UAE Tax: Everything you need to know

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has established itself as a global business hub, attracting entrepreneurs and companies from around the world. One of the key factors contributing to its appeal is its favorable tax environment. In this article, we will delve into the UAE tax system, providing a comprehensive overview of the regulations, exemptions, and benefits that businesses and individuals can enjoy.

  1. Overview of Tax System in the UAE: The UAE operates on a federal tax system, with each emirate having the authority to regulate its own taxes. However, the UAE currently imposes minimal taxes, offering a business-friendly environment that encourages investment and economic growth.
  2. Corporate Tax: In a significant development, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a federal corporate tax with a standard statutory rate of 9% starting from the financial year beginning on or after June 1. This marks a notable shift in the tax landscape of the UAE, which has traditionally been known for its tax-friendly environment. Under the new corporate tax regime, companies with income exceeding Dh375,000 (approximately $102,110) will fall within the taxable bracket and be subject to the 9% corporate tax rate. However, it is important to note that taxable profits below this threshold will be subject to a tax rate of 0%. This means that companies with income below Dh375,000 will not be liable to pay corporate tax on their profits.

Moreover, the Ministry of Finance clarified in May that business owners will only be subject to corporate tax if their annual turnover exceeds Dh1 million. This ensures that only income generated from business or business-related activities is taxed. As a result, a business owner or entrepreneur who earns Dh500,000 from their business in a calendar year would not be required to pay tax on their earnings. The introduction of the federal corporate tax in the UAE is a significant step towards diversifying the country’s revenue sources and enhancing its fiscal sustainability. The tax revenue generated will contribute to funding public services, infrastructure development, and various government initiatives aimed at further enhancing the business environment. It is important for businesses operating in the UAE to familiarize themselves with the new tax regulations and ensure compliance with the reporting and payment requirements. Maintaining accurate financial records, filing tax returns, and fulfilling tax obligations in a timely manner will be essential to avoid any penalties or legal repercussions.

It’s worth noting that the UAE’s tax system remains attractive compared to many other jurisdictions, as the corporate tax rate of 9% is still relatively low. Additionally, the threshold for taxable profits ensures that smaller businesses and startups are not burdened with taxation until they reach a certain level of income.

  1. Value Added Tax (VAT): The UAE implemented a 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) system in January 2018. VAT applies to most goods and services, with exceptions for essential items such as healthcare and education. Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding the mandatory threshold are required to register for VAT, collect VAT from customers, and file regular VAT returns. It’s crucial for businesses to understand VAT regulations to ensure compliance.
  2. Customs Duties: The UAE imposes customs duties on imported goods. The rates vary depending on the nature of the goods and their country of origin. Free trade zones in the UAE often offer exemptions or reduced customs duties as an incentive to attract businesses. Companies should familiarize themselves with the customs regulations when importing or exporting goods.
  3. Personal Income Tax: Currently, there is no personal income tax imposed on individuals in the UAE. This means that individuals can enjoy tax-free salaries and wages, allowing for higher disposable income.
  4. Withholding Tax: The UAE does not levy withholding tax on dividends, interest, or royalties. This is particularly advantageous for companies conducting cross-border transactions as it minimizes tax obligations and facilitates international business operations.
  5. Double Taxation Treaties: The UAE has entered into double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAs) with several countries. These treaties aim to eliminate or reduce the possibility of double taxation for individuals and businesses operating in both the UAE and the respective treaty countries. DTAs provide clarity on tax obligations and help foster economic cooperation between nations.
  6. Free Trade Zones: The UAE has established numerous free trade zones throughout the country, offering various incentives and benefits to businesses. Free trade zones provide 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified company formation procedures. Each free trade zone may have specific regulations regarding taxes and customs duties, so it’s essential to understand the rules applicable to a particular zone.
  7. Compliance and Reporting: Businesses operating in the UAE must ensure compliance with tax regulations. This includes maintaining accurate financial records, filing VAT returns, and adhering to reporting requirements. It is advisable to engage professional accountants or tax advisors to navigate the tax landscape and ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
  8. Evolving Tax Landscape: While the UAE’s tax system has been historically favorable, it’s essential to stay updated on any changes or amendments to tax regulations. The UAE is committed to further diversifying its revenue sources and may introduce new taxes or amend existing tax laws in the future. Staying informed and seeking professional advice will help businesses and individuals adapt to any potential changes.


The UAE’s tax system offers numerous advantages for businesses and individuals, including the absence of corporate income tax, personal income tax, and withholding tax. The introduction of VAT has brought a new aspect to taxation, requiring businesses to understand and comply with the regulations. By staying informed, maintaining compliance, and seeking professional guidance, individuals and businesses can leverage the UAE’s favorable tax environment to their advantage, contributing to their success and growth in the region.

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