ESR Audit Process in UAE

In today’s developing regulatory landscape, Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) have emerged as an essential framework that governs business operations. These regulations require and ensure entities show genuine Economic Substance within the jurisdictions where they operate. Compliance with ESR adopts transparency and fair taxation. This article explains the details of the ESR audit processes, in light of their significance and considerations. Thus, it is advised for Licensees to consult ESR Consultants to effectively ensure compliance with ESR regulations.  

ESR Audit Process

Here are some key points that you have to know about ESR Audit Process;

Purpose of an ESR Audit

The purpose of an ESR audit is to evaluate and verify an entity’s compliance with the Economic Substance Regulations (ESR).

These audits play an essential role in ensuring that businesses working in jurisdictions with ESR requirements are openly conducting their core income-generating activities within those authorities. The main objective is to determine if an entity has;

  • Economic Substance
  • Meaning it has Adequate Resources
  • Personnel
  • Infrastructure

They are just to carry out their operations in a meaningful and substantial manner.

Entities Subject to ESR Audit

ESR audits are valid for a wide range of entities such as firms, partnerships, branches, and other legal entities involved in relevant activities as defined by the regulations. Such activities typically include;

  • Distribution and Service Centre
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Fund Management
  • Shipping
  • Intellectual Property
  • Holding Company Activities

Irrespective of the entity’s size or structure, if it falls within the space of ESR requirements, it may be subject to an ESR audit.

ESR Audit Timelines and Deadlines

ESR audit timelines and deadlines differ depending on the authority and the specific regulations in place. Usually, entities are required to validate compliance with the ESR from the start of their financial year following the introduction of the regulations.

For prevailing entities, this may mean reflective compliance from an elected date. The deadline for filing the ESR audit report also differs, but it is usually within a few months after the end of the financial year. Entities are required to be aware of the specific timelines and deadlines in their particular jurisdictions to ensure timely preparation and submission of the required documentation and reports.

How to Prepare for an ESR Audit?

To prepare for an ESR Audit, the following steps are necessary to perform;

Assessing your entity’s ESR compliance

The first step in preparing for an ESR audit is to evaluate your entity’s compliance with the ESR requirements. This includes conducting a detailed review of your operations, activities, and organizational structure to ensure alliance with the specified economic substance criteria.

Assess if your entity’s core income-generating activities are conducted within the dominion, and assess the competence of resources, personnel, and infrastructure employed.

Gathering relevant documentation

To upkeep your ESR compliance and prepare for an audit, it is important to gather and organize all applicable documentation. This includes;

  • Financial Records
  • Contracts
  • Agreements
  • Employee Information
  • Supporting Evidence That Demonstrates Entity’s Economic Substance

Maintain appropriate documentation that validates your compliance efforts, ensuring transparency and ease during the audit process.

 Conducting an internal ESR audit

Conducting an internal ESR audit before the official audit can help classify any compliance gaps or areas of improvement. Analysis of your entity’s policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure they support the ESR requirements.

Consider engaging professionals with expertise in ESR compliance such as Farahat and Co. to conduct a sovereign review of your operations, classifying any potential non-compliance issues and providing sanctions for remediation. 

What are the Common Challenges and Top Practices in ESR Audit?

Here are some collective challenges faced during ESR audits and top practices to overcome them;

Clarification of ESR requirements

The composite nature of ESR regulations can lead to fluctuating interpretations. It is essential to have a vibrant understanding of the regulations and seek proficient guidance to interpret them accurately.

Gathering comprehensive documentation

Gathering related documentation to validate economic substance can be a daunting task. Maintaining correct records throughout the year can ease the process.

 Assessing economic substance adequacy

Assessing if an entity’s activities meet the obligatory economic substance standards can be challenging. Regular internal assessments, benchmarking against industry ideals, and engaging external specialists can help ensure the adequacy of economic substance.

Ongoing compliance monitoring

Applying internal controls, conducting periodic internal audits, and staying up-to-date with regulatory changes are necessary to keep ongoing compliance. 

What are the Penalties for Non-Compliance with ESR Audit?

Businesses failing to meet the approved economic substance standards may face the following penalties;

Financial Penalties

Non-compliant entities accrue financial fines, which vary based on the authority and the severity of the non-compliance.

Loss of Tax Benefits

Failure to obey ESR regulations may result in the loss of tax benefits, such as releases, deductions, or preferential tax rates. This can lead to augmented tax liabilities and reduced competitive advantage.

Reputational Damage

Non-compliance can damage an entity’s reputation, leading to a loss of trust among customers, business partners, and stakeholders.

Legal Consequences

Non-compliance with ESR audit requirements may depict entities to legal action, including trial, fines, and potential criminal charges.

Choose ESR Consultants in UAE 

Navigating the ESR audit process is essential for entities to ensure compliance with Economic Substance Regulations (ESR). Therefore, it is advised for Licensees to consult Audit Firms in UAE to effectively ensure compliance with ESR regulations. Thus, contact us today and we shall be glad to assist you.