Revenue Department to use blockchain for probes

Revenue Department to use blockchain for probes

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the Revenue Department
Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the Revenue Department

The Revenue Department plans to adopt blockchain and machine learning for tax avoidance probes, says the department chief.

Blockchain technology will be used to verify whether taxes were paid correctly and to speed up the tax refund process, said director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas.

Machine learning will be used to study how taxes are evaded, enabling revenue officials to efficiently track tax fraud and create more transparency, he said.

Mr Ekniti said earlier that adoption of new technologies, like big data and blockchain, and pursuing a digital tax collection system were his priorities.

In another development, finance permanent secretary Prasong Poontaneat said reliable financial accounts are a tool for business operators to build trust and sharpen competitive advantage.

He confirmed that the requirement to use financial accounts submitted to the Revenue Department in commercial banks’ loan approval process for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be enforced as scheduled on Jan 1.

Under the single account scheme, the central bank requires banks to give greater consideration to financial statements submitted to the Revenue Department when considering SME loans, starting next year.

But the requirement has stoked concerns that the single account scheme will lessen access to finance for most SMEs, which tend to use more than one financial account and submit the smallest one to understate or avoid taxes.

Chakkrit Parapuntakul, president of the Federation of Accounting Professions, recently said that the central bank was considering whether to allow banks to demand additional collateral to back loans extended to SMEs that are unable to fully comply with the single account scheme practice.

Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, president and chief executive of Government Savings Bank, said 61% of 600,000 SME juristic persons nationwide recorded profit in their financial accounts, while the remaining 39% showed losses.

HE said the SME non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is far below that of loss-making SME juristic persons, suggesting that some of these SMEs understate income to pay lower income tax.

He urged SME operators to arrange financial accounts accurately because they can access loans more easily, particularly through the online system, and that in turn will result in cheaper loan rates, due to lower risks incurred from compliance.

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