Ho Chi Minh City taxman urged to reveal names of celebrity tax evaders

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Ho Chi Minh City taxman urged to reveal names of celebrity tax evaders

More than two dozen Ho Chi Minh City-based show business figures have been found to owe a huge amount of individual income tax, and members of the public are calling for their names to be revealed. The city’s tax department has asked 26 local artists to pay VND6.3 billion (US$281,250) in tax arrears, after reviewing their tax declaration as of October 31.

One of the celebs owes as much as VND700 million ($31,250) in tax in 2014 alone, while two others face payment of more than VND500 million ($22,321) in tax arrears each, according to the taxman.

Other artists on the list owe between VND100 million ($4,464) and VND300 million ($13,393).

However the VND700 million is not the “biggest debt yet,” as another famous figure is facing payment of VND1 billion ($44,643) in tax arrears, according to Le Thi Thu Huong, deputy head of the tax department.

“All of those on the list are ‘hot faces’ in all fields of art and entertainment,” Huong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The Ho Chi Minh City taxman asked showbiz figures to clear tax arrears in previous years, who according to Huong “became more aware of paying taxes” this year for fear of losing face.

In Vietnam, the threshold for personal income taxation is VND9 million ($402) a month.

Any income above that milestone will be subject to certain rates of tax in a progressive manner, with the cap being 30 percent.

Support for dependents will be deducted when a person is taxed.

While it is hard for salaried people to evade taxes, it is not uncommon for local celebrities to be blacklisted by tax authorities.

Local artists used to have to declare and pay taxes at the Ho Chi Minh City tax department, but currently do so at the sub-department of tax in their localities, according to a new regulation taking effect in 2008.

The new rule, however, results in weaker supervision and looser management over the famous taxpayers.

Vietnamese artists have myriad excuses to evade taxes, prompting the city’s authorities to begin asking them to pay tax arrears from 2013.

That year, 210 showbiz figures were asked to repay their tax debts, but only a few dozen eventually followed the request.

Most celebrity tax evaders clear the debts as requested, while their reputation remains untainted because their names are never publicly revealed.

Members of the public have therefore called for tax authorities to publicize the list of tax evaders.

Nguyen Thai Son, the former head of individual income tax with the Ho Chi Minh City tax department, also backed the idea of publicly naming celebrity tax evaders.

Son said the public should be able to know how much tax the famous artists have paid.

“So people will know if a superstar with a huge income just pays a modest amount of tax,” he told Tuoi Tre.

“They will then feel ashamed and change their tax-paying attitude.”