Dubai: Not all businesses in the UAE will need to go through the tedious process of registering for the value-added tax. 

The Ministry of Finance issued an announcement on Tuesday that states that businesses with a turnover of Dh375,000 are required to register for value-added tax (VAT) which will be implemented in the UAE on January 1st 2018.

“Businesses with taxable suppliers over Dh375,000 will be required to register for VAT,” the announcement on Twitter reads. Those with net sales “below Dh375,000 but over Dh187,500,” will have the option to register starting October this year.

There were no further details issued regarding the new policy, but one tax expert said that small businesses who may opt out of tax registration don’t have to charge VAT to their customers.

“The ministry has announced that those with revenue below 375K but over 187K will have an option to register. Which means that they may if they like, register under VAT. But if they don't then they do not have to collect VAT from their customers,” said Rakesh Pardasani, partner at audit and tax advisory firm RSM.

The ministry had earlier said that not all businesses, especially small companies, will need to register for the new tax policy. “In simple terms, only businesses that meet a certain minimum annual turnover requirement will have to register for VAT,” it said.

“We have made this decision to safeguard small businesses from the extensive documentation and reporting that a system like VAT requires.”

Pardasani, however, said that the revenue requirement set by the Ministry of Finance would mean that many small business owners will still be obliged to collect VAT.

“This number however, if it is an annual number, appears to be very small and it may bring a lot of small businesses within the scope of VAT.”

He also pointed out that companies who make less turnover are still given an option to register for the new tax system. “Some may prefer [to register even if they are exempt] because if they don’t, they may not be able to claim back the VAT paid on their purchases.”

Starting next year, a 5 per cent levy will be charged on all supplies of goods and services, unless specifically exempted or zero-rated, in the UAE.  The levy will be implemented across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with some states given an option to join in on January 1st 2019.

The ministry had earlier announced the start of its country-wide awareness campaign to educate various stakeholders on the collection of VAT. A VAT law has yet to be enacted, but the Federal National Council on Wednesday passed a draft legislation, the Tax Procedure Bill, that will pave the way for the collection of taxes.

Several briefings for entrepreneurs – from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to huge multinational organisations – will be held on different dates between April and May this year.

The sessions will explain to companies the rules of the new VAT system and cover the general application of the new VAT rules.