Enterprises say exhausted by tax, customs harassment

Thien Thanh Sanitaryware joint company

Enterprises say exhausted by tax, customs harassment

A dialogue between the Ministry of Finance’s leaders and the business community in HCMC on Tuesday revealed how the poor knowledge of regulations on the part of local tax and customs agencies is torturing enterprises.

Business executives at the meeting decried numerous ways of harassment they suffer from tax and customs officers, pointing at conflicting views among State agencies that threw enterprises into confusion without knowing how to do with procedures.

The footwear maker Lac Thuy Company, for example, complained that different customs offices would require different procedures when the company exported footwear overseas.

“A certain customs office would demand us to deposit samples of exported products, while another office would not require that, making us confused, let alone the fear that business secrets (from samples) might be exposed,” said the company’s representative.

“Meanwhile, prevailing regulations do not require any submission of samples, but only specify registration of materials used for producing such products.”

Tax offices are not any better in interpreting prevailing regulations.

Nguyen Viet Hung, an executive in charge of export sales at the private company Minh Luan, criticized the different views among tax officers in whether to allow the company get tax refunds or not.

Hung stated that Minh Luan imported secondhand tractors from Japan, then repair the machines for re-export to many other countries.

Before engaging in the business, Minh Luan was informed by the Management and Supervision Department of the General Customs Department that the company was allowed for tax refunds, but the Import-Export Tax Department later said such commodities were not subject to tax refunds.

“These are the conflicting views between two agencies under the General Customs Department, putting our enterprise in hot water as the imported tractors have been kept at the customs office for 20 days now,” Hung said.

Arbitrary handling of customs officers without resorting to any regulations is also a major headache to some enterprises.

Duy Anh Fashion and Cosmetic Co., for example, complained that last November it made procedures to get tax refunds of VND25 billion, and its applications have been assessed twice by the taxman.

However, the company has recently received a reply that no tax refund is given due to the company’s high stockpile of commodities.

Scrutinizing specific cases highlighted at the dialogue, Deputy Minister of Finance Do Hoang Anh Tuan admitted that local customs and tax agencies have done wrong in addressing issues faced by enterprises.

For the case of Minh Luan that imports tractors for re-export, the instruction from the Management and Supervision Department is correct, said Tuan, who ordered that the Import-Export Tax Department quickly refund tax sums to Minh Luan.

Similarly, Duy Anh must also get tax refunds quickly from the related agencies, and they will have to pay the interest for any delayed refunds. Tuan explained that the regulation on canceling tax refunds for high stockpiles would only take effect from next year.

By Minh Tam - The Saigon Times Daily