Indirect Tax News - May 2020

EXPO 2020 postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis

The EXPO 2020 Dubai steering committee and the Bureau International Des Expositions have agreed to postpone EXPO 2020 to 2021. It is now expected to run from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022.

Revised arrangements expected for EXPO

Under special rules introduced for EXPO 2020, official participants are entitled to claim VAT paid on certain categories of goods and services that are directly connected with the construction, installation, and alteration of the exhibition spaces, activities directly related to organising and operating exhibition spaces, and other operational costs.

The VAT refund process comprises two phases:

  • Phase 1 covers all invoices received from 13 March 2018 to 31 January 2020. Here the refund is to be processed through the EXPO Portal.
  • Phase 2 was scheduled to run from February 2020 until the decommissioning phase. In this phase, eligible participants are expected to register for VAT and claim any refund through VAT returns.

The confirmation on the revised date for EXPO 2020 is yet to be announced officially. However, once it is confirmed it is likely there will be changes to the arrangements and timelines for the two phases.

We expect an update on the EXPO 2020 Dubai refund scheme in due course.

COVID-19 measures announced by the UAE


The UAE Tax authority issued an exceptional directive to extend the deadline for filing and paying VAT returns for quarterly and monthly periods ended 31 March 2020. The revised deadline will be 28 May 2020. The normal deadline for these returns would be 28 April.

Excise tax

The deadline for the excise tax return filing for the period of March 2020 has been extended by a month from 17 April to 17 May. As a result, businesses will now file the excise tax returns, and pay the related tax, for both March and April 2020 on the extended deadline.


The Dubai Customs Authority recently released a notice announcing customs duty reliefs during importation. These reliefs apply to imports during the period of 15 March to 30 June 2020 and include a refund of 1% of the customs duty imposed on imported goods sold into the UAE. These goods would normally be subject to a customs duty rate of 5%.

This only applies to the Emirate of Dubai. No other Emirates have announced customs duty reliefs.

Brian Conn

Nishi Jabeen