How is your business dealing with VAT?

Ross MacKenzie

The UAE and Saudi Arabia began implementing Value Added Tax (VAT) at the beginning of this year as part of a planned GCC-wide levy aimed at generating new government revenue streams. The remaining GCC members – Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar - are to follow suit by January 2019. The implementation represents a major step forward in the building of a GCC-wide regulatory framework with businesses being subject to the tax, responsible for maintaining company accounts which carefully document their income, costs and associated VAT charges and making regular reports to the relevant authorities. In the UAE, this is the Federal Tax Authority.

Registered businesses and traders must charge VAT to all their customers at the prevailing rate of 5% and incur VAT on goods/services that they buy from suppliers. The difference between the VAT charged and that paid out is reclaimed or paid to the government.

What is VAT?

It’s a consumption type sales tax, sometimes known as a Goods and Services Tax. It’s now levied in 150 countries on most goods and services that are bought and sold.<

VAT is charged at each step of the supply chain right through to the end customer, with each business along the chain responsible for collecting, accounting for and paying the tax to the government. Businesses are eligible for government refunds for VAT paid to suppliers.

How does VAT affect businesses?

It’s essential that businesses understand the implications of VAT and align their financial models to government reporting and compliance requirements. Importantly VAT implementation requires your business records, all financial transactions and company accounts are accurate and up-to-date. Company records need to be detailed accounts which allow the authorities to identify details of business activities and review transactions. Further, all accounts should be kept for at least five years and can be subject to a government audit at any time.

This involves huge changes in the way many Gulf companies have previously operated. Here’s three key issues to bear in mind:

  • Companies can no longer use Excel to manage accounts
  • Suspicious reporting will be subject to VAT audits
  • VAT is liable, whether, or not, a business has received payment for an invoice

This all marks a change in the Gulf’s regulatory environment and businesses now need to look at their core financial operations and supporting technology, to ensure their financial processes can meet compliance requirements or face substantial penalties, including hefty fines.

Digital Transformation Drive

Today, digital innovation is disrupting how every industry operates, accelerating activities, processes and competencies faster than ever while supporting businesses in achieving key goals that help retain competitive advantage – and businesses in the Gulf are no exception.

Encouraging insights have arisen from a recent survey of C-suite executives, from Chairmen to CEOs and General Managers, of UAE companies with all expressing resounding belief that the digital economy is now expanding throughout the Arabian Gulf.

A majority (81%) of survey respondents, from a variety of segments including tourism, retail, finance, insurance, construction, chemicals, healthcare, automotive, real estate and marine, say they’ve definitive plans to boost their digital capabilities this year with the remainder saying they’re considering it. The survey also reveals that 97% of the C-suite respondents are fully convinced that digital assets will improve their competitiveness.

“Industry research is consistently proving that from improved customer service to more productive employees there are endless benefits to ‘going digital.’ The MIT Center for Digital Business reports that businesses that do implement digital transformation strategies are 26% more profitable than their competitors.” Altaf Alimohamed, Managing Director, Cobweb Solutions, UAE.

To remain relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses must now:

  • Constantly engage with customers
  • Motivate and empower employees to achieve more
  • Transform products and services with digital content
  • Optimize business operations and remain cutting edge

To optimise business operations, you need to know what's happening in the market now – and what’s likely to happen in the future – which is where intelligent reporting and analytics come in.

Seizing the opportunity with Cobweb CompleteFinance: compliancy and more

The arrival of VAT compels companies to assess financial compliance solutions, which also gives them the opportunity to review their processes and potential requirements for the next three-to-four years. Comprehensive evaluation now will make for more considered decisions which will also help businesses modernize IT for the digital economy. It’s a golden opportunity, which goes well beyond a simple accountancy package, and to seize it, businesses should be asking:

  • How should we change our business processes to stay relevant in the digital economy?
  • Should we buy a CRM solution, and will it help increase our sales pipeline?
  • Should we embrace digital marketing to reach new prospects and stay in touch with current customers?
  • Would a properly managed helpdesk improve our client servicing?
  • Do we need a field service component?

Cobweb CompleteFinance is an all-round VAT compliancy and digital transformation aid. It’s a cloud-based accounting solution built around the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan with a financial add-on module, only available through Cobweb, which enables businesses to become VAT compliant. The unique and powerful combination of the Customer Engagement Plan & the Cobweb Finance module, gives SMEs a mini Enterprise Resource Plan that allows for an end-to-end digital transformation strategy.

And, because it’s been developed specifically for SMEs, there is also no minimum Dynamics license requirement – whereas, Microsoft stipulates a minimum purchase of 20.

SMEs opting for the Cobweb CompleteFinance package can feel confident knowing that:

  • It's affordable
  • It enables VAT compliancy (providing the set-up is correctly applied)
  • Their data is protected on the cloud by the Microsoft service
  • They no longer need on-premise hardware and software just an internet connection and appropriate user access rights
  • Their financial consultant can gain access to the solution from anywhere
  • They can also opt for the Cobweb CompleteSMB for Office 365 add-on service, to further enhance productivity and security
  • They will have access to additional modules (at no extra cost) – sales, customer service, project service automation, field service, Microsoft social engagement – with Cobweb cloud consultants ready to guide them through every step

What is Cobweb CompleteFinance

Cobweb CompleteFinance comprises the following technology components:

Description Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Dynamics Engagement Plan 1 User 2 Users 3 Users 5 Users
Dynamics Team Member 1 User 2 Users 3 Users 5 Users
Cobweb VAT Finance Module Users 2 Users 4 Users 6 Users  10 Users
Price in AED/Month 625 1,250 1,795  2,890 

Cobweb CompleteFinance: Finance and Accounting Software — all the tools needed to maintain company accounts.

Customer Engagement Plan Sales: track leads, develop into opportunities and convert to orders, then utilise sales intel to grow your business Customer service: support cusomters, increase engagement, and track outstanding requests Project Service Automation: manage end-to-end customer projects, incorporating scheduling, costing and time-related expenses Field Service Work: orders are fully integrated with Customer Service, work order management and dispatch scheduling is enhanced to provide best-in-class field service Microsoft Social Engagement: analyze the sentiments of social networking data. Track sales and service discussions on social channels Power Apps: an enterprise that quickly creates and deploys business applications — has definite competitor advantages. Microsoft Power Apps couid help

Created with SMEs in mind

Most SMEs want more than just a technology or software solution. They also want consultative support and guidance to help them navigate the complexities that can arise as an economy transitions from a zero-tax, non-regulated economy to a tax-regulated and compliance environment.

Our financial consultative package, developed with financial professionals, offers a suite of services to support businesses as they transition through this changing business scenario – an affordable package specifically tailored for SMEs.

Cobweb CompleteFinance incorporates the following financial services, delivered by trusted third party specialist consultants.

  Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Turnover Bands Up to AED 750,000 AED 750,000 to 2,500,000 AED 2,500,000 to
AED 7,500,000 to 25,000,000
Initial Consultation        
Initial Setup        
Company Account Setup
Invoice Template
Purchase Order Template
VAT Registration
Finance & VAT        
Accounting & Book Keeping
Payroll Management X O
Inventory Management X O
Receivable / Payables Management X O
VAT Impact Analysis O O O O
Filing VAT Returns
Financial Reporting Annually Bi-Annually Quarterly Monthly
Profit & Loss Statement
Balance Sheet
Cash Flow Management
KPI Review X O 
Budgeting & Variance Analysis
Audit & Intelligence        
Financial Audit O O O
VAT Audit (Assistance) O O
Business Intelligence Reports X O O

✔ = included X = not included O = optional add-on

Terms and Conditions apply:

  • Payment terms for all services are monthly in advance
  • Final financial services pricing may vary depending on pre-onboarding consultation
  • 25m and above customized to meet organisation objectives

All above pricing excludes VAT which will be applied as per FTA guidelines

Why Cobweb CompleteFinance?

Because the Cobweb CompleteFinance components enable organizations to grow their business intelligently. Just have a look below at how the package stacks up against an on-premises service:

  CC Finance Other
Cloud based X
Built-in CRM 3rd party add-on*
Built-in field service 3rd party add-on*
Built-in customer service  3rd party add-on*
Requires on-premise hardware X ✔**
Data back-up
Additional cost
Local support ✔ (only for multi-user licensed version)
Pricing model Monthly recurring fee Perpetual license
1st year license fee Contact us for details Contact us for details

*Additional fees apply

**Multi-users must connect on the same LAN

It’s plain to see that Cobweb CompleteFinance offers a more complete solution:

  • The technology components create almost a full ERP at a SME price
  • Customers have access to implement Sales, Customer Service, Project Service Automation, Field Service, Microsoft Social Engagement, at no extra cost – tools which enable SMEs to engage with customers and prospects and compete with bigger companies.

“Many companies are missing out on digital transformation opportunities because their own inhouse IT resources are too bogged down with day-to-day requirements to focus on planning and strategy alignment while management is overwhelmed by the prospective of staff training which would need to be put in place.

“This is where a managed service solution comes into its own. It frees up the in-house resources, so they can focus on immediate and future business requirements while the managed service experts take over responsibility for training in the applications judged most suitable for the individual business after a thorough ‘needs health check.’” Altaf Alimohamed. Managing Director, Cobweb Solutions UAE.

All Cobweb Complete packages consist of carefully thought-through products and services with SMEs’ specific requirements at their core.

Want to find out more about Cobweb CompleteFinance? Why not download our free guide, Cobweb CompleteFinance: The Road to VAT Compliance for the SME to discover more.

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