The Lebanese Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates (LBC) in Dubai has held a seminar today (Sunday, 20th November 2016) covering the introduction of the value-added tax (VAT) in the GCC, in a tie up with Deloitte Tax practice the Middle East. The event discussed the impact of the implementation of the new tax system among businesses in the region and the appropriate responses that should be taken by them in preparation for its application.

The initiative was held to shed light on the scope of VAT and help affected businesses understand the scale of its impact in order to ensure a smooth transition into the VAT system. The UAE is the first country in the GCC to announce that it will proceed with the VAT implementation at a rate of five per cent starting January 2018.

The seminar was led by Justin Whitehouse, Deloitte Indirect Tax leader in the Middle East, who has significant global experience in tax systems locally and across borders. The seminar highlighted the introduction of tax reforms in the Middle East with a key focus on drivers for the reform, introduced indirect tax and VAT, and discussed the expected contribution of VAT to the economy and other features of the tax. The timing and intent of VAT, and the next steps that the private sector may take while focusing on the effect of VAT on businesses were also covered.

Charles Jeha, President of the Lebanese Business Council, said: “The Lebanese Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates held this seminar in response to the need for a platform for the exchange of views and sharing of ideas among the Lebanese and Gulf business sectors on various issues that each one will face as the VAT system gets underway across the GCC, particularly in the UAE, which is moving ahead of its neighbors in terms of implementation. It is absolutely necessary that businesses are furnished with the right knowledge and updates in order to make the right decisions and go through the whole process with the least disruption to their operations.”

Justin Whitehouse, Deloitte Indirect Tax leader in the Middle East, commented: “We are honored to partner with the Lebanese Business Council to provide our expertise and further shed light on the key features of VAT. The introduction of the VAT system in the GCC has been met with mostly acceptance as a required change to the local economies from regional businesses and consumers. However, businesses are not all taking the steps they can to get ready early. The event is very timely as businesses must address the issue to ensure that they are on the same page with the government and prepare themselves for the eventual changes in their accounting systems.”

Deloitte tax practice in the Middle East offers clients a broad range of fully integrated tax services. Their approach combines insight and innovation from multiple disciplines with business and industry knowledge to help companies excel regionally and across borders.