VAT on Real Estate

Owners of commercial properties in the UAE will need to keep in mind two deadlines related to the upcoming VAT.


One, they will need to register with the Federal Tax Authority if the sales or rental proceeds exceeded Dh375,000 in the previous 12 months. And, two, if the owners believe they are likely to generate more than Dh375,000 over the next 30 days.


These commercial properties could be used for offices, retail, hotel, F&B (food and beverage), or any such activity, and which will be assigned a 5 per cent VAT. But land sales for the purpose of building a commercial property is exempt from VAT’s ambit.


Owners of residential buildings do not have to register for VAT if they “do not have any other business activities”. But those who do have other business operations must check to see whether or not they are required to register.


The Federal Tax Authority issued an update Saturday on how VAT will be calculated in real estate transactions. Residential sales have in general been given exemption, by being characterised as “zero rated”. This will be in effect for the first three years from the completion of construction activity.


“The rent or sale of a residential part of the building shall be treated as zero-rated or exempt, depending on whether this is a first supply or a subsequent supply,” the authority states. “The rent or sale of a commercial part of the building, however, shall be treated as subject to VAT at 5 per cent.”

Interestingly, the first supply of converted buildings from a non-residential purpose through sale or lease will also carry zero-rate for three years.


Treating VAT-related expenses

* An owner of a residential building will not be able to recover VAT on expenses related to sales or rent of the building. But an owner of a commercial building will generally be able to recover VAT on expenses related to any transactions involving units in the building.

* The tax incurred by the owner of a building needs to be apportioned where there is an exempt supply. The portion related to the taxable supply (at 0 per cent and 5 per cent) may be recovered, according to the Federal Tax Authority.

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