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| 14 January, 2018

Shopping tips: How consumers can avoid being overcharged for VAT?

Shoppers should be aware that they are liable to pay only for those tax invoices on which TRN is mentioned.

Image used for illustrative purpose.
A customer shops at a Carrefour supermarket in a shopping mall in Dubai, February 6, 2012. Image for illustrative purposes.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A customer shops at a Carrefour supermarket in a shopping mall in Dubai, February 6, 2012. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh
Consumers still have limited knowledge about VAT, which is why unregistered retailers are able to continue overcharging them, said CA Naveen Sharma, chairman of ICAI Dubai chapter and director of internal audit at Al Shirawi Group.

"The first thing the consumer should do is to check for the retailer's TRN and VAT amount on the invoice," he said. "It is compulsory for the registered retailers to provide their TRN and they must mention the VAT amount separately on the tax invoice. If the TRN is not there or the VAT amount is not properly mentioned, consumers are not liable to pay VAT. Secondly, retailers are not allowed to increase the price due to VAT."

If consumers come across any of these cases, they can complain by calling on +971 600 54555 or by e-mailing the issue to 'consumerrights@dubaided.gov.ae'.

"Shoppers should be aware that they are liable to pay only for those tax invoices on which TRN is mentioned and VAT amount is properly calculated and shown separately," Sharma stressed. "Normally, for purchases up to Dh10,000, shopkeepers can issue simplified invoices. It means there is no need to mention the VAT amount line wise. They can mention the VAT amount for the whole purchase also but it should be separately shown on the invoice."

Sharma also said that consumers should read and understand the law so they can differentiate between standard rated supply, zero rated supply and exempt supply. Not all transactions in the UAE are standard rated; some are zero rated and some are exempt from the tax like the supply of residential property, school fees, transport and government-related charges.

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"Consumers should plan their expenses every month and try to stick with the plan. Consumers who are eligible should look for credit card options which provide a good percentage of cashback on the card. It will not help them to recover their VAT expenses totally but they will able to lower their monthly expense to some extent," he advised.

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