Posted on December 04, 2018

Qatar-based professional services firm KPMG held a seminar on Tuesday 4 December 2018 to shed light on the ever-evolving tax and regulatory framework in the country and beyond.

At the event, titled ‘Navigating the future’, KPMG’s Head of Tax and Corporate Services Barbara Henzen explained to over 150 tax and finance leaders that the most important part about changes to tax regimes is to be prepared, stating: “taxation is an important part of sustaining a country’s economy and an inevitable part of running a business. Whilst in Qatar, we are lucky to have low taxes; it is likely that this will change gradually in coming years as the country continues to establish itself as a global power. Businesses need to ensure that they are fully aware of, and prepared for, new and evolving taxes to avoid penalties for non-compliance and ensure that they are managing their tax obligations in the most efficient way possible.”

Salah Gueydi, Director of Tax at Qatar Financial Centre was the keynote speaker at the event and briefed guests on the developments and key changes that are occurring to Qatar’s tax landscape, discussing not only domestic but also international factors that have shaped Qatar’s tax policy so far. He also discussed the ways in which Qatar is trying to modernize its tax system and meet international standards. He stated that: “While the ever changing international tax landscape poses a challenge to tax policy makers and tax administrations, it also offers an opportunity to reassess the policies and adapt the tax regime to be fair, efficient and transparent in light of international standards. Qatar has committed to all relevant international initiatives and has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, them. We, at the QFC, are very proud to work closely with Qatar’s Competent Authority in this respect”.

Henzen and KPMG in Qatar’s Tax Director David Snowden, talked on a number of subjects including the upcoming implementation of value-added tax (VAT) and lessons learned from other countries. Henzen explained that many countries showed a lack of VAT awareness prior to implementation, resulting in many commercial disputes leading to cash flow issues due to delays or non-payment of invoices. She also noted that some businesses experienced significant challenges with offsetting the VAT they pay against the VAT they charge. Storing and submitting incorrect documentation and record keeping were also highlighted as causing issues for businesses who had not prepared effectively.

The seminar also covered Common Reporting Standards (CRS), a global anti-tax avoidance and evasion scheme issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which has recently been implemented in Qatar. On this Snowden noted: “With over 100 countries signing up to CRS, by implementing the principles locally, Qatar has demonstrated its commitment to ethical and transparent economic activity. There are a number of important steps that business should make to ensure that the information that they hold about their transactions and activity is accurate, safe and ethically used”. 

The seminar also covered a number of international tax developments, which could impact businesses with overseas operations including the OECD’s Action Plan to address base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and combat aggressive tax planning, and country-by-country reporting and transfer pricing, which help to identify tax evaders and assets unethically held off-shore.  For Qatari parented groups these are very important as they have the potential to impact after-tax cash flow.

KPMG has one of the largest tax teams in Qatar, employing over 25 specialist staff, well equipped to deal with clients’ in-country and overseas tax needs.