The UAE Corporate Tax launch date is just weeks away, and right now, the hiring spree for specialist tax consultants and auditors shows no sign of slowing down. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: When it comes to hiring, auditors with experience are currently the hottest job profiles to have in the UAE as the launch date of June 1 to introduce the 9 per cent corporate tax regime comes closer. Some of the bigger companies and tax consultancy firms had already gone through the process by end 2022 or early this year, but the small to medium sized firms are getting their acts together by adding more manpower.

Salaries in this category have already seen 10-20 per cent hikes for middle level positions, and when it comes to top posts, it’s more a case of ‘ask and you will get’. (Average pay scales could start from Dh15,000 and stretch to Dh25,000/Dh30,000 for up to mid-level positions.)

There is also a lot of head-hunting and poaching also taking place for senior positions solely responsible to handle tax matters and compliance requirements. And who stands a better chance of being taken in on higher salary packages and with added incentives?

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“Anyone with experience at the Big 4 (the global consultancies such as PwC, Ernst & Young) and who’s served in multiple tax jurisdictions,” said one consultant specialising in senior level placements. “Especially stints in multiple geographies where the tax compliance landscape is already evolved is an added advantage for the individual.

“MNCs already have established tax departments, but a large portion of the UAE market would on-board consulting firms during the CT implementation and then start managing their tax affairs internally.

“So, there are opportunities at both levels, and the recruitment drive will go on post-implementation from June as well.”

June 1 deadline

Registrations by UAE based businesses for corporate tax purposes are moving into higher gear with just weeks to go before the launch. The process started with the bigger companies, especially the stock market listed firms.

The UAE corporate tax has set a rate of 9 per cent, which the Federal Tax Authority reckons as being one of the most competitive in the world.

Ravi Jethwani is CEO of Dubai-based Innovations Group, a consultancy advising on business setups and associated matters. “Demand for specialist tax auditors had started to creep from 2017-18 when VAT was implemented,” he said. “Now, there is a rush to hire tax specialists to understand the CT regime thoroughly.”

On whether companies are mostly opting for internal hires, Jethwani said: “It is a combination of both, and it depends on the size of the company. Large corporates prefer to hire direct on to their HR rolls, whereas mid-size companies would rely on third-party service providers.”

A 'tech-tonic' shift in audit roles
Internally, organizations are upskilling their audit roles to keep pace with ever changing processes and digital skills required for that. Equally, consultancies are updating their core processes to work in this era of constant change. The core audit function to advise in managing risks has undergone a 'tech-tonic' shift in the last 18 months

- Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director at Korn Ferry

Bigger pay hikes?

According to Mohamed Osman, Chairman of Corporate Group, the UAE market had already seen a significant increase in salary increases for auditors before the announcement of the UAE corporate tax introduction.

Auditors are demanding around 35-50 per cent hike since the Dubai and UAE market was booming post-Covid. This year most of the companies are recruiting independently.

- Mohamed Osman, Chairman of Corporate Group