The tax year is the calendar year. Assessments can be made on the basis of a year-end other than 31 December, provided permission is granted in advance by the OTA and the company then adheres to the year-end on a consistent basis. The first tax year of a taxpayer can be up to a period of 18 months.
Currently, a single ‘return of income’ needs to be filed within four months from financial year close. Reasonable time extensions may be sought at the discretion of the OTA for filing the annual returns of income, but these do not defer payment of tax, which will be subject to additional tax at 1% per month from the due date to the actual date of payment.
The annual return of income should be accompanied by audited accounts signed by an auditor registered in Oman. The law requires accounts to be drawn up in accordance with IFRS or any similar standards as approved by the OTA and consistently applied. It specifically provides for accrual accounting unless prior permission of the OTA has been obtained. The accounts must be submitted in local currency unless prior approval of the OTA has been obtained for submitting them in foreign currency.
In the case of SMEs falling in the category of the 3% tax rate, the tax returns must be filed and accompanied by a simplified income statement within three months of the year-end.
Delay or failure in submitting the annual return may attract a penalty of not less than OMR 100 and not more than OMR 2,000.
Failure to file the annual return of income may result in an estimated profit assessment by the OTA.
Failure to submit audited accounts as required under the Law is deemed to result in an incomplete annual return of income and may attract an estimated profit assessment. The requirement of submitting audited financial statements has been relaxed for SME taxpayers who fall in the category of the 3% tax rate.
The law confers wide powers on the OTA for requesting information. Experience has shown that, notwithstanding the presentation of audited accounts, the tax department requests very detailed information and supporting documentation relating to revenue and expenses. Failure to provide such information or the provision of incorrect information can result in an additional assessment by the OTA and/or various penalties on the company and/or the officer responsible for providing the information.
Payment of tax
Tax should be paid with the final return of income due within four months of the year-end. Failure to pay taxes by the due date attracts interest at the rate of 1% per month from the date on which such tax was due to the date of payment.
Please note that taxpayers have the option of payment of taxes in instalments, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and prior approval from the TA.
The difference between the amount paid and the amount assessed, subject to filing of an objection, should be paid within one month from the date of the assessment. The additional amount assessed attracts interest at the rate of 1% per month from the date on which such tax was due to the date of payment.
Under the Law, the OTA has the authority, with the approval of the Minister and the Tax Committee, to sequester and sell the assets of a taxable entity to recover the taxes due.
If decisive proof is presented to the OTA that any person has paid tax for any year exceeding the tax due and payable for such tax year as finally settled, such person has the right to recover the tax. However, if any tax has become payable by such a person in respect of another tax year, the excess amount will be adjusted against the future tax liability. Any request for recovery must be presented within five years from the end of the tax year in which the right to refund arises; otherwise, such right shall lapse.
Where the taxpayer fails to declare correct income in the tax return for any tax year, the OTA may impose a fine in the range of 1% to 25% of the difference between the amount on the basis of the correct taxable income and the amount of tax as per the return submitted.
Objections and appeals
A company has a right to object to any assessment issued by the OTA. The objection document should be prepared in writing (in English and in Arabic) and filed with the office of the OTA within 45 days from the date of assessment. The OTA is required to give a judgment within five months, extendable up to another three months at the OTA’s discretion, from the date of receiving the objection. The tax demanded may be kept in abeyance on request. No additional tax is payable until the OTA issues the judgment.
Once the objection decision is issued, the tax is payable immediately and no further deferment is available. A grievance can be filed with the Tax Grievance Committee within 45 days from the date of the objection decision.
The Law permits the taxpayer to file tax suit before the Primary Court against the decision issued by the Tax Grievance Committee within 45 days from the date of serving the notification of the Committee’s decision. Either the OTA or the taxpayer may contest against a judgement issued by the Primary Court through appeal before the Court of Appeal and then before the Supreme Court. The provisions of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law shall apply for matters not covered in the Income Tax Law when hearing and making final judgement over the tax suit.
Statute of limitations
The Royal Decree 9/2017 introduced the self-assessment regime, where the assessments are carried out on a sample basis and the statute of limitation is three years from the end of the year in which a tax return is submitted. Where the entity has not submitted the tax returns, the OTA has a period of five years to complete the assessments.
Maintenance of records
The Law requires accounting records and supporting documentation to be maintained for ten years after the end of the accounting period to which these records relate.
Topics of focus for tax authorities
Related-party transactions are likely to attract particular scrutiny by the OTA. Taxpayers should maintain extensive documentation that proves that transactions are carried on at arm’s length.