Saudi businesses urged to get ready for VAT to begin in a month

Updated 03 December 2017
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Saudi businesses urged to get ready for VAT to begin in a month

RIYADH: Businesses with annual revenues of more than SR1 million ($266,640) have been urged to hurry their value-added tax (VAT) registration process and ensure their readiness for its implementation in just 29 days, on Jan. 1, 2018.
The General Authority for Zakat and Income Tax (GAZT) stressed the importance of visiting the VAT website vat.gov.sa, to check the procedures and requirements, and follow the instructions to be fully ready to start committing to the VAT laws and regulations.
Companies with annual revenues of more than SR1 million were given until Dec. 20 to register, while the deadline for companies with annual revenues between SR1 million and SR375,000 ($99,961) has been extended by a year (Dec. 20, 2018). The registration is optional for businesses with annual revenues between SR187,500 and SR375,000.
Businesses that fail to register in time will face fines of up to SR 10,000 and the suspension of several critical government services, including issuing of work permits, changing business activity, issuing visas, transferring workers’ sponsorship and other services provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Saudi Customs and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
GAZT underlined its readiness to answer any questions about VAT. The website vat.gov.sa features a guidance manual to help businesses prepare for VAT, including video tutorials, guidelines, information packs on all aspects of the registration and readiness process, as well as a wide range of tools and information.
GAZT confirmed that VAT will be introduced on Jan. 1, 2018, urging all eligible businesses to register before the deadline of Dec. 20.

Two types of VAT bills to be issued
The GAZT has also announced the VAT invoice form to be adopted with the introduction of the tax as part of improving tax compliance levels, Arqaam news website reported.
Two forms of bills will be approved, the GAZT said.
The first is a simplified tax invoice for the supply of goods or services with a total value of less than SR1,000 containing the date of issue, the name and address of the supplier and the tax identification number, the supplied goods or services, and the due payment for goods or services.
It also includes clarification of the tax payable or indicating that the consideration includes the tax in respect of the supply of goods or services, and a simplified tax invoice may not be issued in respect of inter-supply or export of goods.
The second model is for supplies above SR1,000. The invoices for these supplies will be more detailed, based on Article 53 of the executive regulation.
The regulation states that the tax invoice shall be in Arabic, in addition to any other language in which it may be issued.
The invoice should include the date of issue of the invoice, the serial number identifying and distinguishing the tax invoice, the supplier’s tax identification number, the customer’s tax identification number “if the customer is responsible for the calculation and statement of the tax on the supply” and the date on which the supply was signed.
It should also include the name and address of the supplier and the customer, the quantity and nature of the goods supplied, the scope and nature of the services provided, the amounts subject to tax according to the rate or exemption, the tax-exclusive unit price and any discounts or rebates if they are not included in the unit price and tax rate.
 


How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption. (Supplied)
Updated 17 February 2019
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How ‘Absher’ app liberates Saudis from government bureaucracy

  • Western media mistaken in portraying app as a tool of repression, leading female journalist says

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-click” e-services app launched by the Interior Ministry in 2015, is now regarded as the leading government platform for Saudi citizens, freeing them from bureaucratic inefficiency and endless queuing for everyday services.
However, in a recent New York Times article, the app was criticized as a “tool of repression” following claims by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and women’s rights groups.
Apple and Google were urged to remove the application from their devices over claims that it “enables abhorrent surveillance and control of women.”
In an official statement, the ministry rejected the allegations and said the Absher platform centralized more than 160 different services for all members of society, including women, the elderly and people with special needs.
The app makes electronic government services available for beneficiaries to access directly at any time and from any place in the Kingdom, the ministry said.
Absher allows residents of the Kingdom to make appointments, renew IDs, passports, driver’s licenses, car registration and other services with one click.
Many Saudis still recall having to queue at government agencies, such as passport control offices and civil affairs departments, for a variety of official procedures. Appointments could take weeks to arrange, with people relying on their green files, or “malaf allagi” — the 1980s and 1990s paper form of Absher that was known as the citizen’s “lifeline,” both figuratively and literally.
Hours would be spent as government departments ferried files back and forth, and if a form was lost, the whole transaction process would have to start again. As complicated as it was for men, women suffered more.
Muna Abu Sulayman, an award-winning strategy adviser and media personality, told Arab News the introduction of Absher had helped strengthen women’s rights.
Sulayman said she was disappointed at comments on the e-services platform being made abroad. “There are consequences that people don’t understand. It’s a very idealistic and naive way of understanding what is going on,” she said.
“The discussion on the guardianship law is internal and ongoing — it is something that has to be decided by our society and not as a result of outside pressure. We’re making strides toward equality and Absher is a step in the right direction,” she said.
“In a Twitter survey, I asked how many women have access to their guardian’s Absher. Most answered that they control their own fate. Men who don’t believe in controlling women gave them access to their Absher and that shows an increase in the participation of women in their own decision-making.”
Absher also provides services such as e-forms, dealing with Hajj eligibility, passport control, civil affairs, public services, traffic control, and medical appointments at government hospitals.
The platform is available to all men and women, and removes much of the bureaucracy and time wasting associated with nonautomated administrative systems.
On the issue of granting women travel permits, the law requires a male guardian to grant it through the portal, as well as for men under the age of 21.
Retired King Abdullah University professor Dr. Zainab M. Zain told Arab News: “I always had issues with my passport renewal as well as my children’s as they are both non-Saudi. For years it was risky not to follow up properly at passport control — you never knew what could happen, but now I can renew their permits by paying their fees online through Absher from the comfort of my home in Abu Dhabi.”
Ehsanul Haque, a Pakistani engineer who has lived in the Kingdom for more than 30 years, said: “Absher has helped tremendously with requests, such as exit and entry visas for my family and myself. I can receive approval within an hour whereas once it would’ve taken me days,” he said.
“The platform has eased many of my troubles.”
The Absher website also provides information on how to report wanted persons, or administrative or financial corruption.
In April, 2018, the ministry launched “Absher Business,” a technical initiative to transfer its business services to an interactive digital system.
With an annual fee of SR2,000 ($533), business owners such as Marwan Bukhary, owner of Gold Sushi Club Restaurant in Jeddah, used the portal to help manage his workers’ needs in his expanding business.
“There are many features in Absher that helps both individual and establishment owners,” he said. “I took advantage of the great features it provided, and it saved me a lot of time and trouble and also my restaurant workers. It’s a dramatic change. When Absher Business was launched last year, it organized how I needed to manage my workers’ work permits.
“Through the system, I could see the status of all my employees, renew their permits, grant their exit and entry visas, and have their permits delivered to my house or my business through the post after paying the fees. It saved business owners a lot of time and energy.
“I used to have to do everything manually myself or have my courier help. I believe it’s the government’s most advanced system yet with more features being added every now and then,” Bukhary said.
“Absher has eased our burden, unlike the old days when we needed to visit government offices and it would take four weeks just to get an appointment. One click is all it takes now.”