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05 January 2023

2022 has been another year of change in the GCC tax world as the scope and influence of tax continues to develop and evolve across the region.

In the UAE, the year has been full of anticipation for the proposed corporate tax, which is due to take effect for financial years commencing on or after 1 June 2023. The law was finally released on 9 December, with tax regulations and further legislation to support the Corporate Tax Decree-Law expected in due course.

The final quarter of 2022 also saw the publication of a major update of the existing UAE tax laws, which coincides with the end of the fifth year of VAT in the UAE. There are no fundamental changes to the way VAT or excise tax will operate but the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has taken the opportunity to add more detail and address a number of ambiguities and gaps. It’s a very positive and helpful update and we have covered some of the main features in this edition. 

The FTA has also announced the launch of a new and improved taxpayer portal, known as “Emara Tax.” The portal went live on 5
December and all UAE taxpayers should familiarise themselves with the FTA guidance and webcasts so that they are aware of what has changed and steps they need to take. 

In Bahrain, VAT is now four years old and statistics from the National Bureau for Revenue (NBR) indicate that by the end of the third quarter of 2022, 21,740 businesses had registered for VAT. The excise tax also continues to develop in Bahrain and there is further news on the Digital Stamps Scheme, which aims to track excise goods from the manufacturing stage up to the point of consumption.

In Oman, the final phase of the VAT registration process was completed earlier this year. Taxpayers in the country are now getting to grips with VAT and the tax authorities are providing support with guidance and clarifications. The tax authorities are also developing their audit and control process, and certain taxpayers have been asked to provide additional information and documentation to support their return declarations. It appears that e-invoicing may be on the agenda in the reasonably near future.

Qatar has probably been the country with the least number of tax changes over the past year but there have been some updates to the law and we include in this newsletter updates to the CRS legislation and a note on the registration and reporting requirements for country-by-country reporting.

In Saudi Arabia, the tax amnesty or "exemption from fines and financial penalties" has been extended again and will now run until 31 May 2023. The amnesty was introduced as a post-COVID measure to help businesses with the economic impacts of the pandemic. It has clearly been helpful to both taxpayers and ZATCA, and the extension of the amnesty will be widely appreciated.

In Kuwait, there have been some important developments over the past year, which are summarised in this edition of the newsletter. There have been some particularly interesting changes in the field of international tax, especially the concept of ‘virtual permanent establishments’.

We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and we wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous 2023.