ABU DHABI, 22nd July, 2020 (WAM) — The Federal Tax Authority, FTA, Board of Directors, chaired by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of the FTA Board, held its first meeting since the UAE Cabinet of Ministers approved the decision to reconstitute the FTA’s Board.
During the virtual meeting, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, was elected as Vice Chairman of the FTA’s Board of Directors. The Board reviewed a comprehensive report on the progress of ongoing development project and the FTA’s recent achievements.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid confirmed that the achievements reviewed by the Board demonstrated that the FTA continuously attain positive results, reflecting the strength of the national economy despite challenges faced by the global economy due to the effects of combating the spread of COVID-19.
He stated that FTA’s operations results have shown growth in the number of businesses registered for VAT, including individual and tax group registrations, which increased to 335,530 at the end of June 2020, compared to 320,440 at the end of 2019. The number of Excise Tax registrations increased to 1,159 registrants. The number of registered tax agents has increased to 368.
He said, “The Board reviewed the significant increase in refunded tax for UAE homebuilders as a result of the FTA’s efficient processing of these applications through its e-Services portal. In implementing the directions of the wise leadership, these electronic procedures are characterised by the ease of use, clarity and accuracy to support housing stability for UAE Citizens.”
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid added, “, 3,124 applications, with a total value of AED 205.8 million, have been refunded to the UAE homebuilders since the implementation of the scheme in September 2018 until the end of June 2020. During the first half of 2020, there was record growth of 136.7% in the value of the tax refunded and 108.8% in the number of approved applications. During this period 1,628 new applications valued at AED 118.8 million were approved compared to the 1,496 applications valued at AED 87 million which were approved between the start of implementation and the end of 2019.”
He said that the Board had reviewed a report on the FTA’s procedures to support tax registrants in fulfilling their obligations and to ensure business continuity, especially in light of the precautionary measures such under the national sanitisation programme implemented by the UAE government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum expressed his satisfaction with the rapid response and measures taken by the FTA in the previous period, indicating that the FTA continues to provide remote services efficiently through its electronic platform. This platform facilitates registration, submission of returns, payment of due taxes and supports all procedures with simple steps, without the need for personal interaction or the use of paper, thereby reinforcing the FTA’s commitment to the top priority of public health.
He affirmed that the FTA has made great efforts to align with the precautionary measures taken by the UAE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the security and safety of citizens and residents through the implementation of a remote work system, taking advantage of the latest technology in order to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the report reviewed by the Board, special measures were introduced to assist taxpayers in fulfilling their obligations which included the extension of the Excise tax period which began on 1st March 2020 to include both March and April 2020, thereby extending the filing and payment date for both months to 17th May 2020. Furthermore, the FTA allowed VAT registrants to file and pay VAT relating to the tax period ending on 31st March 2020 on 28th of May 2020. The FTA also postponed the implementation of the final step of the second phase of ‘Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme’ from June 2020 to January 2021.
The Board also reviewed a report on the results and developments of the FTA’s existing projects, including the tax refund system for tourists, in addition to the results of the first and second stage of the ‘Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme’, as well as the target plan to launch the third phase to expand the products covered by the scheme, explaining that since early March 2020, the importation of all waterpipe tobacco, Muasel, and electrically heated cigarettes that are not marked with digital tax stamps is prohibited as part of the application of the second stage of the ‘Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme’.
The implementation of the second stage comes after the success of the first stage of the scheme. In the second stage, the sale and possession of all types of cigarettes in the local markets which are not marked with digital tax stamps was prohibited from early August 2019, while a smart application for consumers was launched to report illegal tobacco products. The application is operated by scanning digital tax stamps to ensure that the products meet the specifications, are not contraband, and the tax due on them has been paid.
During the meeting, the Board approved the FTA’s plans to further develop electronic tax services based on international best practices, and approved a number of internal policies and regulations aimed at improving and developing workflow to continuously raise the efficiency of the tax system.