Finance Ministry talks to southern businesses

The Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Vietnam Customs and the General Department of Taxation yesterday held a dialogue with over 400 businesses in the southern region, listening to their difficulties and opinions for better services.

The man searches for tax information at a computer placed at the HCMC Taxation Department (Photo: SGGP)

The dialogue was held in Ho Chi Minh City which is the economic hub of the country.

Hoa Binh Refrigeration Electrical Engineering and Trading Company, importing water heaters for sale, said that in July the company unexpectedly received a decision of ten-day inspection from customs agency who wanted to check to all import documents of the company for the last five years.

The inspection largely affected the company’s operation because it had to supply and print out a pile of documents. Import water heaters were not levied taxes until June 29, 2016 but a circular was issued to change the product’s code making it belong to the taxable list.

Inspectors said that the company used a wrong code for the product and make a decision to fine the company and collect tax arrears totaling VND3.5 billion (US$154,000).

It was forced to pay the penalty and arrears to prevent operation stagnancy and damage from signed contracts.

Mr. Vu Ngoc Anh, deputy head of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said that businesses must keep their documents within five years after customs clearance and authorized agencies are entitled to inspect the documents to prevent budget losses.

He urged customs agencies to return the tax they had collected for Hoa Binh Company.

Can Tho city based Kim Xuan Company importing steel to make export items said that according to regulations, these items are exempt from taxes but the company has to pay safeguard duty.

A representative from the General Department of Vietnam Customs answered that the new anti-dumping tax has been issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Customs agencies just collect the tax in advance. Afterwards they will inspect to determine if the company dumps goods. If the company does not, the agencies will give it drawback.

However the answer did not satisfy the company so deputy minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai said that she would talk to the Ministry of Industry and Trade about the issue.

At the conference, businesses say that the lump sum tax policy to individual business households is unfair. Some earn high turnover but pay a low amount of the tax because they have not invoiced.

Hence businesses proposed the Ministry of Finance to uniform regulations forcing all individual business households as well as businesses to issue invoices for an item sold at the price of VND200,000 and higher.

Soc Trang province Food Association said that when tax refund exceeds VND40 billion ($1.76 billion), businesses will receive the rebate first and tax agencies will inspect later. In fact the agencies have reversed and much slowed down the process.

Enterprises have to pay fines for late tax payment, so why officials have not been penalized for slowing the tax refunding, asked an association representative.

In response, deputy head of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan said that it was wrong for tax officials to inspect before refunding tax when the amount tops VND40 billion. He promised to look over and tackle the issue.

Khuong Mai Steel Company said that tax agencies raised it difficulties in tax refund. Deputy Minister Vu Thi Mai asked the HCMC Taxation Department to have a specific answer.

Mr. Nguyen Nam Binh, deputy head of the agency said that inspections found that 70 percent of the company’s purchasing invoices, attached in documents it filed to propose tax refund, were from 13 shutdown companies.

In addition, the company refused tax agencies’ requirement to examine its warehouse. Therefore they have transferred the case to investigation agencies, he said.

Deputy Minister Vu Thi Mai said that the Government creates the best conditions for businesses to develop. However they will be strictly handled in accordance with the law if breaking regulations.

By Han Ni – Translated by Hai Mien

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