Banks fined depositors Dh2.7b for not maintaining minimum account balance
As many as 21 public sector banks and three major private sector lenders collected a whopping Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) from customers for non-maintenance of minimum balance in their accounts in 2017-18, according to banking data.
India’s largest lender State Bank of India, which suffered a staggering net loss of Rs 6,547 crore during 2017-18, led the pack in penalising its customers for not maintaining minimum account balance. The government-owned SBI, which re-introduced the penalty on deposits going below monthly average balance basis from April 2017, collected nearly half the amount raised by the 24 banks put together (Rs 4,989.55 crore).
But for the additional income of Rs 2,433.87 crore under this head, SBI’s losses would have soared further.
After SBI, the largest amount of charges for not maintaining minimum balance during 2017-18 was collected by HDFC Bank. It charged its customers Rs 590.84 crore, which is lower than Rs 619.39 crore in 2016-17, the data revealed.
Axis Bank collected Rs 530.12 crore in the last fiscal while ICICI Bank charged Rs 317.6 crore.
SBI was charging the penalty on failure to maintain monthly average balance requirement till 2012 and again re-introduced it from April 1, 2017.
Following the criticism, SBI reduced charges with effect from October 1, 2017.
According to the RBI norms, banks are permitted to levy service/miscellaneous charges.
Customers opening accounts under Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) scheme as well as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna are not required to maintain any minimum balance.
VAT drives 20,000 UAE firms into digital accounting
Since the launch of value-added tax (VAT), more than 20,000 small businesses in the UAE have shifted from manual to digital accounting following the mandate issued by UAE government to submit tax returns online, said a top official.
Digital accounting has become imperative for countries worldwide. It not only facilitates operational and cost efficiencies, but also ensures better security, speed and reduced errors. Making VAT digital makes way for a modern and fast service which help businesses get their compliance right, reduces the tax gap, as well as plummets the cost, uncertainty and worry that businesses face while filing returns,” said Vikas Panchal, business head at Tally Solutions in the Middle East.
The UAE recently implemented value-added tax (VAT) beginning January 1, 2018. Tally Solutions – a leading international accounting and compliance software provider help businesses comply with the new law by creating awareness on the importance of maintaining proper accounting records as well as facilitating the ease of filing returns through its automated software Tally.ERP 9 Release 6.4. Trusted by more than 1.2 million businesses globally, Tally Solutions already includes a list of 50,000 satisfied clients across GCC, a company statement said.
“Ever since VAT was introduced in the UAE, companies have moved from pen and paper and scaled up their computing processes to be able to match up to UAE’s digital processes. Digitalisation has helped businesses to manage timely and accurate record-keeping, whilst preventing errors associated with manual processes. While digital accounting facilitates regulation it also allows businesses to access tax information in a single place, file returns online from any place and deliver improvements in business process,” added Panchal.
While automated accounting will have a significant impact on the way authorities collect, administer and enforce tax, it also helps resolve issues faster, making the tax system more sophisticated than ever before.
FTA launches Tax Clinic to communicate with businesses
The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has announced a new campaign as part of its efforts to communicate directly and consistently with businesses. The “Tax Clinic” seeks to increase the number of registered taxable businesses and promote compliance with the timely submission of Tax Returns and payment of due taxes.
The campaign kicks off on Sunday, August 12, 2018, in Ras Al Khaimah, before moving on to Fujairah and then the rest of the emirates for a duration of three months, where representatives from the Authority will be present to answer taxpayer queries regarding registration with the FTA and other tax obligations, encouraging those who have yet to register for Value Added Tax (VAT) to promptly do so in order to avoid administrative penalties. The experts will also introduce attendees to the procedures required for submitting accurate Tax Returns and settling due taxes.
A team of analysts and experts from the FTA’s Registration and Taxpayer Services will go on an extensive tour, the first stage of which will take place on August 12-14 in Ras Al Khaimah, moving on to Fujairah on August 26-28, then Um Al Quwain on September 2-4, and Ajman on September 9-11, 2018.
The campaign will be returning to Ras Al Khaimah on September 16-18, moving on to Sharjah on September 23-25, then Fujairah again on September 30-October 2, Um Al Quwain on October 7-9, Ajman on October 14-16, back to Fujairah on October 21-23, before concluding with a third and final stop in Ras Al Khaimah on October 28-30, 2018.
FTA Director General His Excellency Khalid Ali Al Bustani said: “The Federal Tax Authority has always been adamant to reach out to businesses subject to the UAE tax system in any way possible. To that end, we launched the ‘Tax Clinic’ as a new and innovative campaign to spread tax awareness among all business sectors, particularly, small and medium enterprises (SMEs).”
The FTA called on businesses to attend the “Tax Clinic” and benefit from the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
FTA publishes Public Clarification on the treatment of input tax on entertainment services
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has published a new Public Clarification on non-recoverable input tax on entertainment services. This is an important development, as it provides clarity on what has been an ongoing issue for many businesses in the UAE. As noted below, as this has been an area of concern for businesses, and many have adopted a risk averse position toward making any claim for input tax in this area, it would be advisable to use this opportunity to revisit that position.
VATP005 – VAT Public Clarification on non-recoverable input tax – entertainment services
VAT Public Clarification VATP005 discusses the VAT treatment of entertainment services. According to Article 53(1) of Cabinet Decision No. (52) of 2017 on the Executive Regulations of the Federal Decree-Law No (8) of 2017 on Value Added Tax (“the Executive Regulations”), input tax incurred by an entity that is not a Government entity is not recoverable on entertainment services provided to anyone not employed by them. This would include entertainment services provided to potential customers, shareholders, or other owners/investors.
The issue addressed in the Public Clarification is what the FTA considers is included in the definition of ‘entertainment services’. According to the document, input tax on an expense may be recoverable if it can be shown that the expense was for a genuine business purpose, or incidental to a business purpose (such as hospitality provided during a business meeting).
However, hospitality which is provided as an end in itself, or where it could be considered to be the main reason for attending an event, will be considered to be ‘entertainment services’ and the input tax will not be recoverable.
It is important to note the distinction made between government and non-government entities. A designated government entity may recover input tax on entertainment services provided to non-employees in certain situations, such as meetings with delegations from other countries where lunch/dinner is provided, or meetings with representatives from other government entities to discuss official business where refreshments are provided.
On the other hand, if a non-government entity provides entertainment services to any non-employee, including shareholders and investors, the input tax on these expenses will be blocked in full from recovery.
In the case of ‘entertainment services’ provided to employees, the input tax incurred will be non-recoverable unless a specific exception applies. This rule applies to designated government entities as well.
The only situations where input tax can be recovered on ‘entertainment services’ provided to employees are:
- If the labour law of the UAE, or Designated Zone where the entity is located, makes it a legal obligation to provide those goods or services to employees;
- If the employment contract or documented policy of the business states that those goods or services will be provided to employees in order to allow them to perform their work, and it can be a proven as a normal business practice;
- If the supply of the goods or services is a deemed supply under the Decree-Law.
The guide gives an example of a recoverable entertainment expense for an employee as being when a newly hired employee is temporarily provided with a hotel accommodation until they find permanent accommodation, as this is necessary for the employee to perform their role. A lunch or dinner for employees, on the other hand, would not be a recoverable expense.
Additionally, the document indicates that the FTA considers the input tax on ‘simple hospitality’ provided in the normal course of a meeting to be recoverable. Also, the input tax incurred on sundry office expenses, which are considered to include normal incidental office expenses for general use by both employees and non-employees, is recoverable.
Further, the guide includes sections on conference and business events, employee entertainment, and employee expenses.
The new Public Clarification indicates that the FTA has drawn a clear distinction between hospitality provided for business versus non-business purposes.
Taxable persons should ensure that they accurately record and account for such expenses, including the circumstances surrounding them, in order to recover only what is permitted by the FTA. They should also ensure that their internal policies are fit for purpose in terms of the types entertainment services and simple hospitality that may be provided, so that they are able to address the appropriate treatment of VAT incurred on the costs. If a business attempts to recover input tax on expenses which are non-recoverable, they risk significant penalties from the FTA.
For those that have denied themselves recovery of input tax incurred where they were uncertain as to what would, or would not be allowed, it might be advantageous to revisit that treatment, and reconsider whether an entitlement to the input credit is in fact available.