Rangoon Tax Department Announces Restaurant Crackdown

By Nobel Zaw 3 December 2014

RANGOON — Rangoon Division’s Internal Revenue Department has urged restaurateurs to use official stamps on diner receipts to indicate payment of commercial tax, warning of hefty fines for noncompliant business owners.

The pre-purchase system began in Rangoon last month, requiring business owners to affix stamps bought from the department to customer receipts in order to confirm payment of the five percent levy into the divisional government’s coffers.

An Internal Revenue Department source, who requested not to be named, told The Irrawaddy that the stamp system is aimed at raising compliance among the division’s business owners.

“Some restaurants pay the full commercial tax, some pay half, and some don’t pay anything towards the government budget, even though the customers pay the tax to the business,” hesaid.

The source also urged restaurant customers to check their receipts to ensure that business owners were fulfilling their commercial tax obligations.

Internal Revenue Department inspectors will check receipts to ensure commercial tax obligations have been met, and have the authority to fine businesses between 10 and 100 percent of the total value of the bill.

Nay Lin, vice-president of the Myanmar Restaurant Association (MRA), which represents over 400 restaurants across the country, told the Irrawaddy that the new regulations are “too strict” for restaurant owners, and raised concerns about some businesses, such as large tea shops, which are presently not equipped to offer customer receipts.

The commercial tax was introduced in 1990 at a rate of 10 percent, and was lowered to 5 percent earlier this year as part of a broader review of the tax code by the Union Parliament.

Burma’s Internal Revenue Department collected about US$1.9 billion in tax revenues in the first seven months of 2014, of which $900 million was from commercial tax sources.