By Staff writer
Ibrahim Al Assaf says plan needed revising following reports of SR150m for implementing duty on expats
Saudi Arabia’s finance minister has denied reports that the kingdom was set to impose income tax on citizens and expats, local media said on Thursday.
Ibrahim Al Assaf insisted the proposal was old and in need of revision, but admitted it was still among plans under consideration by the Ministry of Finance.
A National Transformation Plan (NTP) of economic reforms, published on Monday, said that SR150 million ($40 million) had been set aside for preparing and implementing a tax on expats, but Al Assaf said no decision had yet been taken.
Still, the proposal has prompted concern among residents and expats alike. This week, Reuters quoted Ammr Baghdane, an American manager at an unnamed retail group as saying: “If they impose income tax on expats and do not offer any benefits in return, such as house ownership and the right to own assets under my name, then I would pack up and leave.”
Addressing a joint press conference on Tuesday night, Al Assaf said the NTP would lead the national economy into a new phase of growth and stability, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
“Financial stability is significant in any economy in its drive to achieve balance and stability in the realms of public financing, exchange rates and inflation,” he was quoted as saying.
The key goals are related to boosting non-oil resources, financial governance and technology, and preserving the state’s assets.
The NTP is a key mechanism for realising Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic strategy, but to do this, the kingdom needs to raise the standard of judicial services, including reducing litigations, strengthening real estate law and expanding the role of judiciary to offer reconciliation services and other alternative means of settling disputes, Saudi Gazette reported.
KSA is a very difficult country to live in for all expats irrespective of income, I think the only reason we all work there is the tax-free environment. If that is lost why would we stay?
I think there is lot of focus on headline elements like no tax income. It is always hard for me to know why other people do things, sometimes it is even hard to understand why i do them myself, but I believe that the main drive for people coming to the GCC it is the savings potential.
Taxes compensated with higher income levels should attract exactly the same level of people, or alternatively, an environment with taxes but lower living costs (rental) could be ceteris paribus as attractive or more as a more expensive tax free environment.
Further, taxes that translate into a proper legal and regulatory environment could make a destination like UAE more attractive, taxes with same income levels could have an negative impact to attract talent... Taxes are just an element of a big picture, and people should realise that they are coming if not now in no more than 5 years probably and start preparing for it.