(MENAFN - Arab Times) According to experts at the recent Ernst & Young Tax Workshop 2012, held at JW Marriott, new developments in the region are impacting the local taxation environment.
The current challenges in Kuwaiti tax policies, FATCA, the Offset program and the evolving taxation landscape in relation to international tax laws and regulations were discussed in a series of sessions at the workshop. Presided by Waleed Al Osaimi, Office Managing Partner, Kuwait, Tobias Lintvelt, Partner, Tax, Ernst & Young MENA and Alok Chugh, Partner, Tax, Ernst & Young Kuwait, the workshop was attended by more than 100 participants from leading companies including those involved in large government projects, banks and financial institutions.
Al Osaimi, said: "The taxation market is rapidly evolving. These changes demonstrate Kuwait's commitment to the creation of a level playing field for businesses and the enhancement of investor friendly policies to protect the business community."
The technical workshop by Alok Chugh offered an overview of the laws and practices of Kuwaiti Corporate Income Tax, Zakat and National Labour Support Tax (NLST) and the taxation of foreign companies engaged in trade or business in the Partitioned Neutral Zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The session dealt with changes in tax regulations and the Ministry of Finance's (MOF's) practices and their impact on foreign brand owners selling through distributors in Kuwait and the enforcement of 5% tax retentions in Kuwait. References were made to the roadshows being conducted by the MOF to increase awareness amongst the Kuwaiti business community.
The workshop featured a session on the process of withholding tax (WHT) on dividends paid by companies listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE). During the discussions on VAT, it was highlighted that the MOF had formed a task force to study VAT and is currently working on implementation of VAT in Kuwait in line with other GCC countries.
Alok was assisted in his sessions by a panel consisting of Kula Kulaseelan and Tuhin Chaturvedi, Executive Directors, Ahmed Eldessouky, Executive Manager and Waleed Abdulfadeel, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young Kuwait.
The second session on Global Compliance and Reporting (GCR) by Chris Kealy, Partner and Global Leader for GCR at Ernst & Young, highlighted the need for efficient tax planning for companies with global operations and having a model that is both flexible and scalable.
Sereen S. Al Tharban, Manager Local Opportunities Division and Lana O Al- Ayyar, Manager Foreign Obligations Department, (National Offset Company) also discussed the concept and practices of the Offset Program in Kuwait. They were joined by Alok Chugh in their discussions and the question and answer session.
Ian Wheldon, Executive Manager, led the discussion on tax treaties and the need for efficient tax planning for companies having cross border operations. Amal Eldrissi, Manager in International Tax Services (ITS), Ernst & Young Kuwait and Alok Chugh took part in the discussions.
A session on transfer pricing was also presented by Seema Sharma, MENA Leader, Transfer Pricing on how tax authorities in the Middle East are becoming more sophisticated and transfer pricing issues more prevalent.
The last technical session focused on FATCA - the US tax law designed to prevent US tax-payers from avoiding tax and concealing their assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It was presented by David Watts, Senior Manager, IT Advisory & Financial Services, Ernst & Young Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, who shared his insights and statistics on the level of tax abuse by US citizens living outside the US.