Qualifying as a Natural Person Tax Agent in the UAE
October 13, 2023
In an ever-evolving landscape of taxation and regulatory requirements in the UAE, the role of a tax agent has never been more crucial. Becoming a tax agent in the UAE is not just about possessing a deep understanding of the tax laws but also meeting a specific set of eligibility criteria as prescribed within the applicable Tax Procedures legislation.
Stemming from our commitment to demystifying legal complexities, this article presents a structured questionnaire useful for natural persons to determine whether they would be eligible for a “Tax Agent” status under the UAE’s taxation regime. The focus extends beyond mere eligibility to encompass the obligations a tax agent must uphold and the potential grounds for the UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) to deregister a tax agent.
It is important to note that while this article is limited in scope to natural persons, the UAE’s tax agent regime encompasses both natural and legal persons, albeit with different requirements.
By the end of this expanded article, individuals aspiring to become tax agents will have a clearer perspective on not only their potential fit in this role but also the responsibilities and potential challenges that come with being a tax agent in the UAE.
The concept of a “Tax Agent” has been initially introduced in the UAE via two central legislations:
- Federal Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures.
- Cabinet Decision No. 36 of 2017 on the Executive Regulation of the Federal Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures.
However, the Tax Agent regime had undergone a remarkable legislative makeover, where the UAE’s legislator replaced the aforementioned legislations with the following:
- Cabinet Decision No. 74 of 2023 on the Executive Regulation of the Federal Decree-Law No. 28 of 2022 on Tax Procedures.
Article 1 of the new Tax Procedures Law defines a “Tax Agent” as “Any Person registered with the Authority who is appointed on behalf of another Person to represent him before the Authority and assist him in the fulfilment of his Tax obligations and the exercise of his associated Tax rights”.
Article 12(2) of the Tax Procedures Law prohibits any person from practicing the profession of a tax agent in the UAE unless they satisfy all the following:
- Meets the registration requirements.
- Is listed by the FTA in the Tax Agents Register.
- Obtains a license from the competent local authority.
As for the registration requirements of natural persons as tax agents, the Tax Procedures Law does not detail any specific provisions, and instead refers to the Executive Regulation. The Tax Procedures Executive Regulation provides all registration requirements of natural persons as tax agents under Article 12(1).
Articles 13 and 15 of the Tax Procedures Law, together with Article 14(1) of the Tax Procedures Executive Regulation, provide a comprehensive list of the obligations of a tax agent.
Article 13(13) of the Tax Procedures Executive Regulation provide the grounds according to which the FTA may forcefully delist a tax agent from the register.
Questionnaire on Tax Agent Registration Requirements
The below questionnaire is prepared to help individuals determine whether they can practice the profession of a tax agent in the UAE. Unless all questions are answered with a “Yes”, the individual should not practice the profession of a tax agent in the UAE.
- Are you a natural person?
- Are you a resident of the UAE?
- Are you physically fit and in good health?
- Are you of good conduct and behavior?
- Have you never been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor prejudicial to honor or honesty, even if you have been rehabilitated?
- Do you have any of the following?
- Experience of at least three years obtained in the last five years and hold at least a certified Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in tax, accounting or law from a UAE-recognized educational institution.
- Experience of at least three years obtained in the last five years and hold at least a certified Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in any other field from a UAE-recognized educational institution, in addition to a valid professional qualification from a recognized institution, as may be prescribed by the FTA.
- Experience of at least five years obtained in the last eight years and hold at least a certified Bachelor’s degree in any other field from a UAE-recognized educational institution.
- Have you completed the necessary training specified by the FTA and passed any qualifying examination specified by the FTA?
- Do you have the ability to communicate orally and in writing in Arabic or English?
- Do you hold or are you covered under a valid and appropriate professional indemnity insurance?
- Are you licensed or work for an entity that is licensed by the UAE Government?
- Are you not a current member of the Tax Dispute Resolution Committee?
- After meeting all of the above requirements, have you made an application to the FTA to become a listed tax agent, which was subsequently approved by the FTA?
- After meeting all of the above requirements, have you been listed in the publicly available Tax Agent Register?
The above must be substantiated with valid supporting documentation, as applicable.
Obligations of a Tax Agent
The legal obligations of a tax agent under the applicable Tax Procedures legislation can be summarized in the following six obligations:
- Assist the person whom the tax agent is representing with the FTA with his tax obligations, according to the agreement concluded between them.
- Maintain the confidentiality of any information obtained in the course of performing his duties as a tax agent, without prejudice to any obligation to disclose such information under the law.
- Continue to meet his continuing professional development requirements, as may be specified by the FTA.
- Refuse to participate in any work or plan which may result in a breach of any law by any person or may adversely impact the integrity of the tax system.
- Notify the FTA if he ceases to practice his profession as a tax agent.
- Keep the information, documents, records, and data related to any person that is or was represented by the tax agent and provide such information to the FTA upon request.
Delisting a Tax Agent
The applicable Tax Procedures legislation vests into the FTA the power to forcefully delist a tax agent in four exclusive instances, as follows:
- If the FTA has determined that the tax agent is unable to fulfil its duties or functions, or is no longer meeting the registration requirements (amongst others).
- If the FTA has serious grounds to believe that the continued listing of the person as a tax agent would adversely affect the integrity of the tax system in the UAE.
- If the tax agent committed a serious violation of the provisions of the Tax Procedures Law or another Federal tax law or committed or participated in tax evasion.
- If the FTA found out that the tax agent is a current member of the Tax Dispute Resolution Committee.
A list of delisted tax agents is published and regularly updated by the FTA for transparency purposes and to ensure the protection of taxpayer rights.
In summary, the path to achieving the status of a tax agent in the UAE is characterized by rigorous criteria and ever-evolving demands in the dynamic tax framework of the country. The role of a tax agent holds growing significance, underscoring the necessity for unwavering compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements.
Once an individual secures a position as a tax agent in the Tax Agent Register, they are obligated to fulfill all the aforementioned duties as mandated by the law. Furthermore, it is imperative for them to consistently ensure that they adhere to the stipulations that keep them from falling within the four specific instances in which the FTA has the right to delist a tax agent from the register.
This Article is prepared by Mohamed El Baghdady, Head of Tax and Financial Crimes, and Marwan Alnooryani, Senior Tax Associate, at Habib Al Mulla & Partners Law Firm.
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