When Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in the UAE and Saudi Arabia on January 1, 2018, initially stakeholders were wary on the potential impact of the new tax policy on the economy. While a study by Alliance Business Centres Network revealed that the UAE will be least affected by the imposition of VAT, the introduction of VAT in Saudi Arabia is changing the market dynamics and bringing more transparency to the sector.
A report published by JLL clarifies that VAT is applied to any real estate transaction in the country. The 5 per cent rate is implemented on the sale of a residential, commercial, transfer of ownership of undeveloped land, and the sale of partly completed construction works.
However, rental agreements are exempted from VAT charges, which may impact the sale of new property combined with the 5 per cent VAT on brokerage as buyers may divert from buying new property and instead opt for leasing as an alternative. Cost for leasing, though, may also increase as ancillary services are subject to VAT.
Similar to the UAE, VAT will contribute to the government’s initiatives for economic diversification and continued improvement of public services to the general public.
In conclusion, the above-mentioned views on the potential impact of VAT are only assumptions, since real estate is a long-term product, the real effect of VAT in both countries will be defined further in the coming years.
— Inputs from Al Masah Capital