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A Comprehensive Guide to Filing Business Taxes in Dubai

Filing taxes is an essential aspect of running a business, and Dubai, with its dynamic business environment, is no exception. The process can seem daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the local tax laws and regulations. However, understanding the intricacies of tax filing in Dubai is crucial for compliance and ensuring the smooth operation of your business. This guide aims to provide a detailed overview of the file taxes for business in Dubai.

Understanding the Tax Environment in Dubai

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is known for its favorable tax environment. Historically, the UAE has not imposed income tax on individuals or businesses, making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and corporations. However, this does not mean that businesses in Dubai are completely free from tax obligations.

In recent years, the UAE has introduced several taxes to diversify its revenue sources. The most significant of these is the Value Added Tax (VAT), which was implemented on January 1, 2018. Additionally, businesses in specific industries, such as oil and gas, banking, and insurance, may be subject to sector-specific taxes. Understanding these taxes is the first step in ensuring compliance.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is a consumption tax levied on the supply of goods and services at each stage of production and distribution. The standard VAT rate in the UAE is 5%. Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding AED 375,000 are required to register for VAT, while those with a turnover between AED 187,500 and AED 375,000 have the option to register voluntarily.

VAT Registration

The VAT registration process is straightforward. Businesses must register online through the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) portal. During registration, businesses need to provide the following information:

  • Trade license and business registration details
  • Contact information of the business and authorized signatories
  • Bank account details
  • Estimated financial transactions and turnover

Once registered, businesses receive a Tax Registration Number (TRN) and must display it on all invoices and official documents.

VAT Filing and Payment

VAT returns must be filed quarterly or monthly, depending on the business’s turnover. The filing deadline is the 28th of the month following the end of the tax period. Businesses must submit their VAT returns through the FTA portal, providing details of:

  • Total sales and purchases
  • Output VAT (collected on sales)
  • Input VAT (paid on purchases)
  • Net VAT payable or refundable

Payment of VAT liabilities must also be made by the 28th of the month following the tax period. Late filing or payment can result in penalties, so it is crucial to adhere to the deadlines.

Excise Tax

In addition to VAT, the UAE imposes an excise tax on specific goods that are harmful to human health or the environment. The excise tax rates are as follows:

  • 50% on carbonated drinks
  • 100% on tobacco products
  • 100% on energy drinks

Businesses dealing in excisable goods must register with the FTA and comply with the filing and payment requirements. Excise tax returns are typically filed monthly.

Corporate Tax

As of now, the UAE does not levy a federal corporate tax on most businesses. However, certain emirates, including Dubai, impose a corporate tax on oil and gas companies and branches of foreign banks. The tax rates and regulations vary depending on the emirate and the specific agreements in place.

Withholding Tax

The UAE does not impose withholding tax on dividends, interest, or royalties. This policy makes Dubai an attractive location for multinational companies seeking to optimize their global tax structures.

Tax Residency and Double Taxation Agreements

Dubai’s favorable tax regime is complemented by the UAE’s extensive network of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with over 115 countries. These agreements prevent businesses and individuals from being taxed twice on the same income. To benefit from these agreements, businesses must obtain a Tax Residency Certificate (TRC) from the UAE Ministry of Finance.

Filing Process and Compliance

To ensure smooth tax filing, businesses in Dubai should follow these steps:

  1. Maintain Accurate Records: Keep detailed records of all financial transactions, including sales, purchases, expenses, and VAT invoices. This documentation is essential for accurate tax filing and for any potential audits by the FTA.
  2. Regularly Review Tax Obligations: Stay updated on any changes in tax laws and regulations. The FTA frequently issues updates and guidelines, so regular review ensures compliance.
  3. Use Accounting Software: Utilize accounting software that is compatible with FTA requirements. Many software solutions offer features that streamline VAT calculation, invoicing, and return filing.
  4. Hire Professional Help: Consider hiring a tax consultant or accountant with expertise in UAE tax laws. Professionals can provide valuable guidance, ensure compliance, and help optimize your tax position.
  5. Meet Deadlines: Adhere to all tax filing and payment deadlines to avoid penalties. Set reminders and establish a routine for preparing and submitting tax returns.


File taxes for business in Dubai involves understanding and complying with the local tax laws, primarily VAT, and excise tax regulations. While the process may seem complex, following the outlined steps can simplify it. Maintaining accurate records, staying informed about tax obligations, and seeking professional assistance when needed are key to ensuring compliance and avoiding penalties. By doing so, businesses can take full advantage of Dubai’s favorable tax environment and focus on their growth and success in this dynamic market.