Ho Chi Minh City to crack down on tax-evading Facebook retailers

By Thanh Le   July 11, 2017 | 11:56 am GMT+7

The tax man is threatening to shut down social media accounts.

Ho Chi Minh City sent out tax demands to nearly 13,500 Facebook retailers over a month ago, but a representative from the city's Tax Department told VnExpress that so far only around 1,000 of them have responded.

As a result, the city's tax authorities have decided to work on tougher solutions to crack down on potential tax-evading online retailers, and have asked the Ministry of Finance to finalize regulations regarding tax declarations and deductions at source, as well as the supervision of online business activities.

The city's tax department also said it is considering a name-and-shame approach to individuals and organizations that refuse to pay tax. 

To combat retailers that open multiple Facebook accounts to avoid detection, the department claimed it had come up with multiple solutions, such as closing down accounts or sending officials posing as customers to confront them in person.

It also said it would ask the State Bank of Vietnam for copies of retailers' bank statements to determine their incomes, and courier companies would be asked to provide information on the quantity and value of the goods they transport for them.

However, many online retailers say that the tax man has no authority over Facebook.

Nguyen Thi Cuc, who chairs the Vietnam Tax Consultants' Association, also told VnExpress that Vietnam does not have a comprehensive tax policy for online businesses, and that collecting taxes is difficult because most transactions are conducted in cash.

Many retailers claim they already have business licenses and have declared tax, and only use Facebook to advertise their products, while others say they earn less than VND100 million ($4,400) annually so they are not required to declare tax by law.