FTA to issue tax residency and commercial activities certificates
The authority will begin receiving applications for the issuance of Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates via its e-services portal as of November 14, 2020.
The FTA explained that there are two categories of tax certificates which are issued to companies and individuals. The first category is for the ‘Tax Residency Certificate’, a certificate issued by the FTA upon request to enable applicants to benefit from Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) signed between UAE and other countries.
The second is the Commercial Activities Certificate which is a certificate issued by the FTA to enable applicants to refund VAT paid in advance outside the UAE, whether or not DTAAs are applicable.
The authority emphasized that the new service provides advantages and ease for the issuance of certificates to those registered with the tax system, as all their data is available in the FTA database so they can apply for Tax Certificates through direct and quick digital procedures.
Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of the FTA, confirmed that this step is part of an ongoing cooperation between the FTA and the Ministry of Finance as a strategic partner to the authority, noting that a joint working group from both entities have made the necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth transfer for the digital issuance of Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates from the ministry to the authority.
“Both Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certifi-cates allow investors in the UAE, including companies and individuals, to benefit from double taxation avoidance agreements to which the State is a party, with the aim of preventing duplication, in addition to recovering VAT imposed on Emirati businesses in various countries in the event they were registered with the Authority,” Khalid Al Bustani said.
The authority clarified that eligible individuals can easily issue Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates through a simple registration process via the Federal Tax Authority’s official website. The process is completed by submitting the required supporting documents and paying the fees specified in the UAE Cabinet Decision No. 65 for 2020. These specified fees were set as a requirement to apply for the Tax Residency Certificate, as an application is reviewed for any normal or legal person that is not registered with the authority and providing a print copy of the digital Tax Residence Certificate.
The Cabinet Decision also set the fees required to apply for a Commercial Activi-ties Certificate for businesses registered with the Authority, and to review the ap-plication and issue a digital Commercial Activities Certificate and to provide a print copy for the certificate that was issued.
India launches ‘transparent taxation’
At present, only the tax department/officer of the city where the PAN of the taxpayer is registered can scrutinise the tax records.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a ‘transparent taxation’ platform, among other schemes, aimed at carrying forward the journey of direct tax reforms.
The move brings into effect faceless assessment of taxpayers, faceless appeals and the Rights’ Charter for taxpayers who would not be harassed or treated with suspicion from here on.
Speaking at the launch of ‘Transparent Taxation Honouring the Honest’, Modi said that India is among a few countries giving such rights and dignity to taxpayers. He said that the charter has been introduced with defined rights and responsibilities. From here on, the income tax department cannot doubt anyone without basis, he added.
Modi believes the structural reforms will add a new dimension, adding that these should be policy-driven and holistic. He cited that technology has changed, allowing for the scrutiny process to be distributed randomly. Furthermore, he said that the tax scrutiny rate was reduced by a fourth in the last few years; in fiscal year, there was only 0.26 per cent scrutiny.
Speaking of the recent measures, he said that nearly 300,000 cases were resolved under the Vivaad Se Vishwas scheme. He also appealed to citizens, sayin that those who are capable of paying taxes but not in the tax net should also voluntarily pay dues.
Even though the new ‘taxpayer’s charter’ is aimed at residents, non-resident Indians (NRIs) also will benefit from this proposal. India now joins countries like the United States and Canada, which have fundamental rights enacted under their income tax laws.
“For NRIs, this means less hassles from the tax bureaucracy; now, the taxpayer will know what to expect from the department. The new tax regime has also expanded the scope of faceless assessment and has done away with territorial jurisdiction while substituting individual discretion with team-based assessment,” said Bal Krishen, chairman of Century Financial.
“Many NRIs face problems due to the arbitrary nature in which some income tax officers behave; the new system will prevent this harassment. Nonetheless, the new system does have some drawbacks. For example, if there are complex international financial transactions, it might be challenging for the taxpayer to explain the transaction in the absence of a face-to-face interaction. Only a qualified tax officer will be able to take a well-informed decision and hopefully the entire department will be trained on these aspects. For the NRI, from an overall perspective, the new system is certainly a step forward.”
Dixit Jain, managing director at The Tax Experts DMCC, said: “A lot of transparency will come as there will be faceless interaction with assessees, which will reduce harassment and fair judgement without any manipulation. It will increase confidence; also, more and more people will file tax returns to contribute to the country.”
Jain added that earlier, a lot of NRIs were afraid to file tax returns as they used to think that if they file, they will get notices from the income tax department and will then have to face unnecessary trouble while dealing with officers.
“The introduction of the ‘No Influence’ policy and no face-to-face interaction will encourage NRIs to happily declare their eligible income and pay taxes or claim refunds without any worry. It is a brilliant move by the Modi government to encourage more people to file tax returns so it can contribute to the Indian economy.”
The launch of the Transparent taxation – honouring the honest is based on easing compliance for all taxpayers, more specifically for NRI’s – and is a welcome initiative. Few reforms were already in practice with most of the notice and assessments being conducted under e-proceedings, says Dubai-based Kinjal Bagadia Mehta, chartered accountant and tax consultant.
This initiate will lead to the digitisation of the functioning of the Income Tax department which will eventually eradicate corruption, harassment of the taxpayers and reducing litigation. At present, only the tax department/officer of the city where the PAN of the taxpayer is registered can scrutinise the tax records. By launch of Transparent taxation system, this will change now and with technology, scrutiny will be assigned to tax officers randomly. This will keep changing constantly.
“The idea of honouring honest taxpayers through such a platform will encourage many NRIs to participate in development and growth of India. This will also go a long way in making the tax filing process smoother and easier. A NRI will now be assured of fair, courteous, and rational behaviour from taxman. This people centric and public friendly approach will ease being tax compliant in India ultimately giving confidence to NRIs to file the tax returns, pay tax and also invest in India,” said Mehta.
Saudi Arabia Explores Asset Sales, Income Tax to Boost Finances
Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to sell off state assets and isn’t ruling out introducing income tax as the kingdom seeks to boost state coffers hit by the slump in oil prices.
The world’s biggest oil exporter could raise more than 50 billion riyals ($13.3 billion) over the next four to five years by privatizing assets in the education, health-care and water sectors, Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said Wednesday during a virtual forum organized by Bloomberg.
The government is “considering all options” to bolster its finances and while income tax isn’t “imminent” and “would require a lot of time” to prepare, the kingdom “isn’t ruling anything away for now,” he said.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency later reported citing an unidentified official source as saying that income tax had not been discussed in the cabinet or any of the government councils or committees.
Saudi Arabia has been taking steps to shore up its economy from the double whammy of the coronavirus and lower crude prices. The economy is set to shrink 6.8% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, in what would be the deepest contraction in over 30 years.
The government has already taken unprecedented measures to support its finances, including tripling value-added tax, increasing import fees, and canceling some benefits for government workers. The kingdom has traditionally been tax-free for individuals, with oil revenue supporting a wide range of subsidies and benefits for citizens.
“Saudi Arabia is not in austerity and we are not getting into an austerity phase,” Al Jadaan said. While the government has “re-allocated some spending,” total spending in 2020 is likely to be more than a trillion riyals, as planned.
The kingdom is also likely to have to borrow about 100 billion riyals more than planned this year and plans to tap the global debt market at least one more time in 2020 after so far selling $12 billion in international bonds in 2020, Al Jadaan said.
As well as raising debt, the kingdom has already been selling state assets as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from oil after a slow start. In December, the government sold a $29 billion holding in energy giant Saudi Aramco through the largest initial public offering in history. It also recently sold a stake in two grain mills for $740 million.
Despite its efforts to contain costs, the government also transferred $40 billion from reserves held by the central bank to boost the financial firepower of its sovereign wealth fund for deals. The Public Investment Fund has already acquired stakes in companies including Citigroup Inc., Facebook Inc. and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment Inc.
The sovereign fund will continue to boost its global investments, Al Jadaan said.
Combating coronavirus: UAE businesses seek VAT waiver for a year to stimulate demand
VAT relief will stimulate demand for consumer goods in the country.
Private and family owned businesses in the UAE have requested the government to waive off value-added tax (VAT) for six months to one year in order to help stimulate demand in the economy.
A letter sent by family-owned business groups to Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee have suggested establishing a private-public sector committee, reducing VAT from five per cent to two per cent, eliminating licensing fee, accelerating payment to suppliers and contractors, freezing of 2.5 per cent market fee, 50 per cent reduction in customs fees and water and electricity in order to help them overcome Covid-19 impact.
Rizwan Sajan, chairman and founder of Danube Group, said demand is slow across all the sectors due to job losses and salary cuts, therefore, VAT relief will stimulate demand for consumer goods in the country.
“This, in turn, will help businesses and the overall economy. Importantly, many countries around the world have also offered tax sops to businesses and consumers. Since VAT is the only consumer tax applied here, and waiving off this tax can stimulate demand. We request government to consider it on a priority basis. We are quite confident that this step will expedite the recovery of the UAE economy as country reopens. Moreover, we also requested waiver on utility and telecom charges,” said Sajan.
On Monday, May 11, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance announced that it will not increase VAT after Saudi Arabia tripled it to 15 per cent.
Rajiv Raipancholia, CEO of Orient Exchange, said remittances have dropped by 30 to 40 per cent and there are job losses and reduced salaries due to Coronavirus impact.
“A waiver of VAT till year-end would support the end-consumer in terms of reduced expenses to make ends meet. At the same time, landlords need to give a rent free period of two to four months to retailers otherwise the brick-and-mortar model will face huge challenges of continuity,” said Raipancholia.
Suresh Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), said it is good if the businesses start to do well as a result of these measures because the amount of VAT collection after 6 months will more than offset loss of revenues for the government when business activity picks up.
“It is certainly worthwhile as businesses are operating on thin margins and with social distance in place at workplace, the cost will go up. So any such relief that businesses will get is good. I think six months of VAT waiver is a good period. It will give businesses an opportunity to restart their operations in fulls swing,” he said.
He suggested that sector-specific should be taken that will have better and strong impact on those sectors. “We have been regularly communicating and authorities are also actively participating,” he added.