MANAMA: Reforms that would change and shape the tax landscape in Bahrain over the coming years are already in play, a leading expert has said.

Audit and advisory firm KPMG in Bahrain’s partner and head of tax and corporate services Mubeen Khadir told a webinar, “We are witnessing several reforms that would change and shape the tax landscape in Bahrain over the coming years – from the already introduced Economic Substance Rules (ESR), Country by Country (CbC) reporting requirements to the potential for corporate tax as a result of the historic agreement by 130 countries on a global minimum tax.”

During the virtual meeting, Mr Khadir led a review of key learnings since the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in the country on January 1, 2019 and what businesses can expect going forward.

The webinar had the upcoming 1,000-day milestone since VAT as its theme.

It was revealed that the Bahrain government has generated revenue of BD934 million from duties and taxes in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Also speaking was the firm’s tax and corporate services senior manager Omar Hisham who said the National Bureau of Revenue (NBR) has revamped its website, centralising all VAT information and services in one place for the convenience of all businesses.

“Since the implementation of VAT in Bahrain, the NBR has issued more than 20 guides and six public clarifications. Until last year, certain NBR services or requests, such as VAT group registration applications and assessment review requests, were being processed via email. Today, taxpayers do not have to navigate through such complexities,” he added.

“A very useful facility on the NBR portal is the ability to obtain tax rulings on the NBR’s view in relation to specific tax positions. I believe this will help bring about a lot of certainty and clarity to many taxpayers when it comes to complex and large transactions.”

Shashank Chandak, tax and corporate services manager at KPMG in Bahrain, reflected on the previous VAT cycles and showcased some of the key challenges faced.

“Late tax filing, late payments and incorrect VAT treatment are among the key challenges faced by taxpayers in Bahrain. Depending on the period of default, the NBR has applied late filing and late payment penalties of up to 51 per cent of the tax amount,” added Mr Chandak.

The event was attended by more than 120 representatives from the local and international business community.

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