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UAE Tax Dilemma: Exemption of 'Director's Fees' from Corporate Tax Under Lens

Value Added Tax is not applicable to fees received for directorship services

Owner's Profile

Rakeshh Kumar SV

Published on May 16, 2024, 15:04:05


uae, tax, vat, investment


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is renowned for its business-friendly environment, characterised by favorable tax policies and incentives aimed at attracting foreign investment and fostering economic growth.

However, recent developments in the realm of taxation have brought to light complexities surrounding the treatment of director's fees and the prospect of corporate taxation.

On May 13, the UAE's Federal Tax Authority issued a pivotal public clarification regarding the Value Added Tax (VAT) implications associated with "performing the function of a director."

Effective from January 1, 2023, services rendered by members of a board of directors are no longer considered a supply of services for VAT purposes.

This groundbreaking update signifies that VAT is not applicable to fees received for directorship services, bringing relief to numerous individuals and senior management personnel across the country.

While this clarification offers clarity on VAT implications, it also raises critical questions for business owners regarding the broader landscape of taxation in the UAE.

One such concern revolves around the distinction between formal directorship roles and informal business ownership.

While the VAT exclusion applies to services performed formally as a director on a board of directors, individuals who withdraw funds from their businesses without constituting a formal board face ambiguity regarding the tax treatment of such transactions.

Furthermore, the recent clarification leaves room for interpretation regarding the treatment of non-resident directors' fees and transitional provisions for services rendered before January 1, 2023.

These uncertainties underscore the need for comprehensive guidance and clarity to ensure compliance and mitigate risks for businesses operating in the UAE.

Moreover, the issue extends beyond VAT implications to encompass corporate taxation, a topic that has garnered increased attention in recent years.

While the UAE does not currently levy corporate income tax at the federal level, discussions surrounding the introduction of corporate taxation in certain Emirates have reignited debates about the taxation of director's fees and corporate earnings.

One of the key challenges lies in harmonising regulations between VAT and corporate tax laws.

While director fees are generally not considered a business activity under corporate tax laws, the VAT amendment suggests otherwise.

This disconnect prompts inquiries about the applicability of corporate tax in the absence of a formal board of directors and the treatment of funds withdrawn as director's fees.

Furthermore, questions arise regarding the distinction between individuals conducting business activities and those providing directorship services.

While the recent guide on taxation of natural persons under the corporate tax law states that director fees will not be considered as a business activity, the implications of this distinction remain unclear, particularly in scenarios where individuals serve both as business owners and directors.

These complexities underscore the need for comprehensive tax planning and advisory services to navigate the evolving tax landscape in the UAE effectively.

Business owners must remain vigilant and seek expert guidance to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and optimize tax outcomes.

In conclusion, while the UAE's tax policies have historically been favourable for businesses, recent developments surrounding the treatment of director's fees and the prospect of corporate taxation highlight the need for greater clarity and harmonisation within the taxation framework.

By addressing these complexities proactively and seeking expert guidance, businesses can navigate the evolving tax landscape with confidence and ensure long-term sustainability and growth.

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