The introduction of corporate tax in the UAE isn’t just a change in policy; it’s a catalyst for a shift in business practices. This move is expected to have a widespread impact, not only strengthening the UAE’s economy but also leading to a more refined and transparent approach to business operations within the country.

The implementation of both VAT and corporate tax in the UAE has increased the compliance burden for businesses. Strict adherence to the respective regulations is crucial to avoid any potential penalties. Complying with the tax laws plays a crucial role in the success and sustainability of the business. Unintentional errors can lead to hefty penalties and unnecessary tax burdens.

This article explores common corporate tax mistakes businesses make in the UAE, along with actionable tips to avoid them. By staying informed, you can ensure your business remains compliant and maximizes its tax efficiency.

  1. Inaccurate book keeping:

The UAE’s corporate tax law places a strong emphasis on accurate bookkeeping. An accurate book-keeping has become an absolute necessity for every business in UAE.  Inaccurate records can trigger a cascade of tax errors. Missing or improperly recorded income and expenses can lead to miscalculated taxable income, resulting in either overpayment or underpayment of taxes.  Furthermore, inadequate documentation for claimed deductions can mean forfeiting legitimate tax benefits.  Ultimately, poor bookkeeping practices increase the risk of costly tax audits and penalties, transforming potential tax savings into a significant financial burden.

Action Tip:

  • Maintain Detailed Records: Keep meticulous records of all income and expenses, including invoices, receipts, and bank statements.
  • Categorize Transactions Accurately: Ensure proper categorization of transactions to claim appropriate deductions and avoid oversights.
  • Retention Period: Retain records for the legally mandated period
  1. Improper expense categorization

Improper Expense Categorization is another common tax mistake that businesses make. This can lead to inaccurate tax calculations and potential underpayment or overpayment of taxes. Under the UAE Corporate tax, expenses incurred directly and exclusively to run the business are deductible. No personal expenses are allowed. Also, the entertainment expenses and interest expenditure have prescribed caps. There is a list of expenses that are not deductible at all. Failing to categorize the expense under the correct head would lead to improper calculation of deductible and non-deductible expenses which in turn would affect the tax liability.

Action tip:

It’s crucial for businesses to understand the nature of expenses and assign them under the correct expense head.

  1. Missing deadlines for registration & returns

All taxable persons are required to register for UAE Corporate Tax and obtain a Corporate Tax Registration Number as per the UAE Corporate tax law within the prescribed timeline. The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) imposes significant penalties for late registration and late filing of returns. The FTA may also charge interest on any unpaid taxes accrued during the period of non-compliance. This can further increase your financial burden. Late registrations and filings raise red flags with the FTA, potentially triggering a tax audit.

Action tip:

By understanding the tax obligations, proactively registering and filing returns on time, you can avoid the financial and operational burdens associated with non-compliance.

  1. Missing out on Tax-Incentives and Reliefs

There are various tax incentives – tax credits, small business relief, concept of qualifying free zone person, exempt income and exempt persons, specifically designed to attract businesses and encourage economic growth. However, many companies unknowingly leave these significant tax savings on the table, unnecessarily paying more taxes.

Action tip:

The businesses should understand its operations, identify relevant tax incentives and exemptions, and develop a tax strategy that minimizes the tax burden and maximizes the tax savings within the legal framework.

  1. Payments of salaries and other compensation to promoter, directors and connected persons in excess of Arm’s length price

The UAE’s corporate tax regime emphasizes the concept of “arm’s length pricing” for transactions between related parties, including payments to directors and connected persons. This principle states that the compensation offered should be comparable to what an unrelated third party would receive for the same services under similar circumstances. If payments to directors and connected persons go beyond arm’s length price, the excess amount is not considered a deductible business expense. This can significantly increase your company’s corporate tax liability.

Action tip:

To ensure best practices, document the rationale for director and connected person compensation and maintain detailed records.

  1. Overlooking Transfer Pricing Rules

Transfer pricing refers to the pricing of goods and services between related entities (e.g., a parent company and its subsidiary). The UAE enforces arm’s length pricing principles, ensuring transactions between related parties are conducted at fair market value.

Action Tip:

Maintain Documentation: Keep proper documentation to demonstrate the arm’s length nature of transactions with related entities.


In order for businesses to stay compliant in UAE and reduce financial risk, it is essential that they avoid common tax mistakes. We at BCL Globiz, can assist you in understanding the tax legislation, detect possible errors and develop efficient tax planning strategies. Our expertise in tax matters frees you to leverage your skills and resources for business growth.

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