UAE President Issues VAT Decree-Law
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued the Federal Decree-Law No. 8 of 2017 for Value-Added Tax,
with one of the lowest rates in the world. A preliminary step to implementing VAT Law in UAE as of January 2018, the 5% tax is set to
be imposed on the import and supply of goods and services at each stage of production and distribution, including what is deemed to
be a supply.
“The Federal Decree-Law issued by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is the bedrock of the UAE’s planned tax system,
which was designed to meet the most stringent of standards and best practices,” said H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Federal Tax Authority.
“The Value-Added Tax, which is set to be implemented across all GCC countries over the next two years, will bring a new revenue
stream for the national economy and GDP.
This, in turn, will ensure consistency in the high quality of government services, to mirror the UAE’s advanced position on several
global competitiveness indexes.”
“The new tax system will provide extra support for the Government to implement the vision of the UAE leadership and build a
diversified and productive knowledge economy,” H.H. Sheikh Hamdan added.
“The newly introduced Value Added Tax that shall be implemented in the GCC depending on the readiness of each member State
between 1 January 2018 and 1 January 2019 pertaining to the Common VAT Agreement of the States of the GCC, will have positive
results on the economy, far exceeding its 5% rate, given that revenues will be redistributed to development projects that benefit
society at large and accelerate progress until the UAE reaches the top of global rankings across all sectors.”
UAE VAT Law in UAE
The Decree-Law provides that all supplies of goods and services are subject to VAT at a standard rate of 5% with the exception of
specific supplies subject to the zero rate and what is exempted as specified in the Decree-law. Tax imposed shall be the responsibility
of a Taxable Person who makes taxable supplies or what is deemed to be a supply or on import.
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.
A Government entity is regarded as making a supply if said entity was not performing activities in sovereign capacity or if its activities
are in competition with the private sector. The Cabinet – upon the suggestion of the Minister – issues a decision determining specific
Government entities whose activities are considered as “activities in sovereign capacity” and instances where these activities are
considered not in competition with the private sector.
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 Registration.
Every person who has a place of residence in the UAE or in a VAT implementing GCC state must register for VAT according to the
Decree-Law, if at the end of any month his taxable supplies for the previous 12 months exceeded the mandatory registration
threshold or he expects to exceed the mandatory registration threshold in the next 30 days.
The Decree-Law stipulates that two or more Persons conducting business may apply for tax registration as a tax group if all of the
following conditions are met: Each Person has a place of establishment or fixed establishment in the UAE; the relevant Persons are
related parties; and one or more Persons are conducting business in a partnership that controls the others.
The legislation also includes provisions prohibiting any Person conducting business from having more than one tax registration
number,TRN, unless otherwise decided by the Executive Regulation. If related parties do not apply for Tax Registration as a Tax
Group, the Authority may assess their association based on their economic, financial and regulatory practices in business and
register them as a Tax Group if the association has been proved according to the controls and conditions specified by the Executive
The Authority has the right to make changes to the Persons registered as a Tax Group by removing or adding Persons based on the
instances mentioned in the Executive Regulation or as requested by the Taxable Person.
Any Person who is not obligated to apply for Tax Registration may apply if, at the end of any given month, the total value of taxable
supplies or expenses which were subject to Tax incurred during the previous ’12’ month-period exceeded the Voluntary Registration
The same applies in the event where it is anticipated that the total value of taxable supplies to be made or expenses
which were subject to Tax to be incurred will exceed the Voluntary Registration Threshold during the coming ’30’ day period.
A non-resident Person may not take the value of goods and services imported into the UAE for the purpose of calculating whether
they are entitled to apply for tax registration if the charging of tax for such goods or services is the duty of the Importer, as defined in
To determine whether a Person has exceeded the mandatory registration threshold and the voluntary registration threshold, the total
sum of the following is calculated: The value of Taxable Supplies made by the Person; the value of concerned goods and concerned
services received by the Person; the value of the taxable supplies made by the acquired whole or part of the business, if a Person
acquires a whole or part of another business; and the value of taxable supplies made by related parties.
A registrant must apply to the Authority for tax registration if he no longer makes taxable supplies; or if the value of the taxable
supplies made over a period of 12 consecutive months is less than the voluntary registration threshold.
They may also apply for tax registration if the value of taxable supplies during the past 12 months was less than the mandatory
Zero-rating applies when goods and services are being exported to outside a VAT-implementing GCC state, as well as to
international transportation of passengers or goods including a transfer starting or ending in the UAE or passing through its territory.
Air transfer of passengers in in the UAE also incurs zero rates if it is considered an “international carriage” as per article (1) of the
Warsaw International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air 1929. Zero rating also
applies to the supply of air, sea and land means of transport used to transport passengers and goods, as well as the supply of goods
and services related to the supply of the means of transport, which are for operating, repairing, maintaining or converting them; the
supply of aircraft or vessels designated for use in the assistance or rescue by air or sea; the supply of goods and services related to
the transfer of goods or passengers aboard land, air or sea means of transport, designated for consumption on board; or anything
consumed by means of transportation, any installations or addition thereto or any other uses during transportation.
The supply or import of investment-precious metals, as well as the first supply of residential buildings within (3) years of its
completion, either through sale or lease in whole or in part, is equally subject to a zero-rate. The first supply of buildings specifically
designed to be used by charities and buildings converted from non-residential to residential shall also be taxable at the rate of zero.
Also subject to the zero rate is the supply of educational services and related goods and services for nurseries, preschool,
elementary education, as well as higher educational institutions owned or funded by the Federal or local government, as specified in
the Executive Regulation; and, finally, the supply of preventive and basic healthcare services and related goods and services, as
specified in the Executive Regulation.
The Decree-Law outlines that certain supplies shall be exempt from tax, namely: the supply of certain financial services as specified
in the Executive Regulation, the supply of residential (non-zero-rated) buildings either by sale or lease, the supply of bare land, and
the supply of local passenger transport. As per the Decree-Law, Payable Tax for any Tax period is calculated as the total Output Tax
(i.e. the tax that the taxable person has charged on his supplies) during the said period less the total Input Tax recoverable by that
Taxable Person over the same Tax Period (i.e. the tax that he has paid on supplies to him or imports by him).
The Taxable Person must submit a Tax Return to the Authority at the end of each Tax Period in accordance with the time frames and
procedures specified in the Executive Regulation of the Decree-Law declaring all supplies made and received which during that Tax
The Executive Regulation of the Decree-Law shall specify the time frames and procedures of payment of tax declared in the
Tax Return as payable.
If a Taxable Person acquires or imports a Capital Asset, the Taxable Person must assess the period of use of
that asset and make the necessary adjustments to the Input Tax paid pursuant to the Capital Assets Scheme.
Taxable Persons are mandated by the law to retain the records relating to Capital Assets for at least ten years. 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.