Over 10,000 Companies Called Out for Evading Tax Collectors

By San Yamin Aung 7 March 2014

RANGOON — Over 10,000 local companies have been called out for failing to pay taxes to the Burma government during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The Internal Revenue Department (IRD) on Thursday released a notice on its website listing 10,670 companies that are required to contact the department by March 20 because they did not pay taxes in the last fiscal year, which ended in March 2013, and have not been in touch since then.

It remains unclear whether these companies are still operational, according to Tin Htun Oo, director of IRD, who said many of them had not paid taxes in several years.

“Most companies have had no connection with our department for four or five years, so we want to know clearly which companies have stopped their businesses, and also which companies are newly founded and have not started operating yet. Companies that do not contact the department by March 20 will be considered abolished,” he told The Irrawaddy on Friday, adding that any company found to be operational would be forced to pay its overdue taxes.

Tax evasion is a major problem in Burma. Even more than 10,670 companies did not pay their dues for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the IRD director, but the others contacted the department over the past year, after receiving reminder letters to pay immediately.

“If taxpayers evade their dues, the government can’t operate its necessary public works,” he said, adding that a majority of operational companies did pay their taxes.

The IRD formed in 1972 and falls under the Ministry of Finance. It currently collects four types of taxes and duties: income taxes, commercial taxes, stamp duties and state lottery taxes.

A separate list of 100 companies that paid the most in commercial and income taxes for the 2012-13 fiscal year showed that tobacco and alcohol companies, along with a mix of other businesses in a range of industries from mining to tourism and banking, were among the biggest taxpayers. Relatively small companies were the most heavily taxed, while huge conglomerations bore a lesser tax burden.

The current fiscal year for 2013-14 ends at the end of this month.