How Does Tax Work In Dubai? Find Out Here!

Understanding taxes in Dubai can be confusing, whether you’re a resident, investor, or business owner. Interestingly enough, the United Arab Emirates famously has no federal income tax for individuals.

This article dives into Dubai’s tax structure to clarify exactly how does tax work in Dubai and what financial obligations you might face in this dynamic city. Don’t worry; we make sense of taxes simple!

Overview of the UAE Tax System in Dubai

Understanding the taxing system in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) can seem daunting, especially if you’re new to the city or considering doing business or business activity there. Corporate tax was a foreign concept until its introduction by the UAE in June 2023.

If you’re struggling with what taxes you are required to pay, this article will guide you through the essentials of Dubai’s system of taxation, offering clarity and peace of mind. Discover how taxes operate in this vibrant economic hub!

How Does Tax Work in Dubai (Federal Taxes)

Dive into the intricate workings of federal taxes within the United Arab Emirates, where nuanced financial regulations shape the economic landscape. Learn how the country balances its tax obligations with strategic policies designed to foster growth and development on both a corporate and individual level.

Income Tax

People who live or work for a living in Dubai do not pay income tax on the money they earn from their jobs. This means you get to keep all of your paycheck without having to give a part of it to the government as tax.

The UAE wants people and businesses to come and grow there, so they have made a rule that no one has to pay federal income tax. However, if you own a business in Dubai, things are going to change soon.

Starting soon, companies will need to pay a corporation tax, with a tax rate of 9%. This is a new thing because before this announcement, companies did not have this kind of tax either.

Now, even though there’s no income tax for workers and the new corporate tax is pretty low compared with other places around the world, it’s important for everyone – both people living in Dubai or just investing there – to know about these taxes.

It helps them plan their money better and understand what changes might be coming in the future.

Corporate Tax

Until May 2023, businesses in Dubai were exempt from corporate tax. From June 2023, businesses have started paying corporate tax. The new rule says companies must give 9% of their money to the government if their income exceeding AED 375,000* a year.

But if they make less than that, they don’t have to pay the tax. Oil firms and foreign banks already have to pay taxes on the money they make here.

The UAE wants to be fair with how it taxes businesses. Because of this, it has special areas called free zones where companies can work without paying these taxes. In simpler words, free zones are tax free areas. The fact that free zones are exempt from paying taxes helps all kinds of businesses grow and make more jobs in the country.

Double Taxation

Aside from having protocols for different types of taxes, such as income tax or corporate tax, Dubai also takes steps to stop double taxation.

This means they make sure people and businesses do not pay dual tax, i.e., taxes twice on the same money. The UAE has made deals with 137 countries so that this does not happen.

If you are a foreigner living in the UAE, you can get a Taxation Residence Certificate. With this certificate, if your home country has a tax deal with the Emirates, you won’t be taxed twice on your income in the UAE.

This is good for people who come from other places because it saves them money and trouble when dealing with taxes.

These agreements help make Dubai an attractive place for business and work since they lower the tax burden for tax residents and companies and branches operating internationally. This gives these businesses a slight upper hand as compared to businesses operating in the UAE. Being aware of such treaties is crucial for expats to ensure they manage their finances properly while living in Dubai.

Tourist Facility Tax

In Dubai and other parts of the UAE, if you stay in a hotel or eat at a restaurant, you pay an extra charge called the tourist facility tax. This includes different taxes like a hotel tax, a service fee, and a city tax.

Each place in the UAE might have its own rate for these taxes.

The money from these taxes helps to keep the tourist spots looking good and running well. It’s added to your bill when you check out of your hotel or finish your meal. So while enjoying the beautiful places and tasty food, this small extra cost is part of making sure everything stays nice for everyone who visits.

Property Transfer Tax

Buying a house in Dubai means you need to pay a property transfer tax. This cost is set at 4%. The money goes to the government when you become the new owner of a place. Every emirate in the UAE might charge a different tax rate, so it’s not always the same everywhere.

If you get a new house or office space, there are also Transfer Fees and Tax Registration Fees that you must pay. These fees change based on where in the UAE you are buying property.

Regional Taxes in the UAE

In the UAE, regional taxes vary across emirates, with each government setting its own specific levies that cater to local regulatory and economic frameworks. This decentralized approach allows for distinct fiscal policies within the larger tax environment of the country.

Free Trade Zones

Free Trade Zones in Dubai are special areas where businesses enjoy big perks. These zones give companies a break from many taxes. They don’t have to pay corporate tax for up to 50 years after they sign up, and there’s no VAT or customs fees on things they buy and sell.

This makes it easy for these companies to make more money from selling their goods all over the world.

One of the best things about these zones is that investors can own all of a company themselves. Outside these areas, someone starting a business would need a local partner who owns more than half of the company.

With so many Free Zones across the UAE, including places like Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, there are plenty of choices for setting up shop without much tax worry.

Tourism Fees per Emirate

Dubai also has tourism fees that visitors pay when they stay in hotels or use certain services. These fees help keep the city beautiful and fund tourist attractions. Here is how these tourism fees work in different emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi charges a 6% city tax on all hotel room rates and a AED 15* ($4) fee per night, per room.
  • In Dubai, guests at hotels, resorts, and furnished apartments pay a tourism dirham fee. Depending on the hotel category, this can range from AED 7* to AED 20* ($2 to $5) per room, per night.
  • Sharjah collects a hotel tax of 10% of the room rate and an additional service charge of 10%.
  • Ajman levies a municipal fee of 10% on the room rate plus AED 10* ($3) tourism fee per night.
  • Ras Al Khaimah requires a tourism fee of AED 15* ($4) per room, per night along with a 10% service charge on the hotel stay.
  • Fujairah enforces a tourist fee of AED 1* ($0.30) for each night spent at any type of accommodation including hotels and apartments.
  • Umm Al Quwain also imposes taxes but they are generally lower compared to other emirates.

Rental Tax

Just like tourists pay fees in each emirate, people might wonder about taxes on renting homes or offices. In Dubai and the wider UAE, there is good news for landlords and tenants in Dubai: no rental tax exists.

This means when you rent a place to live or for your business, you don’t have to pay extra tax just for renting. Landlords also enjoy this rental income benefit because they get to keep all the money they make from rent without giving a part of it to the government as a tax.

This rule helps make living and working in Dubai or doing business in the UAE easier for everyone.

Taxes on Goods and Services in the UAE

While Dubai is often recognized for its tax-friendly environment, it does implement specific taxes on goods and services, such as VAT and Excise Tax, that impact both consumers and businesses alike; delve deeper to understand how these affect everyday transactions in the UAE.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Value Added Tax, or VAT, is a tax put on most goods and services in the UAE. Since 2018, people have paid an extra 5% for these things. This means when someone buys something, they also pay a little more to the government.

But not everything gets this tax added on. Some items like food going to other countries and special metals don’t get taxed this way. Also, schools and hospitals charge no VAT for certain services.

The money from VAT helps pay for things everyone uses like roads and schools. If you’re visiting Dubai from another country and buy stuff to take home, you can get the tax back if you’ve touched the threshold of AED 250* within three months before leaving.

Next let’s look into excise tax which covers things like energy drinks and tobacco.

Excise Tax

Moving from VAT to another important tax, we have the excise tax. This special tax affects things that can harm our health or the environment. Since 2017, Dubai implemented an excise tax on drinks like soda and energy drinks, along with tobacco and vaping liquids. The tax is also applicable in the rest of the UAE.

Think of it as a way to make these items less tempting to buy because they’re pricier.

When businesses sell any of these products, they must pay a big chunk of money in taxes—sometimes half or even all of their item’s price goes straight to this excise tax. It’s a step taken by the government to protect people’s well-being and keep our surroundings clean.

VAT Refunds in the UAE

Tourists in the UAE can get money back for what they buy. They need to follow some steps and meet certain rules.

  • Save your receipts when you shop in Dubai or other places in the UAE.
  • Make sure each receipt is more than AED 250*. Smaller ones won’t count for a refund.
  • Buy things within 90 days before you leave the UAE. Items bought earlier will not be eligible.
  • Go to a VAT refund counter at the airport or other exit points with your goods, passport, and receipts.
  • Show officials your purchases along with the right documents. They need to see what you bought to give you a refund.
  • Use special machines or ask staff members to get your VAT refund processed. They are set up at various places for tourists.
  • Wait for your refund approval. The staff will tell you if everything is okay and how much money you’ll get back.
  • Collect cash in Dirhams or choose credit card payment for your VAT refund. Either way works fine.
  • Keep in mind, some items like cars or things that aren’t leaving the country don’t qualify for refunds.
  • Understand that services like hotel stays are not part of this rule; only goods you take home count.

UAE’s System of Tax for Foreigners

Foreigners navigating the UAE tax landscape encounter a unique set of regulations and potential benefits, with particular nuances for property ownership and wealth. Understanding these rules is crucial to maximizing fiscal advantages while complying with local legislation.

Tax on Property and Wealth

In Dubai, buying a house means you need to pay a property transfer tax of 4%. This is one part of the cost when you get a new home. Other fees include money for paperwork and making your name the owner on records.

Individuals who have a lot of money and expensive things are exempt from taxes, i.e., wealth is tax-free in Dubai.

If someone passes away, how their stuff is shared follows Islamic Shari’a rules. But in Dubai, there’s no inheritance tax to worry about. Whether you live in the UAE or not, if you have property here, these rules apply to you too.

Capital Gains Tax

In the UAE, you do not have to pay tax on money you make from selling things for more than you bought them. This is good news if you’re making profits from sales in the stock market or real estate, where values can go up over time.

But there are some special rules for oil companies and foreign banks that do need to pay this kind of tax.

Next, let’s look at Transfer Tax and how it affects your transactions in Dubai.

Transfer Tax

Dubai charges a 4% tax on transfers of property. This tax must be paid when you buy or sell real estate in the city. The buyer and seller often split this cost, but it can vary based on their agreement.

There are no extra taxes for transferring other kinds of property, like cars or boats. This makes buying big things in Dubai simpler compared to places with higher transfer taxes.

Municipality/Tax on Rent

In the UAE, renters pay a municipality tax. This is part of living in places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The amount changes based on where you live. For example, in Dubai, tenants often give 5% of their rent to this tax.

This tax on rent helps pay for city services that everyone uses. Next we’ll talk about “Stamp Duty,” which is another cost people might pay when dealing with property and other official papers.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a tax you pay when you buy a property in the UAE (Dubai). It is 4% of the property’s price. You must pay this tax to complete the sale and get your name on the title deed.

The Dubai Land Department collects stamp duty. They use it to help run the city and make sure people own their homes fairly. Next, let’s look at company taxes and VAT rates in the UAE.

Company Taxes and VAT Rates in the UAE

In the UAE, businesses face a regulatory framework that includes a standard VAT rate of 5% on most goods and services, while certain qualifying free zone person owning companies can benefit from the country’s free zone advantages where corporate taxes often do not apply.

Navigating this system requires understanding both the specifics of VAT compliance and the broader implications for business operations in various sectors.

Excise Tax for Businesses

Businesses in Dubai need to pay excise tax if they make or import things like soda, energy drinks, and tobacco. The law says these items get a 50% tax for soda and a much higher 100% for energy drinks and tobacco products.

This rule started in 2017.

If you have a business that deals with these goods, you must sign up for excise tax. You have to report how much of these items you sell or bring into the country. Then, you send the tax money to the government.

This is important because it helps keep everyone playing fair by making sure taxes are paid on certain items that can affect people’s health.

VAT for Businesses

In Dubai, if you own a business and sell things or services, you might have to charge VAT. This is a 5% tax added to the price of most goods and services. You must register for VAT if your sales are over a certain amount each year.

Once registered, you collect VAT from customers and then send this money to the government.

If your business buys stuff from other businesses, you can often get back the VAT you paid on these items. Keep good records of all sales and what you buy for your business. Every three months, tell the government about your VAT by filing a tax return online through the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) website.

Import and Export Taxes in the UAE

Import and Export Taxes in the UAE: Navigating the waters of international trade, Dubai imposes customs duties on goods entering its borders, but with strategic policies that favor business growth.

These tariffs are carefully structured to balance protection for local industries with Dubai’s role as a global trading hub.

Customs Duties

Customs duties in Dubai are fees you pay when bringing goods into the country. Most items have a 5% charge based on their cost, insurance, and shipping value. This is important for companies to know so they can plan costs right.

Goods that come into or go out of Dubai go through customs where these duties get added. If you run a business here, understand these taxes well to avoid surprises with your money.

Tax Avoidance and Evasion in the UAE

Tax avoidance is when people find ways to pay less tax while still following the laws. Some do this by planning their taxes carefully. The UAE has rules to stop this from going too far.

But if someone breaks these rules, it’s called tax evasion. Tax evasion is very serious and against the law.

The UAE government works hard to catch tax cheaters. They use strict checks to find anyone trying not to pay taxes or lying about how much money they make. If they catch you, there can be big fines or even time in jail.

It’s important for everyone to pay their fair share of taxes in the UAE.

Tax Advice in the UAE

Getting good tax advice in the UAE is smart, especially if you’re new or run a business. You might need help with VAT rules, understanding when to pay what, or making sure you don’t get in trouble for missing a tax rule.

Look for an expert who knows about taxes in Dubai and other emirates. They can tell you how to save money and follow the laws at the same time.

Reach out to professionals who deal with things like qualifying income tax, double tax agreements, and VAT-registered companies. These experts often understand all kinds of taxes from property transfer tax to corporate income taxes.

They can guide you through each step and make dealing with taxes easier for individuals or businesses. Now that we’ve talked about getting advice on taxes, let’s move on to wrapping up our discussion about how tax works in Dubai.


Dubai offers a unique system of taxation with many benefits for individuals and businesses. There’s no personal income tax, meaning that individual tax is not there for any working individual in Dubai, and corporate taxes are low. VAT and excise taxes affect goods and services, but free zones give extra perks, especially to companies registered in a free zone. 

Understanding everything you need to know about UAE’s taxes helps make the most of living or running a business there. Always consider getting help if you need it!


1. Do people pay income taxes in Dubai?

No, people in Dubai do not have to pay a personal income tax. This means they can earn money without the government taking some of it as tax.

2. What is VAT and does it apply in Dubai?

Yes, Dubai has a Value-Added Tax (VAT). It is the opposite of a direct tax, i.e., a type of indirect tax added to goods and services at each step of sale or production.

3. Are there any taxes on property in Dubai?

In general, there is no annual property tax on real estate in Dubai. However, when buying or selling property, you might pay a one-time property transfer tax.

4. Does my business need to worry about corporate taxes in Dubai?

The corporate tax rules are very lenient in Dubai. Usually, businesses don’t have to pay corporate tax rates in Dubai because it’s known for being a low-tax jurisdiction which attracts many companies. 

5. Will I need to worry about customs duty if I import goods into Dubai?

Yes, if you bring goods into the country through trade or travel, you will likely have to pay customs duty – this is different from regular sales tax.

6. If I live in another country but own something valuable like real estate or a company in the UAE, how does taxation work for me?

If you own things like commercial property or are part of partnerships in the UAE but are not considered a resident there for more than 183 days per year based on ID cards rules; your assets might fall under different rules related to indirect taxes or double taxing.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The content is provided “as is” and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding its accuracy, completeness, or suitability. Any reliance on the information is at your own risk. We are not liable for any losses or damages arising from the use of this blog.

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