The Evolution of Tax Laws in UAE: What You Should Be Aware Of

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As businesses continue to thrive and evolve in this dynamic landscape, it becomes crucial for entrepreneurs and investors to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing taxation regulations.

We will delve into the fascinating journey of corporate tax laws in the UAE – from their start to their current state – shedding light on key developments you must be aware of.

Introduction to Corporate Tax in the UAE

In the UAE, corporate tax is levied on profits from companies and other corporate entities. The corporate tax rate is currently set at 20%. But, several exemptions and deductions can apply to reduce the amount of tax payable.

The UAE has a territorial taxation system, which means that only profits earned the subject to corporate tax. Profits made from activities outside of Dubai are not taxable. This incentivizes companies to move to the Emirates, as they can avoid paying taxes on their overseas earnings.

The corporate tax laws in the Emirates have evolved, and more changes expect in the future. Companies need to stay up-to-date on these changes and ensure they are compliant with all applicable laws.

Historical Evolution of Tax Laws

The first significant change to corporate tax in UAE came in 1980 when a flat rate of 10% introduced all profits earned by companies operating there. This was followed by a 5% surcharge on earnings above AED 1 million.

In 1992, a new Corporate Tax Law introduces, which raised the introductory corporate tax rate to 15%. But, this was offset by several exemptions and deductions businesses could claim.

2003 another significant change took place when the UAE abolished taxation on reinvested profits. This meant that companies could keep 100% of their earnings and only pay taxes on dividends paid to shareholders.

What Types of Businesses are Subject to Tax?

Corporate tax in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) levied on oil companies and other businesses operating in the country. The UAE has a corporate tax rate of 55 percent, one of the highest in the world. But, this rate is often negotiable, and many businesses can reduce their taxes through negotiation with the government.

The UAE’s laws have evolved, and recent changes have made the system more complex. Businesses should be aware of these changes and how they may affect their tax liability.

The UAE has a value-added tax (VAT) of 5 percent which apply to most goods and services. This tax is not levied on exports or certain essential items such as food and medicine.

Other changes to corporate tax laws in the UAE include:

  • The corporate tax rate was reduce from 55% to 50% in 2017.
  • A new tax law was introduce in 2016, which capped the amount of deductions that businesses could claim.
  • In 2014, a ‘thin capitalization rule’ was introduce, which limits the amount of interest that companies with high levels of debt can deduct.
tax document on the table


The UAE has a reputation for being a jurisdiction, and this is one of the key benefits of paying corporate taxes in the UAE. There are no personal income taxes in the UAE, and corporate taxes are low. They also offers several tax incentives to businesses, including 100% foreign ownership, zero taxation on profits, and no customs duties.

How to Comply with Tax Requirements in the UAE?

The UAE has a federal system of government, and each emirate has its laws and regulations regarding taxation. Thus, businesses need to be aware of the corporate tax requirements in the UAE before they start operating.

There are three types of taxes in the UAE: direct and indirect. Direct taxes are levied on income, profits, and capital gains, while indirect taxes are levied on goods and services.

Corporate Income Tax

Companies in Dubai need to pay corporate income tax (CIT) on their taxable profits. The corporate income tax rate is 55%. However, many tax incentives and exemptions can reduce the amount of CIT that a company needs to pay.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Value-added tax (VAT) is an indirect tax levied on the UAE’s supply of goods and services. The standard VAT rate is 5%. However, certain items, such as food and medical supplies, are exempt from VAT.

Customs Duty

Customs duty is a type of indirect tax levied on imported goods. The customs duty rate in the UAE depends on the type of imported goods. For example, the customs duty rate for clothing is 10%, while the rate for electronics is 20%.


In conclusion, it is evident that Dubai has a very complex system, and understanding it can be difficult. It’s essential to stay abreast of changes in the law and any new regulations imposed by the government and business remains compliant with all relevant laws and regulations through Tax agents in Dubai.


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