Guide to Qualifying Income & Permanent Establishment in UAE Free Zones

Cabinet Decision No. 100 of 2023 delineates the contours of Qualifying Income, a pivotal concept in UAE corporate tax law outlined in Article 18. It encompasses distinct revenue streams, meticulously defined to remain disentangled from Domestic Permanent Establishments, Foreign Permanent Establishments, immovable property ownership or utilization, and the taxable income spectrum delineated under Clause 2 of Article 7. In the UAE, navigating the intricacies of corporate tax mandates warrants the expertise of  Tax Consultants in UAE, ensuring compliance and strategic tax planning.

Categories of Qualifying Income

Income from Free Zone Transactions:

Revenue stemming from transactions with Free Zone entities constitutes Qualifying Income, excluding proceeds from Excluded Activities.

Income from Non-Free Zone Transactions:

This category covers income originating from interactions with Non-Free Zone Persons, but with a condition. Interactions with Non-Free Zone entities yield Qualifying Income, provided they adhere to Qualifying Activities criteria, excluding Excluded Activities: If your income arises from the ownership or exploitation of Qualifying Intellectual Property, it falls within the Qualifying Income framework. This includes all intellectual property forms that enhance value to someone's business activities i.e., trademarks, patents, and copyrights, etc.

Income from Qualifying Intellectual Property:

Earnings derived from Qualifying Intellectual Property—such as trademarks, patents, and copyrights—form part of the Qualifying Income framework, enhancing business value.

Other Qualifying Income:

The law allows for flexibility in incorporating other income sources into the Qualifying Income in Free Zones category. However, it's imperative that the Qualifying Free Zone Person complies with the de minimis requirements as specified in Article 4.

Beneficial Recipient Clarified

For a clear understanding of Qualifying Income, it's important to grasp the term "Beneficial Recipient." This term refers to an individual or entity that has the right to utilize and benefit from a service or a good without any contractual or legal obligation to provide that service or good to another party. In simple terms, the Beneficial Recipient is the ultimate end-user of the service or good. Additionally, the term "Good" in this context refers to both tangible and intangible property that holds economic value. This includes both movable and immovable assets.

Domestic Permanent Establishments-

The assessment of whether a Qualifying Free Zone Person qualifies as having a Domestic Permanent Establishment holds great significance in the realm of taxation. Article 14 of the Corporate Tax Law UAE provides the guidelines for determining a Domestic Permanent Establishment, replacing the term "Non-Resident Person" with "Qualifying Free Zone Person".

Determining Qualifying Activities and Excluded Activities for Qualifying Free Zone Persons

De Minimis Requirements as Per New Corporate Law:

Article 4 introduces De Minimis Requirements, providing thresholds for relaxing tax considerations when non-qualifying revenue enters the tax purview.

Quantifying De Minimis Requirements -

The De Minimis Requirements are satisfied when the non-qualifying Revenue generated by a Qualifying Free Zone Person during a Tax Period does not surpass a particular percentage of the total Revenue for that period, a percentage determined by the Minister. Alternatively, it could be an amount predetermined by the Minister, whichever is the lower of the two.

Exclusions from Revenue Calculations

To ensure accuracy and fairness, specific types of Revenue are excluded from the calculation of both non-qualifying Revenue and total Revenue. These exclusions include:

  • Free Zone Immovable Properties-
  • Revenue attributed to the Foreign & Domestic Permanent Establishment of the Free Zone Qualifying Person.
  • Revenue stemming from the ownership or utilization of intellectual property, except for Revenue linked to the Qualifying Income detailed in Article 7.
  • Emphasizing Independent Treatment of Establishments:

This section underscores the significance of treating a Qualifying Free Zone Person and its Domestic Permanent Establishment or Foreign Permanent Establishment as distinct entities, although they are considered Related Parties. This approach ensures transparency and equity in tax evaluations.

Income Attributed to Permanent Establishments: Article 5

Taxable Income is associated with both Foreign & Domestic Permanent Establishment of a Qualifying Free Zone Person, it is categorized as Taxable Income. Consequently, it falls within the scope of taxation, as stipulated in paragraph (b) of Clause (2) of Article (3) of the Corporate Tax Law.

Free Zones Immovable Property Income: Article 6

Income stemming from immovable property situated within Free Zones undergoes specific tax treatment. It is classified as Taxable Income and is subject to the taxation framework specified in paragraph (b) of Clause (2) of Article (3) of the Corporate Tax Law.

Income Derived from Qualifying Intellectual Property: Article 7

Qualifying Income arising from the ownership or exploitation of Qualifying Intellectual Property adheres to a specific calculation methodology, as determined by a decision issued by the Minister.

Maintaining Adequate Substance and Outsourcing in Free Zones: Article 8

Ensuring the integrity of business operations is a pivotal aspect. A Qualifying Free Zone Person is required to carry out its primary income-generating operations within either a Free Zone or a Designated Zone, contingent upon the location prerequisites of these activities.

Seek the Expert Services of Top Tax Consultants in UAE

Staying abreast of corporate tax regulations is essential for Qualifying Free Zone Persons operating in the UAE. These legal frameworks create clarity and transparency, ensuring fair tax assessments while allowing for business optimization. Understanding the nuances of Qualifying Income and related concepts is imperative. Thus, it is advisable for businesses in UAE to seek the services of top Tax Consultants in UAE to effectively determine taxability and ensure compliance with the corporate tax law.


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