Will VAT affect my business?
VAT, as a general consumption tax, will apply to the majority of transactions in goods and services. A limited number of reliefs may be granted.
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.
What are the VAT-related responsibilities of businesses?
Businesses that meet the minimum annual turnover requirement (as evidenced by their financial records) will be required to register for VAT.
Registered businesses and traders will charge VAT to all supplies of goods and services and deemed supplies all of their customers at the prevailing rate and incur VAT on goods / services that they buy from suppliers. The difference between these sums is reclaimed or paid to the government.
All businesses in the UAE will need to record their financial transactions and ensure that their financial records are accurate and up to date.
What is Supply of Goods and Services?
According to the Decree-Law, a supply of goods includes the transfer of ownership of the goods or the right to use them as an owner from one Person to another and an entry into a contract between two parties triggering the transfer of goods at a later time. A supply of service is any supply that is not considered a supply of goods.
The Decree-Law made two exceptions as to what constitutes a supply: the issuance or sale of any Voucher unless the received Consideration exceeds its declared monetary value; and the transfer of whole or an independent part of a Business from a Person to a Taxable Person for the purposes of continuing such Business that was transferred.
What is Deemed Supply?
A supply is considered “Deemed” if the supply of goods or services was all or part of a taxable person’s assets, but no longer considered to be as such (provided the supply was made without consideration).
Similarly, the supply is Deemed if implemented through a transfer by a Taxable Person of Goods forming part of his business assets from the UAE to another VAT-implementing GCC state, or from the Taxable Person’s business in a VAT implementing GCC state to his business in the implementing state, unless, in either case, that transfer: is treated as temporary under the Customs Legislation; or is made as part of another Taxable Supply of these Goods.
The same applies to the supply of goods or services for which Input Tax may be recovered but was used, in part or whole, for purposes other than Business, but only to the extent of non-Business use, as well as for Goods in the ownership of the Taxable Person as at the date of Tax Deregistration.
Conditions and Requirements for Issuing Tax Invoices
A registrant making a taxable or deemed supply shall issue an original tax invoice and deliver it to a recipient of goods or services or keep it in his records in the event of a lack of recipient.
Any Person who receives an amount as Tax pursuant to any document issued by the Person must pay this amount to the Authority. A registrant shall issue a tax invoice within 14 days of the date of supply.
The Decree-Law specifies that the Executive Regulation shall include the information to be included in the Tax Invoice; conditions and procedures required to issue an electronic Tax Invoice; instances where the Registrant is not required to issue a Tax Invoice to the Recipient of Goods or Services; instances where other documents may be issued in place of the Tax Invoice, as well as their specifications and the information to be included therein; and instances where another Person may issue a Tax Invoice on behalf of the Registrant supplier.
What sectors will be zero rated? (no VAT collected)
Zero-rated Supplies 0%:
- 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 supply of some financial services (clarified in VAT legislation);
- Residential properties;
- Bare land; and
- Local passenger transport.
Will there be VAT grouping?
Businesses that satisfy certain requirements covered under the Legislation (such as being resident in the UAE and being related/associated parties) will be able to register as a VAT group. For some businesses, VAT grouping will be a useful tool that would simplify accounting for VAT.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 insurance be treated?
Insurance (vehicle, medical, etc) will be taxable. Life insurance, however, will be treated as an exempt financial service.
How will real estate be treated?
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.
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.