It has been a few days since the first-ever value-added tax took effect in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 1.
In Saudi, it covers all goods and services except a few, which include public healthcare and residential rent. With the implementation, a new reality now faces Saudis and millions of expats who live in the kingdom.
We spoke to people there, and here's what they told us about how the newly implemented taxes are impacting their lives.
"It already looks like things are going to be tough"
Abdullah, a young Saudi engineer who married last year and is now expecting his first child, expressed concerns over VAT implementation in Saudi Arabia.
"It hasn't even been three days since the taxes were implemented and I am already worried," he said.
"Even though I do make a good amount of money, when I look at the daily purchases me and my wife make and realize how much more we'll be be paying for them, I can see how they'll slowly add up and affect our budget," he explained.
"The fact that we're expecting a child is also adding to the stress. We want to be able to provide our newborn the best of everything. With all these new taxes and the increase in petrol prices, it already looks like things are going to be tough," he added.
"As a Saudi, I think this is necessary for our country"
Not everyone is as concerned over the new taxes though, speaking to StepFeed, Mohammad, a Saudi telecom worker, said:
"I don't understand the backlash and all the hashtags launched against this. I've looked at all my receipts since VAT was implemented on Monday and the percentage seems acceptable to me."
"Of course it'd be better if we could go on living tax-free, but the reality is that amid the ongoing slump in oil prices and the global economic problems that have affected the kingdom in recent years, there is no other option for us. As a Saudi I think this is necessary for our country," he explained.
Mohammad also added that VAT is a form of excise used worldwide, but has been criticized in the kingdom simply because people are used to tax-free living.
"VAT is implemented is countries worldwide, and I honestly believe that people here just need some time to get used to it," he added.
"I've lived here for twenty years, but I think I am going to have to leave soon"
Karim, an Egyptian engineer who's lived in Saudi Arabia for twenty years along with his wife and three children, told us:
"It's only been a few days and this already seems like it's going to take a toll on us. A five percent tax might not seem like a high percentage to many, but for a family of 5, it's a huge deal."
"I already pay so much in tuition fees because my children attend a private school. Their tuition will now increase and so will all our other expenses, from food to petrol and even electricity bills. Even though my salary is above average when compared to other expats, I don't think I'll be able to hold up for long now that the VAT has taken effect," he said.
"I've lived here for twenty years, but I think I am going to have to leave soon, because if I stay, I'll just end up breaking even at the end of every month, or worse, I might have to take out a loan."
When asked if there are other options for expats like him, Karim said:
"There's the option of staying here for work and sending our families back home, basically funding them from here. But then that isn't really a life that anyone would want for their kids, especially given the fact that they're so used to life here, they go to school here and have never lived anywhere else."
"I have four kids, I don't even want to calculate my bills now"
Abdul Rahman, an Indian expat who's lived in the kingdom since 2004, is overwhelmed with the changes he's going to have to deal with now that his bills are set to increase.
"Even though we've been anticipating these taxes for a while, their implementation has really been a shock to many of us. Maybe it's because we've never had to worry about taxes here for so long," he said.
In his comments to StepFeed, the pharmaceutical company worker also expressed his concerns over taking care of his four children.
"Me and my wife both work full time in order to provide for our kids. They're all in private schools and that's what most of our salaries have always gone towards, their tuition and school fees. The rest of our income was always divided over rent and other living expenses. We often managed to save up a little of our incomes at the end of each month. I don't think we'll be able to do that for much longer under the current circumstances," he explained.
"A few days back we also heard about the increase in electricity bills, among so many others. Given the fact that I have four kids, I don't even want to calculate my bills now," he added.