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April 2024: UAE Federal Tax Authority Releases Business Restructuring Relief Guide for Corporate Tax Purposes

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In response to the evolving needs of businesses in the UAE, the Federal Tax Authority (“FTA”) has issued a comprehensive guide on “Business Restructuring Relief,” marking a significant milestone in the realm of corporate taxation. The new guide, coded CTGBRR1, is the sixteenth Corporate Tax guide issued by the FTA since the implementation of the Corporate Tax regime in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”).

This article aims to offer a comprehensive overview of the recently introduced Business Restructuring Relief Corporate Tax guide, highlighting its legal foundation and primary subjects addressed within its framework.

Legal Authority and References

The authority granted to the FTA to issue guidance documents is a crucial mechanism aimed at supporting taxpayers in fulfilling their tax obligations. This authority is firmly established within legislative provisions such as Article 4(1)(i) of the Federal Decree-Law No. 13 of 2016 on the Establishment of the Federal Tax Authority, and its amendments.

It is imperative, however, to recognize that while the FTA is empowered to issue guidance, such documents do not carry the same legal weight as legislative instruments. This distinction is explicitly clarified by the FTA itself. On page 10 of the Business Restructuring Relief Corporate Tax Guide, the FTA emphasizes that, “This guidance is not a legally binding document but is intended to provide assistance in understanding the tax implications for Business Restructuring Relief relating to the Corporate Tax Law. The information provided in this guide should not be interpreted as legal or tax advice.”

Therefore, it is critical for taxpayers to exercise caution, particularly in scenarios where potential conflicts arise between tax laws and FTA guidance, especially in circumstances unique to specific taxpayers. In such cases, adherence to the law itself should take precedence, coupled with the prudent step of seeking legal advice to ensure strict compliance with applicable legal provisions. By doing so, taxpayers can mitigate the risk of unforeseen tax liabilities and penalties, safeguarding their interests effectively.

Main Topics

The guide is mainly divided into six main chapters, briefly described below:

  • Chapter 3 – General aspects: This is a general chapter, covering an overview of the transactions subject to the relief, practical examples, and key definitions.
  • Chapter 4 – Conditions to qualify for the relief: This chapter addresses the six conditions that must be met in order for a transaction to qualify for the Business Restructuring Relief, diving into the details of each of the conditions under a separate sub-section.
  • Chapter 5 – Consequences of electing for the relief: This is a critical chapter outlining the consequences of the application of the Business Restructuring Relief, addressing key consequences such as the transfer of tax losses and failure to meet qualification conditions.
  • Chapter 6 – Clawback of the relief: This chapter highlights that Business Restructuring Relief is potentially nullified if, within two years of transfer, shares are sold outside the Qualifying Group or there is another transfer of the business. This triggers clawback, treating the transfer at market value, impacting the Transferor’s taxable income.
  • Chapter 7 – Compliance requirements: This is a short, one-pager chapter, addressing compliance requirements in respect of record-keeping and elections by the transferor to apply the relief.
  • Chapter 8 – Interactions with other parts of the Corporate Tax Law: This last key chapter addresses main interactions between the application of the Business Restructuring Relief and other aspects of the Corporate Tax Law, namely Qualifying Group Relief; Realization Basis; and Transitional Relief.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the release of the Business Restructuring Relief Corporate Tax guide by the FTA marks a significant milestone in the UAE’s corporate taxation landscape. This comprehensive guide, coded as CTGBRR1, reflects the FTA’s commitment to supporting businesses amidst evolving regulatory frameworks. While providing invaluable insights into the legal foundation and primary subjects covered, it is crucial for taxpayers to exercise caution, understanding the distinction between FTA guidance and legislative instruments. By adhering to legal provisions and seeking appropriate counsel, businesses can navigate the complexities of corporate taxation effectively, safeguarding their interests and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

This Article is prepared by Mohamed El Baghdady, Partner, Head of Tax and Financial Crimes, and Marwan Alnooryani, Senior Tax Associate, at Habib Al Mulla & Partners Law Firm.

Seek Legal Counsel

Our expertise in tax law and regulations allows us to provide clients with effective and accurate tax advice, taking into consideration their unique circumstances and needs. Additionally, our experience and knowledge in handling tax disputes enable us to represent clients in discussions with tax authorities, as well as in court proceedings. 

Our track record of successfully resolving tax disputes and helping clients minimize their tax liabilities has likely earned us a reputation as a trusted and reliable tax advisor. Our tax and financial crimes team, led by our Head of Tax and Financial Crimes, Mohamed El Baghdady, has successfully advised and represented clients across various industries, including, but not limited to, consumer goods and retail, services, real estate, oil & gas and banking and finance, before the government authorities, tax tribunals and courts. Our clients have been successful in multiple tax disputes before the committees and courts.

For further information, please contact, Mohamed El Baghdady, Head of Tax and Financial Crimes, on mohamed.elbaghdady@habibalmulla.com or any of the members of our team.

The content provided in this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this information, the article does not offer a guarantee or warranty regarding its content. The matters discussed in this article are subject to interpretation, and legal outcomes may vary based on specific facts and circumstances. We recommend that readers seek individual legal counsel before making any decisions based on the information provided. If you require specific legal advice, please contact us directly.

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