08 March 2024

Manasi Dicholkar

In a landmark move, Dubai has introduced a new law imposing a 20% annual tax on foreign banks operating within the emirate. This development, announced on March 7, 2024, marks a significant shift in the financial regulatory landscape of Dubai, aiming to ensure that foreign banks contribute their fair share to the local economy. 

Dubai: The law encompasses all foreign banks across Dubai, including those in special development zones and free zones, with the exception of those in the Dubai Financial Centre.

Key Provisions of the New Tax Law

The law mandates a 20% tax on the taxable income of foreign banks, from which the corporate tax rate, if already paid under the Corporate Tax Law, will be deducted. It outlines the methodology for calculating taxable income, the procedures for tax return submission and payment, and the auditing processes. Furthermore, it details the rights of banks under tax audit and the mechanisms for lodging objections against tax assessments or fines with Dubai’s Department of Finance.

Violations of this law and the corresponding penalties have been clearly defined, with fines not exceeding Dh500,000 for initial infractions. For repeat violations within a two-year period, fines may double, reaching up to Dh1 million.

Implications and Compliance

This tax reform is expected to have wide-ranging implications for foreign banks operating in Dubai. It necessitates a thorough review of their current operational and financial strategies to ensure compliance with the new tax obligations. Moreover, the law strengthens the regulatory framework for the banking sector in Dubai, aligning it with international standards and practices.

Foreign banks are now tasked with navigating the complexities of this new tax landscape, which includes understanding the detailed rules for taxable income calculation, tax return submission, and the audit process. The ability to object to tax assessments and fines provides a mechanism for banks to ensure fair treatment under the law.

Looking Forward

The introduction of this tax represents Dubai's commitment to creating a balanced and equitable economic environment. It underscores the importance of foreign banks in the local economy, while also ensuring that they contribute appropriately. As the financial landscape continues to evolve, the implications of this tax for foreign banks, the broader banking sector, and Dubai's economy will be closely watched.


This move by Dubai to tax foreign banks is a significant step towards ensuring fiscal equity and regulatory compliance. It highlights the emirate's proactive approach to financial regulation and its commitment to maintaining a competitive yet fair economic environment.


ALKETBI team is highly skilled and frequently provides legal assistance specializing in sustaining companies in their expansion and development, while believing in Dubai International capacities. If you request further guidance with relation to taxation as a foreign entity in Dubai and the UAE, Let us know!

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