Transfer Pricing in UAE : Corporate Tax Law

Transfer Pricing in the UAE: Navigating Corporate Tax Regulations

The Transfer Pricing in UAE issued by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) of the United Arab Emirates on October 23, 2023, marks a significant development in the tax landscape, particularly in corporate taxation and transfer pricing. Corporate tax in the UAE involves critical concepts like Transfer pricing, which are essential for global business operations. It refers to setting prices for goods traded between businesses within the same group. Multinational companies (MNCs) must strategize their global moves and determine prices for products, services, or ideas traded across different countries.

Parties Associated in the TP Regulations

Determining related parties within Transfer Pricing involves various scenarios where one entity holds authority over another. These scenarios include Debt-Based Significant Influence, where a borrower’s debt significantly impacts their capital, affecting related party status. Additionally, related party considerations also encompass minority shareholders participating in crucial management choices and day-to-day operations.

Implementation of the Arm’s Length Principle

The implementation of the Arm’s Length Principle is crucial for MNCs in the UAE. It acts as a safeguard against potential penalties and regulatory scrutiny, ensuring fair transactions and preventing profit shifting or price manipulation within the organization. The UAE’s commitment to aligning with global standards, such as the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, emphasizes the importance of Transfer Pricing compliance in the international context.

Prioritizing a comprehensive understanding and effective implementation of the Arm’s Length Principle helps UAE businesses ensure legal compliance, fostering transparency and integrity in financial dealings. This proactive approach not only guards against potential penalties but also contributes to the stability and fairness of the global economic landscape. For guidance on navigating Transfer Pricing in the UAE’s Corporate Tax environment, consult experienced professionals specializing in maintaining legal compliance and optimizing financial strategies.

Substance above Form TP

TP principles prioritize economic conduct over formal contracts. While contracts provide a framework, the actual TP analysis hinges on economic reality, emphasizing the importance of understanding roles, economic conditions, and strategies in controlled transactions.

Written contracts play a role in TP analysis, defining transaction parameters, though they aren’t mandatory. Accurate TP evaluations balance contractual stipulations with economic realities, particularly in determining termination provisions during corporate restructurings.

Transaction Aggregation

Although using Transactional Net Margin Methodology (TNMM) on a transactional basis is preferred, there are some situations when aggregation makes sense. Company-wide versus transactional TNMM: Although aggregation becomes possible when activities have economic or commercial interlinkage, transactional TNMM is preferred. Weighing the advantages of simplicity against the need for thorough studies prior to implementing an integrated strategy.

Using TNMM for Enterprise-Wide Analysis: Validating transactional analysis throughout the enterprise. Accurate TP documentation is ensured by carefully weighing comparison variables before choosing an aggregated approach.

Unusual Outcomes in Comparables

While the Transactional Net Margin Methodology (TNMM) is preferred on a transactional basis, aggregation may be suitable in certain situations involving economic interlinkage. Extreme findings in comparables need examination, especially concerning loss-making companies and transactions, ensuring an accurate comparison analysis.

Disclosure Form for TP

UAE’s Corporate Tax Law outlines the necessity of a TP disclosure form, awaiting clarification on its effect on TP disclosure thresholds. Thorough TP documentation, including Master Files and Local Files, is crucial for compliance and managing corporate tax issues.

Requirements for Local and Master Files

Upholding thorough TP documentation, including particular instructions for Master Files and Local Files, is essential for compliance. Current Technical Paper Documentation: displaying integrity and conformity with current TP documentation. The significance of thorough documentation for TP compliance and corporate tax issues. Master File for Groups with Headquarters in the United Arab Emirates: Exemptions and explanations for providing an extensive synopsis. Coordinating business line presentations with centralized functionalities to create an all-encompassing Master File.

Additional Guidance and Emphasis on Financial Transactions

The TP Guide in the UAE complements the OECD Guidelines, offering insights into financial transaction pricing. It emphasizes recognizing subtleties and using examples to elucidate intra-group funding arrangements.

Employing Domestic Equivalents

While focusing on local comparables, challenges in finding suitable matches prompt searches in other areas while maintaining comparability. Adhering to OECD principles is essential when evaluating corporate restructurings, considering regional differences.

Employing Domestic Equivalents and Business Restructurings

While taking into account regional differences, OECD principles must be followed when evaluating corporate restructurings. Using OECD Guidelines in a Domestic Setting: Adapting OECD guidelines to local needs. Discussing the TP Guide’s coverage on domestic company restructurings.

Settlement Modes and Burden of Proof

Adherence to arm’s length concepts in intercompany settlements necessitates control and adherence to predetermined timelines. Strong supporting documents are crucial to uphold TP viewpoints and adhere to FTA regulations, impacting the required burden of proof.

Emphasizing the need for strong supporting documents to uphold TP viewpoints and adhere to FTA regulations. The Value of Supplementary Documentation highlights the importance of thorough and reliable TP documentation. Recognizing how documentation affects how much proof is required for FTA evaluations.

Implementation of the Arm’s Length Principle is crucial for MNCs in the UAE, serving as a safeguard against potential penalties and regulatory scrutiny. It establishes a framework for fair transactions, preventing profit shifting or manipulation of prices within the organization. The UAE’s commitment to aligning with global standards, including initiatives like the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, reinforces the significance of Transfer Pricing compliance in the international context.

By prioritizing a thorough understanding and effective implementation of the Arm’s Length Principle, businesses in the UAE can ensure not only legal compliance but also foster transparency and integrity in their financial dealings. This proactive approach not only safeguards against potential penalties but also contributes to the overall stability and fairness of the global economic landscape. For comprehensive guidance on navigating Transfer Pricing in UAE’s Corporate Tax environment, consult with our experienced professionals, who specialize in ensuring your business stays on the right side of the law while optimizing financial strategies.

Understanding the Documentation Threshold for Transfer Pricing in UAE

The arm’s length principle dictates that when two related parties engage in a financial agreement, the terms should mirror those of unrelated businesses. Compliance with this principle is crucial, and in the UAE, taxable individuals within multinational enterprises or those with transactions totaling AED 200 million in consolidated group revenue must produce Transfer Pricing Documents. Non-compliance with the Transfer Pricing Regulations can result in fines ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 100,000.

Key Elements to Ponder in UAE’s Transfer Pricing:

Multinational Corporations (MNCs): These corporate giants sprawl across nations, boasting subsidiaries, divisions, or branches worldwide. They engage in diverse transactions—selling goods, rendering services, or licensing intellectual property among themselves.

Methods in UAE’s Transfer Pricing: MNCs employ distinct transfer pricing methodologies. These strive to set prices akin to what unrelated firms would charge—an adherence to the arm’s length principle. Methods encompass the comparable uncontrolled price (CUP), cost-plus, resale price, and profit-split methodologies.

Profit Allocation: Within UAE’s transfer pricing realm, MNCs distribute profits or losses from internal dealings across their international subsidiaries. This allocation significantly influences taxable income in each jurisdiction. Often, the aim is to minimize tax burdens by shifting profits to regions with lower tax rates or leveraging tax incentives.

Tax Optimization: MNCs strategically wield transfer pricing to optimize their tax liabilities. They set prices not necessarily reflecting market conditions but favoring jurisdictions with lower tax rates. This maneuvering aids in trimming the global tax bill and augmenting post-tax profits.

Regulatory Adherence: Adherence to tax laws and regulations across multiple operating countries is imperative for MNCs. Many nations enforce stringent rules and demand meticulous documentation in transfer pricing to thwart profit manipulation and uphold equitable taxation.

Documentation Imperative: Upholding the arm’s length principle necessitates robust transfer pricing documentation by MNCs. It entails comprehensive details—pricing methods employed, analyses justifying these choices, and the economic determinants steering pricing decisions.

Challenges in UAE’s Transfer Pricing: Determining fitting transfer prices is intricate and often contentious. Varying interpretations of what constitutes an arm’s length price by tax authorities across nations spark disputes and can lead to potential double taxation for MNCs.

UAE’s Transfer Pricing in the Global Economy: The spotlight on transfer pricing has intensified in recent years, drawing attention from tax authorities and international bodies. Initiatives like the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project endeavor to lay down guidelines, curbing abusive transfer pricing practices, and fostering equitable taxation globally.

UAE Transfer Pricing in Corporate Tax

The advent of Transfer Pricing in UAE presents a formidable challenge for taxpayers. It stands as a pivotal component within the new tax framework, casting its influence over a broad spectrum of UAE enterprises. Any business engaged in transactions with group entities, whether local or international, and any stakeholder receiving business-related payments, faces the task of assessing their adherence to the Transfer Pricing in UAE stipulations.

The repercussions of failing to meet these criteria loom large: potential adjustments to profits and the prospect of added tax liabilities. The specter of penalties further compounds these consequences. Notably, the regulations explicitly impact free zone companies, tying their eligibility to compliance with Transfer Pricing in UAE. This holds significant weight for such entities gearing up for corporate tax obligations.

Moreover, the documentation and reporting prerequisites associated with these rules impose a substantial compliance burden. Crafting comprehensive and accurate master files and local files demands an investment of both time and effort. And if an annual reporting obligation accompanies tax filings, meticulous attention becomes paramount, as errors or non-compliance could invite penalties. Such stringent measures underscore the gravity of navigating Transfer Pricing in UAE and the imperative of meticulous adherence to regulatory demands.

Understanding the Transfer Pricing in UAE Rules

  • Documentation Requirements: Transfer pricing documentation is essential in the UAE. Companies operating in the UAE are required to maintain comprehensive documentation that demonstrates compliance with the arm’s length principle. This includes providing data on the selection of the transfer pricing method, benchmarking studies, and financial information.
  • Penalties for Non-Compliance: Non-compliance with UAE transfer pricing regulations can result in penalties and adjustments to taxable income. Businesses must adhere to the rules and maintain thorough documentation to support their transfer pricing policies.
  • Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs): The UAE allows companies to enter into Advance Pricing Agreements with the UAE’s Ministry of Finance. These agreements provide a degree of certainty regarding transfer pricing arrangements, helping companies avoid disputes with tax authorities.

Case Studies on Transfer Pricing

The provided case studies highlight the practical implications of Transfer Pricing, emphasizing its impact on profits, taxation, and the importance of adhering to the arm’s length principle.

Ritz Group is a furniture company group with two subsidiaries: Company A, located in the UAE, and Company B, a manufacturing company located in Country T, where corporate profits are taxed at 5%.

Company B purchases tons of wood from Company A for AED 15,000. The cost for Company A to produce the wood is AED 15,000. The market price for tons of wood is AED 20,000.

 Production cost sale Sale price from Company A to Company B (related parties)Market price company
A (AED)15,00015,00020,000

Company A has made no profit on the sale to Company B, whereas it would have made a profit of AED 5,000 had it sold its product to a third party, resulting in an overall decrease in profit of AED 5,000 compared to if Company B had paid under an Arm’s Length Price transaction.

Company B sells the goods manufactured to a third party for AED 20,000. Company B has decreased its cost of sales by AED 5,000 by purchasing at the internal transfer price from Company A as opposed to the market price from a third party. Hence, Company B has increased its profits by AED 5,000. However, while Company A has seen a fall in its profit of AED 5,000 and Company B has seen an increase in its profit of AED 5,000, there is no overall impact on the group’s earnings, as related company transactions are often removed during the preparation of combined financial statements, in addition to transactions that happened within the group.

Therefore, the non-arms length pricing of goods transferred between related parties has shifted profits between jurisdictions, resulting in a tax benefit for this group. These transactions would need to be adjusted in line with the Arm’s Length Principle and reflect the market value. As a consequence, the total tax payable by Fritz Group will increase.

Case 2: Significant Influence Based on Debt

Organization C is a member of an MNE group with its main office in the UAE. It works with independent third-party company D, and the two have established a solid business connection over time.

To finance its expansion, Company D approaches Organization C for a loan rather than a bank. Organization C consents to make a loan.

 The balance sheet of Company D before the loan is shown below:    
 Equity and liabilities (i.e., capital)Amount in AED millionAssetsAmount in AED million 
 Share capital100Fixed Assets70 
   Cash and cash equivalent30 
 Total capital100Total100 
The balance sheet of Company D after the loan is shown below:   
Equity and liabilities (i.e., capital)Amount in AED millionAssetsAmount in AED million
Share capital100Fixed Assets140
Loan from Organization C100Cash and cash equivalent60
Total capital200Total assets200

In the previous example, 50% of Company D’s entire capital is made up of the loan from Organization C. It was also observed that Company D’s cash and fixed assets increased following the disbursement of this loan. An additional fact-finding investigation reveals that Organization C has begun exerting considerable influence over Company D as a result of the loan by developing business strategies, designing product portfolios and prices, identifying target markets, and carrying out other crucial tasks that are essential to Company D’s operations. Given the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that Company D can exert considerable influence; hence, Organization C and Company D are both eligible to be classified as related parties.

Benefits of Transfer Pricing in UAE

Understanding the benefits of Transfer Pricing in the UAE, along with the associated rules and documentation requirements, is crucial for businesses aiming for tax efficiency while ensuring compliance with regulations. The availability of Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) in the UAE adds an extra layer of certainty for companies engaging in international transactions.

UAE’s New Transfer Pricing Rules for Corporate Tax Law

UAE implemented transfer pricing restrictions under the Corporate Tax Law as of June 1, 2023. This is a positive step for small firms, as the Ministry stated that profits up to AED 375,000 will be free from taxes. Personal income from work, real estate, and other investments, as well as any other income received by persons who do not profit from a business or other permitted commercial activity, are not subject to corporate tax. To guarantee that the UAE gets its fair share of tax revenue, this documentation must show that transactions between connected organizations are carried out at arm’s length.

Adam Global Consulting Services on Transfer Pricing in UAE

Businesses rely on consultants to navigate corporate tax policies and compliance. At Adam Global, tax professionals stay updated on Transfer Pricing Regulations to help businesses operate responsibly, maximize profits, reduce risks, and stay competitive.

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For deeper insights into Corporate Tax Law and to understand the intricacies of Transfer Pricing in the UAE, connect with our skilled chartered accountants. Discover the significant advantages that come with a comprehensive understanding of how Transfer Pricing operates in the UAE.


In conclusion, a comprehensive understanding of Transfer Pricing in the UAE is crucial for businesses to operate responsibly and efficiently within the legal framework. By aligning with global standards and staying informed about the latest regulations, businesses can ensure fair transactions and tax compliance in the dynamic landscape of corporate taxation.

In A Nutshell

Adherence to Transfer Pricing rules and regulations in UAE is paramount for businesses engaging in cross-border transactions. The approach to transfer pricing in UAE aligns with international standards, emphasizing transparency, fairness, and the arm’s length principle.

The UAE’s regulatory framework requires businesses, particularly multinational enterprises (MNEs), to meticulously document and justify their transfer pricing strategies. This documentation includes comprehensive details on pricing methods, analyses supporting those methods, and economic factors influencing pricing decisions.

To demonstrate compliance, taxable individuals within MNEs or those with significant transactions exceeding AED 200 million in revenue must produce thorough transfer pricing documents. Non-compliance can result in substantial fines, ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 100,000, underscoring the importance of strict adherence to these regulations.

Furthermore, the UAE’s commitment to global standards is evident in its participation in initiatives like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. By actively engaging in these international efforts, the UAE aims to prevent abusive transfer pricing practices and contribute to fair taxation in the global economy.

The recent implementation of transfer pricing in UAE restrictions under the Corporate Tax Law, effective June 1, 2023, is a noteworthy development. Small businesses, in particular, benefit from tax exemptions on profits up to AED 375,000, provided they can demonstrate compliance with the arm’s length principle in their transactions.

In summary, the UAE’s transfer pricing rules and regulations create a robust framework that promotes transparency, fairness, and global cooperation. Businesses operating in the UAE must navigate these regulations diligently, not only to avoid penalties but also to contribute to the broader objective of fostering a fair and equitable international tax environment.

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