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Saudi VAT Hike Reasons and Impacts

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In 2023, Saudi Arabia will increase Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 15%. When people buy goods or services, they will now need to pay more tax to the government than before. 

Why Did Saudi Arabia Take This Step?

There are some key reasons why Saudi decided to raise the VAT rate:

Fund Major Development Projects

  • Saudi has huge goals for changing and modernizing the country under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan. 
  • They want to reduce dependence on oil money and transform the economy. 
  • For undertaking massive projects like the futuristic NEOM city, entertainment venues, and infrastructure upgrades, Saudi needs to generate more tax revenue.

Manage Growing Budget Deficits 

  • In the last few years, Saudi Arabia has faced budget shortfalls with lower cash flows coming from oil exports. 
  • As oil prices dropped globally, the money Saudi earned also fell leading to deficits.
  • Increasing VAT will help bridge some of this gap between income and spending needs.

Match VAT Rates in other Gulf Countries

  • Saudi wants to standardize the 15% VAT rate already in place in neighboring regions like the UAE. 
  • Having the same rate makes trade and doing business easier across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

How Will Businesses be Affected?

Higher VAT will impact companies in Saudi Arabia in the following aspects:

Financial Planning Needs

  • With a 15% tax rate instead of 5%, Saudi companies must now set aside more money to pay VAT. 
  • Businesses need to account for this extra cost in their financial plans and yearly budgets.

Operational Costs Will Rise 

Potential Price Increases 

  • To maintain existing profitability levels despite higher VAT costs, some companies may increase prices for their products and services.  
  • But raising prices too much risks lowering consumer demand, so it needs to be balanced.

Added Administrative Work

  • Companies must invest effort to update their invoices, receipts, billing systems, and accounting processes to the new 15% tax rate.
  • Staff may also need retraining to ensure VAT compliance at the higher rate.

Will There Also Be Benefits?

While the VAT increase poses challenges for local businesses, some positive outcomes are also expected in the longer term:

Revenue for Delivering Vision 2030

  • Extra income from higher VAT will fund Saudi’s ambitious Vision 2030 initiatives like building new cities and infrastructure.
  • As these mega projects are completed over the next decade, they can catalyse economic growth.

Attract More Foreign Investment 

  • With new cities, entertainment zones, and infrastructure coming up from Vision 2030 investments, Saudi may attract more overseas businesses and professionals.  

Streamlined Tax Compliance

  • A unified 15% VAT will ease compliance across Saudi and the GCC region promoting greater efficiency.


  • Saudi Arabia’s VAT rise to 15% aims to generate government revenue for funding Vision 2030 development goals and stabilize budget deficits.  
  • The higher tax rate will lead to increased costs and workload for companies in the kingdom.  
  • Consumer spending may also adjust slightly as prices change.  
  • But finances from the VAT hike can facilitate Saudi’s economic growth and diversification objectives through large-scale projects.  
  • Businesses should plan well in advance for this major tax policy shift coming into effect from January 2023.


When will the new rate apply?

The VAT increase to 15% will come into effect in Saudi Arabia from January 1, 2023.

What goods & services are exempt from VAT?

Certain essential products like unprocessed food items, healthcare, education, public transport are exempt from VAT payments.

How can businesses prepare themselves? 

Companies operating in Saudi can proactively budget for the VAT increase, adjust invoices/billing systems, and re-evaluate pricing strategies if required.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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