VAT Public Clarification on SWIFT Messages: Streamlining Input Tax Recovery for Financial Institutions

VAT-Public-Clarification-on-SWIFT

In a move aimed at facilitating the recovery of Value Added Tax (VAT) by financial
institutions, the UAE Federal Tax Authority has issued a Public Clarification regarding the
use of SWIFT messages for recording international bank charges. Recognizing the
impracticality of maintaining tax invoices for each SWIFT transaction, the clarification sheds
light on the acceptability of SWIFT messages as sufficient documentary evidence. This
article explores the key points of the clarification, providing insights into its implications for
financial institutions operating in the UAE.

Understanding the Issue:

Financial institutions, including banks and exchange houses, engaging in international
transactions often incur VAT on international bank charges from non-resident banks. The
challenge arises when attempting to recover this VAT, as the underlying transactions are
typically evidenced by SWIFT messages. However, SWIFT messages, in their current form,
do not meet the requirements to qualify as tax invoices for UAE VAT purposes.
The Public Clarification seeks to address this issue, offering guidance on the acceptability of
SWIFT messages for documentation and input tax recovery.

Key Highlights:

Taxable Supplies and SWIFT Messages:

  • Financial institutions receiving interbank services from non-resident banks are considered to be making supplies to themselves.
  • These institutions are required to issue tax invoices to themselves for such interbank services, including international bank charges.

Documentation Challenges:

  • Traditional tax invoices for each SWIFT transaction would be impractical given the high volumes of SWIFT messages received daily.
  • SWIFT messages, while containing essential transaction information, do not confirm to the standard tax invoice format.

Acceptance of SWIFT Messages:

  • The Authority through this Public Clarification acknowledges the administrative burden and accepts SWIFT messages as sufficient records for documenting interbank services, provided they meet certain criteria. If the mentioned criteria is met, these messages will be known as a “Qualifying SWIFT message”.
  • A “Qualifying SWIFT message” must include specific information, such as names and addresses of involved parties, date of the transaction, SWIFT message reference number, transaction reference number, and a description of the transaction

Tax Invoice Exemption

  • Article 59(7)(b) of the Executive Regulation allows exemptions from issuing tax invoices in cases where there are sufficient records available, and it is impractical to issue invoices
VAT Public Clarification on SWIFT Messages: Streamlining Input Tax Recovery for Financial Institutions

Implications for Financial Institutions:

Simplified Documentation:

  • Financial institutions are relieved from the burden of issuing tax invoices for each SWIFT transaction as now the SWIFT messages that are meeting the specified criteria serve as acceptable documentary evidence

Input Tax Recovery:

  • Financial institutions can recover input tax related to international bank charges incurred for making taxable supplies.
  • The recovery process follows standard Input VAT rules, with a focus on meeting the conditions listed out in Article 55(5) of the Executive Regulation for the recovery of Input VAT.

Compliance Considerations:

  • Financial institutions should ensure that SWIFT messages meet the criteria outlined in the Public Clarification.
  • Compliance with VAT regulations remains crucial, and institutions must align their practices with the already provided guidelines for recovery of Input VAT.

Conclusion:
The Public Clarification represents a practical approach to the challenges faced by financial
institutions in documenting international bank charges through SWIFT messages. By
accepting “Qualifying SWIFT messages” as a valid documentary evidence, the UAE Federal
Tax Authority aims to streamline processes, reduce administrative burdens, and ease the
process of fostering compliance. Financial institutions should review their practices in light
of this clarification to ensure smooth VAT recovery while meeting regulatory requirements

FAQs: VAT Public Clarification on SWIFT Messages for Financial Institutions

Q1: What is the purpose of the Public Clarification issued by the UAE Federal Tax
Authority?

A: The Public Clarification aims to provide guidance to financial institutions, including
banks and exchange houses, regarding the acceptability of “Qualifying SWIFT messages” as
documentation for the recovery of Value Added Tax (VAT) on international bank charges.

Q2: Why are SWIFT messages considered in the context of VAT recovery?
A: Financial institutions often incur VAT on international bank charges from non-resident
banks, and the underlying transactions are typically evidenced by SWIFT messages. The
challenge arises in recovering VAT as SWIFT messages do not meet the standard tax invoice
requirements

Q3: What does the Clarification say about taxable supplies and SWIFT messages?
A: Financial institutions receiving interbank services from non-resident banks are considered
to be making supplies to themselves. They are required to issue tax invoices for these
interbank services. However, the Authority through this Clarification acknowledges the
impracticality of issuing tax invoices for each SWIFT transaction.

Q4: How does the Clarification address the challenge of documentation for financial
institutions?

A: The Public Clarification recognizes the administrative burden of issuing tax invoices for
each SWIFT transaction and accepts SWIFT messages as sufficient records to establish the
particulars of the supply, provided they meet the specified criteria.

Q5: What information must be included in a “Qualifying SWIFT message” according
to the Clarification?

A: The SWIFT message must include specific information such as names and addresses of
involved parties, date of the transaction, SWIFT message reference number, transaction
reference number, description of the transaction, and consideration charged with the currency
used. If the SWIFT message meets the mentioned criteria, only then will it be included as a
“Qualifying SWIFT message”

Q6: Is there an exemption from issuing tax invoices for SWIFT transactions?
A: Yes, Article 59(7)(b) of the Executive Regulation allows exemptions from issuing tax
invoices in cases where there are sufficient records available, provided that Financial
institutions are aligning themselves with the outlined criteria.
Financial institutions are relieved from the burden of issuing tax invoices for each SWIFT
transaction, streamlining the documentation process. SWIFT messages meeting the specified
criteria are accepted as valid documentary evidence.

Q7: What are the implications for input tax recovery for financial institutions?
A: The recovery process follows standard Input VAT rules, with a focus on meeting the
conditions listed out in Article 55(5) of the Executive Regulation for the recovery of Input
VAT.

Q8: What considerations should financial institutions keep in mind for compliance?
A: Financial institutions should ensure that SWIFT messages meet the criteria outlined in the
Public Clarification. Compliance with VAT regulations remains crucial, and institutions must
align their practices with the provided guidelines.

Q9: How should financial institutions adapt their practices in light of this Clarification?
A: Financial institutions should review their documentation practices to ensure they align
with the provided guidelines. This includes verifying that SWIFT messages contain the
necessary information outlined in the Clarification for VAT recovery.

There are no comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start typing to search

Shopping Cart
Translate »