Qatar retains its first-place ranking as one of the world's most tax-friendly jurisdictions

November 2016

As businesses in Qatar prepare for the introduction of VAT from January 2018, the country has retained its leading position as one of the world's most tax-friendly jurisdictions, topping the rankings in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business report together with the UAE. While many aspects of the country's performance remain in the bottom half of the 190 countries surveyed (it stands in 83rd place for overall ease of doing business), the country does show a significantly improved performance for ease of starting a business, up 21 places on last year.

Now in its 14th year, the World Bank Doing Business report assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 190 economies, ranking each on the basis of 11 criteria impacting the ease of doing business in any jurisdiction. Russell Bedford member firms have contributed to the report's Paying Taxes survey since 2009, collating data on tax regulation, recent reforms and the comparative compliance burdens on entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide.

This year's report, Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunities for All, is the first to examine the impact of regulation on female entrepreneurs, measuring disparities in their experience of starting a business, registering property, and enforcing contracts. In Qatar's case, while the report shows women being required to undergo one additional procedure not required of men, the time taken to register a business - at 9.5 days - is only one day longer for women, and considerably better than the 20.9-day average recorded across all MENA jurisdictions.

The country's performance in the Paying Taxes rankings can be traced to its light compliance regime: businesses make only four payments, involving an average 41 hours per year - in contrast to the average 208.2 hours required across MENA countries, and 163.4 hours in OECD high-income economies. The country's 11.3 per cent total tax rate is also highly competitive against the MENA average of 32.3, and the OECD high-income average of 40.9.

Hani Mukhaimer, managing partner at Russell Bedford member firm Saoud Abdulla - RBSA, commented: "Domestic and international businesses face unprecedented challenges next year in preparing for the introduction of VAT throughout the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The country's corporation tax regime, however, will not change, and on that basis Qatar will remain one of the world's most tax-friendly jurisdictions."

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