Siem Reap tax forum tackles tricky issues

Sangeetha Amarthalingam

The last 12 months have been packed with regulatory changes with material directives, instructions and guidelines from the Labour and Vocational Training Ministry, and General Department of Taxation (GDT).

The last 12 months have been packed with regulatory changes with material directives, instructions and guidelines from the Labour and Vocational Training Ministry, and General Department of Taxation (GDT).

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As the introduction of the policies, made in line with reforms with the Rectangular Strategy Phase III, Public Financial Management Reform Program, and Revenue Mobilisation Strategy, is fairly new, a majority of taxpayers remain unclear of the changes.

Taxpayers including employers have had to grapple with policies on seniority payments, fortnightly salary payments, transfer pricing, interest rates on related party loans, small and medium enterprise tax incentives, Khmer riel invoices, tax audit changes, and the impending implementation of personal income tax.

Despite the lack of understanding among taxpayers, tax reforms that came into play five years ago still managed to raise revenue by 243 percent, boosting the national budget. Most of the tax revenue was derived from profit tax, domestic excise, and domestic value-added tax (VAT).

Last year at Eurocham Cambodia’s annual Siem Reap Tax Forum, GDT director-general Kong Vibol said tax collection increased markedly from 2017, thanks to reforms to the tax collection system.

He added that improvements on tax auditing and management on the arrears of tax liabilities enabled GDT to reach an annual growth of almost 20 percent in revenue collection since 2014.

This year, Eurocham is hosting the second edition of its Siem Reap Tax Forum at Sokha Angkor Resort with the participation of GDT today. It will be presided by Vibol.

The event brings together some of the leading tax professionals in Cambodia and high-level officials from GDT to discuss the country’s tax regulations and compliance issues with focus on Siem Reap taxpayers.

“The tax forum will substantially cover recent changes, and involve the active participation not only from industry experts of the leading tax, accounting and legal firms but also GDT through panel discussions, and question and answer sessions,” says Eurocham in a statement.

According to Department of Large Taxpayers director Eng Ratana, the key to expanding tax revenue is by increasing public awareness.

“Our strategy to expand the number of taxpayers is two-pronged. It involves public awareness, and conducting a nationwide survey to locate firms that are not complying and urging them to register with GDT,” Ratana said.

Chhiv Kimsroy, Deloitte Cambodia tax and advisory services partner who was also the former chairwoman of Eurocham’s Tax Committee, was quoted as saying that the forum serves as a great platform to connect taxpayers and government officials to help clarify key aspects of taxation in Cambodia.

“When there is good communication between taxpayers and the GDT, many issues related to tax payment and tax declaration can be solved, and eventually we will create a culture of tax payment in the Kingdom,” she said.

In the forum this year, regional legal, tax and investment advisor DFDL Mekong (Cambodia) Co Ltd tax committee chairman Clint O’Connell would moderate a panel on recent tax changes and VAT online system update.

O’Donnell is also Eurocham tax committee chairman. Cambodian Investment Management group chief executive officer Anthony Galliano is expected to talk about small taxpayers, SMEs and tax incentive while Kimsroy would touch on seniority payments.

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