The role of a VAT specialist has become crucial with the expansion of the business world in general, and particularly in Saudi Arabia. This is due to the policies imposed by the Zakat, Tax, and Income Authority regarding the submission of tax declarations and their gradual transition to electronic methods.

What is Value-Added Tax (VAT)?

VAT is a monetary amount imposed on all products and services sold between companies. It is a tax adopted in most countries worldwide, applied to every part of the supply chain from the start of production to the end of the purchasing process.

Who is a VAT Specialist?

A VAT specialist refers to the person responsible for preparing the necessary tax declarations to be submitted to the responsible authority when due. The VAT specialist assists in preparing detailed financial reports and performing precise tasks related to VAT within the company.

Five Traits of a Successful VAT Specialist

A successful VAT specialist possesses a set of traits that enhance their ability to perform their tasks and achieve a competitive advantage over other specialists in performing these tasks.

  1. Problem Solving:
    A VAT specialist should be able to quickly recognize problems and their causes by reading related files prepared by the company’s staff and suggesting suitable solutions that reduce the impact of these problems and turn them into opportunities, if possible.
  2. Reliability:
    A successful VAT specialist must ensure the confidentiality of the information they receive from individuals, companies, and government entities when performing their tasks, such as bank accounts and performance indicators, and not leak this information or use it in a way that harms their business.
  3. Decision-Making Ability:
    To be successful in their work, the specialist must have the ability to make appropriate decisions according to the types of business, goals, types of customers, the timing and type of incidents, sources of funding, and the duration of closing financial cycles.
  4. Attention to Detail:
    It is essential for a VAT specialist to be able to pay attention to details, as any overlooked detail in the work can cause a real catastrophe for the profits of companies and individuals when preparing the required tax files, especially when reviewing constantly changing financial statements.
  5. Firmness:
    A VAT specialist needs to know how to adapt to what the client needs, parallel to knowing when to back down from previously made decisions. It is essential for the specialist to stand by their company and let the client know precisely why a mistake was made, even if it costs searching for a new VAT specialist.

How Does Saudi Arabia Qualify a VAT Specialist?

The Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA) is responsible for granting the necessary permits to work as a VAT specialist within the Kingdom. It is the legislating authority for laws related to the work of accountants and auditors within the Kingdom.

What are the Accepted Academic Qualifications to Grant a VAT Specialist Certificate in the Kingdom?

To obtain a VAT Specialist certificate, the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree or any higher qualification, and the classification must be 6, 7, or 8 according to the Saudi classification of specialties.

Holders of professional certificates issued by the Authority – such as the Fellowship Certificate or the Accounting Technician Certificate – can apply to obtain a VAT Specialist certificate in Saudi Arabia.

The Authority has also allowed anyone who holds a Fellowship Certificate from international institutes AICPA, ICAEW, CICA, CA Australia, ACCA, ICAP, ICAI to apply for a VAT Specialist certificate.

The Authority did not exempt holders of a diploma or higher academic qualifications in one of the fields of administrative sciences, which are linked to levels between 4 and 8 according to the Saudi classification of specialties, provided that the academic record contains 6 accounting hours, or achieving the condition of accounting hoursapproved by the General Secretariat. These conditions are linked to achieving an additional condition that requires the applicant to attend a training program offered by the Authority regarding VAT.

The Preparatory Program

The Authority provides a training program that prepares the applicant for the VAT Specialist certificate in Saudi Arabia according to the procedures followed for the transition to electronic invoicing. This program includes principles of financial accounting, VAT, and real estate transaction tax.

The program lasts for about 12 working days, during which the trainee receives 72 hours of vocational education that qualifies the applicant to obtain a VAT Specialist certificate in Saudi Arabia.

Applying for the Test

The Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants requires passing a test consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions within a period of 150 minutes, with a score of not less than 60 out of 100.

Those wishing to obtain a VAT Specialist certificate pay a fee of 4000 Saudi Riyals at the time of writing this article, and 500 Saudi Riyals for each retest request. The test can be taken in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.

Financial Support

The Human Resources Development Fund supports all those who wish to obtain financial support to apply for one of the professional certificates issued by the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants, including the VAT Specialist certificate. The maximum compensation for the certificate is 4,600 Saudi Riyals, and the maximum compensation for training is 8,050 Saudi Riyals.

Five Tasks of a VAT Specialist

The tasks that a VAT specialist can accomplish are diverse, and the customer fields to which their services can be offered vary. The service can be provided to individuals, institutions, or governments.

  1. Contributing to Identifying the Most Suitable Products and Services for the Company:
    A VAT specialist is usually involved in identifying the appropriate products for the company to sell in a way that reduces the VAT that the company pays and increases profits as a result of reducing the costs of that tax, especially in the early stages of establishing the company.
  2. Suggesting Policies and Procedures Related to VAT:
    The responsibility of suggesting policies and procedures – which the company should work by to reduce VAT expenses – is assigned to a specialist with long experience in tax work. These suggestions are made based on the specialist’s experience in tax compliance laws in the country of work, so as to reduce the tax expenses imposed on the company as much as possible.
  3. Continuous Follow-up of Changes in VAT Laws:
    The VAT specialist is primarily responsible for following up on changes in the laws and regulations related to VAT in the country of work, and suggesting necessary amendments to the company manager or financial manager to implement these changes in the best possible way.
  4. Preparing the Tax Declaration:
    The financial department in the company, represented by the department manager, is responsible for preparing tax declarations and providing the necessary files to the company management to submit these declarations to the responsible tax authority in the country of work. Usually, the VAT specialist is assigned the responsibility of preparing the related tax reports and submitting them to the company’s financial management.
  5. Contributing to the Development of a Risk Management Plan:
    The VAT specialist participates in developing a risk management plan that will be implemented in the company according to the established business model, such as a lack of cash flow, for example, and contributes to developing the necessary response matrix and tasks related to managing these tasks to mitigate the impact of these risks on increases in VAT.

To provide VAT services in your company, you can rely on Erad Company for Accounting Services. Certified consultants and specialists offer tax services (preparation of Zakat and tax declarations, objection to them, analysis of the company’s tax obligation in all financial transactions, tax consultations).

It is essential to rely on a VAT specialist in your company to ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations, reduce tax expenses, and avoid any potential penalties. The VAT specialist plays a crucial role in managing the company’s finances and ensuring its growth and sustainability.

Remember, the process of becoming a VAT specialist in Saudi Arabia involves obtaining the necessary academic qualifications, attending a preparatory program, and passing a test administered by the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants. Financial support is available for those who wish to pursue this career path.

The VAT specialist’s tasks are diverse and crucial for the company’s financial health, including identifying suitable products and services, suggesting VAT-related policies and procedures, keeping up with changes in VAT laws, preparing tax declarations, and contributing to the development of a risk management plan.