On 4 November 2022, the UAE’s MOF announced the issuance of Federal Decree Law No. 28 of 2022 on Tax Procedures (New TPL) repealing Federal Decree Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures (Current TPL). The New TPL will come into effect on 1 March 2023.
The New TPL amends various articles included in the Current TPL and introduces new provisions. Key changes relate to definitions, language, offset of tax liabilities against tax receivables, obligation to file a voluntary disclosure, tax agents, timeframe for the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) to notify taxpayers of a tax audit/tax assessment, limit of amount of administrative penalties, tax audit and tax refund application, tax collection in the case of risk of revenue loss, limits to monetary penalties for tax crimes, statute of limitations and dispute resolution process, among others. The New TPL is available in Arabic on the FTA’s official website (pdf).
The Executive Regulations (ER) of the Current TPL will continue to remain in effect, to the extent that the provisions are not in contradiction with the provisions of the New TPL, until a new ER is published.
This is the first time that the Current TPL has been amended since it was issued on 11 June 2017. Below is an overview of the key changes under the New TPL.
The New TPL includes new definitions of terms such as, “business day,” “tax residency certificate” and “tax resident.” It also amends some definitions of already existing terms such as, “tax law,” “business,” “legal representative,” “tax auditor” and “tax return.”
When providing documents translated into Arabic, the New TPL provides that the taxpayer is responsible for the validity and accuracy of the language. The FTA may decide to not use such documents if the quality does not meet expectations.
Offset of tax liabilities against tax receivables
The New TPL allows the FTA to offset tax liabilities against tax receivables. The FTA will be able to allocate overpaid taxes or tax credits to outstanding tax debts.
Obligation to file a voluntary disclosure
Under the New TPL, taxpayers should now submit voluntary disclosures to the FTA even when the error or omission has no impact on the payable tax amount or even when the error or omission did not create a loss of revenue for the UAE.
The New TPL includes provisions relating to tax agents, i.e., registration of tax agents and record-keeping obligation for taxpayers currently and previously represented for a certain period. It is expected that more details on this matter will be included in the upcoming ER.
Tax agents may be requested to provide documents in the case of a tax audit of a taxpayer they represent or represented and may be subject to administrative penalties if they fail to provide the requested documents.
Timeframe for the FTA to notify taxpayers of tax audit/tax assessment
In the case of a tax audit, the FTA should notify taxpayers at least 10 days before starting the audit procedures (as opposed to 5 days under the Current TPL).
Also, when issuing a tax assessment notification, the FTA should notify taxpayers within 10 business days from the date of issuance of the assessment notification (as opposed to 5 days under the Current TPL).
Limit of administrative penalties
The New TPL limits the amount of administrative penalties imposed as part of a tax assessment to two times the tax amount (as opposed to three times under the Current TPL). The minimum amount of AED500 has been removed.
Tax audit and tax refund application
In the case of a tax audit, the New TPL provides that the FTA should not put on hold tax refund applications for the taxpayer, provided that all conditions for the tax refund are met.
Tax collection in the case of risk of revenue loss
The New TPL includes new provisions regarding the collection of taxes. When there is a risk of revenue loss, the Director General of the FTA may request the judicial authorities to order the seizure of properties owned by the taxpayer in the amount of the tax due. This claim shall prevail over claims from other parties. The New TPL also includes that any amount collected as tax is deemed to be tax and therefore should be remitted to the FTA — even when erroneously collected.
Limits to monetary penalties for tax crimes
In case of a tax crime (reworded, as the Current TPL mentions tax evasion cases), the New TPL updates and sets limits to monetary penalties as follows:
For deliberately failing to pay tax, understating business value for registration purposes, collecting taxes without being registered, decreasing the payable tax amount and failing to pay administrative penalties: the monetary penalties shall not exceed three times the evaded tax amount (as opposed to five times under the Current TPL).
For deliberately providing false information, hiding, stealing, misusing or destroying documents or data: the monetary penalty shall not exceed AED1,000,000.
Statute of limitations
The New TPL clarifies the rules around statute of limitations as follows:
When the FTA notifies the taxpayer of an audit within the five-year lookback period, the FTA is allowed to complete the tax audit and issue the tax assessment within four years starting from the date of the audit notification.
Taxpayers cannot file a voluntary disclosure after five years from the end of the relevant tax period.
When a voluntary disclosure is filed in the fifth year from the end of the tax period, the FTA is allowed to complete the tax audit and issue a tax assessment within one year from the date of submission of the voluntary disclosure (regardless of the expiry of the five-year limitation period).
Dispute resolution process
The New TPL adds rules regarding the dispute resolution process:
Taxpayers are allowed to apply for a tax assessment review request relating to tax assessments and subsequent administrative penalties within 40 business days from the date of receiving the tax assessment or penalty assessment. This is subject to the condition that the taxpayer has not submitted a request for reconsideration already.
The UAE Cabinet may issue a decision adjusting the tax payable amount to be paid to the FTA before submitting the objection application to the Tax Dispute Resolution Committee (TDRC).
Taxpayers submitting tax assessment review requests, reconsideration and objection applications to the FTA and the TDRC may request for an extension of the timeline of 40 days, provided that they meet conditions set forth in the ER.
Businesses should start taking into consideration the provisions of the New TPL which will be effective as of 1 March 2023, to assess the impact of the amendments on their operations. Further, the amendments with respect to the extension of statute of limitations provide an impetus for businesses to review their historical tax and reporting positions (e.g., via health checks or mock audits), and voluntarily disclose any errors within the prescribed time limit, before they are notified of an audit or assessment.
For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:
EY Consulting LLC, Dubai
- Aamer Bhatti, MENA Indirect Tax Leader
- Stuart Halstead, Indirect Tax
- Mahmood S. Abu Ghueleh, Indirect Tax
- Ben Barnes, Indirect Tax
Ernst & Young Middle East (Abu Dhabi Branch)
- Sana Azam, Indirect Tax
- James Bryson, Indirect Tax
EY LLP (United States), Middle East Tax Desk, New York
- Asmaa Ali
For a full listing of contacts and email addresses, please click on the Tax News Update: Global Edition (GTNU) version of this Alert.