Determining Partners in an Unincorporated Partnership

A non-incorporated partnership represents a form of unincorporated business arrangement wherein two or more individuals or entities collaborate in conducting business without establishing a distinct legal entity. In this partnership model, each participating party is recognized as an individual taxable entity, and there exists no distinct legal entity. This discussion will delve into the steps involved in identifying partners within a non-incorporated partnership, encompassing the identification of business proprietors, the delineation of partnership roles, and the structuring of unincorporated businesses.

Conditions for an Unincorporated Partnership

As per the UAE Corporate Tax Law, unincorporated business entities will not be considered as a separate taxable entity provided it meets certain conditions which include:

  • The partnership must be established through a written partnership agreement signed by all partners.
  • The partnership agreement must specify the name and address of each partner, their capital contribution, profit/loss sharing ratio, and the rights/responsibilities of the partners.
  • The business must be carried out in the UAE.
  • The partnership's activities and affairs must be managed under the joint control and management of the partners.
  • The partners shall be jointly and severally liable for the partnership's obligations.
  • The partnership must maintain proper books of accounts and supporting documents of its activities.

Partnership Formation Process

The process of determining partners in an unincorporated partnership involves some necessary steps and considerations, which includes:

Partnership Legal Structure

One of the first steps in determining partners in an unincorporated partnership is drafting a partnership agreement. This is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the business partnerships, including the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each partner. It also specifies the process of admitting new partners and resolving conflicts between partners. The partnership agreement is a crucial document as it will guide the process of determining partners and their roles within the business.

Identifying Business Owners

The next step in determining partners in an unincorporated partnership is identifying partnership ownership which is determined by the partnership agreement. Each partner owns a share of the business based on their investment and contributions to the partnership. Partners should establish clear business ownership agreements that outline each partner's share of the business and their rights and responsibilities. Therefore, it is essential to identify the business owners to determine their tax obligations. For tax purposes, the following individuals will be considered partners in unincorporated business ownership under UAE corporate tax law:


  • Individuals who have signed the partnership agreement and are stated as partners.
  • Individuals who contribute capital, skill, or effort towards the partnership business on an ongoing basis.
  • Individuals who share in the profits or losses of the partnership business based on the terms of the partnership agreement.
  • Individuals who are actively involved in the management and operations of the partnership business. Mere investors who do not participate in management will not be considered partners.
  • In the case of family partnerships, relatives who are stated as partners in the agreement or contribute towards the business will be treated as partners for tax.


Treatment of Unincorporated Partnerships under the UAE Corporate Tax Law 

Partnership Decision-Making

In an unincorporated partnership, the partners have equal decision-making power unless otherwise specified in the partnership agreement. This means that all partners have an equal say in the management and direction of the business. However, decisions in an unincorporated partnership can be made in various ways, such as:

  • Unanimous decision: all partners must agree on a decision
  • Majority decision: the majority of partners must agree on a decision
  • Equal share decision: each partner has equal share in decision-making
  • Designated decision-maker: a partner with a specific role or expertise may be given decision-making authority in that area

 Managing Partnership Roles

Another important aspect of determining partners in an unincorporated partnership is managing partnership roles. Roles and responsibilities of partners should be clearly defined in the partnership agreement to avoid conflicts and ensure smooth operations. Some ways to manage partnership roles are:

  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the partnership agreement
  • Regularly reviewing and updating partnership roles as the business grows and changes
  • Designating a lead partner for day-to-day decision-making and operations
  • Establishing a system for delegating responsibilities and accountability among partners

Structuring Unincorporated Businesses

Unincorporated businesses come in various forms, such as general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships. Each structure has its own benefits and limitations, and it is important to consider these when determining partners and structuring the business. Some factors to consider when choosing the right structure for your unincorporated business are:

  • Liability protection for partners
  • Tax implications for partners
  • Management and decision-making structure
  • Ease of formation and maintenance
  • Flexibility for future changes in the business

Partnership Rights and Responsibilities

Partners have both rights and responsibilities within an unincorporated partnership. These should be clearly outlined in the partnership agreement to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. Some common rights and responsibilities of partners are:

  • Right to participate in decision-making and management of the business
  • Right to equal share of profits and losses
  • Responsibility to contribute capital and resources to the business
  • Responsibility to act in the best interest of the partnership
  • Responsibility to inform other partners of any conflicts of interest or potential risks

Dissolution of an Unincorporated Partnership

An unincorporated partnership can end via dissolution under the following circumstances:

  • Completion of the term specified in partnership agreement
  • Achievement of business objectives
  • Bankruptcy or insolvency of partnership
  • Death, incapacity or withdrawal of a partner
  • Sale of partnership to a third party
  • Dissolution by court order due to disputes

On dissolution, the partners must settle partnership accounts, pay off debts and distribute any surplus assets as per profit sharing ratios after accounting for all liabilities. This brings closure to the business in an orderly manner.

Table 1: Key Steps in Forming an Unincorporated Partnership

Step Description
1 Identify intended partners and draft partnership agreement
2 Define each partner's capital contribution and ownership stake
3 Assign roles and responsibilities to partners
4 Outline profit/loss sharing ratios and decision-making rules
5 Register a business name and obtain required licenses
6 Open a partnership bank account and tax registration
7 Commence business operations as agreed
8 Periodically review the agreement and make amendments


In conclusion, determining partners in an unincorporated partnership involves various legal, financial, and tax considerations. Partners should seek professional advice from corporate tax uae consultants and carefully consider the rights, responsibilities, and implications of this business structure to ensure a successful and compliant partnership.

Does the corporate tax law apply to foreign partnerships?



Q1. What is the difference between a partnership and sole proprietorship?

A1. The key difference is that a partnership has two or more owners whereas a sole proprietorship has only one owner. Partnerships allow for more capital contribution and the sharing of risk between multiple owners.

Q2. Are all partners equally responsible for the partnership's debts?

A2. Yes, in an unincorporated partnership, all partners have joint and several unlimited liability. This means that each partner is fully responsible for the partnership's debts and obligations, and creditors can recover their claims from any of the individual partners.

Q3. What happens to the partnership if one partner wants to leave?

A3. If a partner wants to leave the partnership, it is considered a dissolution event as per the partnership agreement. The departing partner's share will need to be bought out by the remaining partners through a settlement process. Alternatively, the partnership may decide to fully dissolve and wind up operations.

Q4. How is profit sharing determined between partners?

A4. Profit-sharing ratios are typically outlined in the partnership agreement. In the absence of any specific terms, profits are usually shared equally between all partners. But partners also have the flexibility to negotiate different profit-sharing percentages.

Q5. Is a written partnership agreement mandatory?

A2. While not mandatory, it is strongly recommended to have the key terms of the partnership formally documented in a written and signed agreement by all partners. This helps prevent disputes.



© 2024 Corporate Tax UAE, All Rights Reserved.