VAT- The Concern of UAE Residents
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 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.
When will the VAT go into effect and what will be the rates?
VAT will be introduced across the UAE on 1 January 2018 at a standard rate of 5%
How will the government collect VAT?
Businesses will be responsible for carefully documenting their business income and costs and associated VAT charges. Registered businesses and traders will charge VAT to 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.
Will VAT cover all products and services?
VAT, as a general consumption tax, will apply to the majority of transactions of goods and services unless specifically exempted or excepted by law.
Will the cost of living increase?
The cost of living is likely to increase slightly, but this will vary depending on the individual’s lifestyle and spending behavior. If your spending is mainly on those things which are relieved from VAT, you are unlikely to see any significant increase.
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 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 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
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.
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.
How will insurance be treated?
Generally, insurance (vehicle, medical, etc) will be taxable. Life insurance, however, will be treated as an exempt financial service.
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 tourists also pay VAT?
Yes, tourists are a significant source of revenue for the UAE and will pay VAT at the point of sale. Nevertheless, we have set the VAT rate deliberately low so that VAT is a limited burden on all consumers.
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.
Source : mof.gov.ae