UAE readies for GCC’s lowest tax regime as global corporates brace for tariff hikes

The median corporate tax rates in leading economies worldwide fell to a new low of 25.1 per cent in 2021, which is nearly three times of the nine per cent tax rate that the UAE is going to implement from June 2023



Global corporate tax rates have been steadily decreasing over recent years, with the G7 average for a business recording profits of $1.0 million  falling from 32 per cent in 2014-15 to just 26 per cent in 2020-21. — File photo
Global corporate tax rates have been steadily decreasing over recent years, with the G7 average for a business recording profits of $1.0 million falling from 32 per cent in 2014-15 to just 26 per cent in 2020-21. — File photo
by

Issac John

Published: Sun 5 Jun 2022, 4:50 PM

Businesses worldwide are bracing for higher tax costs as cash-strapped governments seriously consider increasing taxes on corporates following a period of low tax regime, according to a study by a leading accounting network.

The median corporate tax rates in leading economies worldwide fell to a new low of 25.1 per cent in 2021, which is nearly three times of the nine per cent tax rate that the UAE is going to implement from June 2023.

The study by UHY, the international accounting and consulting network, says that with the Covid-19 pandemic leaving a gaping hole in the public finances of countries around the world, the trend of declining corporate tax rates worldwide is likely to be over for the foreseeable future.

“Countries around the world have wanted to remain competitive by keeping the tax burden on companies as low as possible in recent years. The cash strapped governments of 2022 will likely now be considering increasing taxes on corporations,” said Subarna Banerjee, chairman of UHY.

He said public finances will have to be shored up somehow and corporations can be an easier target politically than individuals. “Businesses worldwide should be prepared for their tax costs to begin to rise in the coming years.” Several countries have announced their intention to raise the tax rate. The UK already announced its intention to raise corporation tax rates to 25 per cent from April 2023, more than two percentage points higher than the European average.

President Joe Biden has also pledged to raise federal corporate income tax to 28 per cent, after it was cut to just 21 per cent by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2017.

Global corporate tax rates have been steadily decreasing over recent years, with the G7 average for a business recording profits of $1.0 million falling from 32 per cent in 2014-15 to just 26 per cent in 2020-21. Many countries sought to incentivise businesses to invest in their economies with attractive tax rates. France, often seen as a higher tax European economy, has lowered its headline rate from 31 per cent to 26.5 per cent in just the past three years.

The UAE, typically renowned as a low-tax jurisdiction, recently introduced corporate tax at one of the lowest rates across the globe — nine per cent — for financial years starting on or after June 1, 2023. “This measure is in line with the UAE’s ambition to establish a more transparent local economy while continuing to retain its attractiveness as a global hub for foreign investment,” the study said.

With the SME and start up sector constituting up to 94 per cent of the UAE economy, the UAE leadership has ensured the economic engine of the business landscape is empowered towards growing strategically while striking a balance in meeting compliance and regulatory obligations that protect businesses in the long haul, said the study.

“In the realm of multinationals, UAE will adhere to the global minimum tax rate of 15 per cent, which 136 countries have agreed to under the aegis of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),” it said.

James Mathew, chief executive and managing partner of UHY James Chartered Accountants, said the introduction of corporate tax in the UAE clearly reiterates the nation’s commitment towards aligning its economic environment with global best practices.

“However, the investor friendly corporate tax rate of nine per cent is indicative of the country’s efforts in cementing its position as a destination of choice for foreign investment while building a foundation on tenets of regulatory compliance, legislative obligations, and robust AML (anti-money laundering) measures.”

Mathew said corporate tax will bring a positive ripple effect into play in the UAE economy.

“The arrival of corporate tax in the UAE in 2023 has already put into motion discussions around effective tax planning," he said.

“SME’s make up 94 per cent of the UAE economy and almost two thirds of the SMEs feel constrained due to lack of access to finance at a reasonable cost. With the introduction of VAT in the UAE in 2018, banks adopted a favourable approach in channelising finance to SMEs and now with corporate tax coming into force, the SME sector will stand to gain significantly with measures that increase the transparency factor of their business,” he added.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Business