No Need To Hide From DMCC, DWC and JAFZA Free Zone Fines
The UAE’s Free Zones are some of the most accessible business environments in the Middle East, making the process of company incorporation smooth and relatively stress-free. So stress-free in fact, that a number of business owners have recently found themselves facing fines and non-renewal of their license because they have failed to read the fine print of their agreements and take the stipulations seriously. These numbers are set to soar with the implementation of VAT on the 1st of January, 2018.
Annual auditing of Free Zone businesses
Did you know that it is a regulatory requirement of the DMCC, DWC and JAFZA free zones for companies to prepare and file annual, independently audited accounts? If you were unaware, or perhaps, if you had simply let your company’s annual review slip to the bottom of the to-do list, you have been risking the safety of your business and you need to act now.
Not only is an annual financial audit critical for regulation purposes, but also for the health of your business. How can you make sustainable decisions for the future if you don’t know where you stand now?
The UAE Is Tax Free, so is an audit report really necessary?
Free zones have a number of reasons, aside from tax, for requiring companies under their jurisdiction to comply with their guidelines. They are bound to ensure that businesses under their remit are acting responsibly and also that the businesses are still performing. By law most UAE free zones stipulate that companies under their license maintain net assets in excess of 75% of their share capital.
How VAT will affect your UAE Free Zone Company Accounting
Effective from the 1st of January, 2018 the UAE will officially no longer be a tax free business environment. The GCC governments have decided to adopt Value Added Tax (VAT) which applies to almost all goods and services except basic food item, healthcare and education. Now, not only will companies be required to keep annual, independently audited accounts, but they must keep their accounting records for a period of 5 years.
Q&A: UAE Free Zone Annual Accounting and Auditing Regulations
Q. When do I need to submit my Free Zone Company’s annual audited financial report?
A. Generally speaking, reports should be submitted within 90 days of a Free Zone Company’s financial end of year. It is important to check your company’s articles of incorporation for your specific requirements.
Q. What happens if I fail to submit an annual report for my Free Zone Company or submit it late?
A. The authorities tend to be more lenient to companies in their first year of trading, but you will eventually be expected to produce a report. Failure to do so can incur a fine of AED5,000 per month that the report is outstanding and threat of non-renewal of your license.
Q. We prepare our own financial reports in-house and recently renewed our license without having to provide an independently audited annual report. Why should we file our company reports with the authorities?
A. Your Free Zone may have renewed your license and informed the Government that your audit report is underway, they will not have forgotten about the requirement. The authorities will not penalize you for maintaining your own financial records, but they must be independently audited before they can be submitted for review.
Q. What is the fine for not keeping my Free Zone Company financial records for 5 years following the introduction of VAT to the UAE on the 1st of January 2018?
A. Failure to comply and to explain your entity’s transactions when asked will resort in fines of AED50,000 to AED500,00.
If you would like some advice on how to correctly structure your financial auditing and reporting procedures, contact:
Karim Ghandour: email@example.com
Craig Brown – TEP: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Disclaimer: We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this communication. However, it is written in general terms and you should seek specific advice before taking any action. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from any action taken or refrained from on the basis of this communication.
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