'Digital Tax Stamps' mandatory for all waterpipe, electrically-heated tobacco products

Photo: WAM

The second phase of the Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme is set to commence on 1st March 2020, with the scheme aiming to utilise the latest digital solutions to boost the efficiency of tax control systems and, in turn, support the UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based economy in line with the National Agenda.

In a statement, the Federal Tax Authority, FTA, reaffirmed its decision that, commencing tomorrow, the import of any waterpipe tobacco and electrically-heated tobacco products not bearing a Digital Tax Stamp, DTS, will be banned.

As of 1st June 2020, the import, transport, storage and possession of such unmarked excise goods will be prohibited in all UAE local markets, the statement added.

Phase one of the Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme, which came into force on 1st January 2019, yielded promising results in marking all types of imported, and locally manufactured and traded cigarette packets with DTSs. The FTA directed that such products be marked before leaving the manufacturing facilities to indicate the payment of the applicable excise tax across the UAE.

On 1st May 2019, the FTA issued a ban on importing all types of unmarked cigarette packets into the UAE. Following that on 1st August, the sale of cigarette packets not bearing a DTS was banned across all local markets.

Since the launch of Cabinet Decision No. 42 of 2018 on Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products, the FTA rolled out a comprehensive scheme to ensure the seamless implementation of the decision. The scheme enables producers, importers and distributors of tobacco and tobacco products to purchase DTSs from the system operator through the FTA website, to place them on the packaging of their products before they are released in local markets. The FTA called on all concerned entities to comply with these regulations to avoid penalties.

The FTA launched an awareness campaign for the scheme targeting stakeholders in the UAE. The campaign included a workshop conducted by the system operator to familiarise the producers, importers and distributors of tobacco and tobacco products with the necessary requirements.

It also held several meetings with relevant entities, including departments of economic development and local customs agencies, to strengthen its partnerships with all stakeholders across the government and private sectors, as well as ensure the successful implementation of the tax scheme.

The UAE is the first country in the region to adopt such digital solutions to protect consumers from commercial fraud and low-quality products, mitigate health and environmental risks and combat tax evasion. The scheme enhances the FTA’s ability collect taxes, in cooperation with relevant entities, through standardised regulatory procedures that protect the rights of taxable persons and ensures their compliance, as well as boosts competitiveness and transparency across all of FTA’s dealings.

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