Economic Substance Regulations

Maintain Accurate Financial Records and Up-to-date Books of accounts!

UAE issued Economic Substance Regulations (Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 31 of 2019) on April 30, 2019, to demonstrate its commitment as a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework and in response to the European Union’s assessment of its Tax framework.

Economic Substance Regulations

Guidance on applying the Regulations was issued on 11 September 2019 (Ministerial Decision No. 215 of 2019), and Cabinet Decision No. 58/2019 on the Determination of Regulatory Competencies lists the Regulatory Authorities tasked with administering and enforcing the Regulations. Amendments to the Regulations were made by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. (57) of 2020 on 10 August 2020 and an updated Guidance was issued on 19 August 2020. The rules mandate that UAE companies in onshore and free zones, along with other business entities performing specified “Relevant Activities,” must show a sufficient level of “economic presence” in the country about their activities to pass the “Economic Substance Test.”

Economic Substance Regulations

The Regulations apply to financial years starting on or after January 1, 2019. Entities covered by the Regulations must submit an annual Notification form to their Regulatory Authority and an Economic Substance Report within 12 months of the end of their financial year (e.g., by December 31, 2020, for a financial year ending December 31, 2019). Entities do not need to meet the Economic Substance Test or file an Economic Substance Report for any financial period in which they have not earned income from a Relevant Activity or if they qualify for an exemption. However, a Notification form must still be submitted. Failure to comply with the Regulations can result in penalties, information exchange with foreign authorities, and other administrative sanctions, such as the suspension, revocation, or non-renewal of the entity’s trade license or permit.

Purpose of the Notification

The purpose of the notification is to give regulatory authorities initial information about licensees and their activities in the UAE during the relevant reportable period. This information is a prerequisite for filing an Economic Substance Report for the same period if required.

Who Needs to Submit a Notification?

A Notification must be filed if you are a corporate entity (such as a Limited Liability Company, Public Joint Stock Company, Private Joint Stock Company, etc.) or a partnership (such as a Limited Liability Partnership, General Partnership, etc.) that conducts any of the following Relevant Activities in the UAE during the relevant Financial Year.

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Economic Substance Regulations in UAE

Relevant Activities

  • Banking Business
  • Insurance Business
  • Investment Fund Management Business
  • Lease – Finance Business
  • Headquarters Business
  • Shipping Business
  • Holding Company Business
  • Intellectual property Business (“IP”)
  • Distribution and Service Center Business

Deadline for Filing a Notification

The notification must be filed within six months of the Licensee’s financial year-end. Notification is mandatory for the companies; non-compliance with the obligation to file a Notification before the deadline is subject to a penalty of AED 20,000.

Financial Year End Deadline
31 Mar 30 Sept
30 Jun 31 Dec
30 Sept 31 Mar
31 Dec 30 June

Penalty of Incorrect Notification Information

Providing incorrect or false information in the Notification is subject to a penalty of AED 50,000. If a Licensee knowingly provides incorrect or false information or falsely claims an exemption from the Economic Substance Regulations, they may be considered to have failed the Economic Substance Test for the relevant Reportable Period.

Exemptions

If a Licensee claims to be an “Exempted Licensee,” it must specify the grounds for exemption under Question 1A-1E and furnish the required documentation to prove its exempt status.

Penalty of Incorrect Notification

An Exempted Licensee is not required to submit an Economic Substance Report or demonstrate Economic Substance in the UAE for Reportable Periods during which it meets the criteria for exemption.

1.A. The license is wholly owned by UAE nationals or UAE resident individuals who reside in the UAE,  is not part of a multinational group, and only operates in the UAE.

1.B. Licensee is an Investment Fund as defined in the Regulations.

1.C. A licensee is a particular purpose vehicle or investment holding company of an Investment Fund as defined in the Regulations.

1.D.  The licensee is resident for tax purposes in a jurisdiction other than the UAE.

1.E. Licensee is a UAE branch of a foreign company, and all income of the UAE branch is subject to tax in the jurisdiction of the foreign company

frequently asked questions

Accounting is the process of interpreting, classifying, and summarizing financial information for decision-making, while bookkeeping is the process of recording financial transactions in a systematic and organised manner.

The purpose of accounting and bookkeeping is to provide accurate and up-to-date financial information that can be used to make informed business decisions, comply with tax laws and regulations, assess the financial health of the company, manage cash flow, and facilitate effective business planning.

Accounting and bookkeeping functions can be performed by trained professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), bookkeepers, and accounting software.
Accounting and bookkeeping records should be updated regularly, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis, to ensure that the company's financial information is accurate and up to date.

Outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping functions can save time, reduce costs, and improve the accuracy and reliability of financial information. It can also allow business owners to focus on their core competencies and leave the financial management to experts.

Common mistakes in accounting and bookkeeping include errors in recording transactions, incorrect classification of transactions, incorrect posting to the general ledger, and failure to reconcile accounts.

Best practices for accounting and bookkeeping include regular updates of financial information, thorough review of financial records, segregation of duties, and periodic internal and external audits.

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