Overview of VAT in the UAE
GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) countries have agreed ‘in principle’ to the GCC VAT Agreement to levy VAT (Value Added Tax) in the region. This will help the region to reduce their dependence on oil and other hydrocarbon products as a source of revenue. It is agreed by all the GCC countries that VAT will be introduced in every country latest by 1st January 2019. However, UAE decided to implement VAT likely w.e.f 1st January 2018.
We believe the decision to implement VAT would cause a paradigm shift in the business dynamics of the country as well as the region. Like most of the countries across the world, businesses in the Gulf region also will now have to adhere to stringent VAT regulatory and statutory compliances and report the same on a periodic basis. The challenge for the business community in the Gulf will be to understand the new VAT Law and implement the same well before the due date.
VAT is one of the most common types of consumption tax found around the world. Over 150 countries have implemented VAT. It includes the European Union (EU), UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India etc. USA, GCC countries and some other countries, especially from African continents, have not introduced VAT.
General Principles of VAT
Value Added Tax (VAT) is an indirect tax. It is a type of general consumption tax that is collected incrementally, based on the value added, at each stage of production or distribution/sales. It is usually implemented as a destination-based tax. It is also known as goods and services tax (GST) in some countries.
VAT, a general consumption tax, will apply to most transactions in goods and services. There are only a few items exempted from VAT in the UAE. A couple of items are zero-rated and the rest of the items are full rated or standard rated. The criteria for VAT registration will be on the annual turnover of the business entity. The proposed rate of VAT in the UAE is 5%.
Input VAT is the value added tax added to the price when goods are purchased or services are rendered. If the buyer is registered in the VAT Register, the buyer can deduct the amount of VAT paid from his/her settlement with the tax authorities.
Output VAT is the value added tax calculated and charged on the sales of goods and services.
An exempt supply is a supply on which VAT is not charged and for which the related input VAT is not deductible.
For example: bare land, local transport, the sale of residential property (second sale onwards) lease of the residential property and certain financial services.
A zero-rated supply is a taxable supply on which VAT is charged at 0% and for which the related input VAT is deductible.
For example exports, healthcare, education, international transport of passengers and goods, the first sale of residential property, medicine, and medical equipment, investment in gold, silver and platinum, crude oil & natural gas etc.
Standard Rate Supply
A taxable supply at the Standard Rate is a supply on which VAT is charged at 5% and for which the related input VAT is deductible. All items which are not coming under both exempted category, as well as zero-rated category, are coming under standard rated supplies.
Reverse charge mechanism under UAE VAT
In the UAE VAT, the Reverse Charge Mechanism is applicable while importing goods or services from outside the GCC countries. Under this, the businesses will not have to physically pay VAT at the point of import.
The responsibility for reporting of a VAT transaction is shifted from the seller to the buyer; under Reverse Charge Mechanism. Here the buyer reports the Input VAT (VAT on purchases) as well as the output VAT (VAT on sales) in their VAT return for the same quarter.
The reverse charge is the amount of VAT one would have paid on that goods or services if one had bought it in the UAE. The importer has to disclose the amount of VAT under both Input VAT as well as Output VAT categories of the VAT return of that quarter.
Reverse Charge Mechanism eliminates the obligation for the overseas seller to register for VAT in the UAE.