Following the publication of the VAT Financial Services Guide by Bahrain's tax authority (National Bureau for Revenue), all three of the GCC countries that have introduced VAT have now published guidance on the VAT treatment of financial services in their respective jurisdictions.
The definition of financial services and the scope of the VAT exemption are not entirely the same in all three countries. A notable difference is the VAT treatment of option premiums. The premiums are taxable in the UAE, but exempt in the KSA and Bahrain. There are also differences in the standard method applied in each country for the apportionment of residual input tax in cases where taxpayers are partially exempt. For example, in the UAE, the affected taxpayers are also required to carry out an actual use calculation at the end of the tax year, and the guidelines appear to limit how "actual use" can be determined by the taxpayers.
It is important for businesses to understand the differences in treatment across the respective countries in order to minimize inadvertent VAT leakage.