As part of the UAE’s commitment as a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework, and in response to an assessment of the UAE’s tax framework by the European Union Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation, the UAE issued Economic Substance Regulations (Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 31 of 2019), (the “Regulations”) on 30 April 2019. Guidance on the application of the Regulations was issued on 11 September 2019 (Ministerial Decision No. 215 of 2019), and Cabinet Decision No. 58/2019 on the Determination of Regulatory Competencies lists the Regulatory Authorities tasked with the administration and enforcement of the Regulations. Amendments to the Regulations were made by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. (57) of 2020 on 10 August 2020, and updated Guidance was issued on 19 August 2020 (Ministerial Decision No. (100) of 2020 The Regulations require UAE onshore and free zone companies and certain other business forms that carry out any of the defined “Relevant Activities” listed below to maintain and demonstrate an adequate “economic presence” in the UAE relative to the activities they undertake (“Economic Substance Test”).
Who are exempt?
- A Licensee that is tax resident outside the UAE.
- An Investment Fund and its underlying SPVs / investment holding entities.
- A wholly UAE resident-owned business that is not part of a multinational group and that only carries on business in the UAE.
- A branch of a foreign entity that is subject to tax on all of its Relevant Income in a foreign jurisdiction.
- Any other Licensee at the direction of the Minister of Finance.
Relevant Activities are
- Banking Businesses
- Insurance Businesses
- Investment Fund Management Businesses
- Lease-Finance Businesses
- Headquarter Businesses
- Shipping Businesses
- Holding Company Businesses
- Intellectual Property Businesses
- Distribution and Service Centre Businesses