Introduction: In a world where economic choices define our futures, the prospect of moving to a tax-free haven like Dubai becomes a tempting proposition. However, recent developments in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tax landscape have sparked curiosity and concern. This article aims to delve into the evolution of UAE’s tax system, from being a tax haven to the introduction of corporate taxes.
So, I was having this conversation with a friend of mine yesternight when I discovered her plans of leaving Bharat for better income prospects in the future. Being a nationalist, I decided to tackle this potential brain drain. I gave her facts and figures about GDP projections of Bharat’s economy and how Bharat will perform better, how the stature of IITs and IIMs is rising and I got to the point where she almost accepted that Bharat is a better option to reside in future.
But at that moment she slammed a cold statement on my face to which I had no counter:
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SKY HIGH TAXES OF INDIA. LOOK AT DUBAI, ITS TAX FREE. WHY SHOULDN’T I GO THERE AND LIVE”
Now I was dumbfounded as I didn’t know much about the context… So I decided to go to the most obvious rescuer – Google
I read a couple of articles and rummaged through a stack of information and thought that I should summarise this information to my readers as most of us are unaware of the facts of the matter.
Q.1 What had been the situation in UAE?
Ans. So, taxes (especially direct taxes) have played little to no role in the Middle Eastern and South African economies. The reason?
Well, everyone knows – ‘OIL’. Due to their tremendous oil wealth, these nations never bothered to impose taxes in their countries on a large scale. And so these nations have remained tax havens for quite long. This resulted in the inflow of heavy FDI in the country and inflow of Black money.
Q.2 So, what is happening now?
Ans. Everything was running smoothly till the end of 2017 when the UAE government decided to impose its first ever major tax – ‘VAT’. It was introduced from 1st January, 2018 and sent ripples around the World Economy. Although, the tax rates were a meagre 5% and 0% for most items. But this was the beginning of a domino.
The real shockwaves were sent in the world in June 2023 when UAE imposed its first ever direct tax – ‘Corporate Tax’. The tax rates were again a meagre 9% but indicating the shift of UAE from a tax haven to a taxing state
Although, it’s necessary to mention here that UAE still doesn’t has any Personal Income Tax.
Q.3 But, why to impose these taxes?
Ans. There are multiple reasons attributing this shift in UAE’s tax regime :-
a) They want to reduce their dependency on Oil due to the decreasing oil prices and rising use of renewable energy… So, diversification is the motive.
b) The rising pressure from the G7 and G20 countries to impose corporate taxes at a minimum of 15% (Yes, UAE has violated the minimum threshold but still…)
c) Investor confidence always builds up in a country where a tax system exists and UAE wants to attract global companies to their countries.
Conclusion: The gradual introduction of various taxes in the UAE signifies a strategic response to changing global dynamics. As the country navigates this shift from a tax haven to a taxing state, questions arise about the potential introduction of personal income tax or more stringent tax laws. The future of UAE’s tax landscape remains uncertain, leaving us to ponder the direction it might take.
In the quest for economic prosperity and stability, individuals and investors must stay vigilant, as the UAE undergoes a transformation that could reshape its financial allure.