VAT in Dubai starts 1 Jan 2018 – summary

July 4th, 2017 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

Date of implementation: January 1, 2018
• VAT rate: 5%
• What are exempted: 100 types of staple food, and other essential service sectors such as healthcare and education
• What are not: Electronics, smart phones, cars, jewellery and watches, eating out and entertainments
• Inflation : Experience in other markets says there will be some impact on both inflation and GDP.
Given the low start rate it will have less impact here.
• While the impact of tax on property transactions will impact those above upper middle income group, there may well be a knock on effect to rents, and its likely that the cost of related financial services will hit everyone.
• VAT will also have an effect on the buying power of tourists who may alos have to pay duty tax again on certain goods in their country of origin

There will be a number of items that will be VAT-exempt. Younis Al Khouri, undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, has said that GCC states had already agreed to exempt about 94 food products, as well as the healthcare and education sectors. . A new law, however, has yet to be released to specify which items are non-taxable.

Expect electronics, clothes, home furnishings, cars etc shall I expect to cost more once VAT is implemented
If you want to own a brand-new mobile phone that costs Dh2,600, for instance, prepare to pay an extra Dh130. In some cases for white goods, manufacturers may absorb some of the 5 per cent, to keep their products competitive but in other countries VAT has often resulted in prices being rounded up. Also non VTA items tend to look more cost favourable and that often leads to retailers pushing up prices on those goods.

Since the VAT law is not out yet, we don’t known the impact on air tickets. The VAT implementation in other countries, for instance in the UK as well as in Singapore (where VAT is called GST), passenger transport carries VAT at zero percent. Increases will likely hit tourism.

Tourism spending is a major source of revenue for the UAE and goods purchased by visitors will not be exempted at the point of sale. Anyone buying perfumes, make-up, luxury bags and big-ticket items in the UAE can expect to pay an additional 5 per cent of the sale price. The Ministry of Economy, however, assured that the tax rate is “deliberately low so that VAT is a limited burden on all consumers.” It also remains to be seen whether tourists will be given the option to obtain a tax refund at some point, as observed in other countries it appears not because the relative number of tourists to residents is pzrticulzrly high here.

The UAE is not discounting the possibility of collecting other forms of tax. “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,” said the Ministry of Finance.

Businesses are encouraged to implement the new tax system, initial indications are that there will be swingeing penalties for late or incorrect returns. Those with annual turnover of more than AED375,000 (approximately US$100,000) are mandated to register.

Not all businesses in the UAE will need to go through the tedious process of registering for the value-added tax. The Ministry of Finance issued an announcement that states that businesses with a turnover of AED375,000 are required to register for value-added tax (VAT) which will be implemented in the UAE on 1 January 2018.

The ministry has announced that those with revenue below AED375000 but over AED187500 will have an option to register. Which means that they may if they like, register under VAT. But if they don’t then they do not have to collect VAT from their customers.

This number however, if it is an annual number, appears to be very low and it may bring a lot of small businesses within the scope of VAT. It of course also means a lot of registration fees, with the likelihood of annual renewal. This with multi companies and trade licenses need to be clear how many VAT registrations they need.

Group companies that undertake intercompany trading also need to think about the impact of VAA on such cross company sales and what tax will be payable and reclaimable by each company in what timescales.

Some may prefer to register even if they are exempt because if they don’t, they may not be able to claim back the VAT paid on their purchases.

As announced recently, the registration will be open three months before the go-live date. Companies will have the option to register online. Businesses can probably start registering for VAT from 1st October 2017.

For most businesses, VAT returns should be filed every three months. Filing of returns can also be done online using the government’s eServices.

According to the Ministry of Finance, businesses may need to change their core operations, financial management and book-keeping, technology and human resource mix in order to prepare for VAT. “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.”

Businesses are also strongly advised to ensure that in all the commercial contracts they enter into, they include a clause that spells out that the VAT burden can be passed on to the consumer.

“Once the law is out, businesses would first have to figure out whether their products/services are taxable or not and if yes, they would have to ensure that their billing or invoicing process is capable of adding a VAT charge to all taxable products. The easiest way to do this is to alter your IT systems to automatically calculate and add VAT to the invoices,” said Pardasani.

Hiring new staff that will enable businesses prepare for and implement the new tax policy should be done at this point in time. “Companies should have started to think about the additional resources they would need to ensure VAT compliance. Depending on how tedious / frequent the process is, companies would need resources based on the complexity of their operations. But one thing to bear in mind is that VAT is not only a finance issue,” said Pardasani. “It flows through all operational departments of the company. This is because wherever a company acquires products or services, it may pay VAT and it would need to capture all the documentation relating to VAT paid, in order to claim refunds


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