The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has launched a new app that makes claiming VAT refunds a lot easier. Tourists no longer have to keep all of their printed purchase receipts to get a refund — as everything is done digitally.

The new app – Tourist Refund – has been launched at the ongoing Gitex Global exhibition in Dubai.

“Tourists can download the app through FTA services provider firm Planet. When a tourist buys any item from the UAE store, the merchant scans the invoice and it will be recorded in the app. The newly launched application will have information on each transaction he bought as well the amount of VAT he can claim upon exiting the country,” said Zahra Al Dahmani, director of the Taxpayer Services Department at FTA.

“When exiting the UAE, the tourist will go to designated places at the airport and show the invoices in the app to claim his/her refund either in cash or transfer in credit card. This new app will save the hassle of standing in the queue as it is completely automated,” Al Dahmani told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Gitex Global, the world’s largest technology exhibition.

Dubai welcomed 8.55 million international visitors with 20 per cent growth in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period last year, exceeding the number recorded prior to Covid-19, when the city welcomed 8.36 million international visitors in the first half of 2019, according to figures from Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.

The Tourist Refund is currently on the Android platform and will be available for Apple devices by the end of this year.

The UAE implemented a five per cent value-added tax (VAT) in 2018 on consumer goods. However, tourists can claim a refund when exiting the country from ports, land borders, and airports.

The authority is also showcasing its new app under Emaratax Platform.

“This app has all the services that are provided to different taxable persons, taxpayers tax agents, and UAE residents who are entitled to get a refund from FTA with regards to their home construction. People can access it through UAE Pass,” said Al Dahmani.

The new app – Maskani – expedited the refund and reduced the time for a refund from 20 working days to just five.

Al Dahmani urged companies to start registering for the corporate tax, which was implemented in June 2023. “They should do it in time because FTA requires time also to review applications,” she added.

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