Cabinet Decision No. 49 of 2021 has announced amendments of certain provisions of the old cabinet decision No. 40 of 2017 regulating the Administrative Penalties for Violation of Tax Laws in the UAE. This has also been confirmed by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) on 29th May 2021.
Before this newly issued cabinet decision 49 of 2021, heavy penalties often used to be imposed on taxpayers for non-compliance with the VAT and excise rules and regulations. Though the imposition of the high penalty was originally aimed for increased tax compliance, it often put the taxpayers in difficult and stressful situations.
The amendments brought in are designed to help tax registrants and support them in fulfilling their tax obligations. It is hoped that the relaxation of penalties passed by the government should enhance the competitiveness of UAE for conducting business.
“The new amendment will become effective on 28th June 2021 and will reduce many administrative penalties imposed for violating tax laws. This comes as part of the wise leadership’s directives to implement the tax system according to the best standards that ensure further growth for the national economy and help achieve transparency and economic momentum, providing an ideal and resilient tax legislative environment that encourages self-compliance and keeps pace with change through constant issuance of decisions in accordance with phased requirements,” highlighted Khalid Ali Al-Bustani, the Director-General of the FTA in a press release on Saturday.
The Director-General wanted the tax registrants to avail the benefits announced in the new amendment. The newly passed decision offers additional reliefs to the tax-paying business sectors and shall support them in meeting their tax obligations with ease effectively contributing towards the enhancement of UAE’s economic growth.
Al-Bustani also stated that 16 different types of administrative penalties under the old cabinet decision of 2017 have either been reduced or the earlier method of calculating penalties amended (TAXP001). He also explained that the reductions are primarily enacted for tax penalties including administrative violations on Tax Procedures, Federal Decree-Law on Excise Tax, and Federal Decree-Law on Value Added Tax (VAT).
“The amendment includes fundamental amendments that provide more facilities to help taxable persons achieve self-compliance and encourage the speeding up of voluntary declaration. Under these amendments, a late payment penalty will not be imposed on voluntary disclosures if payment is settled within 20 business days of submitting the voluntary disclosure, and the sooner the taxable person declares and pays due tax according to periods specified by the decision, the lower the value of the penalties will be. This constitutes an incentive and a good opportunity for tax registrants who have errors in declarations, tax assessments, or requests for tax refunds, to speed up the implementation of voluntary declaration procedures and avoid increasing penalties.”
In a press briefing, FTA noted that the tax authority shall redetermine the administrative penalties (TAXP002) enforced on the taxpayers before the final rollout of the amendment scheduled on 28th June 2021 and will include the reassessment of the penalties which have not been fully paid, to be equal to 30% of the total of such unpaid penalties. It was emphasized that to take advantage of such a scheme, the taxpayers must settle their payable tax in full by no later than December 31st, 2021, and 30% of the total administrative penalties due and unpaid by 27th June 2021, by no later than December 31st, 2021. The detailed implementation procedure shall however be decided on a later date, the FTA remarked.
Two new detailed clarifications on this amendment have already been published by the FTA within the framework of the ‘public clarification service’ provided on the FTA’s official website and as a part of their ongoing awareness program.
The public clarifications hosted on FTA’s website are meant for making the existing and potential taxpayers more acquainted with tax aspects with easier and simpler explanations and help them put into effect the UAE’s tax principles effectively.
The first public clarification (TAXP001) includes some basic amendments made to the table of administrative violations and penalties related to the application of Federal Law on Tax Procedures (Cabinet decision No. 51 2021) for ensuring the right interpretation of these amended penalties and with added certainty.
The second public clarification (TAXP001) specifies the methods and procedures used for re-determining some of the administrative penalties imposed in the old cabinet decision that would come in force before the effective due date of the new amendment on 28th June 2021.
The Cabinet Decision No. 49 of 2021 however presents both opportunities and threats to businesses falling under VAT executive regulations.
Though an early voluntary disclosure of any tax fallout is encouraged with the enactment of nominal penalties, it would be quite a large amount for cases where non-compliance is not detected timely and not disclosed. It becomes of paramount importance to critically review records and audit findings for identification of non-compliance in VAT payment and preferably get their systems re-audited by an experienced and qualified third party.
It is also important for companies to identify the applicability of disclosure by reviewing VAT treatments in previous years.
It shall also be equally necessary to identify any unpaid tax penalties if the companies can benefit from the tax reliefs announced.
IMC with its many years of extensive and proven experience in tax compliance, management and planning in the GCC region and especially in the UAE can support companies in identifying all taxation and planning aspects of businesses in light of the recent amendments.
Once a business is aware of any tax errors, it will need to consider which penalties may be applicable (e.g. penalties for the errors, late payment penalties, etc.) and the steps that should be taken to minimize the impact of the penalties.
The new amendments in VAT executive regulations are welcome and expected to address the requirement clarifications of the business community before rollout.