Welcome to the fourth edition of our Middle East Financial Services Tax and Legal update, picking up on a range of current hot topics relevant to the financial services industry. As societies and economies begin to emerge from the period of COVID-19, or at least manage its consequences, we have been experiencing a period of rapid tax change which has a particular impact on FS businesses. This is demonstrated in our updates below, which reflect national, regional and global changes.
In this edition, we have six articles covering the following areas:
Oman: VAT Registration Guidance;
KSA: VAT e-invoicing;
UAE: Central Bank Stored Value Facility Regulation;
UK: HMRC announces EU’s Mandatory Disclosure Regime (“DAC6”) ceases to apply in its entirety in the UK;
EU expands automatic exchange of information for digital platforms (“DAC7”); and
OECD releases blueprints on Pillar One and Pillar Two.
I hope you find the articles relevant and informative. Please get in touch with me or your regular PwC contacts if there is anything that you would like to discuss further.
Also, please let us know if there are any topics that you would like us to cover in upcoming editions. And we are keen to hear your feedback on this newsletter so would welcome any thoughts or comments.
Partner | Middle East Financial Services Tax Leader
The Oman Tax Authority (OTA) has released a guide on VAT registration and how to prepare for Oman VAT.
The guide confirms that the go live date for VAT in Oman is 16 April 2021 and the VAT registration will take effect in a phased manner i.e. based on the revenue of the taxable person.
There is a lot of traction around the implementation of VAT in Oman. More information about the VAT implementation in Oman can be found at this link.
The table below provides details of the registration categories, registration timelines and effective date of registration.
|Category||Registration timelines||Effective date of Registration|
|For a person whose annual value of supplies exceeds or is expected to exceed one million (1,000,000) OMR||1 Feb 2021 - 15 Mar 2021||16 April 2021|
|For a person whose annual value of supplies is between 500,000 to 1,000,000 Omani Rials||1 April 2021 - 31 May 2021||1 July 2021|
|For a person whose annual supplies are between 250,000 and 499,999 OMR||1 July 2021 - 31 Aug 2021||1 October 2021|
|For a person whose annual value of supplies is between 38,500 and 249,999 OMR||1 Dec 2021 - 28 Feb 2022||1 April 2022|
The guide mentions the steps that must be followed in order to register for VAT:
|The first step||Determine whether the person is obligated to register or not.|
|The second step||Determine the components of the annual supplies for the purposes of registration.|
|The third step||Calculate or estimate the total value of supplies for the periods that will be clarified later in this guide.|
|The fourth step||Confirming the registration date based on the result of calculating or estimating the total value of supplies.|
|The fifth step||Apply for registration according to the procedures that will be clarified by the tax authority.|
Calculating the total value of supplies before the VAT Law comes into effect:
The date of registration is the date on which the registration becomes effective, and the registered person must comply with all provisions of the law as of this date, such as issuing tax invoices, keeping accounting records, submitting tax declarations and other tax obligations.
Any person who has a place of residence in the Sultanate that exceeds or is expected to exceed the annual revenues generated by him from a commercial, industrial, professional or other activity, voluntary registration limit (19,250 OMR).
Any person who has a residence in the Sultanate that exceeds or is expected to exceed his annual expenses that he spends in the Sultanate related to a commercial, industrial, professional or other activity, voluntary registration limit (19,250 OMR).
A person who may voluntarily register may apply for his registration to the tax authority at any time starting February 1, 2021.
The link to the VAT registration guidance on the Oman Tax Authority website (Arabic version) can be accessed below:
Where a non-resident entity provides taxable services to a customer resident in Oman, it may be required to register as a non-resident and account for VAT. This is tricky given the staggered VAT registration deadlines in Oman. These timelines for the VAT registration are defined for mandatory registration. However, taxpayers which will be required to mandatorily register at a later date have the option to register on a voluntary basis on an earlier date.
Non-resident suppliers will need to communicate with its customers in Oman to determine their VAT registration status. Where any customers of a non-resident are expected to be unregistered as on 16 April 2021, the non-resident suppliers will have to consider whether they are required to register for VAT and discharge the VAT liability.
As a next step, non-resident entities could consider reviewing their Oman customer base, including checking the VAT registration status of their customers.
Resident businesses that are registered for KSA VAT must comply with recently published legislation relating to Electronic Invoicing (“E-Invoicing”). The key deadlines can be summarised as:
1.By 4 December 2021: E-Invoices and Electronic Notes (e-notes) must be generated. This includes compliance with the legal provisions relating to the processing of documents and record keeping.
2.By 1 June 2022: The transmission of E-Invoices and E-Notes and sharing them with GAZT will be implemented through phases starting from 1 June 2022.
As detailed below, GAZT also recently started a public consultation period on E-Invoicing. This period will end on 17 April 2021. Impacted parties are encouraged to contribute their feedback within this time.
As summarised in guidance issued by the KSA General Authority of Zakat and Tax (“GAZT”), E-Invoicing can be described as
“.... a procedure that aims to convert the issuing of paper invoices and notes (e.g.handwritten or scanned invoices and notes) into an electronic process that allows the exchange and processing of invoices, credit notes and debit notes in a structured electronic format between buyer and seller through an integrated electronic solution”.
GAZT published the E-Invoicing Regulation on 4 December 2020 (with the first key implementation date falling a year from this publication). The Regulation was accompanied by a supporting guide and a list of frequently asked questions to help taxpayers comply with the new requirements.
More recently, on 18 March 2021, GAZT published a draft resolution - for public consultation - on the requirements, technical specifications and procedural rules for implementing the provisions of the E-Invoicing Regulation. As noted above, the deadline for responses to the public consultation is 17 March 2021.
The GAZT website which in turn directs users to a number of the related documents can be accessed here.
The E-Invoicing Regulation and supporting documents, including the draft resolution, include a significant amount of detail on the technical, procedural and systemic requirements that impacted businesses will be required to fulfil. As examples of key points arising:
Compliance with the E-Invoicing requirements will be important to businesses for a number of reasons. As key examples:
In light of this, we consider it is GAZT’s expectation that at this time businesses are already preparing to generate and transmit E-Invoices in compliance with the Regulation.
As a suggested way forward, it is our experience that financial services institutions are starting to work towards E-Invoicing compliance through a phased approach with key milestones including:
PwC has developed an integrated approach in supporting our clients from their current positions through to ongoing compliance with the E-Invoicing requirements, combining input from both our VAT technical and Digital specialists. Please contact us if an initial related discussion would be of value.
On 30th September 2020, the UAE Central Bank (“UAECB”) issued its new regulation (the Regulation) on Stored Value Facilities (“SVF”) to support the development of digital payment services in the UAE. Through this new regulation, the UAECB aims to facilitate access to the UAE market for SVF providers, FinTech firms and Payment Service Providers (“PSPs”), whilst continuing to safeguard customer interests, ensuring proper business conduct practice and supporting the development of payment products and services in the UAE. While banks are exempt from the Regulation, they are still required to notify the UAECB in writing if they plan to issue an SVF and carry out any SVF business functions.
Scope of the Regulation
The Regulation applies to all companies licensed under the now repealed Regulatory Framework for Stored Value and Electronic Payment Systems, and those looking to conduct SVF activities under the new Regulation. Applicants for an SVF license must be incorporated within mainland UAE or a free zone, but not financial free zones. The Regulation excludes from its application financial institutions regulated by financial free zone authorities (DIFC & ADGM) who may conduct SVF business in the mainland UAE only after obtaining an SVF license from the CBUAE.
Stored Value Facilities
The Regulation provides that an SVF is a facility whereby a customer can pay a sum of money to the SVF issuer in exchange for the storage of that money on the facility. This prepaid sum of money can be provided via debit card, credit card, bank account transfer, reward points, crypto assets or virtual assets to the issuer in exchange for the SVF. The SVF may in turn consist of crypto assets, virtual assets, reward points, top-up, online transfer or other values.
To offer SVF services within UAE, a provider must obtain an SVF license from the UAE Central Bank.,The provider via an application to the Central Bank must demonstrate that it has established strong infrastructure and programs including but not limited to an effective risk management, technology risk and internal controls which is approved by the board of directors.
Financial institutions currently operating under the previous SVF framework are required to complete the implementation of the relevant measures set out in the Regulation by the end of the one-year transition period. Financial institutions should submit an assessment report issued by an independent party at the end of the transition period comprising of the key areas of its SVF operations, and provide evidence of its compliance with the Regulation.
Financial resource requirements
To assess the financial soundness of an applicant, the UAECB has introduced financial resource requirements, including the following:
*An unconditional, irrevocable bank guarantee for the full paid up capital amount in favour of the Central Bank paid upon first demand shall also be submitted to the Central Bank with the application of the License. Such a guarantee should be renewable before expiry or based on the Central Bank’s demand.
Technology Risk Management and Governance
The Regulation provides comprehensive guidelines to establish an effective technology risk management framework, in order to ensure the reliability, robustness, stability and availability of technology operations, payment systems, safety and efficiency of the SVF scheme. The Regulation places an emphasis on strong governance that covers various aspects of IT function
SVFs are heavily reliant on Internet and mobile technologies to deliver their services. Therefore, in order to mitigate cyber security risks, the licensee should arrange adequate resources to ensure its capabilities to identify the risk, protect its critical services against an attack and contain the impact of cyber security incidents.
Information and data management
The Regulation emphasises how important it is to establish a strong program and allocate adequate resources for the management and security of information and data including its ownership, classification, storage, processing, transmission and disposal.
Data is required to be stored and maintained in the UAE and should only be made available to the corresponding Customer, the UAECB and other regulatory authorities with prior approval of the UAECB, or by a UAE court order.
Under this Regulation, companies will be required to apply for a SVF license in order to provide SVF services in the UAE. Companies will have to ensure that they are compliant with the Regulation, especially in regards to cyber security and data protection under the new framework.
Financial institutions will be required to complete this transition to the new framework within a one-year period and will need to submit an assessment report by a third party proving compliance.
The Council Directive (EU) 2018/822 amending Directive 2011/16/EU, commonly known as DAC 6, imposes mandatory reporting of potentially aggressive tax planning arrangements which meet one or more specified characteristics (hallmarks) by EU based intermediaries or taxpayers to the tax authorities and requires the automatic exchange of this information among the EU Member States.
Following the end of the Brexit transition period (i.e. 11 pm GMT on 31 December 2020), DAC 6 has ceased to apply to the UK and as such the UK is no longer obliged to implement DAC 6. In line with the UK’s obligations under the FTA agreed between the UK and the EU on 24 December, 2020, reporting under DAC 6 will still be required for a limited time, but only for arrangements which meet hallmarks under category D.
Under the FTA, the UK is required to ensure the legislation it implements as at the end of the transition period relating to the exchange of information concerning potential cross-border tax planning arrangements offers the level of protection afforded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) MDR.
While the UK has not implemented MDR in its domestic legislation as at the end of the transition period, the rules in the Statutory Instrument “SI 2020/25” provide a ‘level of protection’ which in certain respects is equivalent to that in the OECD’s MDR, and in other respects goes beyond the MDR. Consequently, the UK government (“The Government”) has decided to legislate for changes to SI 2020/25, to restrict reporting only to those arrangements that are reportable (i.e. arrangements which meet hallmarks under Category D).
In the coming year, the UK will consult on and implement the OECD’s MDR as soon as practicable, in order to transition to international, rather than EU standards on tax transparency.
The Government has also amended the regulations to ensure the rules work correctly as at the end of the transition period, including ensuring that references to EU Member States refer to the UK or an EU member State after the end of the transition period. The changes have come into effect as of 31 December 2020. The following is a link to the updated Regulations:
Additionally, HMRC will be updating the reporting guidance at IEIM600000 to reflect the changes to the legislation and is expected to soon provide an update on the required reporting platform.
Whilst the amendments to the Regulations significantly reduces the number of disclosures to HMRC under DAC 6, cross-border transactions that would otherwise have been reportable to HMRC may need to be reported to EU tax authorities.
There may therefore be a number of arrangements that taxpayers or intermediaries were expecting to report to HMRC but where there is now no obligation to disclose to HMRC. However, it is possible in this case that the reporting obligations will shift from UK entities to other group entities which are based in an EU member state and are involved in the transaction.
On 22 March 2021, the EU adopted an EU Directive introducing automatic exchange of information for EU and non-EU digital platform operators (“DAC7”). Following this DAC7 Directive, EU and non-EU digital platform operators will have to report information about sellers of certain personal and rental services and of goods, who are using the digital platform for their activities. In addition to the information exchange requirements for digital platform operators, DAC7 also brings some amendments to existing provisions on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation.
Digital platform operators
If your enterprise is a digital platform operator, you will need to carry out specific due diligence procedures over the sellers in order to collect and verify the information necessary for the purposes of the exchange corresponding to reportable periods as of 1 January 2023.
Sellers using digital platforms
If you are a Seller using a digital platform for the rental of immovable property, the intermediation to perform personal services, the sale of goods or the rental of vehicles and other transportation, you must be aware of the fact that from 2023 the EU Member States’ tax authorities will have information about your activities performed via these platforms.
In general, the tax authorities may use this information for their tax audits (regarding personal or corporate income tax but also VAT and other indirect taxes).
DAC7 in a nutshell
The new rules aim to provide the EU Member States’ tax authorities with the information necessary to ensure the enforcement of tax rules regarding commercial activities performed with the intermediation of digital platforms. It introduces standardised reporting requirements for digital platform operators.
Reporting will apply regardless of the legal nature of the seller. However, webshop and platforms that only sell their own product are out of scope. The DAC7 reporting obligation aims specifically at situations of intermediation by digital platforms.
The reporting obligation lies on the operators of EU and non-EU digital platforms. Broadly speaking, non-EU digital platform operators may fall in scope of DAC7 only where either (i) there is an EU-based seller and/or (ii) the activities involve the rental of immovable property located in the EU. In such a case non-EU digital platform operators need to register in an EU Member State.
When will it apply?
DAC7 needs to be implemented into domestic law by 31 December 2022 (application from 1 January 2023). Digital platform operators will be required to report on the year 2023 for the first time in 2024. To this end, digital platform operators should have seller due diligence procedures in place as of 1 January 2023.
Relevance for businesses
The digital platforms covered by DAC7 are required to have in place new internal compliance procedures in a timely manner in order to avoid penalties for non-compliance. Furthermore, all businesses should be prepared for increased tax transparency but also for cross-border tax audits, which may result from this transparency, and new procedures available to the authorities for cross-border cooperation.
On 12 October 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a series of documents regarding the ongoing work of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework (IF).
The OECD/G20 IF has been working to address tax issues arising from the challenges of the digitalising economy since the initial recommendations of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) work. In 2019, the OECD Secretariat suggested a two-pillar approach that the IF has adopted as the basis for a work program.
A stated goal of the Pillar One proposal is to allocate a greater share of (residual) profits to market/user jurisdictions by moving away from the traditional arm’s length principle (ALP) approach in certain respects and creating a standalone nexus rule without reference to physical presence. The current scope is intended to cover both highly digitalized businesses as well as consumer-facing companies with cross-border activity. The Pillar Two goal is expressed as addressing remaining BEPS challenges by ensuring large companies pay a minimum level of tax on income regardless of where it arises.
The documents released by the IF on 12 October include the following elements:
IF Cover Statement
The IF has published Blueprints for Pillar One and Pillar Two. Pillar One would “adhere to the concept of net taxation of income, avoid double taxation and be as simple and administrable as possible.”
On Pillar Two, the framework would allow for a “right to ‘tax back’ where other jurisdictions have not exercised their primary taxing rights, or the payment is otherwise subject to low levels of effective taxation.”
Pillar One Blueprint
The Pillar One Blueprint recognises three core components, each with subsidiary building blocks:
Under Amount A, there are several key design features of the new taxing right including a revenue threshold, scoping rules, new nexus rule, a loss carryforward regime, potential safe harbors, elimination of double taxation and proposed implementation of a simplified administrative process for necessary filing burdens.
For Amount B, the Blueprint suggests a standard remuneration for activities involving distributors that buy from related parties and sell to unrelated parties and have a routine distributor functionality profile; the determined amounts are intended to approximate results reached in accordance with the ALP.
Pillar Two Blueprint
The Pillar Two Blueprint discusses several mechanisms envisioned to establish a global framework of minimum taxation.
The IIR and UTPR (collectively, ‘GloBE’), would apply to companies with more than €750 million in annual gross revenues. The financial accounts of the parent entity are used to calculate the tax base and an effective tax rate (ETR) after taking into account covered taxes (broadly of an income nature; a digital services tax (DST) is not a covered tax).
The GloBE provisions contemplate allowing recognized losses when computing the tax rate and providing for a formulaic substance carve-out to exclude certain fixed returns. In a next step the ETR per jurisdiction is determined. In recognition of administrative considerations and need for simplicity, the Blueprint raises a number of potential design choices, such as reliance on Country by Country Reporting (CbCR) thresholds and definitions, rule ordering, etc.
Analysis of economic impacts and investment effects
The OECD released a new report addressing the anticipated effects that the Pillar One and Pillar Two proposals might have on countries’ tax revenues and economic investment. The report relies on a combination of firm-level and aggregate data sources, including CbCR data, and predicates that Pillar One modeling is using a 20% residual profit allocation key while using a 12.5% minimum tax rate for Pillar Two.
Pillar One might result in approximately USD 100 billion per year of profit reallocated to market jurisdictions. Taking into account the combined effect of the Pillar One/Two proposals (USD 47-81 billion) and the US Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) regime (USD 9-21 billion), the total effect could represent USD 56-102 billion per year of new revenues (or up to around 4% of global Corporate Income Tax (CIT) revenues). The exact revenue gains, of course, would depend on the final design and parameters of the pillars, the method of implementation, and the behavioral response by MNEs and governments. Under Pillar One, it is expected that low, middle and high-income economies would all benefit from revenue gains, while ‘investment hubs’ would tend to lose tax revenues. Pillar Two is anticipated to result in a significant increase in corporate income tax revenues across low, middle and high-income economies.
The report argues that pillars could lead to a relatively small increase in the average post-tax investment costs of MNEs.
The IF has agreed to continue discussions on the Pillar One and Pillar Two frameworks with a view to reaching political agreement by mid-2021.
Financial Services Tax
Tel: +971 050 758 4326
KSA Tax Partner
Partner, International Tax and M&A Services
Tel: +971 (0)4 304 3039
Qatar Tax Leader
Tel: +974 4 419 2803
Director, Middle East FATCA/CRS Leader
Tel: +971 (0)54 793 4271
Tel: +974 4419 2736
Fintech and Financial Services Legal Leader
Tel: +971 (0)54 791 5255
Director, International Tax/Mergers and Acquisitions
Tel: +971 56 549 8252
Director, Indirect Taxes
Tel: +966 54 055 2730
Director, Indirect Taxes
Tel: +971 50 213 4942
Entity Governance & Compliance Leader
Tel: +971 (0)54 793 3941
Senior Manager, Legal, Entity Governance & Compliance
Tel: +971 (0) 54 793 3294