Large groups can set up a tax group to minimise their compliance cost

As required by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), groups are required to prepare consolidated financial statements where inter companies’ transactions are eliminated, and losses of one entity are adjusted against the profits of the other entities



By Mahar Afzal/Compliance Corner

Published: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 3:01 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 3:02 PM

Large businesses are structured as a group for better management and reporting purposes. Moreover, companies wanted to enjoy the tax benefits and reliefs which are generally available to the groups, so this is another reason that large businesses are organized in the form of groups. Tax planning and minimising the compliance cost are other critical factors for which large entities assemble themselves as a group.

As required by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), groups are required to prepare consolidated financial statements where inter companies’ transactions are eliminated, and losses of one entity are adjusted against the profits of the other entities. The net profits of the groups are adjusted to arrive at the taxable profits of the group.

Keeping in view the above factors, tax grouping has been proposed in the Corporate Tax Public Consultation Document, which suggests that eligible businesses would be able to create the tax groups and transfer their losses between group companies that are seventy-five per cent or more commonly owned.

It has been proposed in the document that the group of companies which are residents of the UAE and whose ninety-five per cent shares and voting rights are held by the parent company can form a tax group. In addition, a subsidiary can also be part of the tax group if it is owned indirectly by the parent company and other subsidiaries own at least ninety-five per cent of its shares. The branch of a parent company or group subsidiary company can also be a part of the tax group.

To form a tax group, it is compulsory that neither the parent company nor any of the subsidiaries can be an exempt person or a free zone person that benefits from the zero per cent corporate rate, and all group members must use the same financial year.

Based on the above-proposed requirements, the following businesses cannot be part of the tax group:

• Non-resident companies

• Companies which are in the free zones and enjoying zero per cent corporate tax

• Entities in which the parent company or other group companies are not holding at least ninety-five per cent shares and voting rights.

• The companies which have different financial years.

The group will be formed with the mutual consent of all entities, and the entities that want to be part of the tax group will submit a notice signed by all relevant entities to the Federal Tax Authority (FTA). The FTA will review the application and, upon satisfaction of the criteria, will process the application by issuing one tax number to the tax group.

The tax group will be considered a single entity for corporate tax purposes, and the parent entity will be liable to prepare consolidated financial statements. While consolidating the financials, the transactions between the group entities will be eliminated, and the losses of one entity will be adjusted against the profits of other group entities/entities.

The group entities that do not meet ninety-five per cent ownership criteria or the entities that meet the criteria but do not want to be part of the tax group, such entities can still transfer their losses from one group company to another group company, provided certain conditions are met. As discussed in our previous article, the tax losses of one group company can be adjusted against the seventy-five per cent of taxable income of other group companies that would be receiving the losses. Moreover, the group companies that are exempt or subject to a zero per cent corporate tax regime, would not be allowed to transfer their losses against the profits of other group companies.

The parent entity would be responsible for the administration and the payment of corporate tax on behalf of the tax group, and where the parent defaults, then each member of the tax group will be jointly and severally responsible for the payment of corporate tax. This joint and several liabilities can be limited to the specific members of the group with the approval of the FTA.

The large groups should check the ownership of the group entities and the status of their tax residency. If the entities are eligible to be elected to the tax group, then business owners should align their tax years so that the entities can be added to the tax group to minimise the tax impact and reduce the administration cost. Where the businesses are finding any difficulties in assessing the eligibility of the entities to be added in the tax groups, they should take professional advice for better planning.

Mahar Afzal is a managing partner at Kress Cooper Management Consultants. The above is not an official but a personal opinion of the writer based on the public consultation document on corporate tax. For any queries/clarifications, please write to him at compliance@kresscooper.com


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