Tax Accountant Dubai

Living and working in Dubai (or planning a move), but unsure what it means for your UK tax status?
tax accountant dubai

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It can be a complex business, but never fear! As UK-based accountants, we’ve experience in providing advice and accounting services to ex-pats living life to the full right around the globe and are perfectly placed to advise you on your UK tax allowances and income.

Specialists in non-resident UK tax accounting for Dubai residents

As a tax-free nation, the United Arab Emirates captures the imagination of many Brits seeking the lifestyle and new opportunities of Dubai. Yet, unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as jetting out to the sun and starting a new life free from all UK tax requirements or Tax Return responsibilities.

The UK has a double taxation agreement with the UAE so it’s vital to seek advice to understand the bigger picture.

At Smooth Accounting, our UK based chartered accountants are specialists in UK tax for non-residents/expats living in Dubai and can give you the clarity you’re looking for. Even if you have an accountant in Dubai or the United Arab Emirates, it’s worth seeking advice as they may not have the in-depth knowledge of UK tax laws required.

Financial peace of mind

Whether you’re based in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or indeed, returning to the UK after living in the United Arab Emirates, we can help you understand your residence status, avoid double taxation and penalties and give you confidence that your tax affairs are in order. Our services span all elements of accountancy for your personal and business needs.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: tax services

The key rule to remember when it comes to HMRC is that non-residents of the UK are still liable for UK tax when it derives from UK income.

This might come from a property you’re renting whilst in Dubai, wages from a UK-based business or your private pension, for example. There are still some complexities however, which is why it’s so important to consult a chartered accountant who has specialist knowledge in this area.

Personal Allowance

Luckily, it’s not all take, take, take. Even while living in Dubai, a UK non-resident will still have access to the standard Personal Allowance if they hold a British passport. This is the amount of income you can earn or receive every tax year before paying tax. Currently, in the UK, the standard tax-free Personal Allowance stands at £12,570.

Alternatively, you can opt to be taxed on a “disregarded income” basis. By doing this, you wave goodbye to your tax-free personal allowance though. Instead, your UK tax liability on many sources of income is then limited to any tax deducted at source (which may be nil). This applies to many areas such as dividends from UK companies, national investments and savings and unit trusts.

It’s therefore really important to consult your accountant so they can calculate the most beneficial approach for your personal situation and the investments you have.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax in the UK is particularly hefty, though only at a certain level. If an estate of £325,000 or above is left to an individual, a 40% tax may be  payable on the amount above that threshold. 

In some instances, a further £175,000 nil rate band is available where an individual leaves their main residence to a direct descendant, though this is subject to tapering depending on the properties net value; we can advise you on the details.

As a non-resident UK tax payer, the same tax rates and exemptions apply. There are some exceptions to the threshold amount though, depending on whether the property is the main family home and who it is being left to, so do speak to your accountant.

Capital gains tax

The subject of capital gains tax is not straightforward. How you’re taxed on profits relating to the sales of assets that have increased in value and will depend on how long you’ve been a UK non-resident. Once you’ve been a UK non-resident for 5 years or more, you’re generally exempt from capital gains tax.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach though; the sale of UK assets, property or land used in a UK trade remains liable for UK capital gain tax no matter how long you’re away. 

Furthermore, non-UK residents are required to report and pay capital gains tax on the sale of UK residential property within 30 days of completion. So, it is important to seek the right advice early from a qualified accountant.

Landlords & Property

It’s very common for those testing out a new life abroad to let out their UK property rather than sell it. You must be mindful, however, that any income arising from it still falls under UK tax obligations even though you’ve left the country. It will generally be taxed as usual by HMRC.

There are some advantages to signing up for the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme, which we can discuss with you. Whilst it doesn’t mean you can receive the tax-free income from your property, it does avoid tax being deducted at source.

Additionally, if you’re considering buying a UK property whilst living abroad; perhaps to come back to after working abroad or to rent out, you will still be liable for Stamp Duty Land Tax.


If you’re earning a salary in Dubai and a proportion of this income goes towards a private pension, you should be able to avoid paying UK tax on this.

Living outside of the UK, you do not normally pay tax on the State pension either, though it’s worth noting that it will not increase over time – it will remain at the level when you moved or started to collect it.

Employment income

Returning to the UK after a spell working in Dubai? We can advise you on the tax implications of doing so.

UK working days

If your role involves some UK working days, you may well be taxed on these earnings just as a UK resident would. Speak to us today to understand what is and isn’t classed as UK working.

Why Choose Smooth Accounting?

At Smooth Accounting, we have our fingers on the pulse of UK tax law and accountancy best practice, serving individuals, sole traders, limited companies, and professional businesses. 

From advising on VAT or tax to implementing Xero for instant access to your finances, we’ll go the extra mile to bring a joined up approach to your finances.


“After meeting Jeri in Dubai around 6 months ago it was clear from the very first conversation Jeri and her team at Smooth Accounting really know their stuff and are a top drawer accounting firm with only their clients best interests at the fore front of their business.

I have recently introduced a few of my clients to Jeri and the team at Smooth and they are over the moon with their services also!

Cannot recommend Smooth Accounting any higher! Keep up the great work guys and I look forward to working with you for many years to come!”

Dan Chumley
Company Director Ross Carrington – Bespoke Tailor Middle East LLC

Frequently asked questions

Am I a UK tax resident?

You’ll still be deemed a UK tax resident if:

  • You spent 183 days or more in the UK tax year. The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5.
  • Your only home is located in the UK. To be considered your only home, you must have owned, rented or lived in the property in question for at least 91 days and spent at least 30 days there in the tax year.

If you do not meet the non-resident or automatic resident criteria (in that order), your residency will be established by looking at both the number of days you have spent in the UK and ‘sufficient ties’ – that is, the connections you have in the UK. It’s a complex area, further detail can be found here.

Do non-residents need to file a UK tax return?

Possibly – it depends on your personal circumstances. If you receive earnings or income through a UK company, self-employment or are renting property, then you most certainly will. 

Capital gains and income from investments also comes into the equation so it’s important to talk to your tax accountant to understand what you are obligated to declare to HMRC.

Can I be self-employed in UK and live abroad in Dubai?

Yes, though it’s less straightforward than being given an offer of employment. Generally, you need to be offered an opportunity to work for a company in the UAE or married to a UAE resident to get a visa. 

If your industry is in demand, you may be able to obtain a work visa to work in a specific area of Dubai such as Dubai Design District or Dubai Media City. If so, you’ll need to apply for a Trade License which comes at a cost, so do your research.

How long can an ex-pat stay in the UK without paying tax?

As stated above, you’ll need to stay below the 183 day marker to avoid being deemed a non-resident for tax purposes. Unless you have property here, when just 30 days here in a tax year will mean you’re deemed a resident UK tax-payer. 

There may be other instances in which you MAY qualify as a UK resident – subject to RDR3 – so it’s always best to seek professional advice. If you don’t automatically fall into the UK resident or non-resident category, sufficient ties (family/work/accommodation or even time commitments) will be considered to determine your tax status.

UK non-resident tax calculations for Dubai residents

Tax is probably one of the reasons Dubai, UAE is so attractive to you as a destination, so don’t let it stand in the way of your next adventure!

Smooth Accounting is the company that can put you back in control of your finances through our careful management of your accounts and knowledge.

Contact us today

Let us save you time and effort by bringing the expertise you need. To find out more, just get in touch or book a free discovery call.

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Smooth Accounting is very proud to be supporting the amazing work of JUST ONE Tree, a non-profit reforestation initiative. For every tax return we file, we will be planting one tree.

Trees really are the superheroes of our planet, cleaning the air we breathe, filtering the water we drink, giving life to the world’s wildlife and providing jobs to over 1.6 billion people.

Yet deforestation is still a major threat to global warming. JUST ONE Tree plants a tree every 46 seconds in severely affected areas, with the aim to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and reverse biodiversity loss.

We have just one planet. Together let’s restore it.

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