Many citizens believe that the government's decision to impose an income tax on individuals is a new development. However, the issue dates back to 2020, when it was first raised as part of the country’s economic development plan for 2020-2024.

A decision to implement personal income tax was anticipated in 2022, at the height of the pandemic, but it was postponed. Now, there is renewed talk of imminent action, with plans to implement the new tax at the beginning of 2025.

Any government decision has positive or negative consequences on people's lives, particularly concerning business, employment, and personal finances. This is especially critical as the government is trying to attract more foreign investments by offering favorable investment conditions, which would be undermined by high taxes.

The issue of taxes is connected to the external debt that Oman has faced in recent years. This prompted the adoption of a financial balance plan to reduce the annual deficit and continue repaying external debt, which was RO 21.7 billion ($56.4 billion) in 2021 and has since decreased to RO 15.1 billion ($39 billion) according to the latest figures. This reduction has led to an improved credit rating and a more positive future outlook for the country.

The government is exploring alternatives to correct financial conditions and continue providing services. The key question is how much revenue the government can generate from imposing an income tax on individuals in a region known for its fierce competition in attracting foreign investments and offering many free services. This move would be unprecedented in the region, at a time when the country's credit rating is improving and both public and private institutions are better positioned to attract more foreign investments, particularly with the rise in oil prices and increased daily oil production.

Oman’s medium-term financial plan since 2020 has successfully reduced public debt, diversified national income sources, stimulated economic growth, provided more jobs for Omanis, and implemented various developmental projects. Imposing an income tax on individuals could disrupt this plan and its objectives. The potential harm to the national economy suggests that it would be wise to thoroughly discuss all aspects of this policy before implementation. Many merchants and wealthy individuals in Oman already pay annual Zakat according to Islamic law. However, the primary concern lies in the risk of global oil prices declining below expectations, which could push the government to consider alternatives, including imposing an income tax on individuals.

If Oman decides to implement an income tax on individuals, it will be the first Gulf country to do so. Several Gulf countries have recently announced their intention to impose this tax to enhance the economic environment and investment opportunities. Oman must consider these factors to remain competitive with other countries in the region.

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