Understanding Corporate Tax in the UAE: What You Need to Know

Posted on 06, July 2024

Understanding Corporate Tax in the UAE: What You Need to Know


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been a haven for investors and businesses, primarily due to its 0% tax rate. However, in December 2022, the UAE government announced a significant shift by introducing its first-ever corporate tax (CT) regime. This new tax structure, set at a 9% corporate tax rate, became effective for businesses with fiscal years starting on or after June 1, 2023. It uniformly applies across all Emirates. In this post, we’ll define corporate tax in the UAE, explain its implications for businesses, and provide essential tips for compliance.

What is Corporate Tax in the UAE?

Corporate tax in the UAE is a tax levied on the profits of businesses and individuals engaged in business activities within the country. Introduced to align with international tax standards and prevent harmful tax practices, the UAE corporate tax rate is set at 9%, making it one of the most competitive globally. This new regime signifies a crucial development for businesses operating in the UAE.

Why is Corporate Tax in the UAE Important?

Understanding the UAE's corporate tax is vital for several reasons:
  1. Global Competitiveness: With a standard rate of 9%, the UAE maintains one of the lowest corporate tax rates worldwide, attracting global investments.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to international tax standards helps the UAE foster a transparent and fair business environment, preventing tax evasion and harmful tax practices.
  3. Economic Diversification: Corporate tax revenue aids the UAE's efforts to diversify its economy beyond oil and gas, investing in sectors like technology, tourism, and renewable energy.
A recent study showed that over 70% of businesses in the UAE are preparing for the new corporate tax, highlighting its widespread impact on the business community .

Who Needs to Pay Corporate Tax in the UAE?

Taxable Entities

The corporate tax applies to:
  • Companies Incorporated in the UAE: All locally registered companies must comply.
  • Natural Persons Conducting Business Activities: Individuals engaged in business within the UAE are also subject to corporate tax.
  • Foreign Companies: Entities with a significant physical presence or income derived from UAE activities or assets fall under this regime.

Exempt Entities

The following entities are exempt from corporate tax, including:
  • UAE Government Entities: Specific government-controlled entities are exempt.
  • Natural Resource Businesses: Companies engaged in extracting natural resources like oil, gas, and minerals follow separate tax regulations.
  • Public Benefit Entities: Organizations dedicated to social welfare and qualifying investment funds, such as Social Security funds, are exempt.
Bear in mind that even exempt entities must register for corporate tax and apply for exemption from the Federal Tax Authority (FTA).

UAE Corporate Tax Rates

The standard corporate tax rate in the UAE is structured as follows:
  • 0% on income up to AED 375,000: This threshold helps support small businesses.
  • 9% on income over AED 375,000: A competitive rate for larger entities.

UAE Corporate Tax for Free Zone Companies

Free zone companies can benefit from a 0% tax rate on qualifying income if they meet the criteria for a Qualifying Free Zone Person (QFZP), which include:
  1. Significant Operations Within the Free Zone: Businesses must maintain substantial operations within the free zone.
  2. Qualifying Activities: Income should primarily come from qualifying activities within or outside the free zone.
  3. Opting Out: Companies can choose to opt out of the standard corporate tax system.
  4. Compliance with Transfer Pricing Rules: Adhering to strict transfer pricing regulations is mandatory.
  5. Detailed Record-Keeping: Maintaining comprehensive records and financial statements is essential.
Free zone companies must register for corporate tax and apply for QFZP status before the end of their financial year to qualify for the 0% tax rate.

Compliance and Filing Requirements


Businesses must register for corporate tax with the Federal Tax Authority (FTA).


Accurate accounting records that reflect income and expenses and support tax filings are crucial.

Tax Filing

File tax returns accurately and on time, including annual corporate tax returns, transfer pricing documentation, and other required filings.

Tax Payment

Pay any corporate tax due based on the filed tax returns promptly. Non-compliance can result in penalties up to AED 10,000.

Filing Deadlines

Under Article 48 of the Federal Decree Law 47, businesses must submit their corporate tax returns no later than nine months after their fiscal year ends. Here are some upcoming deadlines:
  • For the financial year July 2023 to June 2024: The deadline is March 31, 2025.
  • For the financial year January 2024 to December 2024: The deadline is September 30, 2025.

Tips for UAE Corporate Tax Compliance

  1. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with any changes in the tax laws and regulations.
  2. Maintain Accurate Records: Ensure your accounting records are accurate and comprehensive.
  3. Seek Professional Advice: Consult with tax professionals to navigate complex tax regulations.
  4. Meet Deadlines: Avoid penalties by adhering to all filing and payment deadlines.
  5. Understand Exemptions: If eligible, apply for the relevant exemptions promptly.


Understanding and complying with the UAE’s new corporate tax regulations is essential for all businesses operating in the region. This guide provides the foundational knowledge needed to navigate the new tax landscape successfully. Stay informed, maintain accurate records, and seek professional advice to ensure compliance and optimize your business operations.

Navigating the complexities of the new corporate tax regime in the UAE can be challenging. Let Virtual Accountant LLC simplify your tax registration, bookkeeping, and compliance needs. Contact us today to ensure your business meets all regulatory requirements and operates smoothly.

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