Unveiling Assistance and Support in UAE Corporate Tax Landscape

Empowering Small Businesses

Small businesses are the backbone of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) economy, contributing significantly to its growth and dynamism.
In this blog, we will explore the challenges small businesses may face in the UAE corporate tax landscape and highlight the assistance measures designed to help them thrive.


The UAE implemented Corporate Tax (CT) Law in December 2022 (Federal Decree-Law No. (47) of 2022 on the Taxation of Corporations and Businesses). The CT law comes into force with effect from June 1, 2023. It imposes a 0% rate on taxable income up to AED 375,000 and a 9% rate on income surpassing this threshold.


The Challenges faced by Small Businesses:

Managing a small business in the UAE has gained complexity due to the introduction of federal Corporate Tax. They often struggle with intricate tax regulations due to the complex federal framework, combined with emirate-level and Free Zone rules. Limited financial resources pose challenges in navigating tax obligations, and unexpected liabilities can strain cash flow. Additionally, compliance burdens, including record-keeping and staying abreast of regulatory changes, can divert attention from core business activities for those with limited administrative capacity. However, amidst all these challenges, there is a silver lining – a variety of tax relief strategies tailored to ease the burden on small businesses.


The Purpose:

Leveraging small business relief can amplify the company’s liquidity, sustainability, and growth prospects. Additionally, these measures can have far-reaching economic benefits such as stimulating employment, fostering innovation and contributing to financial stability. The government’s strategic goals behind these initiatives encompass promoting entrepreneurship, fortifying the SME sector, and advancing economic diversification.


Some of the important initiatives designed to empower small businesses in the UAE are:

  1. Tax Relief for Small Businesses:


The UAE’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has enacted Ministerial Decision No. 73 of 2023, providing the details of Small Business relief in alignment with Federal Decree-Law No. 47 of 2022 on the Taxation of Corporations and Businesses.


  • Under this provision, eligible businesses with a revenue below AED 3 million can consider their taxable income as zero, leading to an exemption from corporate taxes until December 31, 2026. Once revenue surpasses the set threshold, the taxable person falls under the Corporate Tax Law, facing a 9% tax rate for revenues exceeding 375,000 AED.
  • Small business relief is exclusively accessible to UAE entities categorized as “Resident Persons,” provided they are not affiliated with a Multinational Enterprise Group and do not fall under the classification of free zone entities eligible for the aforementioned reduced tax rate.
  • A Resident Person in the UAE can be:
  1. a) A company or legal entity formed or acknowledged under UAE laws, including those in free zones.
  2. b) A company formed in a foreign country but managed and controlled from the UAE.
  3. c) An individual conducting business activities in the UAE.
  4. d) Any other entity specified by a decision from the Cabinet or Finance Minister.
  • For any tax period where Small Business Relief is elected, the carry forward of tax losses and Net Interest Expenditure to subsequent tax periods is not permitted.
  • If the FTA finds that a person has deliberately divided their business to meet the specified revenue threshold and has chosen Small Business Relief, it will be viewed as an attempt to gain an unjust corporate tax advantage, violating the anti-abuse rules in the Corporate Tax Law. In such cases, the FTA can counteract the advantage by issuing an assessment.


  1. Incentives for Industrial SMEs:

The UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, in collaboration with partners, has unveiled new incentive packages to boost small and medium-sized industrial enterprises. Aligned with the Operation 300bn strategy, the initiatives aim to transform the UAE’s industrial base into a globally competitive and sustainable economic force. As part of these incentives, the ministry, in partnership with companies like Maxbyte and Schneider Electric, is offering free Industrial Technology Transformation Index (ITTI) assessments. The incentive packages also provide manufacturers and SMEs with the opportunity to nominate employees for a golden visa, supporting the goal of making UAE manufacturing smarter and greener. Operation 300bn, launched in 2021, targets positioning the UAE as a global industrial hub by 2031, with a focus on increasing the industrial sector’s contribution to GDP.


  1. Other Initiatives:

Small businesses can benefit from various financial assistance programs, including grants and low-interest loans, available through government entities and financial institutions. Free Zones offer business-friendly incentives such as reduced licence fees and simplified registration processes. To address skill development challenges, the government and business support organizations provide training programs. Access to markets is facilitated through trade fairs and networking events organized by the UAE government. Additionally, the government encourages digital transformation and innovation through various initiatives, including funding programs for research and technology adoption.


  1. Existing entrepreneurship Support Programs:

Over the past two decades, the UAE has witnessed the launch of numerous agencies, accelerators, and programs with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship, particularly in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector. These include advisory and financial solutions, capacity building, rehabilitation, leadership development, as well as incentives, tax exemptions, and avenues for securing government contracts and building relationships. The UAE government fosters a nurturing workspace to bolster small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), promoting innovation and startup initiatives. Their goal is to elevate SMEs’ contribution to the national economy, enhancing GDP diversification and development.


Enforcement and adherence to tax relief policies:

Ensuring the effective implementation and adherence to tax relief policies is imperative for businesses to fully leverage these initiatives. Thus it becomes crucial to comprehend the eligibility criteria, application procedures, and key deadlines. For example, when applying for ‘small business relief’ as per the UAE CT Law, providing relevant records or requesting supporting information to verify compliance with the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) is essential. For free zone entities aiming to avail the 0% UAE CT rate, it is essential to sustain substantial presence in the UAE, comply with transfer pricing rules and documentation requirements, and fulfil other stipulated conditions outlined by the Ministry of Finance. Being mindful of common pitfalls, such as inadequate record-keeping or erroneous tax credit claims, is also essential.


In short, by leveraging the available support, entrepreneurs and small business owners in the UAE can enhance their financial resilience, expand their operations, and contribute significantly to the overall economic vibrancy of the nation. As small businesses continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the UAE’s economic future, the collaborative efforts of the government and business community are instrumental in ensuring their success and sustainability.

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