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Businesses need to be proactive about VAT

Compliance requires significant changes to processes and systems, as well as getting employees trained

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Sage Sessions examine the readiness of the UAE companies for the introduction of VAT
GN Focus

Sage, the market and technology leader for integrated cloud accounting and payroll systems, convened prominent tax experts and company representatives at its Sage Sessions to examine the readiness of the UAE’s companies for the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in January 2018. The event highlighted the need for businesses to be proactive rather than reactive in VAT preparation.

Themed ‘Are You VAT-ready?’, the sessions drew the attendance of more than 150 participants. The event featured a panel discussion that aimed to demystify VAT and demonstrate how technology can facilitate the compliance process. Panelists included Mansoor Sarwar, Director of Technical Services and Pre-sales at Sage, Pierre Arman, Market Development Lead for Tax and Accounting at Thomson Reuters, Mirza Farrukh Baig, CEO of Lynchpin Training, and Harsh Bhatia, VAT Manager at Grant Thornton UAE.

Sarwar said: “VAT compliance requires significant changes to processes and systems, as well as getting employees trained. Companies are rushing to get their accounting and business systems ready. There is still time to understand VAT, assess its impact and implement relevant adjustments in an effective and controlled manner. The right support and technology can drive efficient implementation and ease the administrative burdens of VAT.”

“If the lack of time is an issue, companies can also consider gradual implementation of VAT-readiness in various stages. For example, the immediate need for businesses is to have a VAT registration number and a VAT-compliant invoicing system in place, while the rest such as returns-filing and getting ready to claim refund or tax audits can be managed later,” Sarwar added.

Warning against common mistakes businesses make when preparing for VAT, Arman said: “The journey to VAT compliance does not end on 1 January 2018 – companies need to plan for the long term. Another grave mistake is assuming that authorities might delay VAT implementation at the last minute or that they might be lenient in the first tax cycle. The safest solution is to be proactive and prepare on all fronts.”

The 2017 Sage Sessions also served as the launch pad for Sage One, an affordable and user-friendly cloud-based accounting software that is VAT-compliant, catering to the needs of small businesses. The newly launched solution is part of Sage’s vision of invisible accounting – leveraging automation and business intelligence to enhance the effectiveness of entrepreneurs and drive business success.

In his introductory presentation, Joe Ferreira, Sales Director of Sage One, said: “Sage One is an ideal platform for start-ups and entrepreneurs who seek the flexibility to manage their businesses while on the go. Even more importantly, this affordable VAT-compliant accounting solution can help companies in the UAE streamline the tax accounting, record-keeping and return filing processes.”

In the coming months, Sage will be hosting a series of events for companies of all sizes across key markets in the GCC region, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman. These workshops will provide a more in-depth understanding on the impact of VAT on businesses and how to utilise technology for VAT-compliance.