Team to monitor e-tailers for tax

Team to monitor e-tailers for tax

The Revenue Department has set up an online business team to support e-commerce tax collection and ensure fairness in the tax system.

Taxing businesses engaged in online trade will ensure fairness in the tax system because regular businesses have to pay tax and if there is no taxation imposed on e-commerce business, then foreign e-commerce companies such as those from China and the US will reap the benefit of the tax loophole, said a source at the Revenue Department.

Many jurisdictions have imposed an e-commerce tax, including Indonesia, Taiwan and India, the source said.

The international tax treaty states that a country cannot levy tax on a business operator with no permanent presence in that country, but many countries have started collecting an e-commerce tax, according to the source.

Many major foreign companies have been doing online business in Thailand in terms of commercial transactions, customer payments and other services, with these operations situated in the country, the source said.

"It is clear that they are operating businesses in Thailand, but they are trying not to make their presence felt in the country," the source said.

For example, revenue from ride-hailing application Uber is sent to the Netherlands and Uber drivers are communicating with Uber staff through email without revealing their true identities, the source said.

Meetings held by Uber employees are hosted at small hotels in order to avoid attention from authorities, the source said.

The Revenue Department's e-business law will specify that any business or transaction being conducted in Thailand is liable for taxation, regardless of whether the business has an established presence in the country, the source said.

In the US, a country that still has not levied a national e-commerce tax, many online businesses have decided to set up headquarters in states with no such taxation, the source said.

Of the 500,000 online business operators in Thailand, those with website portals in the country number about 350,000 and the rest are located overseas, according to Revenue Department data.

Tax revenue collected from online businesses during 2016-17 stands at about 1 billion baht, a far cry from overall online transactions estimated at 100 billion baht, the source said.

In other financial news, the state-owned Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) is expected to carry out its portfolio guarantee scheme 7 (PGS7) in next year's first quarter, said president Nitid Manoonporn.

The scheme is a continuation of the PSG6 project in terms of credit line and credit approval conditions, Mr Nitid said. The scheme will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

The government will also be responsible for guaranteeing damages of up to 12% of the 100-billion-baht amount. In the first 11 months of 2017, TCG has guaranteed loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), enabling access to loans for up to 100,000 SMEs.

The PGS6 project has 50 billion baht in guarantee funds, which is expected to be about 40 billion by the end of this year, and that amount is expected to be used up in next year's first quarter, Mr Nitid said.

For the PGS6 project, SMEs have received a guarantee fee of 1.75% of the guaranteed amount for a free period of four years by the government and commercial banks taking part in the project. The maximum guarantee amount is capped at 40 million baht and the maximum guarantee period is 10 years.

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