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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

VAT: A boon for UAE accounting firms

Accounting firms are putting together special packages for SMEs that would like help with their books

Adeel Zaman, marketing manager at AN Associates, has been busy dealing with enquiries on VAT and has taken on extra staff as a result. Antonie Robertson/The National
Adeel Zaman, marketing manager at AN Associates, has been busy dealing with enquiries on VAT and has taken on extra staff as a result. Antonie Robertson/The National

The introduction of VAT in the UAE has created an opportunity for one sector in particular – accountants, many of whom have seized the opportunity and are marketing their services. AN Associates, which led the consulting session for mrUsta's service providers in November, is one such company.

It has put together a number of packages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that need help with their books. Adeel Zaman, the company’s marketing manager, speaks about how the business has responded to the introduction of VAT.

How has VAT changed the business?

We are getting a lot of enquiries from people who are not familiar with VAT. It’s the first time it’s been here in the GCC, so we have to do their VAT implementation and submit their returns every three months. For us, being an audit firm, that’s really good. But overall, people are not at the moment sure how it’s going to be implemented, which products are exempted, which products are going to pay the VAT, how they are going to pay the VAT on purchases. This is what we are explaining to our clients.

Have you hired other people to cope with the demand?

Yes, we actually hired four more people last month. We hired junior accountants to assist the senior auditors. And we also increased our marketing budget, because this is an opportunity for us. We almost doubled our marketing budget and that’s why we are arranging events like the one with mrUsta to raise awareness. And also it’s an opportunity for the company that we can increase our client base.

How many more enquiries are you getting?

It’s really gone up. So far we have done VAT registration for 200 companies. And still there is some business pending. There are a few enquiries we will proceed with now. In the mrUsta event, we got 12 people who signed up for our packages.

Do you have a lot of competition?

The problem is that there are management consultants who are not auditors but they are also offering the services because they have that activity in their licence. And they are offering the same services for cheaper. But we explain to our clients, because the penalties are very high you have to be careful who you sign the contract with. Because we have experience being auditors in the market for the last 36 years. That is the advantage we have at the moment.

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Read more:

Challenges remain as the UAE eases into VAT

Who will bear the burden of VAT in the UAE?

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How worried are SMEs about VAT?

The problem with SMEs is that they have never maintained records. They are not as organised as big companies are, so they were unsure what they need to do. That’s why we have provided this solution.

Should SMEs be worried about VAT?

No, they shouldn’t be. It’s really simple. Even if you go through the registration process it’s really simple. The problem is they have never done this. You have to do the registration and then you have to prepare your accounts, buy software, maintain your records and then you can smoothly submit your returns.

What questions start-ups and entrepreneurs are asking about VAT?

We are getting enquiries about how to do the registration. What documents are required for that, because most SMEs have never used any software to maintain their accounts. They don’t have proper accounts as per international standards. In the registration there is a declaration form where you have to mention your turnover and all those types of things. They were a little confused about how to do that.