A New Era for UAE Business: As the dust settles on the implementation of the UAE’s corporate tax regime, business owners are understandably grappling with its implications. For natural persons like you, conducting business activities in the UAE, navigating the new tax landscape is crucial. This blog delves into the specifics of the corporate tax’s impact on natural persons, equipping you with the knowledge and insights to make informed decisions for your business and finances.

Recent significant developments of the UAE tax landscape


VAT Implementation: In 2018, the UAE rolled out a 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on most goods and services. This move, aligned with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, aimed to broaden the tax base and generate additional revenue. This marked the first major step towards diversifying the government’s revenue sources beyond oil.

Excise Tax Introduction: In 2018, the UAE introduced a 5% excise tax on specific goods like tobacco, sugary drinks, and energy drinks.


Economic Substance Reporting: In 2019, the UAE introduced Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) to combat base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) practices by multinational corporations. Companies with limited economic activity in the UAE were required to demonstrate substantial economic substance (management, employees, assets) to benefit from tax treaties.

Country-by-Country Reporting: The same year, the UAE implemented Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR) requirements, mandating multinational corporations with annual consolidated group revenue exceeding €750 million to file detailed reports on their global allocation of income and taxes.


Corporate Tax Announcement: In 2023, the UAE took a landmark step by announcing the introduction of a 9% corporate tax on taxable profits exceeding AED 375,000, effective June 1, 2023. This move aligns the UAE with international tax standards and aims to diversify its revenue base beyond oil and traditional taxation schemes.

Liable for tax? Examining Your Taxable Sphere

First, let’s dispel the initial question: “Am I liable to pay tax ?” The corporate tax net ensnares natural persons like you if your business activities generate an annual turnover exceeding AED 1 million. Whether you’re a solopreneur juggling freelance projects, a partner steering a civil company, or the mastermind behind a thriving sole proprietorship, exceeding this threshold makes you a “Taxable Person.” However, if your primary income flows from wages, investments, or real estate, you can breathe a sigh of relief – these remain safely outside the tax realm for individuals.

Demystifying Taxable Profits: What’s In, What’s Out, and How to plan?

The tax authority focuses not on your overall income, but on the juicy slice your business activities create – your taxable profits. This means deducting legitimate expenses like cost of goods sold, operating expenses, employee salaries, and even depreciation from your annual turnover. The resulting figure, your taxable profit, then faces the tax system: 0% for profits up to AED 375,000, and a 9% tax on everything beyond that threshold.

Example 1: Ms. Aisha, the Freelance Designer

With annual earnings of AED 250,000 from her freelance graphic design business, Ms. Aisha falls comfortably below the taxable threshold. Her creative talent remains untaxed, allowing her to reinvest every penny earned back into her business.

Example 2: Mr. Khalid’s Restaurant

Mr. Khalid’s bustling restaurant hums with activity, generating an annual turnover of AED 3.5 million. However, he only needs to worry about corporate tax on the portion exceeding AED 375,000 profit. If we assumed his total expenses for the tax year is AED 1.7 million. Taxable profit of AED 1.8 million will consider for tax after deducting allowable taxable profit of 0.375 million. This translates to a tax liability of AED 128,250 (9% of AED 1.425 million).

Beyond the Numbers: Technical Nuances for the Savvy Business Person

While the core principles are clear, navigating the intricate details requires a deeper dive. Remember, you’re only subject to tax if you have a “permanent establishment” (PE) in the UAE. This could be a fixed place of business, branch, or even a representative acting on your behalf. Operating remotely or through temporary consultants may not trigger a PE, offering potential tax relief. However, this will be under the scope of the withholding tax and currently withholding tax rate is 0%.

Furthermore, understanding applicable deductions and claiming them diligently is key to minimizing your tax burden. Depreciation on assets, reasonable employee salaries, and legitimate operating expenses all play a role in reducing your taxable profit. Remember, every dirham saved counts!

Statistics that Matter:

Small Businesses Matter: 95% of businesses in the UAE are considered small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The government’s Small Business Relief offers exemptions for businesses with turnover below AED 3 million, demonstrating a commitment to supporting this vital sector.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the Rise: The corporate tax’s introduction hasn’t dampened FDI, with projections indicating a 5.8% growth in 2024. This signals investor confidence in the UAE’s long-term economic stability.

Planning for the Future:

Seeking Professional Guidance: Consulting a tax advisor to understand your specific situation and identify potential optimizations is crucial.

Exploring Tax-efficient Structures: Establishing a Free Zone Company or Limited Liability Company might offer benefits depending on your business model and income levels.

Keeping Records, Reporting, and Compliance: Familiarity with tax filing requirements and deadlines will ensure smooth sailing with the authorities.

Final Thoughts:

The UAE corporate tax introduces a new chapter for natural persons involved in business activities. While navigating the tax landscape might seem daunting, understanding the fundamentals, staying informed by relevant statistics, and seeking professional guidance will empower you to make informed decisions and optimize your business for success in the new era. Embrace the change, adapt your strategies, and unlock the opportunities that lie ahead.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. You should always consult with a qualified legal or tax professional before making any decisions about your specific situation.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

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