The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled the world’s first paperless tax refund scheme for visitors on Wednesday.
According to Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), the system has been linked with merchants, so all receipts will be generated electronically, and tourists will no longer require to carry paper receipts of their purchases in order to obtain VAT refunds.
“The biggest challenge for tourists was to carry a lot of papers to claim the refund. When tourists make purchases, they have a printed invoice with a sticker which shows the reference number of the tourist refund code. When they come to the airport for an audit, they will check the paperwork. This is a lengthy process. Hence, we worked with our partner Planet Tax to ensure that data is ready before the tourist arrives at the airport and can collect the refund,” said Al Bustani.
He said the UAE is the first country in the world to achieve this milestone. More than 3.5 million paper invoices are expected to be converted to digital format, saving merchants up to five minutes per customer compared to generating receipts and eliminating human mistake. The paperless procedure will save over 16,800 trees per year and over 4,200 tons of CO2 emissions. According to Eyad Al Kourdi, Planet Tax Free’s general manager for the UAE, shoppers can complete a transaction, obtain a digital invoice, and share it immediately with Planet Tax Free. For purchases at a variety of hotels, shopping centers, malls, and other retail sites, the electronic tax-refund system is incorporated. Tourists leaving the UAE can use one of more than 100 self-service kiosks located at departure points for an easy, quick, and hassle-free experience.
Al Kourdi added that this initiative will help save 16,000 trees. “Safa Park in Dubai is home to 16,000 trees. That is saving not only for the environment but also give a decent amount of saving for retailers in terms of papers, printers and cartridges as major groups operate hundreds of outlets in the UAE,” he said.
Abdul Salam, financier at Dubai Gold and Adornments Gathering, said the method involved with connecting the electronic frameworks is in progress at numerous gold and gems stores which will facilitate the assortment of Tank discounts for sightseers. “Even customers will also prefer to have an electronic receipt rather than a print receipt,” he added.