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Tax collection from online sales faces hurdles
The Saigon Times Daily
Tuesday,  Aug 7, 2018,14:58 (GMT+7)

Tax collection from online sales faces hurdles

The Saigon Times Daily

Young people use their mobile phones at a fastfood restaurant. Tax collection is facing many difficulties, as online sales are diverse in terms of scale, selling methods and payment methods – PHOTO: THANH HOA

HCMC - Although the tax departments of HCMC and Hanoi have made great efforts to urge individuals and organizations conducting online sales via social network platforms to pay their taxes, the results have failed to match their expectations. Tax collection is facing many difficulties, as online sales are diverse in terms of scale, selling methods and payment methods, local media reported.

The tax departments have sent thousands of invitations and text messages to online vendors, asking them to make their tax declarations and payments, in line with the draft law on tax management, which stipulates that ecommerce traders must fulfill their tax obligations. However, the tax agencies have found it hard to fully control the declarations and ensure fairness in tax payments.

An online shop owner selling baby clothes claimed she had completed her tax declaration and payment for her online business, after receiving a text message by the Hanoi Department of Taxation in mid-2017 reminding her to do so. She also expressed dissatisfaction with the unfairness of having to make the tax payment when many other online traders were not called on to pay their taxes by the relevant authorities.

One online vendor in Hanoi, who sells sweet cakes and moon cakes and offers cake-making courses on Facebook, told the local media that she can earn an average of VND50 million per month, and a mid-autumn season alone can bring her between VND300 and VND400 million. However, she has yet to be asked by the tax department to make a tax declaration and payment. As most of her customers paid in cash and the number of items sold was low, it is possible the tax department could not assess her business, she explained.

Truong Thanh Duc, a lawyer from the Basico Law firm, remarked that it would be hard to check the number of transactions and revenue of a given online store. Buyers can order goods via Facebook or mobile phones and pay with cash on delivery. Moreover, many online shop owners encourage customers to receive item prices via inbox messages or from sales staff, instead of publishing their prices on their sales channels.

In addition, many online traders do not run offline stores and provide incomplete business information, so if they declare low revenue, authorized agencies are limited in their ability to respond.

To manage sales activities via online channels efficiently, there must be official and stringent regulations in place on establishing cooperation among tax offices, the State Bank and the ministries of industry and trade, justice and information and communications, according to Nguyen Tri Hieu, a financial expert. Besides this, the relevant agencies should raise awareness of tax obligations among online traders via mass media or other means and impose compulsory tax declaration on all citizens to easily monitor their incomes, Hieu added.

Economic expert Nguyen Minh Phong suggested authorized agencies adopt appropriate measures to encourage online vendors to join ecommerce exchange floors or a particular ecosystem to ensure fairness in tax collection. The agencies can also call on social media platform operators to provide information on traders to facilitate tax management.

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