned businesses will have time to prepare before VAT will come into effect. During that time, businesses will need to meet requirements to fulfill their tax obligations. Businesses could start now so that they will be ready later. To fully comply with VAT, We believe that businesses may need to make some changes to their core operations, their financial management and book-keeping, their technology, and perhaps even their human resource mix (e.g., accountants and tax advisors). It is essential that businesses try to understand the implications of VAT now and once the legislation is issued make every effort to align their business model to government reporting and compliance requirements. We will provide businesses with guidance on how to fully comply with VAT once the legislation is issued. The final responsibility and accountability to comply with law is on the business.
When are businesses supposed to start registering for VAT?
Registration for VAT is expected to be made available to businesses that meet the requirements criteria three months before the launch of VAT. Businesses will be able to register online using eServices.
How often are registered businesses required to file VAT returns?
Registered businesses will be expected to submit VAT returns on a regular basis. It is expected that the default period for filing VAT returns will be three months for the majority of businesses.
Registered businesses will be able to file their returns online using eServices.
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.
What are the penalties for not complying with a business’s VAT responsibilities?
Everyone is urged to fully comply with their VAT responsibilities. The government is currently in the process of defining the exact fees and penalties for non-compliance.
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.
How should a business determine the place of supply?
The place of supply will determine whether a supply is made within the UAE (in which case the UAE VAT law will apply), or outside the UAE for VAT purposes.
For a supply of goods, the place of supply should be the location of goods when the supply takes place with special rules for certain categories of supplies (e.g. water and energy, cross border supplies).
For the supply of services, the place of supply should be where the supplier is established with special rules for certain categories of supplies (e.g. cross border supplies between businesses).
Can businesses offset customs duty against VAT payments?
VAT shall be payable in addition to the custom duties paid by the importer of the goods and cannot be deducted. VAT shall be computed on the value that includes the customs duties
How will real estate be treated?
The VAT treatment of real estate will depend on whether it is a commercial or residential property.
Supplies (including sales or leases) of commercial properties will be taxable at the standard VAT rate (i.e 5%).
On the other hand, supplies of residential properties will generally be exempt from VAT. This will ensure that VAT would not constitute an irrecoverable cost to persons who buy their own properties. In order to ensure that real estate developers can recover VAT on construction of residential properties, the first supply of residential properties within 3 years from their completion will be zero-rated.
What sectors will be zero rated?
VAT will be charged at 0% in respect of the following main categories of supplies:
- Exports of goods and services to outside the GCC;
- International transportation, and related supplies;
- Supplies of certain sea, air and land means of transportation (such as aircrafts and ships);
- Certain investment grade precious metals (e.g. gold, silver, of 99% purity);
- Newly constructed residential properties, that are supplied for the first time within 3 years of their construction ;
- Supply of certain education services, and supply of relevant goods and services;
- Supply of certain Healthcare services, and supply of relevant goods and services.
What sectors will be exempt?
The following categories of supplies will be exempt from VAT:
- The supply of some financial services (clarified in VAT legislation);
- Residential properties;
- Bare land; and
- Local passenger transport
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.
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
How will insurance be treated?
Generally, insurance (vehicle, medical, etc) will be taxable. Life insurance, however, will be treated as an exempt financial service.
How will financial services be treated?
It is expected that fee based financial services will be taxed but margin based products are likely to be exempt.
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 there be any VAT that businesses are not allowed to claim?
VAT will not be deductible in respect of expenses incurred for making non-taxable supplies. Furthermore, input tax cannot be deducted if it is incurred in respect of specific expenses such as entertainment expenses e.g. employee entertainment
Under which conditions will businesses be allowed to claim VAT incurred on expenses?
VAT on expenses that were incurred by a business can be deducted in the following circumstances:
- The business must be a taxable person (the end consumer cannot claim any input tax refund).
- VAT should have been charged correctly (i.e. unduly charged VAT is not recoverable).
- The business must hold documentation showing the VAT paid (e.g. valid tax invoice).
- The goods or services acquired are used or intended to be used for making taxable supplies.
- VAT input tax refund can be claimed only on the amount paid or intended to be paid before the expiration of 6 months after the agreed date for the payment of the supply.
Will non-residents be required to register for VAT?
Non-residents that make taxable supplies in the UAE will be required to register for VAT unless there is any other UAE resident person who is responsible for accounting for VAT on these supplies. This exclusion may apply, for example, where a UAE business is required to account for VAT under a reverse charge mechanism in respect of a purchase from a non-resident.
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.
How will Government Entities be treated for VAT purposes?
Supplies made by government entities will typically be subject to VAT. This will ensure that government entities are not unfairly advantaged as compared to private businesses.
Certain supplies made by government entities will, however, be excluded from the scope of VAT if they are not in competition with the private sector or where the entity is the sole provider of such supplies. It is likely certain government entities will be entitled to VAT refunds – this is designed to avoid budgeting issues and provide a level playing field between outsourced and insourced activities.
For the supplies provided for government entities, the treatment of such supplies shall depend on the same supply and not on the recipient of the supply. Therefore, if the supply is subject to the standard tax rate, the treatment would remain the same even if it is provided to a government entity.
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).
Will the goods exempt from customs duties also be exempt from VAT?
Not necessarily. Some goods that are imported may be exempt from customs duties but subject to VAT.