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FTA outlines licensing procedure for exhibition, conference services

By Wam

The Federal Tax Authority, FTA, has asserted that the Cabinet Decision to refund Value Added Tax, VAT, on services provided at exhibitions and conferences seeks to cement the UAE’s status as a leading destination for local, regional and international forums.

The Decision supports the UAE leadership’s directives to ease the tax burden on business sectors, and empower them to play an effective role in the country’s sustainable development, the Authority explained.

In a press statement issued today, the Authority called on businesses providing exhibition and conference services as defined by the Authority to register in the VAT system and acquire a Tax Registration Number, TRN, as well as a licence from the FTA to provide these services according to a set of conditions that allow them to recover taxes on their services.

Refunds can be claimed for two types of services, the Authority indicated; the first is the grant of the right to access, attend or participate in a conference, while the second is the grant of the right to occupy space for the purpose of conducting a conference or an exhibition.

The new Decision reflects the widespread awareness around the importance of the dynamic exhibitions and conferences sector, which attracts investors from financial markets around the world. The UAE has become a magnet for investors across all sectors with its robust infrastructure and diversified economy.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, FTA Director-General, said, "The Federal Tax Authority is committed to supporting UAE-based businesses to voluntarily and seamlessly comply with tax procedures, making use of the Authority’s advanced electronic systems and avoiding any disruption to their business activities."

"Tax legislation in the UAE has helped build a strong collaborative relationship between the FTA and all tax stakeholders, including taxpayers and all relevant government bodies, in an effort to realise the objectives of the tax system in firmly maintaining the UAE’s lead on global competitiveness indexes," he added.

The FTA explained that according to the Cabinet Decision, six conditions must be met to be able to recover VAT on services provided for exhibitions and conferences: The supplier must request the refund on their tax return for the same tax period where the services were supplied; the amount claimed must be equal to or less than the tax imposed on the supply of services for exhibitions and conferences; the recipient of services must not have a permanent establishment or fixed establishment in the UAE; the recipient must not be registered or required to register for tax in the UAE; the recipient must not have paid tax to the supplier; and finally, the supplier must receive a written confirmation from the recipient corroborating the three previous conditions.

The Authority went on to clarify that the Cabinet Decision applies to any exhibition held under a permit from the competent local authority for a period not exceeding seven days, as well as any formal meeting between persons of shared interest licensed by the competent local authority also for a period not exceeding seven days.

The Federal Tax Authority revealed it has published a sample application form on its website, which can be filled out and submitted online to receive a license for supplying exhibition and conference services.

It invites all parties working in the field of exhibitions and conferences to refer to FTA channels of communication for details of the decision.