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Tax changes coming to the Middle East

The Middle East has long been known as a tax-free haven, but that is starting to change. Here is an update on recent and upcoming tax changes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

UAE Corporate Tax

The UAE introduced a 9% corporate tax in June 2022 that applies to most businesses with profits over AED 375,000. While employment income remains exempt, those working in Dubai should be aware that costs may increase for employers. Personal income from real estate also remains exempt.

Initially free zones were excluded, but now all businesses except those in oil and gas will be impacted. For global mobility programs, there could now be higher costs associated with assigning employees to the UAE.

Possible Income Tax in Oman

Oman announced plans to introduce a personal income tax in 2023, but this was pushed back to 2024 due to higher oil prices. There has been no official update since, so it remains to be seen if and when income tax will take effect in Oman.

No Income Tax Plans in Saudi, UAE

Saudi Arabia and the UAE both recently confirmed that they have no current plans to introduce personal income tax. However, with governments looking to diversify revenue, this could change in the future if oil prices decline.

Bahrain Remittance Tax Rejected

A proposed tax on remittances being sent out of Bahrain was recently voted down by parliament. The tax was criticized for putting too much obligation on employers rather than employees.

Bahrain will move ahead with a new social security contribution on non-nationals starting in March 2023. Employers will be required to pay a percentage towards the social security fund on behalf of expatriate workers.

The Takeaway

While still a relatively low-tax region, changes are underway in the GCC countries. Mobility programs should keep a close eye on tax developments across the Middle East and incorporate potential costs into compensation packages and budget forecasts.

Thank you to Vialto Partners Julie Baron and Jammy Mustafa for providing this update on a recent The View From The Top Show. You can view the complete show recording here.

Don't forget to register for this week's special show - Love and the Expat!

Michelle Curran
Created on 13-2-2024