The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, Ras Al-Khaimah, and Fujairah.
Currently, the United Arab Emirates does not have a federal corporate income tax (CIT) regime; however, most of the Emirates introduced income tax decrees in the late 1960s, and taxation is therefore determined on an Emirate-by-Emirate basis.
Under the Emirate-based tax decrees, CIT may be imposed on all companies (including branches and permanent establishments [PEs]) at rates of up to 55%. However, in practice, CIT is currently only enforced in respect of corporate entities engaged in the production of oil and gas or extraction of other natural resources in the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, some of the Emirates have their own specific banking tax decrees, which impose CIT on branches of foreign banks at the rate of 20%.
Free trade zones (FTZs) have their own rules and regulations and generally offer tax holidays to businesses (and their employees) set up in the FTZ for a period between 15 and 50 years (which are mostly renewable).
On the basis of the above, most entities registered in the United Arab Emirates are currently not required to file corporate tax returns in the United Arab Emirates, regardless of where the business is registered.