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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has reported that a total of 2.83 million applications have been processed for tax refunds under the Tourists Scheme in the first year of its operations.
Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director general of the Federal Tax Authority, noted that the electronic system for the scheme has exceeded all expectations since its launch in November 2018. He also revealed that the average daily number of applications that the scheme processes has doubled, going from 3,800 in the first month to 7,730 requests per day today.
Al Bustani also applauded the tremendous success that the system has achieved so far, noting that it was launched as part of the FTA's plans to build an integrated platform of electronic systems that seeks to improve quality of life for citizens, residents, and visitors in the UAE. "This, in turn, reflects the remarkable efforts undertaken to achieve the UAE's vision for our country to become one of the best and most developed in the world by 2021," he said. "Implementing the advanced system is in line with the wise leadership's vision to expand its policies to diversify the economy, and strengthen the role of various sectors, including the promising tourism industry. It reflects the UAE's cultural side, and its status as a hub for tourists and visitors from all around the world, who are drawn to its safety, the hospitality of its people, and the long list of tourists attractions and events it boasts."
"The UAE is among the first countries in the world to implement such a system, characterised by its effectiveness and the ease and speed with which tax refund requests from tourists are processed," Al Bustani noted. "The system allows for determining refundable taxes and processing them accurately; it features built-in verification procedures that ensure applicants' eligibility for tax refunds, as per the relevant legislations."
According to the FTA, the number of retail outlets connected to the system has exceeded 12,000 stores all around the UAE, while the number of self-service kiosks for refunding taxes to tourists grew by 55.2 per cent from 29 in July 2019 to 45 kiosks today. Planet, the company authorised by the FTA to operate the system, is in charge of operating these kiosks, where tax refund requests undergo a fully automated process. Nevertheless, Planet employees are present around the self-service kiosks to assist tourists if necessary.
"All evidence points to a dramatic increase in customer satisfaction with the electronic system for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme, which is available at 12 ports of entry, including six airports, two maritime ports, and four land border crossings. Tourists have hailed the system's speed, where a request for refund is processed seamlessly and in under two minutes," Al Bustani said. "Several teams from the Federal Tax Authority are conducting field tours to ensure the scheme's electronic system is operating in accordance with world-class standards and conditions, set by the FTA prior to the system's launch. The Authority launched the scheme in collaboration with its partners in the public and private sectors, such as the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, and the departments entrusted with overseeing the UAE's airports and all ports of entry, among other local and federal entities."
Tourists can request a refund on the taxes they incurred during their stay in the UAE as they proceed to exit the country. Applicants are required to submit tax invoices for their purchases, which must carry the tax refund stickers issued from retail outlets that are registered in the system. They must also present their passports and credit cards. There is no limit on the amount a tourist can recover if it is transferred to his/her credit card, meanwhile, applicants requesting cash refunds can receive no more than Dh7,000 per day. Refund requests can be submitted at the self-service kiosks, as well as at tax refund offices located at exit points around the country.
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